ROUSLERS boss Brendan Kelly says Tuesday night’s 3-2 defeat at Boldmere St Michaels was an opportunity missed for a number of his fringe players.
Sporting were off the boil at the Trevor Brown Memorial Ground in their third friendly of pre-season, going 3-0 down in the first half before clawing the deficit back with goals from Leon Broadhurst and Kieren Westwood.
A host of changes were made for the latest warm-up game, coming off the back of Saturday’s 1-0 victory over National League North side Kidderminster Harriers at Aggborough – courtesy of Joe Hull’s 86th-minute winner.
Kelly believes the Boldmere result has been a learning curve for both himself and assistant manager Andy Mason.
“I saw the game as an chance for me and Andy to give opportunities to a number of fringe players and trialists,” he said.
“Only three players who appeared against Kidderminster played on Tuesday, so we learned a lot from the experience.
“Some of the lads didn’t take their opportunity, but it was a good game to learn what is needed to be worked on.”
He did accept, however, that the defeat comes at a preferred time during pre-season, as opposed to at the business end when the competitive action gets underway.
“It was a good chance for those players to stake a claim, no one really took it, but that’s what pre-season is for,” said Kelly.
“You hope things pop up that you can eradicate, so the game was a productive one for us.”
Boldmere started the game as the team in the ascendancy, a trend that continued for the remainder of the half, and took a deserved lead on 21 minutes when the ball was slipped past Matt Coton in a one-on-one.
Six minutes later, it was 2-0, when a strike from just outside the area floated into the top corner out of Coton’s reach, while a third was added just before half time when a Boldmere forward received a square ball to finish into an open net.
Broadhurst pulled one back ten minutes after the restart when latching onto Charlie Dowd’s through ball, holding off a defender, and sending through the legs of the keeper.
The deficit was reduced to one when Richard Gregory flicked on a goal kick by Coton into the path of Westwood – who pinged his shot against the inside of the far post and in, but it was not enough as Boldmere hold on for victory.
Tuesday’s defeat followed a confidence-boosting win away to Kidderminster, a result that Kelly will look to pinpoint for the remainder of the season.
“They [Kidderminster] had a lot of the ball, but they didn’t penetrate us, most of the passes were sideways or backwards,” said the Bromsgrove manager.
“The lads on Saturday have set the standard that we need to maintain going forward, going there on a big, open pitch and getting the result was very encouraging.”
Sporting host AFC Wakefield tonight (Thursday) in the first home game of the season, which is followed by Saturday’s game against Victoria Ground tenants Worcester City (3pm) and Tuesday night’s visit of Cheltenham Town (7.45pm).
Kelly views the final three warm-up fixtures as further opportunities for his side to get to the desired level before the season kicks off against Biggleswade Town on August 10, and gives an update on the trialists in the squad.
“We’ve still got a few bits and pieces to work on, set pieces and how we’re looking to play this season,” he said.
“Me and Andy will trim the numbers and get minutes into players who will be with us for the season.”
“One of the trialists pulled out with injury on Tuesday, but the other will be with us for the rest of pre-season who we’re still looking at.”