20th Mar, 2019

Phillips in to aid play-off push

Redditch Editorial 7th Mar, 2019 Updated: 7th Mar, 2019

ALVECHURCH boss Ian Long backed new signing Joe Phillips to help provide the extra firepower needed in their quest for a third promotion in a row.

Church confirmed they had received international clearance to register the Stourbridge-based winger from Welsh Premier League side Aberystwyth Town.

The 24-year-old has had two years with Aber after joining from Stourport Swifts including playing in the 2018 Welsh Cup final.

Phillips comes into contention for his debut on Saturday when Alvechurch face Lowestoft Town in the first of successive homes games which manager Long has described as ‘must-win’ to keep up their play-offs bid in Southern Premier Central.

After a 1-1 draw at fellow contenders AFC Rushden & Diamonds left Church in seventh place, only one point from fourth place, Long says they need to produce more of a goal threat.

Phillips has been training with the squad while awaiting clearance and scored twice in a friendly win at Lye Town a few weeks ago.

“Joe has got good feet, he has got good pace and he has got an eye for goal,” said Long. “There are things to work on to suit how we play, working back when we’re out of possession, but we’re hoping he can make a difference.

“He has done well in training and we think he will be a good player for us.”

Church felt they could have take all three points when they visited fourth-placed Rushden last Saturday.

They had been stunned when they conceded after just two minutes, Samuel Johnson slotted home from a long ball forward, but after that setback they had the edge in territory and attacking intent.

Kieron Cook had an effort cleared off the line and saved by keeper Ben Heath and Josh March went close before the equaliser came on 65 minutes when Cook finished off a fine move with a curling shot for his ninth goal of the season.

Cook had a late chance to win it, but Church keeper Dan Crane also kept out a Nathan Hicks chance.

“We played very well and we were probably a little bit disappointed we didn’t take the three points,” said Long. “Kieron Cook was superb for us and deserved his goal, but we had other good situations but didn’t make the most of them. That’s where we need to be a bit better.

“We’ve got two home games now against Lowestoft and then Barwell and if we’ve got any aspirations to get into the play-offs we need to target six points.”

Alvechurch playmaker Lee Chilton, however, is no nearer to returning to action. The midfielder, who has been a key figure after joining from Sporting Khalsa in December, faces an MRI scan to try to determine the extent of the groin injury which has kept him sidelined for the past month.

“It’s a blow because Lee had made a real impact since he joined us,” added Long. “We’ve got to wait to see what the scan shows.”

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