On a hot late summer’s afternoon, Church were looking to build on the previous weekend’s mauling of Hitchin Town, but this time against sterner opposition.
Manager Darren Byfield made one change to his starting eleven from last weekend with Jordan Goddard coming in at central defence to replace Stuart McNaught.
Hednesford had already beaten Stourbridge 3-0 in their last outing and would prove a proper test to Byfield’s side in the first league meeting of the clubs since season 1991/1992 when Church suffered a 0-6 defeat in Staffordshire.
But it was Church who imposed themselves more in the first half, and but for a tad more composure in front of goal could have been enjoying a half time lead cushion, but instead, found themselves a goal down as Hednesford grabbed the advantage just before the break.
First minute and Roberts snatches at the ball and screws an opportunistic shot wide. Two minutes later, Nesbitt loops in an inviting cross and Roberts is unmarked at the far post, but he heads wide with a clear sight of goal. A massive chance for Church.
Up at the other end, a Hednesford free kick leads to a massive scramble in the Church box before it is cleared at the fourth attempt.
More pressure from the home side as on 9 minutes a cross from the impressive Abadaki led to a defensive header from Monteiro that went to close for comfort to his own goal, and two minutes later a deep free kick into the box allowed Bailey to connect with a header that sent the ball looping onto the roof of the net.
Indecision in the home defence led to another opening for Church on 13 minutes, but as Monteiro lashed the ball into the roof of the Hednesford net the moment was extinguished by the assistant’s flag, ruling the goal out immediately.
An even better chance for Church on the half hour when a long throw from Usher-Shipway finds Willets eight yards out but his towering header cannons back off the bar and to safety. Two great chances now spurned, and it seemed to galvanise Hednesford into action.
A Church move forward breaks down, and the home side respond with Abadaki breaking down the right before seeing his angled shot deflected for a corner.
Another chance for Church on 36 minutes when Nesbitt was blocked on the edge of the box, leading to a booking for Morris. Nesbitt took the free kick himself, curling a shot around the wall and forcing keeper Platt to save well at full stretch, diving to his right.
Despite the balance of play being in Church’s favour, it was Hednesford who got on the scoresheet first on 42 minutes. Roberts looked to be fouled just outside his own box in the lead up, but nothing doing for the referee, and as the loose ball is delivered to the far post area, Elliott keeps his cool to lob the ball over Bradley-Hurst into the far corner of the net.
It was a blow for Church, but the visitors continued to look bright for the remainder of the half, and in the dying embers of the first period, clever feet from Usher-Shipway created an opening for Nesbitt and he curled a shot just off target from just outside the box.
Half Time : Hednesford 1 Alvechurch 0
Church never really got going in the second period as the second half belonged to the home side.
Church toiled to recreate the clarity of chance that they had produced in the first period, and the momentum had quite clearly swung in Hednesford’s favour as Church looked to be lacking in the belief that had stretched the home side’s resolve in the earlier part of the game, and although there was industry in the side, Hednesford proved to be a nut too hard to crack, and were happy to patiently sit on their one goal lead until the right chances presented themselves.
The chances, when they came, were both headed efforts from deep in the Church box, and both from set pieces. A fact that Church management will be disappointed with as both were also effectively unchallenged.
The game had been in something of a lull when the home side struck the killer second. Rowley was cautioned for a foul in midfield and the ensuing free kick was swung into the box. Glover connected with a glancing header to divert the ball past the stranded Church keeper, who had come to meet the ball but found himself woefully short of Glover’s mark.
Church had been made to rue their earlier misses and were now toiling to recreate an impact on the match any where near that of the first half.
Sauane and Archer are introduced in quick succession to freshen up Church’s forward play, but it doesn’t get much better before it gets worse on 82 minutes when Hednesford convert their third goal. A home corner is dispatched with another unchallenged header from Morris, whose bullet header completes Church’s misery.