Bromley progressed to the FA Trophy Second Round with a superb comeback victory over Sutton United at Hayes Lane on a cold, wet and windy Saturday afternoon.
The Ravens were without several players due to injury, namely; Omar Bugiel, Kyle De Silva, Max Huxter, Jordan Higgs and Zavon Hines, but manager Neil Smith still had plenty of options to choose from, with JJ Hooper and Luke Coulson making their home debuts.
The first chance of the afternoon fell the visitors’ way, and it would be due to Bromley losing possession in the middle of the park. Sutton picked up the ball and worked it to Josh Taylor on the edge of the box, who struck a curling effort well, only to see it fall inches wide of the post.
However, after something of a dull period, which saw both sides cancel each other out, the Yellows would take the lead. After being found by Nicky Bailey, Brandon Thomas-Asante drifted infield and struck a dipping shot from 25 yards, which looped over the reach of Gregory and nestled in the back of the net.
The closest Bromley would come to equalising in the first half would come on 29 minutes. An inch perfect free kick delivery from Frankie Raymond was met by the head of JJ Hooper, but on his home debut, the on-loan Grimsby Town forward nodded just wide of goal.
And in the dying moments of injury time, Adam Mekki carved an opportunity all by himself, skipping past the challenge of Dean Beckwith, but when it came to his shot, he was narrowly off target from the angle.
As lacklustre as the first half was as a footballing affair, the second half was quite different.
It was clear to see from kickoff that Bromley had a burning desire to equalise, and another home debutant, Luke Coulson, would go close to equalising, but after a mazy run, his low drive was blocked by a crowd of Sutton feet.
Just minutes later, Coulson would again be the cause of the danger for Sutton, this time orchestrating a neat attack, which culminated in Sam Wood delivering an excellent low cross, which JJ Hooper was unfortunate not to connect properly with, as he slid in at the back post but couldn’t get enough on the ball.
And just a minute later, Bromley would have another chance to equalise, as Jake Goodman was the first to connect with another Raymond free kick, but he could only side-foot a first time effort wide of Jamie Butler’s goal.
Sutton were very much operating on the counter attack under Bromley’s persistent pressure, and went close perhaps inadvertently, as Taylor’s low, fizzing cross almost caught David Gregory out at the near post, but he made a good reaction save in the end, diverting the ball away with his boot.
At the other end, Coulson drove at goal in the face of strong winds, before slipping the ball into George Porter’s path, but he could only curl a first time effort well wide.
However, Bromley’s second half dominance would tell on 60 minutes, as they grabbed a well deserved equaliser. Raymond stepped up to take another corner, and with what was another inch perfect delivery, Hooper rose the highest, and flicked a header beyond the reach of Butler and into the bottom corner.
Just as the entire ground were getting their breath back, came Bromley’s second in as many minutes. A neat set piece routine between Raymond and Frankie Sutherland saw the latter whip in a delightful cross, which was met by the perfectly timed run of George Porter, who headed beyond Butler to give his side the lead.
Hooper could have added to his tally on 72 minutes, after he took down a neat pass from Coulson, beat his man and drove towards the box, but after opting to shoot early, he dragged his effort wide.
However, Sutton still threatened on the break, and after Kenny Davis drove through a number of challenges into the box, where the ball broke to Darren McQueen, who looked to pull the trigger and shoot, only to be denied by an excellent last ditch tackle from Jake Goodman.
Yet another neat attack nearly brought further reward for Bromley minutes later, as the Ravens switched the ball from one side of the pitch to the other, finding Richard Brindley, who struck a low, fizzing shot narrowly wide. Barely half a minute later, Sutherland struck an effort from 25 yards, which skimmed off the turf before being tipped around the post by Butler.
However, there would be a hairy moment for Bromley to encounter just a minute before the end, as Gregory looked to have caught a long ball forward, only to drop the ball at the feet of McQueen. The former Ebbsfleet United man struck a shot past Gregory, which was blocked by the recovering Goodman, before he picked up the loose ball and surged at goal, only to be denied by another last ditch challenge from Jack Holland.
The Ravens managed to hold out progressing to the Second Round, and will find out their opponents on Monday afternoon, as the draw takes place live on TalkSport2, from 12:45pm.
Bromley XI: Gregory, Sutherland, Holland (C), Raymond, Mekki (Quigley), Goodman, Porter, Wood, Brindley, Coulson (Johnson), Hooper (Ogedi-Uzokwe)
Unused substitutes: Okoye, Goddard