AHMED Ali made an unexpected return to Bromsgrove Sporting's ranks this week and his inclusion created an immediate impact in their 2-1 win at Rugby Town.

Ali wasn't even supposed to be in the Rousler's squad following his release from prison last Friday.

But Jack Wilson's late withdrawal left a space in Sporting's squad and Ali was drafted in at late notice.

Sporting boss Paul Smith explained: "I went to court with Ahmed and they released him there and then. He was only going to be at the game at Rugby so he could warm-up with the players as he hasn't been able to train with us yet.

"But Jack suddenly became unavailable at the last minute so Ahmed was included on the bench.

"I brought him on at half time as we were losing 1-0 and it was like having a new player on board. Ahmed was instrumental in turning the game around for us.

"His fitness was remarkably good and he was a calming influence for us especially when he was on the ball".

Sam Belcher had fired Rugby into a fifth minute lead from the spot but Sporting levelled through a penalty of their own when Richard Gregory thundered home after Jason Cowley had been the victim of a high tackle.

And it was Cowley who came up with a 68th minute winner and manager Smith couldn't hide his delight claiming: "Jason hasn't scored for the past five games and he's been beating himself up about it recently and getting very down.

"But his work-rate alone is good enough to win some games and he is a tremendous footballer. I was delighted for him that he got the winner.

"I just hope there will be many more to follow.

"Richard Gregory's penalty was one of the best I've ever seen. He hit the ball so hard that you couldn't even see it go into the net!

"I had no problems with their penalty. It was a clumsy challenge!

Victory over Rugby has taken Sporting into top spot and Smith is determined his side should stay there.

He revealed: "It was our first game after the FA Vase defeat against Thatcham Town and the players were desperate to put that disappointment behind them and put on a performance for the supporters."

But Smith warned: "It's an extremely strong league this season and if we want to stay on top, we will have to provide plenty of application and determination.

"We've got 17 league games remaining and we have to treat them all like cup finals".

Sporting were due to visit Lye Town on Tuesday before travelling to Shawbury United on Saturday.