IAN LONG stressed Alvechurch will relish the unusual tag of ‘underdogs’ as they look to become the first visiting team to claim the points from champions-elect Basford United on Saturday.
The Nottingham side are unbeaten on home soil this season and victory against second-placed Church will seal their promotion from the Evo-Stik Northern Premier South.
Long says it will be the biggest challenge this season but they pushed the table-toppers all the way at Lye Meadow before Basford, fortunate by their own admission, secured a 2-1 win in September.
“Basford are unbeaten at home and they have only lost twice in the league, when they were down to ten men both times,” said Long. “They are not in the position they are in for no reason. They are a good, experienced side.
“We’ll go into the game as big underdogs but we will look forward to it. Our form is good, we’ve got no injuries and we will go out and give a good account of ourselves.
“Basford play on astroturf and that should help us. We’ve beaten Romulus 6-2 and drawn at Bedworth on Boxing Day so we’ve proved we can play on astroturf.”
While Basford remain title favourites, Alvechurch’s focus will be to continue their push for the second automatic spot. They head into the game two points ahead of third-placed Bedworth who have played three games more.
Long’s men made it six league wins from eight matches when they chalked up a 2-1 victory at Kidsgrove Athletic on Saturday.
Alvechurch wasted a chance to take the lead on 32 minutes when Jordan Nadat was flattened inside the area but Tom Turton’s spot-kick was saved by keeper Dave Parton to his right.
Turton, however, fired the visitors ahead with another penalty four minutes into the second period – finding the opposite corner after Dave Bellis was fouled.
Jamie Willets made it 2-0 on 57 minutes with a bullet header from Jamie Ashmore’s cross. Eric Graves pulled a goal back for Kidsgrove ten minutes later but Alvechurch continued to be the more likely scorers.
“Yusifu Ceesay did well, Zack Foster was very good but it was a real team performance,” said Long. “It was a bit more comfortable than a 2-1 scoreline suggests.
“You wonder whether it will be our day when Tom’s penalty was well saved by the keeper, but Tom was brave enough to take the second penalty and tuck it into the opposite corner.”
After the Basford trip, Alvechurch meet Carlton Town at Lye Meadow on Tuesday.
Last night (Thursday), Alvechurch were due to host Heath Hayes in the much-delayed first round of the JW Hunt Cup. The winners will be at home to Wolverhampton Casuals, most likely in May.