GOALKEEPER Reece Francis admitted Bromsgrove Sporting ‘owe it to the fans’ to put on a good performance against Coventry United in the FA Vase this weekend following their midweek penalty shoot-out heartache.
A lacklustre Sporting crashed out of the Polymac Packaging League Cup on Tuesday night after losing 4-3 on spot-kicks to lower-ranked Littleton who deserved to go through despite being held to a 1-1 draw after 90 minutes.
But with a big Vase clash against fellow Midland League Premier Division side United on Saturday, Francis told the Standard he is hoping a big crowd packs the Victoria Ground to cheer Sporting on to success.
And having seen the Rouslers reach the semi-finals last term while registered to Cadbury Athletic, the keeper is targeting a trip to Wembley.
“I stood in the Shed End with my dad a few times last season when some of the Vase games were on the Sunday and I said to him that I wanted to play in big occasions like that,” he said.
“After a disappointing Tuesday, a big performance is required from myself and the rest of the lads but we also a need a bumper crowd to cheer us on.
“Fair play to the fans that came out to watch us against Littleton and we owe it to them on Saturday as well as the management and coaching staff.
“The crowd make a big difference on big occasions as we can hear them in the changing room and it gets the adrenaline going.
“Coventry United are going to be a tough side but I am sure the lads, especially after Tuesday night, will put things right and get the job done.”
Sporting never really got out of first gear against Littleton, but after falling behind in just the second minute when Matthew Edwards tapped home from close range, second-half substitute Robbie Bunn sent the tie to penalties when he found the bottom corner from the edge of the area with nine minutes to go.
Francis then looked as though he may have done enough to secure progression for lacklustre Sporting having denied Dale Edwards, David Edwards and Jordan Jones from 12 yards out.
But only Sam Wills could score from the spot in the opening four penalties as Jason Cowley, Sean Brain and Connor Deards failed to capitalise.
Nathan Binner coolly slotted home to make it 2-2 and send the shoot-out to sudden death where Littleton ran out 4-3 winners after Jack Wilson saw his effort saved.
“I was absolutely devastated,” said Francis. “To save three penalties I wanted a bit of a favour from the lads but we just did not get the luck.
“From the very first whistle you could tell it was not going to be our night.
“We battled through and managed to get a chance of reaching the next round but we could not take it.
“Things just did not click which is very unusual for the lads.
“Even though changes were made, that should not have made a difference as the squad is good enough to win games.
“But fair play to Littleton as they came with a plan, stuck to it and deserved to go through.”