IAN LONG insists Alvechurch will have nothing to fear as they look to create an FA Trophy upset on Saturday.
It is 30 years since Church reached the third qualifying round – losing to Marlow – but they welcome Coalville Town to Lye Meadow for the second qualifying round tie on the back of six successive wins.
After Saturday’s roller-coaster 3-2 success at home to Lincoln United which put Long’s men second in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier South, a much-changed Church then swept aside hosts Stourbridge 4-2 in a rearranged League Cup contest on Monday.
Church were 4-0 up at half time before claiming the scalp of a third Premier Division team in cups this term and Long says they will relish the clash against another Premier opponent in Leicestershire side Coalville.
“I think with the success we have had we might have lost the element of surprise but there’s nothing to fear,” said manager Long. “We’ve won away at Grantham in the FA Cup, we’ve played Buxton in the FA Cup and should have won and we’ve beaten Stoubridge and Redditch in cups.
“We don’t fear any Step Three side. The most important thing is we play to our strengths.”
However, Long admitted the strength in depth in the Church squad will be tested.
While he was delighted with the way a line-up featuring seven changes, including a debut for youngster Ben Tilbury, from Saturday dismantled Stourbridge, Alvechurch face losing Babucar Sauane and Nathan Waite to injury while Paul Evans is also set to depart.
Front-runner Sauane is unlikely to feature again in 2017 after picking up a long-term groin injury although he will also be heading to the Gambia to get married.
Striker Waite suffered a hamstring injury and Church will await a fitness report from physio Paul Millward.
Goalkeeper Evans has decided to leave due to family commitments, having become a dad for the first time. Evans, the players’ player of the season last campaign, has been a key figure since following Long from Tividale but Lye Town are interested in signing him.
The absentees are set to prompt Long and No 2 Rich Colwell to ponder potential transfer targets but the depth in the squad was emphasised against Stourbridge, with Mitch Botfield, Andy Parsons and Ash Carter all impressing. Ryan Winwood also got his first run-out of the season, playing for 15 minutes as a substitute in his first game since a shoulder operation.
Church had the game won against a strong Stourbridge XI inside the first 33 minutes. Tom Turton slotted home a second-minute penalty after Sauane had been flattened by keeper Matt Gould and Parsons nodded home a Turton corner for 2-0 on 16 minutes.
Waite added a third after TIlbury hit the post before Botfield nodded home a cross from McCauley Manning. Two second half goals from Luke Benbow put some gloss on the scoreline for the Glassboys.
On Saturday, Yusifu Ceesay was the hero with an 88th-minute goal to defeat Lincoln United 3-2. Church seemed to be cruising after establishing a 2-0 lead after ten minutes as Jamie Willets nodded home a Turton corner and then Danny Dubidat lashed home a rising drive.
However, Lincoln hit back to level through Phil Watt and a Dave Bellis own goal before substitute Ceesey charged through and the fired home after his initial cross was blocked.
ALVECHURCH Reserves claimed their third win in a row as they beat rivals Bromsgrove Sporting Reserves 3-0 at the Pavilions in Earlswood, writes Lewis Glennon.
The victory – courtesy of goals from Corey Virgo-Broom, Lewis Brade and Dean Fisher – puts Oliver Hartill’s side one point behind Midland League Reserve Division leaders Gresley Reserves, who Church face on Saturday at Illey Lane.
Bromsgrove had the first chance of Saturday’s game but Connor Kelly’s overhead kick went over. However, the game turned when Sporting’s Max Tranter was shown two yellow cards in a minute for two separate fouls on Daniel Priest.
Despite the man advantage, Church struggled to get on top in what became a physical affair leading to frayed tempers.
Eventually Hartill’s side took the lead when Ethan Hanks’ free kick found Jon Williams, whose header was spilled by Elliott Hart straight to Virgo-Broom who scored.
In the second half visitors Alvechurch dominated, with Fisher firing over, while Bromsgrove keeper Hart was on hand to brilliantly deny Hanks and Williams.
Alvechurch did get the second goal when Brade converted Hanks’ cross into the net and, as Bromsgrove’s legs tired, Fisher grabbed his tenth goal of the season to complete the scoring.