PAUL SMITH has challenged his Bromsgrove Sporting players to use their FA Vase misery as a driving force to push for promotion.
Smith was left bitterly disappointed by the 2-1 defeat at Thatcham Town, which wrecked any hopes of a first-ever Wembley trip.
But he says the Rouslers need to quickly to get over that Vase disappointment to focus on winning the Midland League Premier Division title.
They head to seventh-placed Rugby Town tomorrow (Saturday), lying two points behind leaders Coleshill Town, who have played a game more, but the Sporting manager suggests all the top five clubs will still believe they can be champions.
“Last Saturday was one of the poorest performances we’ve had in a long, long while,” said Smith. “We had tremendous support – 400-500 fans came down to Thatcham and we let them down.
“But I’ve the told the boys that that’s gone now. As much as it was bitterly disappointing, we can’t do anything about the Thatcham game.
“Of course we wanted to well in the Vase and I thought we were good enough to match last season and get to the semi-final or even better. But we’ve still got a lot to play for.
“We are in a good position to challenge in the league and win the title. That’s the goal and that’s been the case since the season started.
“Now we’ve got 18 cup finals in the Midland Premier. It’s the strongest Premier Division I’ve seen for many years so we know it’s going to be a challenge. Anybody can beat anybody else in this league and we learned that when we went to Haughmond.
“The games will come thick and fast and whichever teams gets on a run will be the ones to beat.”
Sporting, though, can look forward to one final after Tuesday night’s penalty shoot-out win away to Stourport Swifts secured a place in the Worcestershire Senior Urn final against Lye Town on Thursday April 24.
Coincidentally, the sides meet next Tuesday in the league at Lye.
Smith made a raft of changes in midweek but was pleased to get a response after the Thatcham loss.
Sam Wills, Reece Hewitt, Jason Cowley, Richard Gregory and Max Loveridge, who were all missing on Tuesday, are set to return tomorrow for the trip to Butlin Road.
Bromsgrove cruised to a 4-0 win over Rugby in October but the Valley have been beaten just three times in the league since then.
“Rugby have had upturn in performances since we played them and are doing really well. They will be a different side to the one we beat,” said Smith. “We will need to be on our game.”