4th Jul, 2020

Boss: Church need clinical edge

Redditch Editorial 23rd Jan, 2020

DEAN HOLTHAM has urged Alvechurch to be more ruthless in both penalty areas to haul their way out of relegation trouble.

Third-bottom Church will be looking to halt a run of four defeats in a row in Southern League Premier Central when they make the trip to 17th-placed Hitchin Town on Saturday.

But manager Holtham suggested the results in their last two matches – losing 3-0 to Stourbridge, who featured former boss Ian Long and ten ex-Church players, on Tuesday after a 1-0 defeat to Hednesford Town – could easily have been different.

“I am probably repeating myself but the difference has been the opposition has punished our mistakes and we haven’t capitalised on theirs,” said Holtham.

“The players are working hard – I can’t fault their effort or their application. But we need to be more ruthless – we need to defend better and we’ve got to be clinical in the opposition penalty area.

“Take Tuesday, their first goal came from a debatable, which might have been dubious penalty, but we’ve got to defend better and that situation doesn’t arise.

“It was an even-stevens first half and Nehemia Zazi has a great chance where he should have scored before half-time. Then for 35 minutes in the second half Stourbridge couldn’t get out of their half and we had some good chances but couldn’t find the finish or make the right decision at the right time.

“The lads were deflated afterwards. With the old manager coming back and nine or ten ex-Alvechurch players, they really wanted to get the right result.

“I’m not bothered with a previous manager coming back – I’m more concerned getting one point or three to start putting a run together.”

New recruits Khaeleem Bailey-Nicholls and Knory Scott will both miss the trip to Hitchin.

Powerful ex-Redditch forward Bailey-Nicholls, signed last week from Bedworth United, faces a month out after damaging his hamstring against Stourbridge and playmaker Scott, on loan from Kidderminster, could also be out for four weeks with another hamstring problem.

Zack Foster (ankle), Aaron Birch (calf) and Mitch Botfield (knee) missed training in midweek to have treatment on their niggles.

On Tuesday, a controversial early penalty left Alvechurch chasing the game as former boss Long and his Stourbridge team took the points.

Linden Dovey was adjudged to have pushed Alex Nicholls as they challenged for Will Grocott’s clipped cross and Anthony Dwyer fired home the spot-kick past Joe Slinn to give the Glassboys a 12th-minute lead.

Although Dave Bellis had a shot blocked and Grocott scuffed a shot wide, Church threatened when Nememia Zasi headed a Foster cross straight at keeper Charlie Price.

Kyle Morrison just could not stretch to convert from a Botfield free kick and just before the hour Grocott cleared off the line, but Stourbridge sealed the points late on with two goals in as many minutes.

Nathan Hayward headed home a right-wing cross on 78 minutes and Nicholls then tucked home after Andre Landell’s chip spun off the post.

Alvechurch’s lack of firepower had again been evident on Saturday as visitors Hednesford sealed victory with a Dan Glover strike.

Zasi, who was making his debut after signing from Coleshill Town, looked bright and had the best chance on 16 minutes, only to be denied by the legs of keeper Shaun Rowley.

Joe Hull nodded over before the break for the hosts but Hednesford grabbed what proved to be the winner on 53 minutes when Glover netted following a corner from Elliot Hodge.

It was Alvechurch attack versus Pitmen defence for the rest of the match, but Morrison’s effort was clawed away by Rowley before a penalty shout was ignored after Kyle Perry went tumbling.

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