18th Nov, 2019

Trophy tie will test Church’s mettle

Redditch Editorial 24th Oct, 2019

DARREN Byfield will urge Alvechurch to get on the front foot from the first whistle as they bid to topple Peterborough Sports in Saturday’s FA Trophy tie.

Church have bowed out of four other cup competitions at the first stage this season but boss Byfield hopes last weekend’s 1-0 victory against St Ives Town will prove a ‘turning point’ after recent struggles.

Javia Roberts’ 27th-minute goal failed to fully reflect an impressive Church display at Lye Meadow as they recorded their first win since the end of August.

Byfield admits it has been a work in progress as he has had to tinker with the squad – with former Worcester City skipper Aaron Birch being the latest addition and making his debut against St Ives.

“We have seen signs of things coming together and Saturday was our best performance of the season so far,” said Byfield.

“I always believed in myself and I believed in the players and I’ve always felt the confidence has been high.

“I’ve never felt they have been hiding but you need to be winning games. We did that on Saturday and I hope we have turned the corner.

“The lads have seen what we need from them and I’ve been getting to understand them.

“I’ve had to rebuild the team and although it’s something I’ve done before it is hard. You have to get the right players and that takes time. We’ve got to keep improving and progressing.”

Church continued their development in midweek with a 1-0 friendly win at Wolves Casuals and will be looking to step up again when they head to Peterborough Sports.

The sides drew 2-2 in the league in September, with Sports hitting back from 2-0 down to bag an injury-time leveller, and they reached the FA Cup fourth qualifying round before bowing out to AFC Fylde last weekend.

“Peterborough are a tough side. They knocked out a friend of mine, Marcus Bignot’s Guiseley, from a league above in the FA Cup and it’s no disgrace to lose to AFC Fylde, who are one of the top, top teams in the National League,” said Byfield.

“We’ve got to be on the front foot and hopefully we can progress. We’ve gone out of all the other cups so that gives us another extra incentive.”

Alvechurch’s evolving squad has brought in former player Birch, but midfielders Stuart McNaught and John Atherton have returned to Walsall Wood.

Birch’s CV includes spells at Hereford – where he helped the Bulls pip Church to the Midland League Premier title – Stourbridge, Halesowen Town and Sutton Coldfield Town.

“Aaron is a top, top player,” said Byfield. “I’m delighted to get him. There were a few clubs after him.

“He is a leader, he gets around the pitch and he can start attacks.

“We know we’ve got the base now but I want to add to it with players fighting to get into the team and on to the bench.”

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