BRENDAN Kelly admits he is “devastated” at the loss of goalkeeper Jono Brown – who departed after last weekend’s 3-2 win over St Ives Town.
Mike Taylor’s late winner, which completed a brace and added to Harry Higginson’s first goal for the club, helped the 10-man Rouslers see off a stubborn opponent, who twice pegged the hosts back at the Victoria Ground.
A red card was shown to Leon Broadhurst 15 minutes into the game, a decision which failed to dim the hosts at 1-1, as Sporting continued to dominate proceedings and eventually found the winning goal they merited six minutes from time.
With Daniel Platt handed the number one shirt and provided the chance to make his debut for the club in Saturday’s win, Brown announced his decision to depart the club after full time, leaving Kelly sorrowful to lose the two-time promotion-winning custodian.
“I’m devastated for him because he wanted the chance to play and patiently waited in the wings while Tony [Breeden] was at the club,” said the Sporting manager.
“He worked and trained hard and looked ok against Coalville, he cost us a couple of goals away to Peterborough Sports so we went for Daniel in Saturday’s game.
“Afterwards he said he felt it was time to move on, and I have nothing but admiration for him.
“As I said to him, he is always welcome back and there is certainly no love lost, he’s left us on good terms.
“I’ll have to get another goalkeeper in, we’ve got a few irons in the fire, but it’s too good a level to only have one keeper.
“With some players coming back from injury, we might yet lose some lads who are not playing regularly, we can’t keep a squad of 22 or 23 happy.”
In Saturday’s win, it took Taylor a matter of minutes to find the net from Will Shorrock’s centre, giving the Rouslers a lead that lasted all of six minutes following Cameron McWilliams’ close-range equaliser.
The match continued to throw up twists and turns, none more so than a dubious red card shown to Broadhurst for a challenge which he appeared to have won, albeit one which the referee viewed to be too forceful to allow the defender to stay on the pitch.
A first goal in Sporting colours for Higginson followed just five minutes later when the centre back nodded Greg Mills’ corner downwards into the net – proving too powerful for Shay Griffiths to keep out.
The St Ives keeper was equal to an effort by Shorrock before the break though, a save that was crucial and allowed teammate Robbie Parker to level from the spot five minutes after the restart, following a foul by Jack Wilson on George Bailey.
With the game ebbing out into a draw, Taylor latched onto Nathan Hayward’s through ball and charged goalwards, attempting to pick out Shaquille McDonald with a pass, but, with the ball returning to him, allowing the forward to lash home.
Assessing the contest, Kelly added: “It was a tall order, so it was a very pleasing result.
“After the red card, we had to act fast with the change, I was conscious of the fact that we needed to increase the bodies in the middle so I took Greg off at 2-1.
“Our lads had the extra fitness levels to play like we had 11 on the pitch, but the red card was harsh because his feet didn’t leave the ground.
“The player fell awkwardly but there wasn’t exceptional force in the challenge, none of their players appealed and the referee had the red card out before he hit the ground.”
Next up is a home game against Royston Town on Saturday (3pm), with a win potentially moving the Rouslers into the play-offs.
Kelly is cautious about the threat posed by a side level on points and sitting two places in Southern League Premier Central behind eighth-placed Sporting, and anticipates a tight affair.
“They’ve had an indifferent run of form, similar to us, so we know we’re in for a tough test,” he said.
“We know a few of their players, their forward [Matt Bateman] scored a hat-trick against us last season when he was at Berkhamsted.
“Everyone was convinced at the start of the season that they’d be up there, so they’ll be searching for some consistency too.”
The only injury doubt facing Bromsgrove this weekend is Liam Spink, who returned to full training this week.