It was more of a mud bath than a football pitch but could Sporting leave this game singing “mud mud glorious mud” or would they be left 'down and dirty?'
It was a fixture that Sporting needed to win to maintain a resurgence of form that found them on the better end of a 7-0 result away to Shotley in the previous week. Manager Mark Crawford had made several changes to his starting line up in this game as injuries and absences forced his hand. Herrera was given the nod to partner Bailey up front after scoring as a substitute against Shotley and Barton returned to the starting 11 after injury had kept him to only a subs appearance but also managed a goal in that game.
Referee D. Robertson was to take charge of this mudfest and he blew with authority as the game kicked off.
From the first few minutes Sporting set the tone for the game as they battled and fought to get a foothold in the oppositions territory. Early on Bailey dodged and weaved past several Sproughton players to start a dangerous attack, only to be shut out at the last. The signal of intent was there. An early freekick was given away and the rejuvenated Herrera fizzed in a dangerous ball which Sproughton dealt with poorly however they were let off as some last ditch defending saw the ball cleared. This would be their only warning. On 9 minutes Sporting won a throw deep into the oppositions half and Barton won the header which was deflected onto a Sproughton hand. Penalty.
As Sportings top scorer and without a recognised penalty taker, Bailey stepped up. His shot was poor as it flew down the middle however the keeper was beaten and Sporting were in the lead.
Sporting would not have to wait long for their second as 6 minutes later after a great tackle from Benwell the ball broke to Bailey who gathered up the ball and blitzed towards goal, his initial shot was blocked on the line by a defender but Bailey would not be stopped as he tapped in the rebound to make it 2-0 to Sporting. After some back and forth between the teams it would be Sporting who were punished as Honeyball was deemed to of impeded a Sproughton player unfairly in the box and a penalty was awarded and converted on 21 minutes to put them back in the game. Herrera slowly edged his way into the game and on 26 minutes he was allowed to do what he does best as he whipped in a dangerous ball which found Barton lurking in the box who headed back across goal and found Bailey who tapped in for his first half hat trick to be completed.
Sporting were in the driving seat now and Sproughton were floundering, Sporting would rise again a few minutes later as they won a free kick deep into Sproughtons half. Herrera stepped up again and fizzed in a ball which again met the head of Barton, this time finding Tim Lovejoy who finished with aplomb to notch his first of the season and put Sporting in total control.
Much was said of the pitch before the game and to ask any team to try and play passing football would have been a big ask but that's just what Sporting did and with style and grace that would of left Torvill and Dean in a heap on the floor. Herrera, Barton, Benwell and Krogh were all involved in a master class of movement and passing which ended with Krogh picking out Barton who went on to dazzle his way past several defenders and round the keeper to finish with style. Sporting 5-1 up at half time as Robertson blew his whistle to end Sporughton's torture.
The second half was a harder task for Sporting and saw them conceded on 51 minutes as a Sproughton shot found it's way straight into keeper Page's face who was unable to stop it falling into the back of the net. Mike Ginn battled hard throughout and struck fear into Sproughton's forward line who backed out of every challenge Ginn was involved in. Warnock was to come off on 63 minutes with an injury to his arm to continue Sportings bad second half start. Manning was his replacementand his energy sparked a bit of life into Sporting who battled hard to get another goal. On 83 Minutes Herrera was replaced by David Taylor who went on to probe and prowl in the oppositions box and nearly got on the scoresheet. On 86 minutes Krogh's tireless efforts paid off as he slipped Manning in on the right, who drove home to make it 6-2 at the final whistle and sign off on a resounding display from Sporting 87.
It has been confirmed that Jack Warnock has fractured his arm, our thoughts and prayers are with him as he undergoes recovery and rehabilitation.