IAN LONG says the warrior spirit of double promotion-winner Jamie Willets is exactly what Alvechurch need to win their relegation battle.
Central defender Willets has returned to Lye Meadow from Stourbridge and is set to feature in Saturday’s home fixture with Rushall Olympic.
Boss Long also confirmed Church had filed a seven-day approach for Evesham United forward Paul Sullivan as they look to bolster the squad to haul themselves out of trouble in Southern Premier Central.
Last weekend’s 2-0 defeat at home to Nuneaton Borough in Long and Richard Colwell’s first match back in charge left Church second from bottom in the table – nine points from safety with two games in hand on fourth-bottom Leiston.
The return of popular 6ft 3in centre-back Willets, however, will be a huge fillip, especially with fellow defender Joe Hull facing a three-match ban after his red card last weekend.
“It’s a big, big signing to get Jamie,” said Long. “I hope it will create a bit of a feelgood factor and will give the players and everybody around the club a bit of a boost.
“He is a top, top player and a real winner. When you look into the whites of his eyes before a game, you can see he is ready to go to war for you. That’s exactly what we need in the relegation battle we’re in.”
Defeat to Nuneaton – a fifth in a row – was a familiar tale, with Church being more than a match for their opponents but failing to take their opportunities. Instead, Boro struck on 56 minutes with Jamie Hood firing home after Church failed to deal with a corner.
Louis Monaghan was denied after being caught just offside and Mitch Botfield was denied by a breathtaking stop by visiting keeper Ty Belford as Long’s men pressed for an equaliser, but they were reduced to ten men when Hull was sent off for tangling with Joel Kettle 20 minutes from time.
Nuneaton then secured the points on 86 minutes when Callum Powell was fouled and Luke Benbow slotted home the resulting penalty.
“I think that’s been the story of the season,” said Long. “We didn’t create much from open play, but neither did they. It was an even game but we got caught from a set-piece and then we are chasing the game.”
Long says Alvechurch need to be ‘brave’ to turn around the form, starting with the visit of Liam McDonald’s play-off-chasing Rushall.
The Pics, who include former Church players Kieran Cook and Orrin Pendley, beat Stourbridge last weekend to move into fifth in the table, with former Redditch player Richard Batchelor among the scorers.
“We’ve got to be brave, be brave on the ball and look forward when we get the ball in midfield,” said Long
“But on the flip side the movement from the lads up front has got to be better to give the midfielders the options. Even if we had Kevin De Bruyne, he would struggle to make an impact if the movement wasn’t good enough.
“Defensively we look pretty strong and that gives us the platform, but we need wins and that means scoring goals.”