BAD loser Paul Smith admitted Bromsgrove Sporting's 3-2 defeat against struggling Shrewsbury side Haughmond was hard to take this week.

The setback was only Sporting's fourth league defeat in the past 18 months and Smith insisted: "It's something doesn't happen very often, but when it does, it hits you hard.

"We carved out chance after chance, but it just didn't happen for us at either end of the pitch.

"I hate losing, but I've learnt over the years not to go overboard both in victory or defeat. The result against Haughmond won't determine anything at the moment".

Sporting are set to be boosted by the imminent return of both John Pykett and Ahmed Ali.

Pykett returns from Australia this week and will come straight into the reckoning for Saturday's trip to AFC Wulfrunians.

Ahmed Ali will also be back on board for Sporting after seven months absence and could figure in next Tuesday's clash with fourth placed Coventry Sphinx at the Victoria Ground.

Smith said: "We'll have to wait and see what shape Ahmed is in and I plan to meet with him this weekend but having Ahmed back available is a massive bonus.

"I rate him very highly and I'm surprised that no clubs from a higher level haven't been in for him. We've certainly missed him and I'm convinced that had he been available to us all season, then we would be in a much better position than we now find ourselves in."

As a result of their reverse against Haughmond, Sporting have slipped to second spot, four points adrift of league leaders Coleshill Town, with a game in hand.

But Smith pointed out: "We've yet to play Coleshill in the league this season, but when we do meet them, they will be massive games for both sides".