A FIRST defeat of pre-season was inflicted on Bromsgrove Sporting as local rivals Redditch United walked away as 3-1 winners.
Pauly Apostolopoulous and Danico Johnson had given the Southern League Premier hosts a 2-0 half-time lead before the former added his second of the game five minutes after the restart.
John Pykett then reduced the arrears in the 68th minute and despite a late surge, the Rouslers could not add to their tally in front of a 574-strong crowd at the Valley Stadium.
After three wins on the spin and no goals conceded, Paul Smith’s men got off to a slow start as they found themselves 1-0 down inside five minutes.
The marauding Nathan Fox eased himself down the left-wing before pulling the ball back to Apostolopoulous who coolly side-footed the ball into the bottom corner.
Sporting goalkeeper Reece Francis then had to be at full stretch to deny McCauley Manning’s long-range effort from finding the top corner three minutes later.
Wade Malley and Joe Ward then both saw shots saved by Reds keeper Bradley Catlow up the other end moments later.
Sporting seemed to be lacking their sharpness from their previous three friendlies as a Ben Birch error almost let Manning make it 2-0 after 36 minutes but Francis made himself big to make a crucial save.
However, two minutes later Francis was beaten as a clever throughball from Manning set Johnson through on goal who calmly slotted the ball under the onrushing Sporting keeper.
And on the stroke of half-time it was almost 3-0 as the ever-present Manning saw an angled shot drift agonisingly wide of the far corner.
Just like the start of the first period, Sporting conceded inside five minutes as a poor lofted ball at the back by Daniel Morris was picked up on by Apostolopoulous who surged into the box before blasting the ball home to extend the Reds’ advantage to 3-0.
But following a string of substitutions, Sporting’s tempo picked up and they pulled one back with 22 minutes to go as Pykett netted the rebound from Jason Cowley’s rasping curling effort which cannoned off the crossbar.
Six minutes later Darren Byfield’s Reds almost restored their three-goal advantage but the post prevented Dior Angus from getting on the scoresheet after he got on the end of Curvin Ellis’ low cross.
With ten minutes to go Angus was again involved and was unlucky not to find the back of the net when his drilled shot from inside the area skimmed beyond the far post.
Pykett then blasted over from a tight angle in the 85th minute as Sporting were beaten by their Step Three opponents.
Next up for the Rouslers is a trip to Alvechurch on Tuesday night (7.45pm KO).