21st Oct, 2019

Self-belief and respect the key to Alvechurch success says Long

Redditch Editorial 2nd Nov, 2017 Updated: 2nd Nov, 2017

IAN LONG has told Alvechurch to fear nobody – and be wary of every team – as they look to build on a four-match winning run.

Having booked their place in the second qualifying round of the FA Trophy with an impressive 2-0 win at Cambridge City on Saturday, Church will meet Northern Premier side Coalville Town at Lye Meadow a week on Saturday in the next stage.

Before then they will look to keep pushing the top two in the Northern Premier South when they entertain Lincoln United on Saturday.

Manager Long says he senses an extra solidity in the team, combined with a variety of attacking threats, to challenge any rival, but he warned every opponent at this level is more than capable of taking the points.

Long reiterated the target to challenge for promotion to a new-look Midland Step Three set-up next season.

“We’ve had a good few weeks but it’s important we keep pushing,” said Long. “We’re up to third and we’ve games in hand on the teams behind us, but we want to push on and keep on the tails of Cleethorpes, who are two points ahead of us, and the leaders Basford.

“We want to get into an automatic spot – that’s the dream. We are in our first season at this level and realistically getting into the play-offs would be an achievement.

“We’ve already seen that you cannot afford to take your feet of the gas. On our day, I think we can challenge anybody, but if you have an off day you will get obliterated. That’s what happened when we played Stamford and Corby.

“The positive thing is that after we lost to Corby we’ve won four games in a row. We’ve looked solid, we’re working hard and we’ve got a little bit of quality as well.”

That summed up Alvechurch’s performance on Saturday as they overcame Southern League East high-flyers Cambridge City, led by two-goal man of the match Babucar Sauane.

The midfielder reacted first to a rebound for the opener on 58 minutes and then he added the second goal ten minutes later.

“Saturday wasn’t a classic but it was good way to end a tough week, with all the travelling we had done,” said Long, whose side had won at Belper and then at Peterborough Sports.

“The two goals were two bits of quality and we were able to grind out the result. Baba has done well, chipping in with his goals, and we’ve got goals throughout the team. We’re not relying on Josh March.”

March, last season’s golden boot winner, did not start on Saturday as a precaution because of a niggling groin problem and Long admits a flurry of absentees could force a move into the transfer market.

Bekir Halal has returned to Hinckley AFC, while Luke Yates and Chris Whittingham have picked up injuries. Yates picked up a rib injury at Cambridge while Whittingham hurt his ankle in training.

Midfielder Jack Cresswell is out of action through family circumstances while Ryan Winwood is still a month to six weeks away from a return after his summer shoulder operation.

However, Long will be preparing to make several changes on Monday when Alvechurch head to Northern Premier side Stourbridge for a rearranged Integro League Cup tie. It was postponed last month through floodlight failure.

TOM Turton has found new fame as a winner of the Sky Sports Goal of the Month competition – and been given a new nickname.

The Alvechurch midfielder lashed home a stunning 30-yard half-volley in the FA Trophy win at Belper Town and won a vote to be named Grassroots goal of the month for September.

His strike won praise from Jeff Stelling and Paul Merson, despite being named as ‘Tom Turnip’.

“It’s an honour for Tom and for the club,” said manager Ian Long. “It was a great strike, too. Technically, he has got that ability in his locker.

“He’s also got a bit of stick for the lads because he was called Tom Turnip. Now the lads have christened him Dick, as in Dick Turpin!”

JAMES Kelly’s late winner earned Alvechurch Reserves only their second win off the season with a 2-1 success which ended hosts Coton Green’s unbeaten start to the season, writes Lewis Glennon.

Alexander Pott put the Midland League Reserve Division leaders ahead at half time, but Ethan Hanks equalised in the second half before captain Kelly nodded home Danny Priest’s free kick to earn the three points.

The game started at a furious pace, with Church’s Dean Fisher hitting the post and Coton forward Jake Walker heading wide before Lewis Jones and Luke Oakley were both denied by Coton keeper Mark Bowen.

However, Coton took the lead when Alex Charlton’s strong run led to Pott slotting home. It could have got worse as Church goalkeeper Paul Evans denied Walker and Max Hayward headed over from a corner.

Alvechurch did not let their heads drop though and they equalised early in the second half when Priest’s set piece fell to Hanks who slotted home his fourth goal of the season.

There were few clearcut chances but, with little time remaining, Kelly rose highest to secure the win.

Alvechurch face Bromsgrove Sporting Reserves on Saturday.

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