RESHUFFLED Worcester City waltzed to a comfortable success but it came at a price with Brad Birch and Jamie Smith hobbling off injured.

AS IT HAPPENED: City 5 Sphinx 1

Dave Reynolds and Birch crashed in headers within the opening 12 minutes and City could and should have scored more before the interval.

The one-way traffic continued after the restart with Josh Sarmento nodding in a Mark Danks corner at the near post on 57 minutes.

The hosts spurned a bucket load of openings but after Sphinx defender Louis Guest received his marching orders for an unnecessary lunge on Aaron Griffiths with eight minutes to play, visiting substitute Ryan Harkin was afforded a cheap consolation.

Undeterred, City ran in two more that Reynolds and James Baldwin simply could not miss to give them a scoreline more befitting of their performance.

City made four changes in personnel and switched several positions from Saturday’s 3-2 win over Shepshed Dynamo.

On-loan Kidderminster keeper Tom Palmer replaced Matt Gwynne between the sticks and Tom Fishwick came in at centre-half with Alexandru Albert shifting to right-back following the end of George Forsyth's loan from Gloucester City.

Alex Tomkinson appeared on the left with Jamie Smith slotting in behind and regular left-back Griffiths on the bench.

Danks returned from injury up front with Lee Hughes still troubled by the problem that saw him visit hospital on Saturday.

The match was nine minutes old when Reynolds rolled out to Tomkinson and darted to the near post to nod in the opener.

Moments later it was two when a caressed free-kick from Danks curled away from keeper Scott Dutton and with an army of blue and white shirts anticipating the delivery, Birch gleefully thumped in.

Dutton did well to punch away from a lifted Danks effort across goal a minute later before the tempo settled back down.

The goal was as good as it got for new permanent skipper Birch as an ankle injury saw his comeback curtailed after a mere 16 minutes.

Sphinx’s first chance of note arrived just shy of the half-hour mark when a lack of pressure on the ball saw possession sprayed out to the right to Charlie Faulkner whose cross was diverted narrowly high and wide by Jamie Towers.

Normal service was quickly resumed and Tomkinson missed a sitter when his rising far-post header flew over from substitute Josh Sarmento’s teasing delivery 10 minutes before the break.

Sarmento was a fraction away from Danks’s cross-shot from the left as City kept their foot on the gas after the interval but the Portuguese winger soon got his name on the score sheet and in unlikely fashion, nodding in the Danks corner that followed in a near-post scramble.

From there it was a free for all with Worcester guilty of a bit of showboating on occasion.

A mix up between Sphinx pair Aaron Stringfellow and Guest saw Baldwin scamper free down the right but Reynolds could only scuff wide on the stretch in front of goal.

Tomkinson’s pull-back was then thumped towards goal by Nathan Hayward but to Dutton’s credit, he beat away with one hand again. 

Guest’s frustrated challenge, which warranted a red card in itself, saw him hit the showers early for a second caution before the flurry of late goals.

City switched off and allowed Harkin to stroll from the halfway line to the edge of the box and he rolled low across Palmer with three minutes to play.

It proved just the jolt Worcester needed as Griffiths found Reynolds to steer inside the far post during the last knockings with Baldwin lashing in from 18 yards having driven into space just to the right of centre as the clock struck 90.

The victory saw City leapfrog Worcestershire rivals Bromsgrove Sporting into second in the Midland Premier standings. 

City: Palmer, Fishwick, J Smith (Griffiths, 63), Albert, M Smith, Hayward, Birley, Birch (Sarmento, 16), Danks (Baldwin, 72), Reynolds, Tomkinson. Unused subs: Chiwara, Gwynne (g/k).

Sphinx: Dutton, Lower (Whitelan, 72), Stringfellow, Dakouri (Stokes, 23) Guest, Quirke, Faulkner, Woodward, Towers, Cairns, McGarrity (Harkin, 67). Unused sub: Brown.