LIAM SPINK’S 90th-minute penalty ensured mediocre Bromsgrove Sporting walked away with all three points against Cadbury Athletic.
Jason Cowley had given the Rouslers the lead after ten minutes with an easy finish from close range before Tory Herbett equalised just five minutes before the interval in similar fashion.
Herbett then nosed the visitors ahead just past the hour mark but that lead only lasted ten minutes as Tom Craine blasted home from inside the area to level things up.
The drama was not over though, as in the last minute of normal time Craine was hauled down in the box and up stepped Spink to calmly bag the winner from the spot to extend Sporting’s unbeaten league run to 23 games.
Rouslers boss Paul Smith made three changes to the starting XI which beat Chelmsley Town 4-1 last Saturday as Sam Wills, Reece Hewitt and Luke Shorthouse made way for Luke Edwards, Robbie Bunn and Andy Nicol but it took a while for the hosts to find their feet in the opening exchanges.
After five minutes though, a brilliant block from an Athletic defender prevented the in-form Cowley from volleying home from just inside the area after Chris Lloyd’s early corner landed at the striker’s feet.
But just five minutes later Cowley had the ball in the back of the net.
Lloyd’s pace set him free down the right before finding Nicol in the box who neatly turned his marker and drilled across goal to Cowley who rifled the ball into the roof of the net after seeing his initial shot well saved by former Rouslers keeper Reece Francis.
The ball was in the back of the Athletic net again 11 minutes later as a clever throughball allowed Nicol to race through and finish beyond the advancing Francis only to see his ‘goal’ chalked off for offside.
Star striker Cowley was then brought off after 28 minutes as a precaution following a knock to the ankle with Craine coming on in his place.
Tempo and composure seemed to disappear from Sporting’s game after the substitution and five minutes before half-time the visitors were level as Dean Lea’s cross from the left was not dealt with and Herbett had the easiest of finishes from no more than six yards out to make it 1-1.
The Rouslers should have gone into half-time ahead though, but a fine stop from Francis prevented Craine from netting at the back post after meeting Lloyd’s low cross.
Sporting started the second half lacking composure and looking predictable with every move forward and the Rouslers faithful among the 484-strong were becoming increasingly frustrated.
Athletic were unlucky to not go ahead in the 47th-minute as Jak Walton forced a decent save out of Jon Brown in the Sporting goal after diverting Craig Oldfield’s corner to the back post before Nicol saw a free-kick from the edge of the area clawed away from the top corner by Francis.
As the hosts came forward they looked vulnerable on the break and two minutes after the hour mark a classic counter-attack fired Athletic ahead.
A good cross from the left somehow evaded Lea but there was Herbett in the centre of goal to collect and provide a calm finish into the roof of the net.
Three minutes later Bunn fired wide of the mark before the former Redditch United man saw a near post shot well saved by Francis with 20 minutes remaining.
But just two minutes later Francis’ resistance was broken as Craine muscled his way past a few Athletic markers in the box before smashing the back of the net to make it 2-2.
At this point Sporting, who were playing far from their best, were well on top and they should have gone 3-2 up after 85 minutes when Bunn played in Lloyd one-on-one with Francis but a fine save from the Athletic keeper with his foot ensured it remained level.
The hosts would not end there though, as their patience and persistence paid off when Craine was clumsily brought down in the area and referee Kieran Dolphin had no choice but to point to the spot.
Spink took responsibility from 12 yards and showed great composure to send Francis the wrong way and secure all three points for Sporting who sit four points clear at the top of Midland League Division One following the victory.