A BRACE from Jason Cowley inspired Bromsgrove Sporting to a 3-1 victory over Lichfield City in the second round of the FA Vase – just two weeks after beating them in Midland League Division One.
It took just seven minutes for Sporting to open their account when Reece Hewitt wonderfully headed home Will Tibbetts’ cross from the right before Cowley grabbed his first and the hosts’ second after 29 minutes when he coolly slotted home from inside the area.
Cowley then bagged his second goal of the afternoon in front of 747 fans at the Victoria Ground in the 78th minute when his long-range effort bounced awkwardly in front of City keeper Amrick Virdee and into the roof of the net.
Substitute Liam Holt pulled one back for the visitors with six minutes to go with a sweet volley from ten yards out but that was as good as it got for City as the Rouslers equalled their best ever FA Vase run from 2014 when they reached the third round before losing 2-1 to Thurby Nirvana.
After beating City in the league just two weeks prior to today’s (Sunday) game, Sporting’s hopes of securing a league and cup double over their potential title rivals got off to the perfect start as a free-flowing move resulted in a goal inside the opening ten minutes.
Following some good hold-up play by Tom Craine, he released Tibbetts down the right who cut inside before delivering a pin-point cross to the back post where Hewitt headed the ball back across goal and into the net.
The visitors almost drew level five minutes later as Dan Thurstance saw a close-range effort well blocked by the Sporting defence before Sam Wills missed a golden opportunity to double the hosts’ lead but he could only place his shot straight at Virdee after finding himself clean through on goal.
Robbie Bunn and Craine saw efforts go over and wide respectively before Cowley made it 2-0 just before the half hour mark.
Craine again showed great hold-up play before laying the ball into the path of Cowley who strode his way into the City box before slotting home with aplomb to send the Victoria Ground into euphoria.
Bunn then fired agonisingly wide a minute later before a flying save from Virdee denied Tibbetts’ 25-yard piledriver which looked destined for the top left-hand corner with 13 minutes of the first half remaining.
Tibbetts will be wondering how he did not get on the scoresheet as another chance went begging in the 35th minute when he carved his way through the City defence with ease but could only lift his effort beyond the on-rushing Virdee over the bar from close range.
In a half which saw City very rarely threaten Chris Jay in the Sporting goal, the visitors brought an end to the first 45 minutes with a rasping drive from Luke Chapman which whistled over the bar.
Four minutes after the interval another fantastic save by Virdee denied another Tibbetts effort before Wills fired wide of the mark after 53 minutes following some good work from Craine.
Just after the hour mark Lund almost pulled a goal back for the visitors as Chapman’s deep free-kick landed at his feet but his toe-poked effort was well saved by Jay who had not really been troubled up to this point.
The woodwork came to the rescue of City in the 62nd minute as Craine ran along the edge of the box before lashing a powerful shot which grazed the top of the crossbar.
Despite not troubling Sporting for the majority of the game, City upped their tempo with 20 minutes to go and were unlucky not to pull one back as Daniel Griffiths missed a gilt-edged chance from no more than a couple of yards out from Richard Deavall’s deliciously whipped in cross from the right.
Deavall again proved a bit of handful down the right during City’s period of sustained pressure but another wonderfully delivered ball missed the killer touch.
And those missed chances proved costly for the visitors as Cowley grabbed his second and Sporting’s third goal of the afternoon in the 78th minute.
After Nathan Walker saw his free-kick from the edge of the area slam into the City wall, Cowley collected the loose ball before unleashing a powerful shot which bounced unkindly in front of Virdee and into the net.
Again the woodwork was rattling five minutes later as Cowley’s left-footed effort rebounded off the crossbar before the visitors went straight up the other end and grabbed a consolation.
A ball in from the left somehow made its way past several Sporting defenders before meeting the boot of substitute Holt who crisply volleyed home to complete the afternoon’s scoring.