Bromsgrove Sporting 3, Atherstone Town 2
MANAGERLESS Sporting produced a memorable fight back to stun fellow promotion rivals Atherstone in the Midlands Football League Division One at the Victoria Ground.
The Rouslers had been trailing 2-0 but three goals in the final 20 minutes turned the game on its head.
Sporting had been reeling from Adrian Mander's decision to resign after Wednesday night's win over Cadbury Athletic and the loss of winger Sean Williams to rivals AFC Hinckley.
But coach Les Palmer and Ross Collins, assisted by football development manager Graham Scott, assembled a team together despite several absences due to injuries, holidays and work commitments.
Playing up hill, Atherstone had the bulk of the play for the first few minutes and should have gone ahead on the seventh minute when busy midfielder and former Sporting youth player Connor Leek put a great cross into the box that striker Simon Smith side-footed on to the bar only to see it bounce out.
However, the visitors continued their dominance and took the lead on 19 minutes when Smith beat the Sporting offside trap and slotted home after beating keeper Jake Bedford in a one-to-one.
After the half-time break, the visitors had another couple of good chances that went begging before Will Tibbetts created the home side's first real opportunity with a quality cross into the penalty area but Luke Shearer failed to control with an open goal at his mercy.
Five minutes later, Rico Taylor did manage to get in a good shot forcing Adders keeper Alex Horton to tip over. Atherstone then got the ball in the net but it was disallowed for offside on 62 minutes.
Sporting at this point were getting themselves more in into the game and the hard-working Josh McKenzie went wide with a good effort.
However, it was the visitors who doubled their lead on the 69th minute when George Brindley who got behind the back four and fired home from 15 yards out.
But Sporting searched for a lifeline and they got it in the 72nd minute when McKenzie finally got his head to a good cross from Tibbetts.
Horton only managed to tip it on the bar but the lanky striker easy tapped home the rebound to get Sporting back into the match.
Burly striker Dave Almond replaced the tiring Taylor and immediately started to unsettle the Atherstone defence with his presence in the box and it was he who got Sporting equaliser on 84 minutes with a superbly executed diving header from Tibbetts' corner.
Two minutes into added time Atherstone striker Simon Smith should have settled the match when he shot wide when it was easier to put into the net.
His team must have regretted that miss as from the goal kick Sporting raced upfield.
Luke Shearer dummied a couple of defenders then chipped the ball into the top right hand corner of the net, giving Sporting a dramatic lead.
Seconds later referee Walker blew for full-time to the loudest cheer heard at the Victoria Ground for some time.
Palmer said: "I thought we were dead and buried at 69 minutes but Josh's persistence got us back in the game. Having a noisy crowd behind us helped our confidence and get two more goals to win. A great day at the Victoria Ground."
Sporting: Bedford, Duggan, Ludlow, Jones, Parker, Williams (Pace 81 mins), Tibbetts, Agar, McKenzie, Shearer, Taylor (Almond, 75).
Subs not used: Jason Newton, Max Bevis, Adam Went.
Atherstone: Horton, Mullings, Gray, Alsop Stanley, Eggleton, Brindley, Gaunt, Smith, Connor, Leek, Smith.
Subs not used: Mullen, Wright, Iness Referee: G Walker (Redditch) Attendance: 285 Sporting Man of the Match: Josh McKenzie