Report courtesy of Craig Gibbons, Bromsgrove Standard
BROMSGROVE Sporting returned to the summit of the Midland League Premier Division table with a narrow 1-0 victory over AFC Wulfrunians.
Richard Gregory scored in his 11th consecutive game, hitting home the winner in the 76th minute for the Rouslers who were far from their best.
Wulfrunians will feel aggrieved they did not get something from the game having had a legitimate penalty claim turned down, two key chances in the first-half going to waste before hitting the post in second-half stoppage time.
Victory, however, secures a league double for Sporting over Wulfrunains and sends them back to the top of the table, one point ahead of second-placed Coleshill Town who have played one game extra.
With boss Paul Smith announcing yesterday (Friday) he would be stepping down from his position of manager come the end of the season, the 776-strong crowd at the Victoria Ground were in fine voice to show their support for a man who has guided the Rouslers to some incredible heights.
But the Sporting faithful were left frustrated by a lacklustre first-half display, with the hosts lucky to go into the break at 0-0.
Wulfrunians started the brighter and were left reeling when they were not given a penalty after Aaron Roberts handled Jake Webb’s cross.
Reece Francis then pulled off a fine save to deny Nicholas Turton from opening the scoring for Wulfrunians in the 23rd minute, with the rebound falling to the No.9 but his effort back across goal hit the post and was cleared off the line by Josh Quaynor.
A stunning left-footed volley at the back post by Webb was then pushed over the bar by Francis, who showed expert reflexes to get a hand to the shot.
An unmarked Thomas Ray then headed over from the resulting corner as a stunned Sporting somehow managed to make it to the break level.
Sporting started the second half with slightly more impetus with in-form striker Gregory getting his first whiff of the goal, but his instinctive volley was straight at John Bateman while Jason Cowley curled an effort over just after the hour mark.
Wulfrunians looked lively on the break with Turton showing brute strength to hold the ball up well and link up with those around him.
But the visitors were left questioning how they fell behind in the 76th minute having had numerous chances to have taken the lead earlier in the game.
A great cross-field pass by Robbie Bunn found Cowley on the left-hand side who skipped a few challenges before drilling the ball back across goal to Gregory to tap in from close range.
Wulfrunians were furious there had been a foul in the middle of the park in the build-up to the goal but despite this, they came so close to snatching the equaliser in stoppage time.
Roberts tried to shepherd a loose ball into touch but Jumaane Meggoe nipped in to win the ball but he could only strike against the post from a tight angle as Sporting survived a late scare to secure all three points.