BROMSGROVE Sporting progressed into the semi-finals of the Smedley Crooke Memorial Charity Cup following a 2-0 victory over Earlswood Town.
A goal in each half from Ethan Hanks and Sam Wills ensured the Midland League Division One side claimed the win on a slippery and difficult pitch.
With manager Paul Smtih fielding an under-strength side in preparation for their midweek league clash at Lichfield City on Tuesday night (March 1), his youthful side took some time to get settled as Earlswood carved out the game’s first opportunities.
However, despite Earlswood capitalising on some poor play at the back in the opening exchanges, both Declan Staunton and Lewis James wasted opportunities to test Sporting keeper Chris Jay.
The 18th minute saw Sporting come close to opening the scoring but after breaking free down the left, Connor Collins’ fizzed cross was just about dealt with by the Earlswood defence.
Collins was involved again just a minute later but after muscling his way past his marker, his toe poked effort was gratefully collected by Earlswood keeper Daniel Rushe.
Just two minute later though, Sporting took the lead as Hanks slotted home into an empty net after Rushe could only parry Collins’ drilled shot from the left.
Rushe made amends a couple of minutes later as a fine double save prevented Wills and Kyle Turner from doubling Sporting’s lead.
The woodwork came to the rescue of Earlswood after 34 minutes as Dale Edwards saw his shot go through Rushe’s legs before hitting the post, keeping the score at 1-0 going into the interval.
After the break, Sporting came out the traps fastest but Hanks saw his effort fly straight at Rushe.
Mikey Corrigan carved out Earlswood’s first chance of the second half but following his mazy run through the heart of the Sporting defence, his curled effort sailed harmlessly wide of Jay’s goal.
Collins had another chance to double Sporting’s lead but he could only glance a header over the bar from Wills’ free kick from the left-hand touchline.
Dean Fisher almost scored what would have been the goal of the game for Sporting in the 67th minute.
From a throw in, Collins chested the ball down to Fisher who let the ball bounce before unleashing a powerful volley from 30 yards that was superbly tipped round the post by Rushe to deny the youngster.
However, Sporting doubled their lead just three minutes later.
After collecting the ball in the penalty area, Wills powered home a left-footed drive that went in via the palms of Rushe who will be feeling he could have done better to keep the ball out.
The final 20 minutes of the game saw little opportunities from both sides, ensuring Sporting booked their place in the semi-finals with a routine 2-0 victory over a spirited Earlswood side.