IAN LONG has enlisted young pros Peter Taylor and Mitchell Candlin as he begins to plot Alvechurch’s Great Escape.
Midfielder Taylor and front-runner Candlin have both joined Church on loan for the rest of the season from West Bromwich Albion and Walsall respectively and are set to make their debuts in Saturday’s home game against Nuneaton Borough in Southern Premier Central.
The pair are the first new faces since Long and Richard Colwell returned to Lye Meadow as bosses last week after leaving Stourbridge but they both worked with Taylor when the 19-year-old spent two months on loan with the Glassboys.
Candlin has also experienced Southern Premier football this season, ironically for Nuneaton.
“We had Peter at Stourbridge and he did well for me,” said Long. “We’re in a battle and he will be a good option for us.
“We’ve brought in Mitchell too. He’s had two loan spells at Nuneaton and scored against us at Stourbridge. His movement is good and will give us a threat. He is more of a No 10 than an out and out frontman but we will be looking to tinker with our shape to make sure our frontman isn’t so isolated.”
Church will continue to look for reinforcements as they bid to turn around their fortunes to escape the relegation zone but Long feels there is quality in the squad. The priority is to boost the confidence and start scoring goals.
Last weekend’s game at St Ives Town and Tuesday’s fixture at Biggleswade Town were both postponed, leaving Church second from bottom in the table, nine points behind fourth-bottom Leiston, who have played two more games.
Alvechurch were able to get on to a pitch, however, when they faced West Midlands Premier leaders Shifnal Town in a friendly at Wolverhampton Wanderers’ all-weather dome on Saturday, when the Shropshire side won 2-1.
“We controlled the game and had five or six great chances but didn’t take them,” said Long. “Speaking to the chairman, that’s been the story of the season and that has got to change. It’s a question of players having that little bit of composure in the final third, having that quality to finish.”
Saturday’s clash with Boro is the first of four home games out of the next five and Long stressed the fans too will have their part to play in hauling the club out of trouble.
“We’re in a fight, a big fight and we all need to do our bit – that’s me, the players, the staff and the fans,” he said.
“We need to keep believing, we need to keep our heads up and we need to give players the confidence to go and perform. They are good players but the table doesn’t lie and they’ve not been good enough.
“We’ve had great support over the last few years at Alvechurch – winning promotion twice – and we need to supporters to really back us now.”
Nuneaton lie tenth in the table, having lost their last two games including a 3-2 defeat at rock-bottom Redditch United.
“I watched them beat Hednesford 3-0 at the start of February and they got some very good players, like Luke Benbow,” said Long. “They probably haven’t fulfilled their potential.”
Alvechurch will again be without left-back Zack Foster who has been sidelined for the past three weeks, while Rahis Nabi will be struggling after picking up a knock in a 45-minute run-out against Shifnal.