30th Oct, 2020

Holtham: Cup victory can be springboard to safety

Redditch Editorial 13th Feb, 2020 Updated: 13th Feb, 2020

MANAGER Dean Holtham wants Alvechurch’s midweek cup success to be the catalyst to push away from the Southern Premier Central danger zone.

Wednesday night’s 3-0 win against a youthful Kidderminster Harriers booked Church a place in the Worcestershire Senior Invitation Cup final against Bromsgrove Sporting but that was not the only positive for Holtham.

They halted an eight-match winless sequence, ended a three-match run without a goal, kept only their fourth clean sheet of the season and also welcomed back Rahis Nabi and Khaellem Bailey-Nicholls from injury.

Holtham admitted he would trade cup success for three points when they head to Stourbridge, managed by ex-Church boss Ian Long, on Saturday but they will travel with a renewed positivity.

“It was important to get that win but I would swap that for three points in the league,” said Holtham.

“Overall it was a good performance and it was pleasing to see a few smiles on people’s faces and looking forward to the Stourbridge game.”

He added: “We created chances and missed a few but the difference was that we didn’t concede again. Then we got a couple of late goals to send us through.

“We made a few changes and it was good to have Khaellem Bailey-Nicholls playing 60 minutes and Rahis coming on as sub for the second half after Mitch Botfield got a slight twinge in his back. We haven’t got the biggest of squad and we’ve had our share of injuries so we’re going to need people fit, especially playing catch-up in the league fixtures.”

Having completed the signing of Barwell’s Dominic Brownhill last week before the 3-0 defeat at Peterborough Sports, Church have continued to add to their ranks with the return of Ryan Winwood.

The gifted midfielder, part of the squad which sealed two promotions, was among the players to follow Long to Stourbridge but he has agreed to rejoin. However, he will not feature on Saturday after an agreement between both sides. Instead, he will be available for Tuesday’s home clash with Kings Langley.

Church will also still be without Knory Scott, Kieran Miller, Zack Foster and Theo Llewellyn. Midfielder Llewellyn is facing at least another six weeks on the sidelines.

Another player who has returned to Lye Meadow, Joe Phillips, opened the scoring in Wednesday’s cup tie at home to Kidderminster.

Brownhill made the initial interception to get Church on the attack and, when Taylor Morrison produced a perfect cross, Phillips slammed his shot into the net past keeper Tom Palmer.

Bailey-Nicholls headed against the post as Church looked for a second before the break but they then had to withstand plenty of pressure from Harriers who included ex-Birmingham City player Koby Arthur, before two goals in the final three minutes settled the contest.

Joe Hull headed home a free kick for 2-0 before Kevin Monteiro got his reward after winning possession and rounding Palmer to tuck home his shot.

On Saturday, Alvechurch had their moments at title-chasing Peterborough, only to again pay for failing to convert the chances and then compounding their profligacy with a couple of defensive blunders.

Sports took the lead on the half-hour mark at The Bee Arena when a perfectly-struck free kick from Dion Sembie-Ferris found its way through the Alvechurch wall and the outstretched hand of keeper Matthew Sargeant.

Sembie-Ferris grabbed his second of the game on 51 minutes, tapping home when Mark Jones capitalised on a mistake from an Alvechurch defender to cross

Alvechurch began to press and Sports keeper Lewis Moat pulled off two fantastic saves to deny Eoin Ashton and Hull.

However, it was 3-0 with 15 minutes left as substitute Cameron Johnson drilled home a long-distance effort.

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