Report courtesy of Bromsgrove Standard’s Craig Gibbons
BROMSGROVE Sporting brought an end to Coventry Sphinx’s 13-game unbeaten Midland League Premier Division run with an emphatic 5-1 victory.
Sphinx had not lost in the league since the 5-1 defeat to Worcester City at the Victoria Ground on October 3 and Sporting’s home was once again not the happy hunting ground.
Ryan Harkin had given the visitors the lead after ten minutes with a good finish into the top corner but the Rouslers were level 12 minutes later when Sean Brain nodded home at the back post from Drew Canavan’s cross.
Second-half substitute Richard Gregory scored five minutes after coming off the bench, smashing home a penalty which was awarded after Liam Cairns handled Canavan’s shot from close range.
Craig Jones then headed home Josh Quaynor’s corner to make it 4-1 before Gregory added a fourth with three minutes remaining.
And there was still time to add more salt in the Sphinx wounds as Sam Wills’ left-footed drive completed the scoring in the first minute of stoppage time.
The victory moved Sporting to within two points of league leaders Coleshill Town who have played one game more.
Following the 2-0 reverse at Sphinx Drive earlier in the season, Sporting were looking to avenge that defeat but they got off to a terrible start, falling behind in the tenth minute when a swift counter-attack was finished off expertly by Harkin whose powerful drive flew into the top corner.
Once again it needed something bad to happen to kick Sporting into gear and after Cowley and Roberts watched efforts go wide, the hosts drew level midway through the first half.
After Quaynor’s corner was cleared for a throw, the left-back took it quickly to Canavan whose inch-perfect cross was met by Brain who could not miss from right underneath the bar.
Cowley came close to giving Sporting the lead seven minutes later but his dipping free-kick sailed agonisnigly wide of the far post.
Sporting continued to press but they were indebted to keeper Reece Francis two minutes before the break when he pulled off a flying save to deny Harkin’s 20-yard pile-driver from finding the top corner.
After the interval Sphinx had two good chances to restore the lead, firstly an unmarked Louis Guest could only head wide at the back post while a last-ditch tackle from Daniel Morris denied Harkin from getting a shot on goal in the 55th minute.
The visitors’ good start inspired Sporting boss Paul Smith to bring on John Pykett and Gregory to the fore and it took the latter all of four minutes to find the back of the net.
Referee Andy Genders pointed to the penalty spot after Canavan’s shot was handled by Cairns and up stepped Gregory to score in his seventh consecutive game.
The double substitution certainly paid dividends as the link-up play between Pykett and Roberts caused continuous problems as Sporting probed for a third.
And the hosts got the decisive third goal in the 83rd minute when Quaynor’s corner was glanced into the net by Jones.
Four minutes later it was 4-1 when Scott Lower’s clearance was charged down by Cowley, with the loose ball finding its way to an unmarked Gregory who drilled a left-footed shot into the far corner.
Sphinx’s misery was compounded in stoppage time when a slick first touch from Wills gave him the time and space to arrow home into the far corner from the edge of the area.