With Steve Palmer serving the second of his 3 match suspension and Jazz Luckie, Terry Morton, Courtney Charles, Karl Hooper and Michael Batchelor all missing, Alvechurch started with the bare 14, with Rory Curtis up front with Andy Nicol and Tom Stone and Daley Cameron returning as full backs. Strikers Ross Dempster and Keith Rostill started on the bench along with Adam Humphries.
The game started slowly with the first effort coming after 11’ when a Horler cross from the right was flicked on and Captain Pike, with his back to goal shot overhead but was easily caught under Gwilliams bar. Another right wing cross from full back Bradburn after 13’ again found Pike at the back post, but he slipped trying to hit the ball.
On the half hour a left wing cross saw Jones with a half chance but he didn’t get enough contact and the ball glanced wide of the post. Church’s first effort of note cam after 26’ when Wills cut in from the right and saw his shot deflected for a corner.
The best move and chance of the half came after 31’ when Curtis picked up the ball on the left, played it back to Sam Wills, who curled his effort low into the corner, only to see it come off the keepers left post and out to Andy Nicol who stumbled whilst trying to score from rebound before the ball was cleared to safety. Cameron was replaced by Humphries after 33’
Half Time 0-0
The second half started brighter than the first, and after Wills was tripped on the edge of the Bridgnorth box after 48’, his attempted quick free kick did not trouble Crook in goal.
Good interchange beteen Whitney and Horler after 51’ ended with a great tackle from Tom Elder, clearing for a corner. Good play again from Whiney after 58’ ended with his shot deflected for another corner.
After 62’ the management decided to take off Wills who had looked threatening and replaced him with Keith Rostill in a role behind the forwards.
After 75’ Nash was replaced by Dempster. Rostill coming on was the turning point, as his touch and football brain, turned the game in favour of the Church. Church should have taken the lead after 78’ when after dispossessing full back Bradburn just inside his own half, David Glaze raced through one on one with the keeper, but instead of shooting, tried to go round him and Crook took the ball off him to prevent a certain goal. With Rostill pulling the strings in the middle, a good run by Nicol after 81’ saw him pass to Dempster, only to see his shot curl just over the bar.
Church took a deserved lead after 83’ when a corner by Dempster was missed by the Bridgnorth defence to find Scott Smith, who blasted effort into the top corner to make it 0-1 Church.
After 87’ Whitney’s effort was saved by Gwilliams and after 88’ Dempster saw another effort go just wide after cutting in from the right.
Full time 0-1
Secretary Steve Denny said after “with Highgate and Atherstone also both winning today, it was an important 3 points for us. Not a very good first half, but going up the slope is always difficult here at Bridgnorth and all in all we were happy with 0-0 at half time, although Sam Wills was desperately unlucky with his effort which came off the post.
Second half, going down the slope, I thought we dominated and deserved our victory. Rostill made the difference when he came on, but I was personally surprised to see Wills replaced as he is always capable of doing something spectacular, particularly going down the slope with the wind behind him.
However, it turned out to be a brave and inspired substitution, as Rostill was different class. His touch and ability to bring players into play was the difference. He may not currently be able to manage 90’, but is always worth a place as technically he is still probably the best player we have on the books.
Defensively we looked solid, with Tom Elder and Scott Smith outstanding and it was good to see Tom Stone and Daley Cameron returning as full backs. With all our players back, I now feel we can push on and start picking up more points to get us out of the relegation places.”