A late Liam Spink penalty secured a dramatic 3-2 win over Cadbury Athletic in the Midland Football League Division One on Saturday afternoon writes Max Banner.
The penalty came after substitute Tom Craine was brought down in the area, with Spink calmly dispatching the subsequent spot-kick on the 89th minute.
It looked as though it would be a routine win for Sporting when Jason Cowley netted after ten minutes but this wasn’t to be the case.
Cowley picked up a knock shortly before the half hour mark and Bromsgrove’s afternoon initially began to deteriorate, with Tory Herbert putting the visitors level 39 minutes in.
Herbert doubled his tally for the afternoon as he once again capitalised on defensive shortcomings, confidently striking home a one on one past Sporting stopper Jon Brown with a little under 30 minutes remaining.
The comeback began ten minutes later, as Craine managed to find space in the box and fire past Cadbury and ex-Sporting keeper Reece Francis before Spink’s last gasp penalty ensured the Shed End faithful would be sent home happy, as Bromsgrove extended their unbeaten league run to 23 games.
The match started brightly for Sporting, with Cowley once again proving a persistent threat in attack.
He had a firmly struck volley headed away by a Cadbury defender before his opener, which came after Andy Nicol turned his defender inside the box and managed to hit the ball across the area. Cowley’s first shot was saved before slamming home the rebound from point blank range.
Cowley and Nicol teamed up with some nice passing in the final third, which allowed the latter to have a shot that beat Francis in the Cadbury goal but was ruled out for offside.
Sporting’s two goal hero in the last 16 of the FA Vase went off with an ankle injury soon after, with his replacement Tom Craine proving a very able deputy throughout the game.
Bromsgrove’s tempo started to drop and they began to look somewhat suspect at the back, something Herbert pounced on as he poked home from ten yards after the home side failed to clear their defensive lines.
The Rouslers almost grabbed the lead a minute before the interval, but Craine failed to beat Francis with a relatively simple tap in from a sumptuous Chris Lloyd ball in.
The first notable chance of the second half went to Cadbury, as Jak Walton drew a routine save out of Jon Brown with his tamely struck effort towards goal.
Nicol had a free kick on the edge of the area after Robbie Bunn was fouled but Francis was equal to it, producing a fine save from a well-taken set piece.
However, Sporting’s play overall continued to be sloppy and they were made to pay for more lackadaisical defending, as Herbert found himself given the freedom of the town in the box. He latched onto a pass and simply had to guide the ball past Brown to give Cadbury the lead.
The chances started to come for Bromsgrove afterwards, with Craine having a low shot from an angle well saved before Lloyd set up Bunn, who also saw his drive kept out by a resilient Francis in between the sticks.
The equaliser came 72 minutes in, as Craine managed to shrug off his defender in the area before hitting the back of the net, the ball ricocheting off Francis as it did so.
Sporting persistently knocked on the door for the illusive winner, as Cadbury looked to hold on to a point. Bunn played through Lloyd, who found an oncoming Francis too good for his one on one before Craine blazed an overhead kick well over the upright.
The all-important penalty came after a battling Craine was felled in the box, with Spink given the duty of clinching all three points for the Rouslers. He stepped up and confidently placed the ball into Francis’ bottom left corner, leaving him no chance after a sterling performance from himself.
Far from convincing from Paul Smith’s men but a valuable win for his side, although much more will be needed as they face Buckland in the huge FA Vase Quarter Final on Sunday.
Sporting: Jon Brown, Aaron Roberts, Danny Morris, Keenen Meakin-Richards (Will Tibbetts 61 mins), Craig Jones (Capt), Luke Edwards, Liam Spink, Robbie Bunn, Jason Cowley (Tom Craine 29 mins), Andy Nicol (Reece Hewitt 61 mins), Chris Lloyd.
Substitutes not used: Ahmed Ali, Sam Wills.
Goals: Jason Cowley (11 mins), Tom Craine (72 mins), Liam Spink (90 mins, penalty)
Yellows: Tom Craine (55 mins)
Cadbury: Reece Francis, Stuart Cooke, Brett Lloyd, Stuart Butcher, Jak Walton, Tom Brain, Tory Herbert, Craig Oldfield (Odane Barnes 74 mins), Brett Fellows (Anthony Fletcher 80 mins), Dean Lea, Dayle Kenny (Deon Colstock 41 mins).
Substitutes not used: Lewis Cosgrove, Daniel Thompson.
Goals: Tory Herbert (40, 63 mins)
Yellows: Stuart Cooke (45+2 mins), Brett Fellows (59 mins), Dean Lea (72 mins), Jak Walton (89 mins).
Referee: Mr K Dolphin (Banbury)
Assistants: Mr M Chester (Chelmsley Wood), Mr H Blair (Great Barr)
Weather: Cold, damp.
Sporting Man of the Match: Tom Craine