BROMSGROVE Sporting manager Brendan Kelly said his side’s 3-2 win in extra time against Sutton Coldfield Town was an emotionally draining affair, as the Rouslers booked their place in the Southern Division One Central play-off final.
First-half strikes from Richard Gregory and Jason Cowley had put Sporting in the driving seat to advance to the final, but Sutton Coldfield hit back through Reece Gibson’s brace.
With the match level after 90 minutes, despite huge chances for either side to win it, Sporting eventually found themselves in front at the most decisive moment – when Nathan Hayward struck the winner in the 12th minute of extra-time.
The Rouslers now set up a play-off final tie against Corby Town, who also came through their semi-final on Wednesday night – edging a 5-3 thriller against Bedford Town.
Kelly was not one to hide how much the emotion and enormity of winning the tie meant to him and his side, and said the match could have gone either way.
“It was the most, and the least, enjoyable match I’ve been involved in in my life.
“We went into it knowing it was a dangerous fixture, and Sutton played with freedom knowing that they couldn’t achieve promotion regardless of winning the play-offs.
“We had a good start, but they came out second-half and piled bodies forward.
“It was a freak second goal for them, you’ll never see a goal like it again.
“It was a real close encounter, they were better in certain moments – by full-time my emotions were all over the place.”
The Sporting boss believes a dip in mentality was behind the two-goal lead being eliminated in the space of six second-half minutes, but was pleased with how his side navigated the tricky period.
“I think our mentality changed going into the second-half, and our standards dropped.
“It was a big burn out for us, they came out and threw numbers forward with nothing to lose, and our mentality was lacking.
“It was a difficult scenario for the lads to be in, but thankfully we managed to get through it.”
He also credits the 1,849 fans that packed into the Victoria Ground as having an immense impact, and praised them for setting up an atmosphere perfect for the spectacle.
“The fans were huge, there was lots of noise all night from both sets of fans, credit to Sutton Coldfield and their famous ‘Tequila’ band too, it was a great advert for non-league football.
“It had a real cup feel to it – the end-to-end football, penalties, the crossbar being hit, it had it all.”
With Corby Town the only obstacle now standing in the way between Bromsgrove Sporting and Southern Premier League Central football, Kelly says his side will approach the game accordingly, and prepare for the tie like any other.
“We’ll approach the final in the best way that we see fit.
“It’s our fourth match against them this season, so we both know lots about each other.
“There are sure to be goals in this fixture, both sides have scored over 100 in the league this season.
“There’ll be lots of preparation going into it from us, hopefully it’ll be enough to see us over the line and get us through.”