11th Dec, 2018

High-flying Alvechurch step up search for new players

Correspondent 23rd Nov, 2018

THE exit of three players will prompt Alvechurch to step up a search for reinforcements as they look to remain the surprise package in Southern Premier Central.

Church, in their first season at Step Three after back-to-back promotions, moved into the top three after last weekend’s 3-2 victory at home to St Neots.

But boss Ian Long and his staff say they will need to add to their squad after the departures of Danny O’Callaghan, Taylor Morrison and Yusifu Ceesay.

Midfielder O’Callaghan has moved to Rushall Olympic, utility man Morrison has joined Stratford Town and forward Ceesay has returned to Blackpool after his month’s loan.

It had seemed O’Callaghan, a summer signing from Sutton Coldfield, would be staying at Lye Meadow but Alvechurch could not match the offer from the Pics.

“Danny didn’t think he was getting enough football, but I was disappointed he has left after he had told me he was happy enough to stay,” said Long.

“But, with Ceesay and Morrison going, it means we definitely need to look at a recruitment push, especially with the Christmas period coming up We’ve got a few niggles and hopefully we can find someone like Danny who can cover different options.”Alvechurch had shuffled the side last eek against St Neots, with Kieron Cook getting his chance up front and replacing Josh March. He duly delivered with two smart finishes, meeting an Aaron Lloyd cross with a first-time near post finish on five minutes and then levelling matters with a super take from Zack Foster’s pass and angled finish a minute into the second half.

Defender Kyle Morrison then nodded home a Tom Turton corner with an unstoppable header for the winner on 68 minutes.

Long says Cook’s emergence, after joining from Wednesfield in the summer of 2017, proves there are gems waiting to be found in the lower leagues, but he also suggests the 18-year-old can rise even higher.

“Cookie can go all the way,” said Long. “He has got the arrogance which, channelled in the right direction, can be very useful in his quest to play pro football. He is quick, his movement is good, he is left-footed and all of those ingredients will give him the chance to progress.”

He added: “Josh probably needed a break and Kieron has deserved his chance. People forget that Josh is still only 21 and for the past few seasons he has been our ‘star’. We rely on him for his goals and it’s a lot of pressure on him.

“He puts so much into every game and his attitude is second to none.”

Alvechurch have a free Saturday this weekend and then return to action – for the fifth time this season – against Stratford Town on Tuesday at Lye Meadow. While Church won the sides’ first meeting in the FA Cup, Stratford have progressed in both the League Cup and FA Trophy head-to-heads.

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