11th Dec, 2019

Long: We’ve got all bases covered

Redditch Editorial 1st Feb, 2018

IAN LONG stressed the key to Alvechurch’s challenge for honours will be having complete trust in each other.

The Church boss is aware of the growing challenges playing catch-up in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier South promotion race and in two cup competitions.

Tuesday’s penalty shoot-out victory against Rushall Olympic took Alvechurch into the Birmingham Senior Cup quarter-finals against Leamington or West Bromwich Albion.

They also sit four points off second place with four games in hand and continue their promotion campaign with two away games at Sheffield on Saturday and then Leek Town on Tuesday.

After the recent signings of Elliott Reeves and Aaron Lloyd, Long is also following up interest in Boldmere St Michaels top scorer Ryan Nesbitt after highlighting the need to be fully equipped for the twists and turns of the next three months.

But whoever plays, the manager backed them to step up to the task.

“We’re going to be playing a lot of football and it is important we trust all the squad,” said Long. “It’s not about the same XI rolling out week in, week out, especially when we will be playing Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday.

“We can make four or five changes to the side on a regular basis, whether we win or not, and it won’t weaken the squad. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be here.”

Long, though, is aware injuries and unavailabilities can quickly change circumstances and half a dozen players are set to miss the contest at Sheffield.

Alex Darlison is out for the season, Macauley Manning is unavailable through working, Babucar Sauane is still away in the Gambia while Nathan Waite is recovering from a hamstring injury. Illness ruled out Jamie Willets and Mitch Botfield against Rushall while Ryan Winwood tweaked a groin muscle in the 4-2 shoot-out win after a 1-1 draw.

“I’m happy with the squad at the moment but things can happen quickly and it’s our job – mine and Rich Colwell’s – to make sure we are prepared,” said Long.

“With Aaron and Elliott coming in, we’ve got options up front and that’s going to be important. We’ve got options with Josh March, Luke Yates, Jordan Nadat, Yusifu Ceesay, Aaron, Elliott and young Ben Tilbury. You need to keep your forwards fresh.”

Youngsters Simon Chinn and Ben Tilbury are firmly among the first team contingent after they started in Tuesday’s clash against former Redditch boss Liam McDonald’s Rushall at Lye Meadow, while Chris Withington – back after a spell on loan at Wednesfield – also got time on the pitch after his injury.

The visitors struck first when Joe Hull’s header from a corner looped into the net after 34 minutes.

It was 1-1 four minutes later through Yusifu Ceesay after Tom Turton’s quick thinking from a free kick sent him through.

In the shoot-out, the Church quartet of Lloyd, Turton, Andy Parsons and Reeves all scored but Mathis Fonovich and Hull fired over for the visitors.

“We were a little bit off it but I think that was down to not playing for a few weeks,” said Long. “Rushall were the better side for me. We were quite fortunate to get through but perhaps we were due a little bit of luck.”

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