IAN LONG saluted Ash Carter and Tom Turton for being named in the Evo-Stik Northern South team of the season but insisted it will be a squad effort to secure promotion for a second successive campaign.
The performances of defender Carter and midfielder Turton have been recognised by their inclusion in the division’s top XI.
However, the biggest accolade Church want is to secure their place in the new Midlands Step Three division next season and manager Long is confident every single player in the Lye Meadow squad will be ready to play his part.
“To have two players selected in the team of the season, in our first season at this level, is a real feather in the cap for the club,” said Long. “It’s real kudos for Alvechurch and it’s nice to be recognised.
“Ash and Tom have been great for us but to be fair every single player has done well and they will have to keep it going for the next few weeks if we want to be promoted.
“We’re in a good position but there are a lot of games still to be played and it will be all hands on deck.
“We will make changes and when players get the call they need to be fully focused and ready to step in. They might not play every game in the next six weeks but as I’ve told the players ‘you could come in and score the goal that wins us promotion’. That’s the target for us all.”
Alvechurch’s efforts to win promotion will now be judged on the pitch after the league’s grading officials formally passed Lye Meadow as meeting the necessary Grade D criteria.
Chairman Richard Thorndike saluted the helpers who helped ensure the club ticked all the boxes including Steve Patton, Neil Tomin, Craig Nicholls, Rob Waldron, Paul Weaver and Wayne Clarke.
With Alvechurch hoping to move to a new ground at The Hayes in the next couple of seasons, the priority was to ensure Lye Meadow was approved without any major expenditure.
Despite having to settle for a point in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Newcastle Town, Church remain second in the table, two points clear of third-placed Bedworth United, who have played four games more, and three ahead of fourth-placed Frickley Athletic, who have played three games more.
Newcastle struck first when Rod Orlando-Young fired home on 55 minutes but it was 1-1 within a minute when Luke Yates dinked the ball over the home keeper from a Dave Bellis through-ball.
After last night’s (Thursday) rearranged Birmingham Senior Cup tie against West Bromwich Albion, Long’s men entertain Spalding United on Saturday and then welcome Cleethorpes to Lye Meadow next Saturday.
“Saturday was really tough because of the wind and the snow,” said Long. “It was some of the worst conditions I’ve experienced in my time as a football player or manager.
“It still felt like two points dropped but we’ve kept a bit of a cushion and it’s important we win on Saturday to keep the gap over the chasing pack.”
With 12 games to play, Alvechurch believe they will need to secure eight wins to guarantee a top two place. Frickley can total 86 points if they take maximum points while Alvechurch currently have 62.
ALVECHURCH Reserves’ Midland League Reserve Division title hopes were dealt a big blow despite coming from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Nuneaton Griff, writes Lewis Glennon.
Two goals in three minutes from Dean Fisher and substitute Daniel Lawrence earned Oliver Hartill’s side a point on Saturday after Lee Hewitt and Craig Jee had scored for the home side.
Hartill’s side are top of the table on goal difference but have played a game more than second-placed Coton Green and four more than third-placed Gresley, who are eight points adrift.
Griff struck first when a throw-in was not dealt with, allowing Jordan Gardiner to shoot at goal. Keeper Shaun Hayes parried Gardiner’s shot, but Hewitt reacted quickest to slot home.
Alvechurch were given a boost when Macauley Stothard was sent off for the hosts, but soon fell further behind.
Poor marking from a free-kick allowed Nuneaton captain Jee to head home at the far post and he looked to have sealed Nuneaton’s first league win since November.
However, Fisher, playing his first game since rejoining the club, curled the ball into the bottom corner from a free-kick, before Lawrence controlled Mohamed Tambadou’s superb pass to fire home.
Alvechurch have three games remaining, starting against Knowle Reserves on March 31, but they will need Coton Green and Gresley to slip up in their run-ins.