IAN LONG will urge his Alvechurch squad to use the club’s glorious FA Cup past as the inspiration to become present-day giant-killers this weekend.
The Church boss admits his side will be ‘massive underdogs’ for Saturday’s trip to Northern Premier high-flyers Grantham Town.
However, the incentive for Alvechurch is to reach the third qualifying round – two matches from the first round proper – for the first time in 26 years.
The Lye Meadow side last got this far in 1991 but the club has a proud place in the annals of the Cup, playing in the longest Cup tie over 11 hours in 1971 against Oxford City, reaching the first round in 1971, the third round in 1974 and claiming a League scalp in beating Exeter in 1973/74.
For Long, it is a reminder of the possibilities the Cup offers.
“Alvechurch have got a great history in the FA Cup, albeit a few years ago, and the lads have a lot to live up to,” said Long. “That’s the incentive for everyone connected with the club. A Cup run would be so special.
“But we now we’ve got a tough game ahead at Grantham. They have had a good start to the season, they are a very direct, big, powerful side. They have got a big lad up front, Shaw, and a lot of pace as well.
“We will massive underdogs but that won’t bother us. We will go there to be positive and see what happens.”
Alvechurch head to the South Kesteven Stadium in upbeat mood following a last-gasp draw at Stocksbridge Park Steels on Saturday and a convincing 3-0 win at Loughborough Dynamo on Tuesday in their Northern Premier South fixtures.
On Saturday, Alvechurch fell behind to a Joe Lumsden strike in 56 minutes before Danny Dubidat levelled. The Sheffield hosts regained the lead four minutes from time through Matt Reay but Church made it 2-2 through Josh March’s close-range strike.
On Tuesday, Long made seven changes to the side but Church got stronger as the game continued, especially after Loughborough had Jared Holmes sent off on 37 minutes.
Luke Keen bagged the opener with a superb curling effort on the stroke of half time and new signing Bekir Halil doubled the lead 11 minutes into the second half with a shot which squirmed through keeper William Jaaskelainen. Yusifu Ceesey then fired home a low shot on the turn for the third goal on 67 minutes.
“We made seven changes to freshen things up and it paid dividends,” said Long. “It showed how many options we do have.
“We huffed and puffed in the first half but when Loughborough went down to ten men we dominated the second half.”
Church expect to complete the signing of Nathan Waite but the former Romulus forward is cup-tied so will have to wait until Tuesday’s Birmingham Senior Cup tie at home to Redditch United (subject to any FA Cup replays) to be involved.
Halil, signed last week from Sporting Khalsa, is also ineligible to face Grantham.