IAN LONG considers Alvechurch will be the underdogs when they welcome lower league Bromsgrove Sporting to Lye Meadow for the Midlands match of the day in the FA Cup preliminary round on Saturday.
Despite Church playing a level above Sporting, manager Long admits the South Premier Central team is still a ‘work in progress’ as they seek a first win of the season.
By contrast, Brendan’s Kelly Bromsgrove, who, like Church, have won successive promotions, have romped to victory in their first two matches in South Division One Central – including a club league record 11-0 demolition of Kidlington on Tuesday – to sit top of the fledgling table.
“It’s all set up for a cracking cup tie – a local derby between two footballing sides and in front of a big crowd,” said Long. “I think you’d have to say that we probably go into the game as the underdogs. You look at the size of the clubs, the average crowds, and the budget and it’s bigger than ours.
“Bren says his team are the underdogs but I can’t afford the sort of money they are paying for the likes of Jason Cowley and Richard Gregory. They have got some players I’d love to have but I can’t afford.”
Long was among the crowd in midweek at the Victoria Ground and, after Alvechurch have struggled for goals, scoring one in three matches so far, he could only admire Sporting’s goal threat.
After their attacking options decreased with Nathan Waite’s departure – he is set to join Coleshill Town – Alvechurch have completed a move for Racing Club Warwick hot-shot Trea Bertie.
While he is stepping up three levels, the youngster led the line against Coalville Town last weekend but Long’s men lost 2-0 to two second half goals.
Fit-again Ryan Winwood and Josh Ezewele were denied by Ravens keeper Max Smith-Varnam in the first half but a penalty, awarded for a foul on Tom McGlinchey, led to Andrew Wright giving the hosts the lead on 51 minutes. Then, moments after Church hot-shot Josh March hit the bar, Tolani Omotola added Coalville’s 76th-minute second following defensive indecision.
“Goalscoring is a worry,” said Long. “We’ve signed Trea, but he is stepping up from Step Six. He will give us something we’ve been lacking – a bit more pace – but he will need time to adapt.
“I’m disappointed to lose Nathan. I think he has jumped the gun to leave too soon. He was on the bench for the first couple of games but he would have got his chance.”
Long hopes to have forward Aaron Lloyd back in contention after injury against Sporting and is hopeful defender Kyle Morrison and midfielder Dave Bellis will be available for their first appearances of the season.
Summer signing Morrison’s debut would be timely with Andy Parsons unavailable, while Bellis was set to get some minutes for AFC Church – Alvechurch’s new second string – in the Midland League Division Three match against Enville last night (Thursday).
Alvechurch then entertain Redditch United on Monday (3pm) in another keenly-awaited derby – this time in South Premier Central.
Alvechurch and Sporting are also set to meet in the League Cup, with the first-round tie at Lye Meadow pencilled in for Tuesday, September 4, dependent on any FA Cup replay which would be played that night.
Tickets have been on sale for the FA Cup tie but it is also pay on the gate.