MANAGER Brendan Kelly says he expects a new-look Bromsgrove Sporting side in the 2021/22 Southern League Premier Central season, in the aftermath of winning the Red Recruitment Trophy.
Sporting lifted the end-of-season competition after beating Alvechurch 1-0 in what was essentially a winner-takes-all affair on Bank Holiday Monday, with a show-stopping drive from Jason Cowley – who was later sent off – the difference at Lye Meadow.
With the season now officially brought to a close, the Rouslers have managed to end this term on a high note of sorts, having encountered a rocky patch of form during their short-lived league campaign – which concluded at the end of October.
With a summer break ahead before pre-season preparations begin as usual in July, Kelly’s men now have time to rest and recuperate before going again for what many will hope to be a first full campaign since 2018/19.
Taking pride from Sporting’s success at the beginning of the week, Kelly says it was important to sign off in style.
“I’m delighted to win the tournament, when it’s another trophy at stake you want to win it – and win it in the right way.
“I didn’t think it was a great spectacle, both teams cancelled each other out quite a bit, but Jason’s goal was worthy of winning any kind of final.
“We’ve got the bragging rights for Worcestershire for a while, so it was a nice way to finish off before we have our break.
“The pass from Miro [Pais] was probably the best part of the move, because it was an instinctive first-time pass, and then Jason has spotted the ‘keeper off his line and put it in the stanchion – it was a great finish.
“We were under the cosh, as we would be with ten men, but I’m delighted with the clean sheet, to see new faces and lift the trophy.”
After a drab first half, it took a moment of inspiration from Sporting’s record goalscorer to make the breakthrough in the 53rd minute.
Latching onto Pais’ through ball, Cowley took a touch out of his feet before rifling a dipping effort from range that nestled in the postage stamp – an unstoppable strike that left goalkeeper Ollie Taylor utterly powerless.
The opener spurred Bromsgrove on to enjoy further opportunities, albeit without another goal to show for their efforts, as Chris Lait and Jack Wilson both went close.
Attempting a similarly audacious attempt down the other end, Luke Yates almost caught out shot-stopper Max Beardmore with a chip that cracked the underside of the crossbar as Church presented a reminder of their threat.
Cowley was unable to make it two despite making good contact with a pinpoint Jak Hickman delivery, before the forward was given his marching orders for two yellow cards in quick succession.
With backs now against the wall, Sporting held on despite opportunities falling to both Tyrell Hamilton and Kevin Monteiro, ensuring the Trophy ended up in Bromsgrove hands at the full-time whistle.
As the summer break presents further thinking time for Kelly to shape his squad in accordance to his ambitions for the new campaign, the Irishman feels a lot will be learned from the tumultuous 2020/21 season.
“We’re always learning,” he added.
“It was a stop-start season with the pandemic, we were up and down [in the league] and inconsistent with our results, but our performances were actually better than the year before yet we ended up with less points on the board at that stage.
“The Red Recruitment Trophy tournament to generate revenue for the clubs was a good idea, and was a good opportunity to have a look at players and see where we need to strengthen.
“It’s going to be a bit of an overhaul of the squad with new faces and different regimes and ideas.
“It’s a blank canvas for everyone. We’re going to be as competitive as we can with some more new faces in adding to what we already have and give it a really good go.”