KIEREN WESTWOOD was the extra-time hero for Bromsgrove Sporting, as his 104th minute winner proved the difference to earn the Rouslers promotion to the Southern Premier League Central in a game of dramatic proportions.
Two penalty misses, a red card for Corby Town defender Delroy George and pulsating goalmouth action at either end provided agony and ecstacy in equal measure come the final whistle, with Sporting being the ultimate beneficiaries of two heart-stopping play-off ties at the Victoria Ground.
A tense start to the game led to the deadlock eventually being broken, but in favour of the visitors.
Elliot Sandy struck in the 33rd minute after latching onto a through ball and sweeping the ball into the far corner past Jono Brown.
But Sporting were not to be deterred and levelled just minutes later through talisman Richard Gregory.
Jason Cowley held up the ball well and after drifting into space out on the right-flank, delivered an incisive cross to the far post to allow Gregory to find the net with a diving header from close-range.
It allowed Sporting to find some momentum, and they were inches away from going in ahead at the break, but for the crossbar to deny Will Heath.
Then, within a couple of minutes of the restart, a rasping Nathan Hayward volley flew just wide of the post.
Just a couple of minutes later, Bromsgrove were awarded a penalty after substitute Will Shorrock turned inside the box and was felled, allowing Gregory the chance to put Sporting ahead.
What the forward had not envisioned, was the goalkeeper miraculously keeping out the spot kick with his legs.
But when the Rouslers needed a difference-maker most, up stepped Cowley to hit a quickfire double to take control of the tie.
He first met Gregory’s driven cross from the right to thump high into the roof of the net in the 59th minute, before capitalising on the keeper fumbling Westwood’s cross to tap home from close-range.
The Steelmen added to the drama by pulling a goal back in the 64th minute through Stephen Diggin, who thumped home the rebound after Brown had initially saved.
Then, with just six minutes remaining of normal time, Corby were level.
Diggin this time turned provider to fire across the face of goal, allowing Jordon Crawford to turn the ball into the net and force extra-time.
Sporting had Brown to thank for pulling off a miraculous save from point-blank range, denying Sandy after he fired a lay-off goalwards, whilst Cowley flashed a header wide of the mark moments later.
With the game finely poised between going for broke for an extra-time winner, or depending on the lottery of a penalty shootout, Westwood took matters into his own hands, and scored a goal worthy of winning any final.
Receiving the ball out on the left, he jinked his way past one defender, drove inside onto his left-foot, and, after holding off a defender on the edge of the area, fired the ball low and hard into the bottom-left corner.
The Bromsgrove players were almost too exhausted to celebrate, but it put them within one extra-time period of achieving promotion.
There was more drama to come within a minute of the restart, when Cowley was felled and a penalty awarded – despite putting the ball in the net.
The referee showed a straight red to Gordon, allowing Cowley to put the game beyond all doubt.
But the keeper valiantly batted away the penalty, and kept his side’s slim hopes alive.
Cowley then had a one-on-one opportunity after breaking clear in the dying seconds, but delayed his shot too long – but it would not matter, for the Rouslers had earned a third successive promotion, cue mass pandemonium in the stands that spilled onto the pitch.