BRENDAN Kelly has provided a stern warning of the danger posed by this weekend’s opponents Needham Market, labelling the Suffolk side as a different beast to the one they faced earlier in the season.
Bromsgrove Sporting went down 1-0 in the reverse fixture at the Victoria Ground at the end of September, courtesy of Joseph Marsden’s second-half strike.
And after embarking on a scouting trip to take in Needham’s 2-1 win away at Tamworth on Tuesday, Kelly is fully aware of the threat that opposite number Richard Wilkins has at his disposal.
“It’s probably an even tougher proposition this time around,” he said.
“I went to watch them beat Tamworth on Tuesday night and looking at their squad they’ve got five or six new faces in – albeit we do as well.
“This Saturday we’re in for a right test. Needham could have been 3-1 up [against Tamworth] in that game, they’re very dangerous.”
With a 2-1 win away to Stratford Town last weekend under their belts, Kelly’s men extended their current unbeaten streak to four matches in the Southern League Premier Division Central.
It is the third time the Rouslers have achieved that particular feat this season – having done so at the very start of the season and at the beginning of October.
At Knights Lane, Mike Taylor’s 13th-minute opener was swiftly wiped out by Christopher Wreh’s leveller just five minutes later, setting the stage for Leon Broadhurst to be Bromsgrove’s hero with a match-winning header midway through the second half.
After witnessing one of the gutsiest performances from his side this term, the Sporting manager believes the encounter was the ultimate litmus test of his side’s credentials.
“It was very pleasing, obviously our ability to dig deep was the nucleus in previous years, we’ve got new faces in and we continue to build as we go,” said Kelly.
“There were question marks over certain lads, whether they could do it on cold, boggy pitches away from home.
“Stratford are a solid side to break down. We tweaked our shape at half time to try to get more lads up the pitch.
“They showed lots of guts and we’re still in third – I couldn’t more delighted.”
And with a busy set of fixtures coming up over the Christmas period, with six games in the space of three weeks, boss Kelly says a corner has been turned somewhat heading into a crucial point of the season.
“We’re not giving teams chances with individual errors at the moment,” he said.
“Even when we weren’t winning, it wasn’t that we were not playing well, but we were gifting goals to the opposition.
“Our defence can still be better, but I’m delighted to be on a good run of form again – it’s been a long time coming.
“It’s been unusual to not have been on a good run consistently this season, having been so used to it in recent seasons.”
In terms of the squad available to him this weekend, Kelly says it could be the final appearance for Kidderminster Harriers loanee Harry Higginson in the Rouslers defence, with no update on an extension to a deal that is set to expire next Tuesday (December 17).
Otherwise, Bromsgrove are at full-strength, though the fitness of Nathan Hayward is to be assessed for a second-consecutive weekend.