18th Apr, 2021

Church relaxed for final week in promotion race

Redditch Editorial 19th Apr, 2018 Updated: 19th Apr, 2018

ALVECHURCH manager Ian Long says he feels more relaxed about the season’s finale, despite the prospect of securing successive promotions.

Church’s 4-2 win against Kidsgrove Athletic on Tuesday night at Lye Meadow, following a 1-0 victory last weekend against Stocksbridge Park Steels, means they need seven points from their final five matches to secure second place in Evo-Stik Northern Premier South.

It would be a remarkable achievement in their first season in the league and book a place in the new Step Three Midland League next term.

Long stressed nobody at the club is taking anything for granted, especially with the five games coming in a hectic ten-day period which began last night (Thursday) with a trip to Cleeethorpes Town.

However, he suggests the experience of pushing for titles and promotion in every one of his three seasons at the club will help their prospects of getting over the line.

“Seven points is still a long way to go,” said Long. “The games will come thick and fast and there’s little rest period. We know there’s still a lot of work to do.

“But I don’t feel any pressure. Whether that’s because we’ve got the safety net of knowing we are already in the play-offs, or I’m getting used to it, I don’t know.

“I think it’s more to do with the fact the lads are playing really well. The form is really good, we are dominating teams. I feel confident in the players and what they can do.

“I felt it more last season when we going for the Midland Premier title and certainly the year before when we were scrapping with Hereford.”

On Saturday, Alvechurch visit Carlton Town, then head to Market Drayton Town on Tuesday before returning to Lye Meadow for the final two matches of the regular season against Bedworth United (Thursday) and Loughborough (Saturday).

Long accepts he could need to shuffle his squad for such a busy run but midfielder Mitch Botfield is now back fit and striker Josh March will be available after his three-game ban.

Alvechurch had to scrap for the points last weekend, with Nathan Waite’s goal sealing victory against Stocksbridge, before Jamie Willets, Yusifu Ceesay, a Rhys Thompson own goal and Aaron Lloyd guaranteed the points against Kidsgrove.

Midfielder Tom Turton and skipper Ash Carter, meanwhile, have been recognised with selection in the Evo-Stik South team of the season.

The two received their awards, presented by Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder, at a presentation in Barnsley last weekend, although Long argued several of their team-mates also had a claim to featuring in the player of the season accolades.

“It’s great for Tom and Ash to get acknowledged in this way and it’s great for the club to be in the spotlight,” said Long. “But I believe there are a few more players at Alvechurch who would feel unlucky they weren’t in the team too.”

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