22nd Sep, 2019

Byfield remaining patient after testing opening week

Redditch Editorial 15th Aug, 2019

DARREN BYFIELD admits it has been a tough start to his first competitive week as Alvechurch boss but he says mental fortitude and patience will be key to getting back to winning ways.

Church bounced back from a forgettable 3-0 defeat at Royston Town on the opening day of the Southern Premier Central season with a 2-2 draw at home to Barwell on Tuesday.

But their plans for Saturday’s home home fixture against Hitchin Town have been upset by Niall Clayton becoming the third goalkeeper to be injured in the last few weeks, prompting an emergency search for a No 1, while midfielder Mitch Botfield is the latest player to be tempted by former boss Ian Long to join Stourbridge.

Fellow midfielders Jordan Goddard and Rahis Nabi could both replace Botfield in the engine room but both are still recovering from injuries picked up in pre-season.

“My strength is my mental toughness when things go against you and we want to see that from the players,” said Byfield.

“We know we are a work in progress and things won’t settle down for a month or so. We need to keep working, keep believing in what we are doing.”

Byfield had been keen to keep hold of all-action midfielder Botfield after Stourbridge made an approach, but ex-Church boss Long convinced Botfield to switch to the Glassboys, becoming the tenth member of last season’s Lye Meadow squad to join him.

“We were hoping Botty would stay but obviously he knows the manager and the players at Stourbridge,” said Byfield. “His attitude has been spot on with us and he had played in both games but we wish him all the best.

“I want players who are committed to Alvechurch and who we can make better players and they can make us a better team.”

Goddard and Nabi would fill the gap in midfield but they are still recovering from injury and an assessment will be made after training last night (Thursday). Clayton is also struggling after picking up a groin injury in midweek while Ransome is also a doubt with a similar groin problem.

Alvechurch were outclassed in last week’s trip to Royston, who sit top of the fledgling table as one of only three sides with a 100 per cent record from two games.

Scott Bridges opened the Crows’ scoring after 31 minutes with a close-range header and Brandon Adams flocked home a Joe Newton cross for 2-0 three minutes before half-time.

Matt Bateman added a third six minutes into stoppage time at the end of the second period.

On Tuesday, Alvechurch struck first at home to Barwell, with Kyle Rowley heading home after two minutes.

The visitors responded by moving 2-1 ahead after Jamie Towers tucked home an equaliser and Brady Hickey headed home unmarked, but it was 2-2 at half-time after Josh Ezewele’s cross-shot found the net.

“Saturday was very disappointing,” said Byfield. “We had to delete that out of the system and Tuesday was a lot more positive.

“We were on the front foot in the first 15 minutes and went ahead and then after going behind we showed a lot of character.”

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