ALVECHURCH boss Ian Long stressed key defender Ash Carter will remain a vital figure in their push for back-to-back promotions, despite being given the chance to train with Forest Green Rovers next week.
The 22-year-old Carter will have a week with Mark Cooper’s League Two side in between Church’s league fixtures at home to Peterborough Sports and then away to Market Drayton Town.
One-time Wolves trainee Carter, a summer signing from Kidderminster Harriers, has already attracted interest from Hereford and had a training game at Chester.
Whilst Long says he is unsurprised to see the player in the spotlight, he vowed that Carter, who is under contract, will remain at the heart of Church’s push for promotion to next season’s new Step Three Midlands Premier.
“There’s nothing that can happen because Ash is under contract and the transfer window is closed,” said Long. “Ash is going to have a week with Forest Green but no way will he be leaving.
“He has been immense for us. He is a Rolls-Royce in this league. He shouldn’t be playing at this standard. You just look at how he plays, how he makes the game look so simple.”
Long admits he is hard to impress but he was full of praise for Alvechurch’s midweek 2-1 victory at fellow promotion contenders Frickley Athletic – a win which pushed Church into second place in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League South Division.
Frickley, who lie fourth, had struck first through Tyler Walton on 11 minutes but Josh March headed home the equaliser six minutes before half-time.
A smartly-finished back-heel from Luke Yates sealed the points on 64 minutes after Yusifu Ceesay won possession and March and Jordan Nadat linked up.
“It’s not often that I hand out praise but the lads did really well on Tuesday,” said Long. “We knew it was going to be tough and after a two-and-a-half hour coach journey and then going 1-0 down in difficult conditions it got tougher.
“Frickley have been scoring goals for fun but we defended resolutely, the lads put their bodies on the line. I can’t praise them enough.”
Following the goalless draw at Stamford on Saturday, Tuesday’s victory nudged Alvechurch one point clear of Bedworth United in the second automatic promotion spot and with four games in hand on Bedworth.
However, with 15 games to play Long is not going to take anything for granted.
“We are where we want to be but there’s a long way to go,” said Long. “The games will be coming thick and fast.
“We’ve had a good few days but we need to back up the point at Stamford and the win at Frickley with a good performance against Peterborough.”
Peterborough, who like Alvechurch were promoted last term, had slipped to the foot of the table after 12 defeats in 14 but they have soared to 14th with a run of four wins and one draw from their last seven fixtures.
After Peterbrough’s visit, Alvechurch begin their belated defence of the JW Hunt Cup when they meet Heath Hayes on Tuesday at Lye Meadow.
Babucar Sauane, who has returned from the Gambia, is set to feature as he looks to regain his fitness.
ALVECHURCH Reserves moved five points clear at the top of the Midland League Reserve Division after a crushing 11-1 win at Bolehall Swift Reserves, writes Lewis Glennon.
Oliver Hartill’s side produced a brilliant attacking display throughout, hitting Bolehall with pace and power to record an eighth league win in a row. To make the day even better, second-placed Coton Green slipped to a 3-1 defeat at home to Gresley.
Jon Williams, Elliot Nash, Callum Debar, and Ethan Hanks all scored inside the first 23 minutes for Church. Nash then grabbed his second goal of the game, before Luke Oakley and the returning Daniel Lawrence scored to end a superb first half with a 7-0 lead.
Lawrence then grabbed his second of the game after the interval, before Jordan Weir grabbed a consolation goal for Bolehall.
Further goals from Debar, Lewis Jones and debutant Jevaughni Robinson added gloss to a dominant away performance.
Alvechurch are at home to Cadbury Athletic Reserves on Saturday.