Bromsgrove Sporting 2 Atherstone Town 2
Midland League, Division One
Report by Max Banner
BROMSGROVE Sporting lost their 100 per cent home league record but had to come back from 2-0 down to earn a draw on Saturday afternoon.
The Rouslers’ afternoon got off to the worst possible start as Aaron O’Neill headed the visitors into the lead after two minutes before Alex Naughton continued his fine season in front of goal with a penalty half an hour later to double the advantage.
Chris Lloyd got Sporting back into the game when he converted a spot kick in the dying embers of the first half before substitute Will Tibbetts’ free-kick on the hour mark brought proceedings level.
Bromsgrove knocked on the door throughout the remaining 30 minutes but Tibbetts, Tony Clarke and Jason Cowley all failed to convert chances to notch up a third.
Sporting were looking for their third league win in a row but Atherstone were quickly in charge as the dynamic Ben Ashby sent a delicious cross and O’Neill converted the simplest of close range headers to give the Adders the lead.
A minute later, as an audacious attempt from ex-Sporting striker Kyle Turner was tipped over the bar by home keeper Chris Jay.
Atherstone then doubled their lead when a foul from Craig Jones inside the box gave Naughton the chance to dispatch the resultant penalty into the bottom corner.
Sporting’s best chances fell in injury time of the first period. Firstly, Aaron Roberts had a header cleared off the line before a trademark Reece Hewitt darting run resulted in him being brought down in the area.
Up stepped Lloyd, who confidently blasted the ball into the top corner, leaving Atherstone stopper Tom McNulty helpless.
The introduction of Tibbetts to the game at half-time gave Paul Smith’s side real impetus. He was instantly seen to good effect when his free kick from the wing somewhat fortuitously made its way into the top corner, although the joyous Shed End faithful did not appear to be too bothered about the lucky nature of the equaliser.
He nearly bagged a second two minutes later but his effort from just inside the box was tipped wide by McNulty and then his corner was headed over by Clarke.
Atherstone’s penalty scorer Naughton had a free kick comfortably saved by Jay with almost ten minutes to go but for the remainder, it was all Sporting.
Cowley had a fierce close range shot blocked, which was followed up by a curled Hewitt effort agonisingly wide of the target.
Cowley then put the ball just wide of the mark from Tibbetts’ cross before Clarke’s last-gasp chance went over the bar.
All in all, it was a valuable point for Sporting given their rather abject display in the first half. Next up for the Rouslers is Sunday afternoon’s FA Vase encounter at home to Lichfield.