20th Mar, 2019

Experience can help Alvechurch push for play-offs, says Long

IAN LONG is convinced Alvechurch’s past record-breaking exploits will give them an advantage as they chase another piece of history.

Church tightened their grip on a play-off place in their first season in Southern Premier Central after defeating fellow contenders Biggleswade Town 2-1 at Lye Meadow last weekend, thanks to an own goal and a Josh March strike.

With 13 games left, Long’s side lie in fifth place as they chase a remarkable third promotion in a row, but with a game in hand to overhaul third-placed Stratford Town and fourth-placed King’s Lynn Town.

The journey to success now continues with a long-distance trip to top ten side Leiston on Saturday and then a crunch visit to sixth-placed AFC Rushden & Diamonds, who beat Stratford in midweek, next Saturday.

Long and No 2 Rich Colwell and the players have been chasing honours for the past three seasons and the bosses believe that experience will stand them in good stead for the run-in.

“Since I came to Alvechurch, we’ve been in the shake-up every season and we’ve learned how to cope,” said Long. “It gets tougher the higher you go up the leagues but the lads keep pushing.

“They’ve been in this position so they won’t be worried by pressure. The majority of these players have been with me for the last few years and at Tividale before that. They know how to deal with the must-win games – it’s second nature to them. Hopefully that will give us an advantage.”

Alvechurch’s form earned them the January team of the month award, which was presented before the Biggleswade game, and victory extended an unbeaten run to seven matches, putting them top of the form table.

However, Long says there is no chance of the Church players getting carried away. He used a free midweek to arrange a friendly with Lye Town on Tuesday and give players coming back from injury and off the bench the chance for game time.

Only two players remained from the Biggleswade game as Church won 2-1. Tom Tonks, signed from Stourbridge, had 90 minutes, as did Ash Carter, who had completed his suspension and they started alongside Ryan Winwood, Muzi Nduna, Taylor Morrison, Theo Llewellyn and Charlie Price.

Tris Dunkley, Kieron Cook and Ben Cassidy also featured from the bench to underline the strength in depth.

“We’ve got a big squad and we’ve got players out with other clubs looking to keep them match-sharp,” he said. “We know there’s a lot of football to be played. The challenge is keep our form and our fitness.”

For the trip to Suffolk side Leiston – the first meeting between the sides after two postponements at Lye Meadow – defender Carter can return after missing three games but playmaker Lee Chilton is likely to be ruled out with a groin injury.

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