Bromsgrove Sporting slipped up again in the race for the title on Saturday in a pulsating 3-3 draw with local rivals Studley.
Looking to bounce back from Wednesday's disappointing 4-0 defeat against title rivals Nuneaton Griff, Sporting made four changes to their starting line-up, among them Brendan Kelly slotting in for the injured Craig Jones at centre back and Josh Westwood making his first start replacing Will Tibbetts on the right wing.
Playing with the wind behind them, Sporting dominated the first half with Jake Willcox, Kyle Turner and Westwood looking dangerous down the right flank. It was surprising that it took the away side 21 minutes to break through. Midfielder Liam Spink played a through ball to Turner on the right side of the penalty area. His shot was saved but the rebound sat up for Spink, who had carried on his run, and he slotted home into the top of the net from 10 yards out.
Sporting were now creating plenty of chances with playmakers Spink and Reece Hewitt causing many threatening balls through to strikers Turner and Sam Wills.
However, it was a long ball that produced the second goal. A launch from just outside his own penalty area by Sporting keeper Chris Jay was chested down and delicately half volleyed into the top corner by Turner on looking Studley keeper and former Rousler, Brendon Bunn.
Sporting were well worth their 2-0 lead at half time but the first ten minutes of the second half saw the lead wiped out. First a through ball from David Edwards was collected and put home by Daniel Stokes. Despite appearing to be in an offside position and the protests from the Sporting defence, the goal stood.
Then five minutes later a long ball found Stokes again, this time on the right wing. He knocked the ball over Brendan Kelly before firing the ball around 30 yards over Jay and into the top corner.
The game was wide open for a period but by the last 15 minutes, Sporting were searching for a winner. A Sam Wills corner was met by substitute Sean Brain, but his effort was cleared off the line.
However, their hopes of winning were dealt a severe blow on 84 minutes when a rare Studley corner was met at the far post by unmarked substitute Dan Dineen.
Studley's joy was short lived as some quick Sporting play from the kick off combined with a brief burst of torrential rain caught them off guard. A ball was played into Brain who passed it onto Westwood with his first touch who slotted home to make three-all, setting up an enthralling final five minutes.
Despite dominating possession, Sporting were unable to create many clear-cut chances. Substitute Connor Collins found himself through but couldn't keep his balance and was muscled off the ball. Deep into stoppage time substitute Umit Eminoglu looked to have been tripped in the penalty area, but vocal appeals from both players and supporters were waved away by referee Glen Robson.
The result sees Sporting knocked off top spot on goal difference by Nuneaton Griff who maintained their recent good form with a 4-1 win at Littleton. Sporting's other title rivals Coventry United lost 2-1 at Heath Hayes leaving them 5 points behind the two leaders but with three games behind.
Sporting are next in action on Easter Monday (28th) when they travel to Pershore Town.
Studley: Brendon Bunn, Orrin Pendley, Matt Edwards, Daniel Byford, Gary Joynes, David Edwards, Daniel Stokes, Joe Knight, Vagnol Kediambiko (Charlie Wilson 65 mins), Robbie Bunn, Kiel Mullen (Dan Dineen 84 mins).
Substitutes not used: Jarrell Hilton, Declan Print.
Goals: Stokes (52, 61 mins), Dineen (85 mins)
Yellows: Stokes (44 mins), Edwards (77 mins)
Sporting: Chris Jay, Jake Willcox (Umit Eminoglu 74 mins), Danny Morris, Liam Spink, Brendan Kelly, Aaron Roberts, Josh Westwood, Reece Hewitt, Kyle Turner (Connor Collins 64 mins), Sam Wills (Sean Brain 64 mins), Jack Wilson.
Substitutes not used: Simon Fitter, Will Tibbetts.
Goals: Spink (22 mins), Turner (37 mins), Westwood (87 mins)
Referee: Mr G Robson (Telford)
Assistants: Mr M Pimley (Bromsgrove), Mr R McIlravey (Redditch)
Weather: Strong winds, heavy showers.
Sporting Man of the Match: Liam Spink
Reporter: Adam Warner