PAUL SMITH believes Bromsgrove Sporting will be inspired by their FA Vase heroics from last season when they kick off this year’s competition with “one of the toughest ties possible”.
And with a depleted line-up minus in-form trio Robbie Bunn, Sam Wills and Guy Clark, the Sporting boss stressed they will need to quickly bounce back from last weekend’s horror show to tackle Sporting Khalsa tomorrow (Saturday).
The second-round tie pits second v third in the Midland League Premier Division, at the Aspray Arena in Willenhall, with Khalsa having won 12 off their last 13 games since they drew 1-1 at Bromsgrove in September.
Smith was bitterly disappointed with last weekend’s 3-0 loss at Highgate United which knocked Sporting off top spot and warned a repeat performance will end in defeat at Khalsa.
“Playing Khalsa is one of the toughest ties possible and we will need to be at our very best,” said Smith.
“I’m good friends with [Khalsa manager Ian Rowe] and I’m sure he will be telling his players the same. We’re both in the top three in the league and we reached the semi-finals of the Vase last season and they reached the quarter-finals.
“It was an unbelievable experience last season in the Vase. It was one that will live memory for the next 20-30 years. And once you’ve experienced it once, you want to experience it again.”
But Smith says last Saturday’s experience at Highgate was one to forget. “It was the first time in a number of years as manager that my team has showed a soft underbelly. That’s not good enough and the players know that,” said Smith.
“The players have showed a positive response in training but now they need to do it out on the pitch on Saturday.”
Sporting, however, will be forced to rule out influential midfield pair Bunn, who was injured last week at Westfields, and the suspended Wills plus the unavailable Clark against Khalsa.
Smith is hoping to secure a new defender with Northern Premier experience in time for the tie.
“The three lads have been key players and losing them will make Saturday even tougher,” said the Rouslers boss.
“Robbie has scored ten goals in 12 games and he’s been superb, and Sam has been playing probably the best football in the seven years since I first signed him. Guy has been excellent since coming in from Stratford.
“It’s up to the players who come in to step up to the plate.”
Aaron Roberts will be back available after missing the Highgate game, while Reece Hewitt could also feature, providing he gets the OK after his injury.
Liam Spink and Max Loveridge also come into contention.