BROMSGROVE Sporting got their 2016/17 Midland League Division One season off to a flier as they cruised to a comfortable 3-0 victory over Southam United at the Victoria Ground.
Chris Lloyd broke the deadlock in the 40th minute with a delightful chipped effort over United keeper Thomas Bryce before Ahmed Ali added the second five minutes later after prodding home when Bryce dropped Nathan Walker’s cross from the right.
Tony Clarke completed the rout for Paul Smith’s Rouslers in the 58th minute with a powerful header from Walker’s corner to secure victory against a United side which offered very little up front and failed to create any clear-cut goalscoring opportunities.
A minute’s silence before the game and a minute’s applause in the 69th minute was observed by everyone in memory of former Sporting chairman Jon Prescott who suddenly passed away last month.
Sporting, fresh off the back of an impressive 3-0 FA Cup extra preliminary round victory over Heath Hayes, came out the traps fastest after the minute’s silence and almost took the lead in the seventh minute but efforts from Clarke and Lloyd were cleared off the line in the space of seconds.
Clarke saw his heel-flick from Lucky Nwosu’s cross blocked at the near post before a clever chip from Lloyd towards the back post was headed off the line in dramatic fashion to keep the score locked at 0-0.
Time and time again Nwosu proved to be the outlet for Sporting, finding huge amounts of space down the right, and after winning a corner for his side, another goal-line clearance prevented the Rouslers from nosing themselves ahead in the 18th minute.
Walker’s deliciously whipped-in corner pinballed in-and-around the area before bouncing off Bryce towards goal but once again, a well-placed Southam defender ensured the ball did not trickle over the line.
After the 1-1 draw with United on the opening day of last season, the fans didn’t want to get the new season off to another slow start and their frustrations continued as Sporting hit the woodwork twice in the space of 11 minutes.
Clarke was the first to rattle the crossbar in the 26th minute after collecting Luke Edwards’ deep pass from the back before smashing the woodwork with a fantastic volley before a solo effort from Lloyd saw the pacey winger hit the post after cutting inside from the left.
However, Sporting’s dominance paid off, much to the relief of the fans, as Joe Haines played a delightful chipped throughball which sent Lloyd clean through who provided a deft touch to beat the on-rushing Bryce to give the home side a well-deserved lead.
Five minutes later it was 2-0 when from Walker’s corner from the right, Bryce fumbled the ball which allowed an unmarked Ali to fire home to give the Rouslers a stranglehold on the game.
After the break, Sporting somehow avoided being reduced to ten men in the 46th minute after Edwards, who was clearly the last man, wrestled Matt Omari to the ground 20 yards from goal but referee Steven Hughes only gave the defender a yellow card.
From the resultant free-kick, Daniel Brierley saw his well-driven effort comfortably claimed low-down by Chris Jay in the Sporting goal.
Sporting continued to keep United camped in their own half, the same story as the first 45 minutes, and just before the hour mark Clarke sealed the points for the Rouslers as he nodded home from Walker’s corner.
Despite going 3-0 down, United’s Omari continued to try and force the issue but with a lack of support and the majority of his players still in their own half, there was very little he could do to spark a comeback.
Try as he might, both he and Zuhayb Abdirahman were limited to long-range efforts which failed to trouble Jay.
Sporting came close to adding their fourth in the 80th minute but after substitute Chris Conway broke free of his marker, his pass to an unmarked Clarke was too heavy and it drifted out for a goal kick – much to the frustration of the fans.
With a number of final balls eluding Sporting’s strikers, they saw out the game to claim an opening day victory, a result which sees them lie second in the Division One table.