Bromley made the trip to Crabble to face Dover Athletic on a chilly Saturday afternoon, with both sides in fine form.
The match started in an entertaining fashion, with both sides having early chances to break the deadlock. The first opportunity of note fell Bromley’s way, as a peach of a cross from Frankie Raymond was punched away by Dover goalkeeper Mitch Walker, only for it to hit the unknowing George Porter on the head and bounce wide of goal.
Dover then upped the ante slightly, and the in-form Inih Effiong found himself in space in the box after latching onto a through ball, but Gregory was on hand to make a good save from the former Woking striker’s effort.
Just as Bromley were getting their breath back, the home side attacked again, and Josh Debayo perhaps should have put them ahead, as he first saw an effort parried by Gregory back into his path, but he could only poke the rebound wide from close range.
On 23 minutes would come the best chance of the game to that point, and again Porter would be involved. After Dover failed to clear a Raymond free kick, the ball broke to Porter 25 yards from goal, and with a neat drop of the shoulder he drove towards the box and unleashed a crisp effort, which beat Walker, but could only rattle the post, with Marc-Anthony Okoye unable to prod the rebound home.
Just a matter of minutes later, the home side would take the lead. After a foul from Richard Brindley out wide on the left, Mitch Brundle stepped up and delivered a pinpoint free kick onto the head of Kevin Lokko, who sent a bullet header past Gregory.
However, the Ravens would level things up around nine minutes later through former Dover man Adam Mekki. After Porter was fouled on the edge of the box and the referee and linesman both considered whether the foul took place inside or outside the box, the latter was agreed and Raymond stepped up to take it. With a powerful, inswinging effort from the angle, it was too hot for Walker to handle and he could only punch it to the edge of the six yard box where Mekki was on hand to scissor kick the ball home.
The score remained level at the break, finely poised for the second half.
The second 45 was equally entertaining but for very different reasons. Just six minutes in, JJ Hooper had a shot blocked into the path of Mekki, who was denied by a last ditch Brundle block as he looked to score at the back post.
Soon after, Dover would go even closer. After a deep corner was headed back across the face of goal by Lokko, Effiong was first to the ball and smashed a thunderous effort against the underside of the crossbar.
However, the real drama would come just after the hour mark. After a scuffle in the Bromley penalty area ensued at a corner kick, following a prolonged period of handbags between the two teams, in which Jack Holland was knocked to the floor, both Bedsente Gomis and Lokko were sent off, leaving the hosts with nine men.
In truth, the Ravens didn’t appear to go all out attack after this, despite having almost all of the possession and Dover having all of their players behind the ball. The Ravens would, however, miss a golden chance on 81 minutes, as an exquisite turn from Raymond in the box saw him beat his man and go through on goal, only for his shot to be blocked onto the line and fall to Mekki, who blazed over from a matter of yards.
Substitute Omar Bugiel then cut in and sent an inviting low ball across the face of goal, but Mekki couldn’t quite stretch to divert it home. As ten minutes of injury time went up, Bromley persisted with their patient approach, threading several passes together, but ultimately did not test Walker enough.
He was called into action once during the ten minutes of injury time, making a good save from a Brindley shot from just outside the box. Dover were then clever with how they retained possession to run down the clock, and Bromley were unable to turn their possession into goals.
Bromley XI: Gregory, Sutherland, Holland (C), Raymond, Mekki (De Silva), Okoye, Porter (Goodman), Wood, Brindley, Coulson (Bugiel), Hooper
Unused substitutes: Johnson, Dunne