20th May, 2019

Long calls for more from Alvechurch ahead of Stratford test

Editorial Correspondent 4th Jan, 2019 Updated: 9th Jan, 2019

IAN LONG admits it will be big task for Alvechurch to better their achievements of the past three seasons – but that will be the goal for 2019.

The Church boss admits that seeing the club pushing for a play-off place in their first season in non-League’s Step Three for three decades is “beyond our wildest dreams”.

Before the Evo-Stik South Premier Central season kicked off, the Lye Meadow side expected a year of consolidation after back-to-back promotions but they lie three points off fourth place in the table.

However, they will be looking to bounce back to form tomorrow (Saturday) when they travel to high-flying Stratford Town after three defeats in a row. After the 4-2 Boxing Day derby loss at Redditch United, they went down 3-0 at home to Tamworth and then 3-1 away to Banbury United on New Year’s Day after conceding twice in stoppage time.

Greg Kaziboni fired past new keeper Dan Crane to give Banbury a 19th-minute lead but Mitch Botfield poked home from a scramble to level before the break. Church were reduced to ten men when Dave Bellis was red-carded but their battling performance seemed to have earned a point until Ravi Shamsi and Steve Diggin pounced in injury time.

Long and No 2 Rich Colwell don’t want the players to drop the standards they have set in the first five months of the campaign.

“It’s been another great year for the Church,” said Long. “It’s been another year of progress.

“Winning the treble in 2017, as Midland League champions, League Cup winners and lifting the JW Hunt Cup at Molineux, was fantastic. But winning promotion last year was probably the biggest achievement for myself and the players. Nobody expected us to get promoted from the Evo-Stik Division One South, especially with the budget we’ve got compared to other clubs. We are probably ahead of schedule.

“To be in the fight for the promotion play-off places is beyond our wildest dreams.

“The players deserve so much credit. The lads keep finding a little bit more each time.

“We knew it would be tough, but the players kept pushing, kept working and kept finding that little bit more.

“It’s really close towards the top end of the table and there’s a lot of football to be played. You can quickly slip down the table if results go against you but everybody can beat each other.”

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