JASON COWLEY struck twice as Bromsgrove Sporting edged past Worcester City to move ten points clear at the top of the Midland League Premier Division.
The former Redditch Borough hot-shot found the net late on in both the first and second halves to give Brendan Kelly’s men a vital three points in their quest to secure back-to-back league titles and promotions.
A bumper crowd of 1,432 packed the Victoria Ground – a bigger gate than Morecambe’s League Two clash against Chesterfield (1,042) – expecting another good game of football after a Christmas cracker on Boxing Day which saw landlords Sporting come from 3-0 down to draw 3-3.
It was tenants City who should have opened the scoring inside the opening ten minutes.
After Liam Armstrong gave the ball away in the middle of the park, Matt Birley threaded a neat ball through to Dave Reynolds whose shot beat onrushing keeper Reece Francis but also beat the far post.
And just moments later Nick Turton broke free of the Sporting back line only to be denied by the feet of Francis.
Those early wake up calls seemed to kick the Rouslers into gear with their first chance falling to Cowley who drilled a left-footed shot wide before John Pykett fired over from inside the area after cutting inside onto his weaker left foot.
The hosts continued to press and it needed desperate defending to stop Richard Gregory’s goal-bound shot from going in before the rebound was expertly saved by Adam Przybek in the City goal.
Pryzbek then did well to claim a clever chipped effort from Gregory as half-time approached but there was little he could do in the second minute of first-half stoppage time when Sporting broke the deadlock.
A poor goal kick was nodded forward by Armstrong into the clear path of Cowley who raced in on goal before firing home into the far corner to give Sporting a priceless lead.
The Blue and Whites started the second half with more impetus and once again Francis had to be at his best to deny Turton who had waltzed his way through the Sporting defence.
But it was not long until City’s early dominance was rewarded when Alex Tomkinson’s fierce cross-cum-shot was parried into the air by Francis with the loose ball dropping to Birley who took a neat touch and drilled a low shot into the bottom corner.
Moments later Reynolds came close to completing the turnaround but his fierce angled drive flew wide of the far post with an hour gone on the clock.
The game ebbed and flowed with both teams going in search of a winner and it was another City error which led to them falling behind with just six minutes of normal time remaining.
Jordan Stoddart lost the ball in the middle of the park which gave Richard Gregory the time and space to play in Cowley who looked to have gone just too far wide of goal but he expertly found the opposite corner with a neat left-footed finish to send the Shed End into delirium.
City could have snatched a late equaliser in the third minute of stoppage time when they were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the Sporting area after Pykett fouled Brad Birch but George Forsyth could only curl his effort wide of the mark.
Four more tense minutes followed before the full-time whistle was blown to gift Sporting a huge three points ahead of tomorrow’s (Thursday) trip to bottom-of-the-table Rocester.