Hinckley AFC 1, Bromsgrove Sporting 2
NEW Sporting boss Paul Smith enjoyed a winning start as Bromsgrove defeated promotion rivals Hinckley on Saturday.
Josh McKenzie bagged a brace to ensure a perfect start for the Rouslers' manager against the newly reformed home team.
Smith had wasted little time strengthening his squad, drafting in Simon Fitter from Littleton, Scott Hadland from Barwell, Alvechurch's Scott Smith and Studley forward Sam Wills.
The Rouslers took the lead in the 19th minute when a Fitter free-kick was headed on by Will Tibbetts and McKenzie was on hand to convert from six yards, giving Sam Arnold in the Hinckley goal no chance.
Sporting were in control in the first half but the hosts came out with a new resolve after the break and were immediately on the front foot.
Hinckley's midfielder general JJ Melligan, who had previously played for Wolverhampton Wanderers and Kidderminster Harriers, created their leveller.
His powerful shot could only be parried by keeper Jake Bedford and Luke Richards pounced to equalise.
The goal sparked the home fans into life and Sporting's supporters feared this could be the start of the Hinckley revival as all of the play had been in the Rouslers half after the break.
But within a couple of minutes Bromsgrove retook the lead.
A misplaced pass was pounced on by the nippy Tibbetts who ran at the back-peddling Hinckley defence.
Tibbetts drew the cover before squaring to fast moving McKenzie, who scored at the second attempt after his first effort had been blocked.
The Sporting defence blocked shots and threw themselves in front of Hinckley’s efforts with Bedford punching clear on numerous occasions.
The keeper was beaten in the 85th minute when former Sporting hitman Mark Bellingham flicked in a powerful shot from substitute Craig Bannister, but the linesman’s flag showed that the Ex-Rousler was in an offside position.
Sporting created chances on the break but were thankful to hear the referees whistle and grab the three points from one of the teams tipped to top the league in May.
Hinckley: Arnold, Halil, Sockett (Bellingham 66), Walker, Smith, Williams, Melligan, Bailey (Bennett-Tindall 71), Richards (Bannister 76), Clarke-O’Connell, Williams. Subs not used: Robinson, Cooper.
Sporting: Bedford, Duggan, Ludlow, Fitter,Smith, Jones, Taylor, Hadland Wills), McKenzie (Jakab), Darkin, Tibbetts (Rob Agar).
Referee: J Kerrigan (Cannock).