A LATE penalty save from Bromsgrove Sporting keeper Reece Francis ensured the Rouslers edged out Sporting Khalsa 1-0 in the second round of the FA Vase. Referee Adrian Hall had no choice but to point to the spot ten minutes from time after Reece Hewitt clumsily brought down Marvin Nisbett in the area. David Meese took the spot-kick but his effort was met by the strong hands of Francis who dived to his right to keep the hosts from salvaging a replay.
The save came ten minutes after the visitors had taken the lead when Jason Cowley bagged his 51st goal in a Sporting shirt when he nodded home at the back post from John Pykett’s looping cross.
Boss Paul Smith made four changes to the team which slumped to a crushing 3-1 Midland League Premier Division defeat at Highgate United, with Aaron Roberts, Max Loveridge, Connor Deards and John Pykett coming in for Josh Quaynor, Guy Clark, Sean Brain and the suspended Sam Wills.
In a clash between second and third in the league, it was Khalsa who got off to a flying start with Meese and Craig Bannister watching efforts go wide of the mark inside the opening 20 minutes. Meese then fired over from the edge of the area after 26 minutes but Sporting felt aggrieved that they had not been awarded a penalty when Max Loveridge’s shot was deemed to have been handled by Liam Hot.
However, the referee waived away very strong appeals. Bromsgrove continued to press but never really troubled Sam Arnold in the Khalsa goal. And the hosts probably should have gone ahead on the stroke of half-time but Mykel Beckley could only flash an angled drive agonisingly wide of the far post.
Following the interval, Khalsa continued on from where they left off as a stunning 35-yard volley from Holt was saved on the line by Francis. The woodwork then came to Bromsgrove’s rescue in the 52nd minute as Bannister’s free-kick from 20 yards out crashed against the woodwork.
It looked as though Khalsa would eventually break the deadlock, but it was instead the visitors who nosed themselves ahead in front of a 311-strong crowd at the Aspray Arena. A wonderful cross-field pass from Jack Wilson allowed Pykett the time and space to deliver a high cross to the back post where an unmarked Cowley could make no mistake.
But ten minutes later the Willenhall hosts had the perfect opportunity to level when they were awarded a penalty after Nisbett was brought down in the area by Hewitt. Up stepped Meese to take it but Francis flew to his right-hand side to keep Khalsa’s No.8 at bay.
This did not deter the hosts from continuing to push for the equaliser but they could not find a way past a very stubborn Sporting defence as the visitors closed out the victory.
Report courtesy of Craig Gibbons (Bromsgrove Standard)