BROMSGROVE Sporting’s hopes of winning a third successive county cup were dashed on Tuesday evening, with defeat to Victoria Ground tenants Worcester City, writes Max Banner.
A lethargic first half performance from Sporting was unquestionably to blame, as the lively James Baldwin scored twice early on, before a Kyonn Evans header ensured it would be 3-0 at half time.
A triple substitution at the interval certainly turned the tide of the game, with the Rouslers having virtually all the play in the second half.
Goals from Richard Gregory and Michael McGrath set up an exciting final ten minutes but Sporting would fall just short as Worcester managed to hold out, spearheaded by an inspired Sam Gilder in the Worcester goal.
Baldwin opened the scoring on four minutes, as he capitalised on some sleepiness at the back before dispatching a neat finish past Sporting stopper Jono Brown.
His tally was doubled 17 minutes later, as he once again slipped through the defence and powered a shot home past Brown into the bottom corner.
Sporting’s first half misery was compounded two minutes before the break when a Baldwin cross fell nicely for Evans, who simply headed the ball low into the net.
The introduction of Gregory, Dowd and former Worcester star Nathan Hayward at half-time undoubtedly tipped the balance in Sporting’s favour.
Gregory and Jason Cowley had shots early on in the half that were well saved by Gilder, before Will Shorrock drew the keeper’s finest save up to that point, as his powerful effort found the outstretched boot of the Worcester stopper.
Sporting were extremely unlucky not to get on the scoresheet on the 63rd minute, as Gregory made space inside the box before hitting the post with his shot, with the rebound falling to Shorrock, who again found Gilder too good, this time with an instinctive save from point-blank range.
Bromsgrove finally scored 80 minutes in, as McGrath found the head of Gregory with a pinpoint accurate cross, who simply guided it into the bottom corner, before the former got on the scoresheet himself a minute later.
Superb work on the flank from Dowd allowed manager Bren Kelly’s latest recruit to tap home from a yard out.
Sporting pushed hard for the equaliser thereafter, with Dowd having a shot blocked by the resilient Worcester defence, whilst Craig Jones failed to make enough of a proper contact with his diving header to divert the ball on target from a free kick in injury time.
Despite the second half being dominated by Sporting, it was to be the Blue and Whites that would come out victorious.