BROMSGROVE Sporting staged one of the best comebacks at the Victoria Ground to fight from 3-0 down to salvage a point against fierce rivals Worcester City.
With league leaders Coleshill Town drawing 2-2 with Coventry Sphinx, the Rouslers knew victory over their Victoria Ground tenants would send them top of the Midland League Premier Division.
But the landlords could not make the most of that opportunity as Jordan Stoddart and Lee Hughes fired City into a 2-0 half-time lead.
Just 29 seconds after the interval Lee Hughes made it 3-0 and the game looked dead and buried but nobody could have predicted what was to come.
Richard Gregory pulled one back four minutes later before Jason Cowley set up a tense finale with little over 20 minutes to go.
And the remarkable comeback was complete when Liam Holt smashed home from the penalty spot after he was fouled in the area by Stoddart.
Although both sides battled on to snatch a winner, the honours were shared ahead of the what will be a much-anticipated reverse clash on New Year’s Day.
Sporting boss Paul Smith made two changes to the team which secured a 3-1 victory over Shawbury United on Saturday with Craig Jones and Josh Quaynor coming in for Drew Canavan and Jack Wilson who dropped to the bench.
And a bumper Boxing Day crowd of 1,672 watched on as the Blue and Whites asserted their dominance on the game with the first chance falling to Hughes after ten minutes but his volley flashed wide of the far post.
But five minutes later the hosts took the lead.
After David Reynolds won a corner, the resultant set piece from Matt Birley was nodded home at the back post by an unmarked Stoddart.
The lively Reynolds almost made it 2-0 midway through the first period after Guy Clark lost the ball in the area but the former Malvern Town hot-shot was denied by the foot of Reece Francis.
Reynolds then came within a lick of paint of getting on the scoresheet moments later but his effort from inside the area deflected behind off Liam Holt.
But from the resulting corner City doubled their advantage.
After the ball made its way to the edge of the area, Hughes took the ball out wide and sent a delicious lob over the outstretched arm of Francis and into the far corner.
City were well in control at this point as Sporting struggled to string two passes together, let alone defend the constant over-the-top througballs.
Despite their struggles, the Rouslers almost pulled a goal back in the first minute of stoppage time but a fantastic block by Brad Birch denied Richard Gregory from tapping home from six yards out.
Sporting made a double change at the break with Connor Deards and John Pykett replacing Sam Wills and Max Loveridge respectively but any hope of a fightback looked dead and buried just 29 seconds after the interval.
Jamie Smith’s long pass upfield allowed Reynolds to outpace Clark and square to Hughes who took a touch and slotted the ball into the far corner.
But four minutes later Sporting pulled one back when Pykett’s low cross gave Gregory the easiest of finishes at the back post to claim his second goal in two games.
Pykett’s trickery almost rewarded the ‘visitors’ with another goal when his cross was nodded down by Gregory into the path of Cowley who could only volley over with the goal at his mercy.
City managed to ride the storm but with little over 20 minutes to go Sporting set up a tense finale.
A Robbie Bunn free-kick on the near side was cleared only as far as Cowley on the edge of the area who ran inside and curled a beautiful left-footed effort beyond the outstretched right arm of Nathan Vaughan and into the bottom corner.
And Sporting were given the prime opportunity to level the game with 12 minutes remaining when they were awarded a penalty after Holt was fouled by Stoddart in the area.
Holt took on the responsibility from 12 yards and smashed the ball into the left-hand corner to make it 3-3.
From then on City started to settle things down and although Sporting continued to pile on the pressure, they could not find that elusive winner.
However, after a dismal first period, Sporting can be pleased with their efforts.
Report courtesy of Craig Gibbons (Bromsgrove Standard)