14th Nov, 2018

Long expects Church to respond

Redditch Editorial 9th Nov, 2018

IAN Long always expected Alvechurch to have ups and downs during their first season at Step Three – but that does not lessen the pain of losing football matches.

The Church manager has been reflecting on successive defeats – going down 3-0 at Stratford Town in an FA Trophy replay and then Saturday’s 3-0 loss at home to King’s Lynn Town in Southern Premier Central.

However, Long says the determination to bounce back has been a key factor in Alvechurch’s rise and rise and that will be the case again when they head to Rushall Olympic on Saturday.

“I don’t like losing – no manager does – but we always knew this would be a learning process for us,” said Long. “We’re still getting to know the level. The last games have proved that.

“We’ve always been a side which bounces back and we expect that to be the case against Rushall. We’ve worked hard in training this week and the preparation will be spot on.

“Of course, we would have settled for the start to the season we’ve had. To be seventh in the table is a great credit to the players. We are well ahead of where we thought we would be.”

The last couple of fixtures, however, have highlighted that doing the basics is still the building block of any success and Long admits they need to be stronger defensively.

“We haven’t helped ourselves with some terrible defensive errors against King’s Lynn. They did what they needed to do and punished our mistakes,” said the manager.

“We need to cut out the individual errors. Defenders’ number one job is to take pride in keeping clean sheets. We want to play out from the back but the priority is getting blocks in, getting tackles in. That’s where we need to concentrate.”

Alvechurch will have defender Zack Foster back available to face a Pics side managed by former Redditch United boss Liam McDonald. Midfielder Ryan Winwood has returned to full training after groin and hamstring injuries and is set to get a run-out with Wolves Casuals to boost his match sharpness.

On Saturday Alvechurch were left with a mountain to climb after conceding twice within 14 minutes. Adam Marriott fired King’s Lynn ahead on six minutes, slotting home after Charlie Price saved from Michael Gash and, when Church failed to clear a long ball, Ryan Hawkins slotted home the Linnets’ second.

Hawkins added his second before the break to guarantee the points for the visitors.

After the trip to Rushall, Alvechurch welcome Stratford to Lye Meadow for the fifth meeting between the sides this season. Although Church progressed in the FA Cup tie at the Arden Garages Stadium, Stratford have taken the spoils in the League Cup and in an FA Trophy replay.

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