A brace from Jason Cowley helped continue Bromsgrove Sporting’s fairytale FA Vase run on Saturday afternoon, as a record crowd of 1487 witnessed them beat Bristol Manor Farm 2-1 in fine style.
Cowley, who had scored in the last four rounds of the competition, bagged the opener just before half time, as a beautiful team effort resulted in the talisman hitting home Chris Lloyd’s accurate pass.
His second on the 54th minute was thanks largely to some superb build up play from Ahmed Ali, who surged through the midfield to set up Cowley’s right footed effort in the bottom corner.
Sporting dominated proceedings thereafter but failed to put the game to bed and Troy Simpson’s shot from close range with ten minutes remaining certainly had the Rouslers’ nerves frayed in the final moments.
But Sporting managed to hold on to a famous victory, met with jubilant scenes from the Shed End faithful at the final whistle.
The opening stages were cagey and Bristol could easily have taken an early lead, with Simpson and Jordan Metters both failing to make the most of chances at Sporting’s goal.
Possible initial nerves from the home side appeared to be ebbing away as the half progressed, as Liam Spink had a shot charged down before Cowley saw a header deflected over following a pinpoint cross from Lloyd.
Chances continued to come for Sporting but they were not being capitalised on. Sam Wills hit a tame shot at Ashley Clark in the Bristol goal whilst Aaron Roberts struck a 20 yard effort narrowly over the upright.
Chris Lloyd was proving influential on the wing and became assister again, this time providing for captain Craig Jones, whose shot was headed over the bar by a Bristol defender.
The visitors almost took the lead on 40 minutes, as Ben Bament saw his effort saved by Sporting debutant goalkeeper Ryan Price, with Manor Farm’s frontman unable to get to the rebound.
The opener would come a minute before the interval, as some exciting play through the midfield eventually saw Lloyd play a perfect pass to Cowley, who gladly buried his low shot into the net from six yards out.
Lloyd had chances to double the lead after the break, with a sweetly struck volley straight at keeper Clark before a much better opportunity, thanks to Cowley playing him through, saw his strike from inside the box saved expertly.
The 50th minute saw the start of a twenty five minute spell in which Cowley terrorised the Manor Farm defence. Firstly, Reece Hewitt teed him up but had a curling effort saved by Clark.
Sporting’s second came four minutes later, as Ali stormed up field and neatly found Cowley, who hooked the ball home to rapturous celebration from the home cohort.
More opportunities came for the hat trick hunter, with two shots in quick succession hit high over the bar before setting up Hewitt, whose nicely crafted shot was diverted wide by Clark.
Defender Luke Edwards almost provided Cowley with his third, but he could not beat the Bristol stopper, who was keeping his side in the tie to this point.
The last ten minutes saw Sporting begin to tire after an incredible show of desire and endeavour all game, with the visitors capitalising. This came as Dean Stamp’s effort was parried by Price in the direction of Troy Simpson, who slammed home from yards out.
The duo of Stamp and Simpson almost pulled Manor Farm level when the former’s shot was glanced home by the latter, but fortunately for every home fan inside the Victoria Ground, it was ruled out for offside.
Sporting appeared to weather that threatening storm and almost notched up a third, as substitute Tom Craine set up Spink, who narrowly missed the target.
The final seconds dwindled away until the referee called time on the afternoon’s events, with Paul Smith’s side still in the hunt for the Vase and League double.