Walsall Wood 1, Bromsgrove Sporting 2
SPORTING produced their best display of the season as they saw off the Midland Combination Premier Division leaders on Saturday.
With absentees and injuries giving the management team few options, Keith Draper and Graham Scott played Chrisi Conway as the lone striker in front of a five-man midfield.
Newcomer Luke Dugmore came in for James Turk who is out for six weeks with a groin injury while Jack Lodge stepped up from the reserves. In the back four Mike Thurbon replaced his brother Chris.
Wood had the edge for the first few minutes with Sporting keeper Francis saving well from Lewis Boyce-Taylor on the ninth minute then blocking a well-taken free-kick by Cory Currithers moments later.
However, Sporting gradually eased themselves into the match retaining the bulk of the possession. Conway worked hard up front and was frustrated with several close offside decisions.
However, he gave Daniel Ware in the Wood goal his first test on 27 minutes which the shot-stopper blocked and then five minutes later won a free-kick on the edge of the box after being fouled.
Danny Deehan quickly took the kick and hit it past Ware's outstretched right arm.
There were protests from the home side but the referee allowed the goal to stand.
Sporting were now on top and Deehan should have had his second minutes later but for the left-hand post stopping his shot.
Wood nearly got themselves back into the game two minutes from the interval when a fine save from Francis denied Currithers.
The second half continued where the first left off with Sporting in command but defending a narrow lead.
The much-needed second goal came on the 59th minute again from a free-kick.
This time it was the impressive Luke Dugmore who was pulled down on just outside the penalty area.
But Sporting scored their second when Thurbon’s powerful drive came off defender Lee Stretton and flew into the back of the net.
Walsall tried hard to even things up with substitute Daniel Rock having a good attempt punched away by Francis but the away back line held fast.
The home side finally found the net with four minutes to go when a Craig Deakin free-kick caught the Sporting defence napping as Harry Harris's excellent volley easily beat Francis.
So an entertaining match with the result a fair reflection of the game. Joint manager Keith Draper said afterwards that that he was very pleased with both the result and performance.
The change in formation and tactics had worked well. He also commended debutants Lodge and Dugmore for their contributions.
Walsall: Ware; Howard ( Rock 60 mins), Stretton (capt), Boothe, Deakin; Currithers, Cooper (Harris 54 mins), Murray, Aiton, Gonzales (Thompson 60 mins); Taylor-Boyce. Subs not used: Jones, Hawkins.
Sporting: Francis; Roberts, Martin, MThurbon, Parker; Draper Jnr, Lodge, Dugmore (Blake-Walker, 85), Blake, Deehan ( Baker, 76); Conway (Morrison, 71).
Subs not used: C Thurbon, Tierney.