Derby battle for semi-final spot

First published in Sport

LOCAL bragging rights and a place in the Smedley Crooke Cup semi-final will be up for grabs on Saturday, when Bromsgrove Sporting take on Fairfield Villa at the Victoria Ground (3pm kick-off).

Both teams will have their reasons for progressing into the last four of the competition.

Sporting will be looking to continue their unbeaten run in all competitions and avenge being knocked out of the Presidents Cup by their derby rivals earlier in the season.

Meanwhile, Villa are still smarting from a 4-0 loss at Sporting in the Midland Combination Division One over Christmas.

Bromsgrove boss Keith Draper has an almost fully fit squad to call on for the match, with only Chris Bright (collar bone) and cup-tied duo Tom Savage and Mike Stewart missing.

“We’ve got two local sides looking to win and this game has it all,” said the Sporting manager.

“They knocked us out of a cup and we won in the league, so with two games to go, it’s 1-1.

“I think since we beat them over Christmas, we are better organised and stronger team.”

To make sure they are ready for the game, and to shake off any lethargy caused by their two-week break from action because of the cold snap, Sporting will train twice this week.

Their league match at Phoenix United was called off on Saturday because of a frozen pitch.

Villa, whose league game against Littleton was also called off, have also seen several players return to fitness after their enforced delay, although Adam Pillinger is absent because of family commitments.

Villa boss Paul Oakes said: “It’s going to be a really tough game.

“It’s the business end of the season when everyone wants to get some silverware in the cabinet.

“We know Sporting are a much-changed side but they gave us a bit of a beating over Christmas so we’re looking for a response.”

Meanwhile, Sporting have been drawn at Droitwich Spa in the semi-finals of the Evesham Hospital Cup (3pm kick-off) on Saturday, April 14.

Spa go to Alvis in the league on Saturday (3pm kick-off).

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