Bromley made the short trip to Gander Green Lane on Easter Monday, to take on local rivals Sutton United in front of the BT Sport cameras.
The Ravens came into the game on the back of a hard fought 1-1 draw at home to Wrexham on Good Friday, yet, were without influential defender Roger Johnson, who was serving the first of a three match ban for a straight red card last time out. The hosts, on the other hand, were full of frustration, as their match away to Maidenhead United was abandoned at half time, with Sutton leading the Magpies 3-2.
The first chance of the game fell the way if the hosts, and it came through on loan Barrow striker Byron Harrison. After an Adam Mekki corner was cleared, Sutton embarked on a slick counter attack, and with David Gregory stranded, the front man had a clean sight of goal and pulled the trigger, only for Jordan Higgs to bravely block his goalbound shot.
However, it would be the Ravens who would take the lead just five minutes in. After George Porter was fouled around 30 yards from goal, referee Neil Hair awarded a free kick Bromley’s way. Frankie Raymond stood over it and delivered a troublesome ball into the box, where a goalmouth scramble ensued, allowing Brandon Hanlan to prod home for his second goal in as many matches.
After some pressure from Sutton but nothing to show for it, Mekki went close to doubling Bromley’s lead, latching onto a neat, lobbed pass from Tyrone Sterling, but saw United goalkeeper Jamie Butler beat him to the ball and clear.
As half time drew near, resolute defending from Bromley thwarted the Yellows’ attack, and after Porter had flicked on a Gregory goal kick, Hanlan fizzed a volley well wide.
Gregory would be called into action almost immediately after this though, as he reacted impeccably to tip a goalbound Harry Beautyman header over the bar and rose high to claim the resulting corner at the back post.
However, after another corner was well defended by Bromley in first half injury time, Porter broke clear after receiving the ball from Hanlan and entered into a race with Butler, who was running back to prevent his goal being wide open, but eventually opted to turn and come out towards Porter, tripping and fouling the Bromley man in the process, prompting the referee to award a spot kick and book Butler. With Hanlan, who had taken and scored Bromley’s last two penalties, down injured, the responsibility fell to Mekki. The winger stepped up showing no sign of any nerves and confidently dispatched the penalty into the bottom right corner, sending Butler the wrong way and Bromley into the break two goals to the good.
As well as Bromley started the first half, they started the second in a similar manner. Porter took the ball down and threaded a pass through to Hanlan, who arched his run, met the ball and slotted through Butler’s legs and into the net, only for the referee to award an offside, going against the decision of the referee. TV replays showed the linesman had in fact made the correct decision, and was unfortunate to be overruled.
Soon after, United captain Jamie Collins was sent off for a second bookable offence, for an apparent stamp on Luke Woolfenden, with the home side feeling hard done by.
A slick Bromley counter attack almost did add a deserved third, but after meeting a Josh Rees cross at the back post, he could only fly through the air and direct an effort wide.
Soon after, a Mekki cross towards the back post fell to the feet of Terrell Thomas, but as he was about to shepard the ball out for a goal kick, he didn’t notice the onrushing Higgs, who robbed him of possession and shot at goal, only to be denied by Butler, who was at full stretch.
However, it wouldn’t matter, as nine minutes from time, the lead would be extended further. After more excellent counter attacking, Omar Bugiel showed sheer strength to hold off a challenge out wide and cross low into the six yard box, where the ball deflected off Hanlan’s shin and into the path of Rees, who tucked the ball home into the bottom corner.
The Ravens then saw the game through to full time, and a convincing 3-0 win was nothing less than an outstanding performance warranted.
Bromley XI: Gregory, Chorley, Holland (C), Raymond, Hanlan, Mekki (Mekki), Higgs (Rees) Sterling, Porter (Dennis), Sutherland, Woolfenden
Unused substitutes: D.Johnson, Wanadio,
Attendance: 2233 (209 Bromley supporters)
Report by Matt Hall