BROMSGROVE Sporting sealed their place in Monday’s play-off final after a 3-2 win in extra-time against Sutton Coldfield Town.
1,849 fans packed into the Victoria Ground for Wednesday night’s play-off semi-final, with both sides well represented in the terraces, and were treated to a fine spectacle of high drama and plenty of goalmouth action.
Sutton Coldfield Town, who finished fifth during the regular season, went into the tie knowing that regardless of winning the play-offs, they would not achieve promotion this season – due to having an insufficient points per games ratio out of the sides in the play-off places at step four of the non-league pyramid.
And so that realisation seemed the case, when Sporting’s relentless pressure throughout the first-half paid dividends.
The opener came ten minutes after Bromsgrove lost Charlie Dowd to injury, when Richard Gregory was felled by the goalkeeper when attempting to latch onto a rebound.
It was Sporting’s number ten who stepped up to take it, expertly blasting the ball down the middle.
Eight minutes later, Jason Cowley doubled the Rouslers advantage.
A corner-kick was hoisted into the forward’s vicinity, and he duly thumped a powerful header into the far corner of the net with half-time beckoning.
But a spirited response from Sutton brought the game back into contention early in the second-half.
Reece Gibson was on hand to slot home after a double save by Jono Brown, before levelling the scores six minutes later.
The Royals forward managed to block an attempted clearance by the Sporting defence, and the ball looped into the net to deliver a gutting blow to the Rouslers.
Conceding twice in a short space of time kicked Sporting back into life, and they went on the hunt for a second go-ahead goal of the game.
Despite sustained pressure through to the end of 90 minutes, including a Cowley free-kick against the bar and a penalty shout from Will Shorrock, Sporting had to do it all again for an extra 30 minutes.
With the nerves setting in around the ground and no sign of a breakthrough, it was up to Nathan Hayward to ease the tension by sliding the ball in off the post from just inside the penalty area.
It was the goal Bromsgrove had desperately craved, and even with a huge opportunity for Shorrock going begging in the dying stages, it would not matter, as the full-time whistle blew to bring Sporting back to the Victoria Ground for Monday’s play-off final.
WEEKEND REPORT: Berkhamsted 3-1 Bromsgrove Sporting (Saturday 27th April)
BROMSGROVE Sporting’s final regulation league game of the season ended in a disappointing 3-1 collapse on the road at Berkhamsted, writes Max Banner.
Sporting started the game sluggishly, with Max Farrelly putting home side into the lead inside the opening 15 minutes.
Matthew Bateman’s penalty doubled the lead, before Richard Gregory pulled one back from the spot. before Jonathan Lacey rounded keeper Jono Brown to kill off the game with five minutes to go.
The Rouslers were left to rue an early offside call, after Cameron Peters fired into the net after Berkhamsted keeper Xavi Comas-Leon fumbled a shot from Gregory, prior to the host’s opener.
Failure to clear a Berkhamsted corner proved fatal, when the ball fell to Farrelly – who placed the ball into the bottom corner.
Bromsgrove’s hopes were dealt a blow minutes later, when Bateman slammed home from the spot after Lacey was hauled down by Aaron Roberts.
Gregory had a number of chances towards the end of the first-half, but found his endeavour rewarded when sending Comas-Leon the wrong way from the spot, when Farrelly handballed inside the area and received a straight red.
Despite dominating the half, Bromsgrove were unable to get the better of an inspired Comas-Leon, who denied Kieren Westwood at the near post, before keeping out Gregory’s rasping drive.
Further efforts from Gregory and Josh Quaynor were somehow kept out, prior to Lacey taking the ball around Brown to tap home – despite claims of offside.
The travelling fans made their appreciations heard, as Sporting finished second in the league.
Berkhamsted’s win ensured they are the only team not to lose to the Rouslers this season – having drawn the previous fixture, but narrowly missed out on a play-off place themselves by a single position.