By Liam Moakes 29/03 Updated: 05/04 14:36
ALVECHURCH'S surge towards Midland Alliance survival has well and truly ground to a halt as disappointing losses at Highgate United and Tividale over the past week made it three games in a row without a goal being scored.
As yet, it is unclear how many sides will be relegated as it could be two or three depending on whether the East Midlands Counties champions come up to the MFA, but regardless of this Alvechurch will need to perform better in their remaining seven matches.
On Saturday second half goals from Elroy Bennett and Dan Dineen gave second bottom Highgate a 2-0 victory at Tythe Barn Lane in a dour contest before Chris Russell's 70th minute goal ensured Alvechurch slipped to a 1-0 loss at Tividale on Tuesday.
The setbacks have left Alvechurch third from bottom but now five points behind both Atherstone Town and Studley, meaning tomorrow's match at home to rock bottom Willenhall Town has taken on critical importance in Alvechurch's bid to escape the bottom three.
They should be able to call on the services of influential winger Elliot Nash, who was sorely missed on Tuesday at Tividale due to work commitments.
The only goal arrived when the visitors failed to deal with a free kick floated to the far post and striker Russell was on hand to convert from close range when the ball was nodded back across the face of the goal.
Alvechurch had squandered a fine chance to open the scoring in the first half when Jazz Luckie was clean through on goal but home keeper Beech thwarted his strike with an outstretched leg.
The visitors also came within a whisker of levelling ten minutes from time when Keith Rostill found Belgian Kevin Borrey on the edge of the area but his blistering shot rattled the home bar and deflected over to safety.
Saturday's defeat at Highgate was hard to stomach for Alvechurch fans who have twice seen their side demolish Gate on previous occasions this season.
Alvechurch went close through Nash and also had strong penalty appeals rejected when Joe Wright went down in the box in the first half, but in truth Highgate had the better of a poor match as it progressed and deserved maximum spoils by the end.
Bennett opened the scoring in the 64th minute when he latched on to Karl King's lay-off to volley home and the points were clinched 15 minutes from time when a foul on Nathan Edgington on the left resulted in Ollie Casey flighting a curling free kick into the box which Dineen got to first to head home.
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