BROMSGROVE Sporting head into Christmas second in the table following their 3-1 victory over Midland League Premier Division basement boys Shawbury United.
Sam Wills opened the scoring for the Rouslers after just 23 seconds with Jason Cowley adding the second 23 minutes into the second half.
Richard Gregory made it 3-0 with 11 minutes remaining but hopes of keeping a clean sheet were dashed when Ben Cullen bagged a consolation for the Shropshire visitors on the stroke of 90 minutes.
A 708-strong crowd packed the Victoria Ground on a relatively cool afternoon and fans had barely got chance to take a breath as Sporting got off to the most perfect of starts.
Straight from kick-off the ball was worked out wide before Liam Holt’s shot from the edge of the area deflected into the path of Wills who took one touch before arrowing the ball into the opposite.
It looked as though that may have been the start of the floodgates opening but the bottom-of-the-table visitors almost drew level at the quarter hour mark.
However, a fine reflex save from Reece Francis denied Matthew Ballard from scoring after latching on to Sean Evans’ scuffed shot from the edge of the box.
Sporting struggled to get back to their high tempo from then on but they came agonisngly close to going into the break 2-0 to the good as Wills fired a 25-yard free-kick just over the bar while Cowley’s header from a corner was expertly tipped over by Ian Havard in the United goal.
Cowley picked up a cut to the eye in the process and after it was stitched up during the break, the striker was ever more determined to get on the scoresheet.
Last season’s top scorer for the Rouslers had three chances but neither of them managed to trouble Havard.
However, Cowley’s persistence paid off with 22 minutes remaining.
Sporting were awarded a free-kick right on the edge of the area after Wills was fouled and up stepped Cowley to fire the set-piece into the far corner, leaving Havard rooted to his spot.
Three minutes later the woodwork prevented Cowley from grabbing his second and Sporting’s third when his left-footed volley from just inside the area cannoned off the far post.
But it was not long until the Shawbury net was bulging once again when Gregory made it 3-0 after bustling his way into the area and drilling a low shot into the far corner.
Despite the scoreline, the visitors had something to cheer about on the stroke of full-time when Cullen was on hand to tap home from close range after Francis could only parry substitute Stu Lewis’ angled drive.
With Sporting Khalsa losing 2-1 at Boldmere, it meant Sporting’s result this afternoon moved Paul Smith’s men up to second in the table ahead of the Boxing Day and New Year’s Day encounters with Worcester City.
If it had not been for Coleshill Town’s spirited display with ten men to claim a 3-2 victory at Coventry United, the Rouslers would have been top at Christmas.
Report courtesy of Craig Gibbons (Bromsgrove Standard)