MANAGER Brendan Kelly revealed how a pre-match visit to a 93-year-old fan now in a care home helped to inspire Bromsgrove Sporting’s heart-pounding play-off triumph over Corby Town.

AS IT HAPPENED: Bromsgrove Sporting 4 Corby Town 3 AET

The Rouslers won 4-3 after extra-time having trailed and allowed Town to hit the woodwork before equalising, whacking the goal frame and having a penalty saved.

Jason Cowley’s quick-fire double put Sporting 3-1 up only for Town to level and even after Kieren Westwood’s drive put Sporting back in front, Cowley then had his side’s second spot-kick stopped to add to the drama.

All of that came after a more serene start to a nerve-wracking day for Kelly and assistant Andy Mason who dropped in at Breme Residential Care Home to visit Reg, a supporter since 1948 who is no longer well enough to attend matches.

“Andy (Mason, assistant manager) and I popped in to see Reg on the way and he was a true inspiration,” said Kelly.

“His picture was on our Facebook group with a scarf and to have someone like that willing you on in his condition really struck a chord with me. I wanted to thank him personally.

“We mentioned it to the boys before the game and it brought a lot of things home, how much this club means to this town and I found it a humbling experience."

Despite a slow start chances started to flow with Elliot Sandy’s point-blank shot pawed against the bar by Jono Brown.

Seconds later, Sandy latched on to a recycled ball and shifted his body shape to fire low across goal and beyond Brown’s stray leg to hand Corby the lead.

Bromsgrove were rocking but the tide turned through a moment of magic from Cowley, swerving through three opponents before hammering in a cross that Richard Gregory stooped to head in at the far post.

Sporting laid siege for the rest of the half with Jake Heath’s close-range blast bouncing back out off the underside of the bar.

Half-time substitute Will Shorrock made an immediate impact, getting clipped by Sam Warburton in the box but Gregory’s 53rd-minute penalty was straight down the middle and flicked away by keeper Dan George’s boot.

The reprieve was short-lived as Nathan Hayward and Westwood combined to release Gregory and his fizzing low cross was slammed into the roof of the net at the near post by Cowley.

Shorrock then released Westwood down the left for Cowley to plunder a similar third but Corby soon hit back, Stephen Diggin forcing in at the second attempt despite Brown’s stellar effort to stop the first.

Play was then nervy and loose from both teams and the leveller came six minutes from time when Diggin picked up a deep ball and fired in for livewire Jordon Crawford to nudge over the line.

Despite the disappointment, Bromsgrove were the brighter team from the off in extra-time and Westwood’s purposeful drive forward created the fourth as he fired low inside George’s near post from 20 yards.

Cowley wriggled through on the break in the second half of added time before tangling with Delroy Gordon in the box and still finding the net.

The whistle had already gone, though, meaning the Corby defender was sent off yet Cowley’s effort from 12 yards was flicked away by a stunning one-handed stop.

The 10 men threw bodies forward but could not muster another chance as Sporting dug deep to earn a third promotion in as many seasons.

“It was a rollercoaster of emotions, the elation of going 3-1 up and then the soft goals we gave away but we didn’t change our way, we found a way,” said Kelly.

“I think we just had too much for them going forward. We had two penalties saved so we couldn’t have made it any more difficult for ourselves but I am super proud and felt we deserved it.

“It was the first time I had been involved in a play-off scenario and I enjoyed this more than Wednesday (the semi-final against Sutton Coldfield) because we performed better.

“Corby were always going get chances, they have quality players and piled bodies forward but we have been working on character and mentality all season long and showed it in bucketloads. I’m chuffed it was that which got us over the line.

“Hopefully we will kick on again now because the sky is the limit here.”

SOUTHERN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE CENTRAL PLAY-OFF FINAL: Bromsgrove Sporting 4 (Gregory 39, Cowley 59, 61, Westwood 104) Corby Town 3 (Sandy 33, Diggin 64, Crawford 84).

Rouslers: Brown 9, Spink 7, Wilson 6, Hayward 7, Taylor 7, Lincoln 6, Heath 6 (Shorrock, h-t, 8), Quaynor 7, COWLEY 9*, Gregory 7 (Roberts, 113, 7), Westwood 7 (Peters, 105+1, 6). Unused subs: Dowd, Arnold (g/k).

Corby: George 8, Anton 7, Warburton 7, Carta 8, Gordon 5, Mulligan 6, Francis 8 (Fortnam-Tomlinson, h-t, e-t, 7), Newell 6, Sandy 8, Diggin 8, Crawford 9. Unused subs: Robinson, Ling, McBride, Smith (g/k).

Referee: Robert Dadley.

Attendance: 2,943.