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MATCH NEWS: Brain hits brace against Romans

BROMSGROVE Sporting continued their fine start to life in the Midland League Premier Division with a 4-2 victory over Rocester.

Two goals from Sean Brain, his 51st and 52nd goals for the Rouslers, and one from Robbie Bunn raced the hosts into a 3-0 lead after 26 minutes. Rob Ritchie-Smith then reduced the arrears prior to the break before a stunning strike from Martin Smyth in the 74th minute set-up a tense finish. But a fine curling effort from Wade Malley, his first since returning from Halesowen Town, secured the win for Paul Smith’s men who picked up their fourth win in five league outings.

In what was the third meeting between the two sides having played twice in the FA Cup extra preliminary round, Sporting came out the blocks fastest as they took a tenth-minute lead. Aaron Roberts’ cross was flicked on by Malley into the path of Brain whose instant volley crept in at the near post. And the Rocester net was bulging again just two minutes later when Brain was on hand to tap home from close range after connecting with Duane Courtney’s header.

The lively John Pykett was finding acres of space down the right wing and his tenacity to win the ball after losing it earned Sporting a third goal after 26 minutes. Pykett battled hard to regain possession on the far side before crossing to Bunn on the edge of the area who lay in waiting to sweep the ball in at the near post to give the Rouslers an unassailable 3-0 lead.

Smyth came close to pulling a goal back immediately up the other end when Oliver Pratt’s free-kick evaded everyone. But the Staffordshire visitors managed to get one back five minutes from the end of the first half when Oliver Roome showed great awareness inside the box to pick out Ritchie-Smith who made no mistake from close range.

After the break, Rocester were certainly in the ascendancy as Carl Allen saw his shot from Ritchie-Smith’s cross need saving by Brendan Bunn while Callum Riddell also saw a tame header fail to trouble the Sporting stopper.

Malley then came agonsingly close from restoring Sporting’s three-goal cushion after 68 minutes but he could only glance a header wide from substitute Connor Deards’ cross from the right. And just six minutes later the Romans were right back in the match as Smyth’s long-range drive flew into the net with the help of the underside of the angle between crossbar and post.

With eight minutes to go Malley saw a near-post flick well saved by Charlie Wood in the Rocester goal but the former Racing Club Warwick striker would not be thwarted for much longer.

In the 85th minute, Brain picked out Malley in the area who shifted the ball onto his stronger left foot before curling a wonderful effort into the far corner. But within a minute Rocester should have made it 4-3 when Tom Brown managed to break free in the area but with only Bunn to beat, he dragged his effort well wide of the target.

Malley saw a volley whistle over the bar in injury time as Sporting closed out the victory to make it 12 points from a possible 15.

Report courtesy of Craig Gibbons – Bromsgrove Standard

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