In an enthralling encounter, league leaders Stratford were taken to the wire by a revitalised 'Church side, and the home side's last minute winner was a cruel blow, leaving the visitors with nothing to show from a thoroughly entertaining game.
The first half was a pulsating affair - and probably the best forty-five minutes of football that the 'Church had been part of this season. With the action swinging from end to end, Stratford threatened first with a 7th minute corner that resulted in a bullet header from Bailey that was superbly saved, one-handed, by Richard Taylor
in the 'Church goal.
'Church had a strong penalty shout on 20 minutes when a corner ball found Michael McGrath
just inside the box, and his shot was beaten down by a defender's raised arms, but no decision given.
But it was signal for a period of 'Church pressure, and the best chance came on 23 minutes when Omari Sterling-James
set off on a surging run to the by-line before sending a delicious ball across the Tratford box that eluded a decisive touch from either Nash or Wright by mere inches.
And the same player was the provider on 33 when his cross was met by Joe Wright
on the volley, forcing an acrobatic save from eventual maon f the match Brendan Hazlett who launched himself to turn the ball around the post and to safety.
Stratford responded and two minutes later Richard Taylor
was showing his stuff, and a close range header from Halsall was well held by the 'Church 'keeper.
It was Sterling-James to Wright again on 36, and this time the striker's close range header was again turned around the post by Hazlett. And it was Hazlett in the way again on 42 when a turn and drive by Sterling-James was palmed over by the Stratford 'keeper.
And so, some way, the first half managed to finish goalless.
Half Time : Stratford Town 0 Alvechurch 0
The second half began gloriously for the visitors, with a sweeping move on 50 minutes resulting in the first goal of the game, and a deserved lead for Alvechurch. Elliot Nash
knocked the ball on to release Sterling-James down the right, and his pin-pointed cross was met by the on-rushing Wright who slammed the ball in from close range.
Stratford were ever dangerous though, and although the defence were working overtime to keep the league leaders at bay, there was a sense that the defensive efforts were becoming more deeply rooted in the Alvechurch half, just accentuating the pressure the home side were appearing to assert.
But it took a moment of magic and a wonder strike from substitute Chris Lait to truly throw the game wide open again. The front man had already tested Taylor on 73 after a slalom run and shot that the 'Church 'keeper did well to gather low down, but with just seven minutes remaining there was no such repeat performance. Lait was allowed to cut in from the left flank, moving the ball onto his stronger right foot, and then proceeded to rifle the ball in off the underside of the bar from 25 yards. Taylor had no chance, and the gate had swung open for a nervous finish to the game.
Stoppage time came, and so did a winner for Stratford as the pressure finally told. For once, 'Church failed to clear their lines from a corner, and as the ball rattled around the 'Church box, Anthony Robinson connected to steer the ball goalwards, and despite Taylor's best efforts, to nestle in the far corner of the 'Church net for a gut-wrenching winner.
There was time for Stratford's hearts to stop a minute later when Wright surged into the box looking for an equaliser, but his stabbed effort was again foiled by Hazlett, saving low to his right, with no follow up to capitalise on the loose ball.
The disappointment of the loss was tempered slightly by the quality of the display, but 'Church lost this game because they had to soak up too much pressure from the home side in the second half, and the percentages eventually told. Attacking, Alvechurch looked every bit as dangerous as Stratford, and the Warwickshire side will have few tougher games on their home patch this season.