ALVECHURCH manager Ian Long has challenged his players to create a headline-grabbing FA Vase run to erase their FA Cup disappointment.
The Churchmen have won nine matches in a row since their FA Cup exit at Stourport Swifts on August 29 and will aim to make it a perfect ten on Saturday when they head to Kings Norton-based neighbours Pilkington XXX for a second qualifying round tie.
Alvechurch have never progressed beyond the third round – the last 64 – but Midland Football League Premier Division clubs are the joint highest tier to enter the minnows’ FA Cup and will be among the favourites for a high-profile run in the competition.
“The Vase is a competition we really want to do well in,” said Long. “It was a blow going out of the FA Cup at an early stage, especially missing out on potential prize money.
“It puts extra onus on us to do well in the Vase and bring in some money and put the club in the spotlight. It’s a competition that can create a lot of interest if we have a run.
“You need the rub of the green and some decent home draws, but who knows?”
After eight league wins in a row, Alvechurch have climbed to third in the Midland Premier table, one point behind leaders Hereford, who have played three more games.
For now though, Long’s men face three cup games in the next four. After the Pilkington tie, Alvechurch entertain Lye Town in the Birmingham Senior Cup first round on Tuesday (subject to no Vase replay), then play Dunkirk at home in the league next Saturday before a third successive Lye Meadow outing against Wednesfield in the JW Hunt Cup on October 13.
Long will again shuffle his squad but he made it clear that, whilst winning promotion is the priority, he wants to keep up the winning momentum.
“I want to progress in every cup we enter,” he said. “It’s important we progress in every competition because we’ve got a big squad and it means we can keep giving players games.
“I’ve always said I will rotate the players, whatever the competition. The squad is very close ability-wise and I trust all of them to do a job whenever they play.”
However, new loan recruit Jordan Nadat has to miss Saturday’s Vase tie.
The striker, from Sutton Coldfield Town, opened his Alvechurch account with a goal in Tuesday’s 3-1 home win against Coventry Sphinx but he is cup-tied after playing for Hinckley AFC during another loan stint.
Defender Mark Smith is also absent as he starts a three-match ban following his red card against Bardon Hill.
Alvechurch were in dominant form against Sphinx and the only surprise was they only finished with a 3-1 verdict after creating a host of chances.
Nadat netted the first goal after just six minutes, firing home from 20 yards after collecting the keeper’s scuffed clearance, and Danny Ashton doubled the lead on 33 minutes after Karl Edwards’ shot was blocked.
A stunning, dipping shot from 25 yards from Connor Deards made it 3-0 on the hour before Sphinx pegged a goal back in injury time through Mitchell Piggon.
Alvechurch had also been among the goals on Saturday, winning 3-0 at Shepshed Dynamo.
Edwards scored twice and missed a penalty after Sam Williams had given the visitors a 32nd-minute lead from an Edwards pull back.