THERE is still a long, long way to go, but Alvechurch boss Ian Long hopes the chance to turn a Wembley dream into reality will bring the best out of his players on Saturday.
The Churchmen face a tricky trip to West Midlands League Premier side AFC Bridgnorth, hoping to reach the third round for only the third time in their history.
Saturday’s winners collect £1,000, but it is the chance of glory which is priceless to Long and his players.
“We are potentially six or seven games from walking out at Wembley, so that’s a massive incentive. Hopefully that thought will focus the players’ minds to make sure they perform to their abilities. If we do that, I’m confident we can go through,” said Long.
Alvechurch will head to Crown Meadow full of confidence after making it seven wins in a row in all competitions as a 3-0 home win against Westfields on Tuesday followed a 4-1 home victory against Shepshed Dynamo on Saturday.
But Bridgnorth, managed by former Wolves player Mark Clyde, and fourth in the West Midlands Premier table, will also fancy their chances.
“Bridgnorth will make it a tough game, no doubt about that. I’ve played and managed against them before and the pitch has a massive slope. It will definitely be a leveller,” said Long.
“We have got to make sure our approach is spot on and we go out and get the job done.”
The healing hands of physio Paul Millward will also have a role to play after Alvechurch had to rule out Dave Bellis, Ryan Winwood and Josh March, alongside Luke Paskin, in midweek.
Long said they were all having treatment under Millward’s watchful eye and he hopes Bellis, Winwood and March will be in contention on Saturday.
Striker Jordan Nadat, however, is definitely missing as he is ineligible for the Vase, having played in an earlier round for Hinckley AFC.
“Considering the conditions on Tuesday, and the injuries, it was an excellent win,” said Long. “We dominated but had to be patient to finally wear Westfields down.
“We were on top but the substitutions, with Chris Field and Karl Edwards coming on in the last 15 minutes, gave us more energy as they tired. The hard work we put in got its reward.
“We want to keep the pressure on Hereford at the top.”
Third placed Alvechurch now trail the leaders by six points with three games in hand.
Shepshed stunned the hosts when they took the lead on Saturday before two-goal Leigh Downing helped turn the game around.
Michael Reeve’s goal put Shepshed ahead on 25 minutes but it was 3-1 ten minutes later.
Connor Deards equalised after March’s shot had been parried before winger March cut in from the left and fired home.
Downing hammered home a third after a flowing move down the right from Field and Deards and Downing sealed victory four minutes from time after Jack Cresswell had charged into the area.
On Tuesday, Alvechurch had to wait until 77 minutes for the breakthrough against Westfields.
Deards was the scorer, firing home after a run by Downing, and Deards then turned provider two minutes later for Downing to head home.
Edwards made it 3-0 after Nadat provided the pinpoint pass.