MANAGER Ian Long says his Alvechurch side should be proud of their endeavours in the first half of the season – but he is not satisfied.
The Church boss rates his side’s campaign so far in their first ever season in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier South as seven out of ten.
They lie second in the table, with games in hand on the teams below them, having also enjoyed a decent FA Cup run.
Long’s pre-season goal was to secure Alvechurch’s place in the new Midlands Premier next term at Step Three and he stressed they need to continue to step up their performance to stay ahead of their rivals.
They occupy second place, 18 points behind runaway leaders Basford United with three games in hand, but they have five games in hand on third-placed Corby Town, who are level on points, and three in hand on Stocksbridge PS, Stamford and Bedworth United who lie fourth to sixth.
“If somebody had offered me second place in the table and in a position where we have got a number of games in hand on the majority of clubs in the chasing pack, I would have grabbed it with both hands.” said Long.
“I’m hard to please. It’s been a pretty good start to the season but I always want more.
“There have been some good performances, but some disappointing performances too – Stamford and Corby spring to mind. The last few weeks have shown we can grind out results when we have to but we can do better.
“We were conceding goals too easily at one point and now we look a lot more solid.
“Sometimes, though, that means you lose a little bit of quality in the forward area of the pitch. That’s probably the case for us.”
Long suggests Nottinghamshire side Basford – who remain unbeaten in the league – are the ‘team to beat’ but the top two will win promotion in the new structure with the chance of another team getting promoted via the play-offs.
“Basford’s record is phenomenal,” said Long.
“We had a good game against them earlier in the season and they said some nice things about us.
“They said when we played them it was their toughest ever game in the Evo-Stik League.
“We’ve got to keep them on their toes.”
After their FA Cup heroics in defeating two Premier Division sides, Alvechurch still have two cup competitions and Long says that will be a plus, rather than a distraction to their league campaign.
They will face a Birmingham Senior Cup tie at home to Rushall Olympic and still have to arrange their rescheduled JW Hunt Cup trip to Heath Hayes.
“The league is the priority but we need to stay in the cups, said Long.
“We’ve got a big squad and it’s important we stay in these competitions to keep the squad ticking over.”
Alvechurch face Gresley tomorrow (Saturday) at Lye Meadow before heading to Bedworth United on Boxing Day (1pm kick-off) and then they visit Frickley Athletic on Saturday December 30.