IAN Long has challenged his Alvechurch squad to take inspiration from the club’s history-making exploits of four decades ago to become FA Cup heroes this season.
Church last reached the first round proper in 1973, while their status as cup record-breakers is guaranteed after their part in the longest ever Cup tie, spanning 11 hours and six matches against Oxford City in 1971.
Long would love another run to put the spotlight on Lye Meadow and that will be the rallying call when they tackle fellow Northern Premier League South side Market Drayton Town on Saturday in the first qualifying round.
Three wins would take them to final qualifying round, when the National League clubs enter the competition, and then the Football League teams join the fray in the next stage.
“People remember FA Cup runs. Every club in non-League dreams of playing in the first round and someone from our level will get to that stage this season,” said Long. “Westfields did it last season, Chasetown have done it, so there’s no reason why we can’t do it as well.
“I would love to have a cup run and create that real buzz around the club and the whole area.”
Market Drayton will have exactly the same emotions but they have had to forego home advantage to Saturday’s tie. Their own ground at Greenfields Lane is unavailable and the tie will now be played at Nantwich Town.
It will be a new venue for Long and his unbeaten squad but they travel to Cheshire full of confidence after back-to-back wins in Evo-Stik Northern Premier South over the Bank Holiday.
A Tom Turton penalty – awarded after Josh March was flattened on 19 minutes – and then another fantastic 25-yard strike from March proved enough to defeat Frickley Athletic 2-0 on Saturday at Lye Meadow.
Then Danny Dubidat opened his goals account on Monday, bagging a hat-trick in a 6-2 win away to Romulus. The result ended Church’s phobia of playing on plastic pitches, with Turton converting two more penalties and Yusifu Ceesay also bagging his first goal for the club since his summer move from Sporting Khalsa.
“Danny Dubidat did well against Frickley and then he was unplayable against Romulus,” said Long. “He hasn’t been at his best early on but Monday was the Danny Dubidat of old.”
Meanwhile, Long expressed his disappointment in losing one of last season’s treble-winners after front-runner Connor Deards decided to leave Alvechurch to join Bromsgrove Sporting.
Deards, who suffered an injury in pre-season, had yet to play this season and faced extra competition this term for forward berths with the arrival of three new strikers.
“I didn’t want to lose Connor and I tried to persuade him to stay but he decided to move on,” said Long.
“He was the longest serving player at the club – he was there along with Jack Cresswell when I took over – and he has done well for me.
“Last season he scored some really important goals, especially when Josh March, was injured, and that helped us make such a memorable season.”
ALVECHURCH Reserves picked up their first win off the season as they defeated visitors Walsall Wood Reserves 3-0 in the Challenge Trophy on Saturday.
Having lost their first two games, Oliver Hartill’s men got off to a quick start with James Kelly going close from a corner and Dean Fisher being denied by a last-ditch tackle.
An early injury to Elliot Nash followed by another injury to new signing Ethan Hanks did not help the cause.
Their persistence paid off though as they took the lead through Reece Edwards-Williams’ superb free-kick from 25 yards and Corey Virgo-Broom quickly doubled the lead.
Substitute Daniel Lawrence then sealed the win, dispossessing the defender before calmly slotting home.
The reserves face Bromsgrove Sporting Reserves in a Challenge Trophy derby at The Hayes on Saturday.