Bromsgrove Sporting returned to the top of the league with a gutsy 1-0 win over a determined and well-organised Pershore Town side.
Striker Sean Brain provided the goal early in the first half in a game that otherwise lacked quality throughout.
Manager Paul Smith continued his recent rotation policy with defenders Craig Jones and Simon Fitter coming in for Brendan Kelly and Danny Morris. Winger Will Tibbetts came in for Josh Westwood along with Umit Eminoglu who also came in for Reece Hewitt to make his first start for the club.
Sporting started the game on the front foot with a ball played forward from the kick off, deflecting off Pershore skipper Shaun Griffiths behind the goal. The resulting corner then found its way to the feet of Brain in the six-yard box, but his attempt on goal was blocked.
It wasn't long before Sporting had a deserved lead. In the 13th minute the ball found its way to Kyle Turner in the middle of the Pershore half. He then played a beautifully weighted ball through to Brain. At first glance he appeared to be in an offside position but the flag stayed down and he calmly slotted home past Pershore 'keeper Andrew Yarnold.
The remainder of the first half passed largely without note. Ex-Rousler Jacob Snape found himself in a number of useful positions but Sporting's well-organised defence meant he was limited to speculative efforts either from distance or from awkward angles.
The only other real chance of the half came in the 44th minute when a long floated free kick from another member of the Sporting alumni, Chris Bright, landed at the feet of Griffiths on the edge of the area after a failed clearance from Sporting. He took his time before unleashing a powerful shot that whisked just over the crossbar. This was the last action of the half and Sporting went into the dressing room with a slender 1-0 lead.
Pershore came out with intent in the second half and a quick counter attack almost brought them level. The final ex-Sporting player on display, Danny Ludlow, led his team out from defence after a Sporting corner and after making a fantastic run which evaded the Sporting defence he played in Gaz Evans. Just as he was about to pull the trigger he was superbly tackled by Fitter. Pershore thought he was tackled unfairly but the referee rejected the penalty appeals and Sporting hung on to their lead.
Much like the first half, the second lacked any real quality or entertainment. Despite dominating the possession stats, Sporting failed to create any clear cut chances; the only near miss coming when Liam Spink shot wide from 30 yards after a neat chest down from substitute Connor Collins.
For the last 5 minutes, Pershore pushed on for an equaliser and they almost found it 3 minutes into stoppage time when a corner found Dane Aldington at the far post unmarked. Only an outstanding reaction save from Sporting keeper Chris Jay kept the ball out the net and Sporting were able to clear.
As the final whistle sounded, the Sporting faithful who made up the large majority of the excellent crowd of 387 cheered; not only at their own team's result but also at news that title rivals Nuneaton Griff had drawn 2-2 in their game against Leicester Road, sending Sporting back to the top of the pile by two points.
Sporting's next game is a tough one, away at a resurgent Bolehall Swifts this Saturday (2nd April)
Sporting: Chris Jay, Aaron Roberts, Jake Willcox, Simon Fitter, Craig Jones (Capt.), Umit Eminoglu (Brendan Kelly 73 mins), Will Tibbetts, Liam Spink, Kyle Turner (Connor Collins 63 mins), Sam Wills (Jack Wilson 63 mins), Sean Brain.
Subs not used: Josh Westwood, Ethan Hanks.
Goal: Brain (12 mins)
Pershore: Andy Yarnold, Steve Webb, Chris Bright, James Walker, Shaun Griffiths (Danny Ludlow 46 mins, Kallum Powell 60 mins), Dane Aldington, Myles Jones, Brett McGilligan, Gary Evans, Ashley Bloor (Dominic Stevens 52 mins), Jacob Snape.
Sub not used: Quentin Townsend
Referee: Mr B Morris (Hereford)
Assistants: Mr J Widdett (Worcester), Mr R Usher (Quedgley)
Weather: Cool, windy
Sporting Man of the Match: Sean Brain.
Report: Adam Warner.