26th Oct, 2020

Church in high spirits after dumping Harriers out of the Cup

Ben Tyler 6th Oct, 2020 Updated: 8th Oct, 2020

A FOLLOW-UP result is wanted by Alvechurch in tonight’s Southern League Premier Central trip to Barwell, three days after stunning Kidderminster Harriers in the FA Cup.

Church were superior in a 4-2 penalty shootout win, giving Ian Long’s men a passage into the third qualifying round after Kieran Cook and Joe Hull struck in either half during the 2-2 draw in normal time.

It was a much-needed result, taking into consideration Alvechurch’s winless start to the league campaign, with the minor “giant-killing” against a side from the tier above providing a real confidence boost prior to their midweek visit to Leicestershire.

And with tonight’s hosts at Kirkby Road sharing the same record in the league – but going into the clash on the back of a defeat at the same qualifying round of the FA Cup to Nantwich Town (a 1-0 defeat) – Church have every chance of registering a maiden three-point haul for the season.

Saturday’s duel at Lye Meadow was played in treacherous conditions, though that did not prevent the hosts’ from taking a fourth-minute lead.

Jake Wakeling’s burst down the left flank and cross was too inviting for Cook to turn down, the striker sliding to convert at the far post and put his side in front.

Both sides threatened from then on in, with Church initially performing their defensive duties expertly before Harriers’ 26th-minute equaliser.

It came as a result of a searching ball to the back post, and with Ethan Sephton on the wrong side of his marker, defender Sam Austin was allowed the space to slot past Jono Brown.

Wakeling almost restored Alvechurch’s lead just three minutes later when weaving through Kidderminster’s backline and priming himself to shoot, only for Keith Lowe to make a vital intervention to poke the ball away.

But with the next chance that came their way 11 minutes into the second half, the hosts regained the lead – Mitch Botfield’s free-kick from the wing was a well-delivered one, allowing Hull to leap and plant a header beyond Harriers ‘keeper Luke Simpson.

Simpson was equal to the next attempt on his goal, getting down low to keep out Wakeling’s low drive with 25 minutes left to play.

Kidderminster were denied a leveller thanks to the goalkeeping heroics of Brown, who made a vital save to keep out Austin when put clean through.

Kidderminster did restore parity though, when a cross across the Alvechurch box bypassed the entirety of the home defence and allowed Ashley Hemmings to tuck home inside the area in the 71st minute.

With no further action, it was down to the lottery of penalties to decide the contest.

With both Alvechurch’s Wakeling and Cook, and Kidderminster’s Alex Prosser and Hemmings successful with their spot kicks, a miss from Amari Morgan-Smith proved crucial when he blasted wildly over the crossbar.

Isai Marselia put the hosts in front in the shoot-out, while a Keziah Martin miss meant it was match point for Church.

Botfield assumed the responsibility for the fourth penalty, which he duly dispatched to send Alvechurch into the next round, a trip to Northern Premier League side Ilkeston Town on Tuesday, October 13.

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