Alvechurch 2, Stourbridge 1

ALVECHURCH came from behind to beat Stourbridge and book their place in the Southern League Central play-off final.

Stour had taken the lead with a disputed Greg Mills penalty at the end of the first half but second half strikes from sub Andre Landell and forward James Roberts gave Church the victory.

The clash took place at Lye Meadow after Stourbridge gave up home advantage so the game could go ahead. The fixture had previously been rescheduled four times by the Southern League before it was eventually agreed it could take place at Church.

Once the talking stopped and the football finally started it was the hosts that were quicker onto the front foot and worked the first effort of note as Stour keeper James Wren gathered Josh March’s shot from the edge of the area on four minutes.

James Roberts escaped moments later but Wren was quick off his line to smother the forward. He then got up quick to block March’s follow-up effort.

Stour, with the benefit of the slope in the first half, did test Church stopper Dan Crane on six minutes when he pushed away Greg Mills’ powerful drive from range.

Luke Benbow fired a free-kick over the bar on 12 minutes as the clash remained evenly poised.

Long throw-ins from former Glassboy Tom Tonks caused problems for the visitors approaching the 15-minute mark and it was from one of those that Mitch Botfield rattled the bar after rising at the far post.

Botfield then tested Wren from a free-kick on 21 minutes before Kaiman Anderson headed narrowly over a minute later for Stour as both sides exchanged opportunities.

The frantic early tempo slowed after 20 minutes as the game became a scrappy affair with free-kicks in midfield breaking up the momentum.

The next chance fell to Alvechurch on 33 minutes when Ash Carter, advanced from defence, beat Jordaan Brown on the left flank before testing Wren at his near post.

The breakthrough came in added time at the end of the first half in controversial fashion.

First Crane clawed away a header from Stuart Pierpoint before the ref spotted a handball as the Stour attackers looked to pounce on the loose ball.

The decision enraged the Church players as Zak Foster went in the book. This, in turn, left Stour protesting it should have been a red.

After order was restored, Mills stepped up to convert from the spot to edge the Glassboys ahead at the break.

Tonks blazed over for the home side four minutes after the restart and Benbow worked Crane three minutes later as both sides were again working the ball quickly into the final third.

Alvechurch found an equaliser on 55 minutes as half time substitute Andre Landell made an immediate impact.

Pierpoint was slow to react to a long ball from Jamie Willets and Landell was able to beat the outrushing Wren to the ball and head into an unguarded net.

Mills almost found a response but saw a low drive from the left flank saved by Crane.

However, Church were buoyed by the leveller and were soon looking for another.

Long’s men found it on 61 minutes as March played in Roberts with a neat ball and the former Halesowen loanee fired beyond Wren.

Alvechurch remained on top and it took a fine diving save from Wren to keep out a spectacular dipping effort from distance from Landell.

Landell though he had his second on 77 minutes but his header was ruled out by the linesman’s flag.

Stour threw on Leon Broadhurst and Callum Powell looking for a way back as the game opened up heading into the final 10 minutes.

Benbow was denied on 83 minutes after his dipping shot from the left corner of the penalty area was brilliantly tipped over by the impressive Crane.

Stour applied some late pressure but the impressive defensive duo of Jamie Willets and Ash Carter saw away the danger to secure a trip to King’s Lynn on Monday.

Alvechurch: Crane, Morrison, Foster, Turton, Willetts (c), Carter, Botfield (Winwood 79), Tonks, Lloyd (Landell 45), Roberts, March.

Unused subs: Cook, Morrison, Price.

Stourbridge: Wren, Hayden, Brown, McCone (c), Pierpoint (Broadhurst 73), Forde, Anderson (Lilly 68), Birch (Powell 73), Benbow, Thomspson-Brown, Mills.

Unused subs: Christophorou, Evans.