Bromley battled to a 2-0 away victory over a spirited Hartley Wintney side in the FA Trophy on Saturday, sealing their progress to the second round.
In cold conditions, on a heavy pitch with a slight slope, it was the home side who started the game the brighter of the two sides, and they had their first chance of the game less than a minute in, as former Birmingham City striker Rowan Vine got onto the end of a pass into the box and fired a low shot at goal, which David Gregory gathered at the second attempt. On the ten minute mark, Paul Hodges picked up possession in a central position and skipped in and out of challenges and into the box, before seeing his crisp effort well held by the diving Gregory.
After Iffy Allen and Brett Williams both had half chances for Bromley, shooting wide, the Row had the best chance of the game thus far, and it was the captain, Dean Stow, who would see his close range, angled drive tipped over the bar by Gregory, as the home side showed their very clear threat to the Bromley goal. As the half drew on, Allen produced a dangerous cross into the box which fell to the unmarked Josh Rees, but unfortunately, the Ravens’ top scorer could not direct his effort goalwards, instead heading wide at the near post.
On the stroke of half time, good interplay between Louis Dennis and Williams saw the former feed the latter the ball from out wide, before Williams worked his way towards the box and produced a powerful, curling effort, only for Paul Strudley to make a well timed, diving save. Moments later, from the opposite wing, Frankie Sutherland went close with a first time effort from the edge of the box, only for Strudley to once again make a well timed catch.
After the break, the Ravens gradually took more control of the match, and Dennis shot wide within the opening two minutes from just outside the box, before Williams showed a burst of pace down the left wing and cut inside, before firing a low effort into the arms of Strudley, via a deflection. Sutherland then let fly on two occasions from long range, with the first attempt going high and wide, and the second being well gathered by the Row ‘keeper.
On 61 minutes, Bromley hearts were in their mouths, as the hard working home side bundled the ball into the net after a free kick delivery into the box, only to see their celebrations cut short by the linesman’s flag being raised on the far side.
Their joy would be turned to despair minutes later, as Bromley’s consistent knocking on the door would turn into a goal. Luke Wanadio, who had entered into the fray around five minutes previously, picked up the ball in the middle of the park and showed excellent composure to keep the ball despite slipping, and evaded two challenges, before setting the ball to Rees on the edge of the box, where he made no mistake, firing home a low effort into the bottom corner and past the reach of the diving Strudley.
On 80 minutes, the Ravens had a great chance to double their lead, and it was once again Wanadio who was the architect, working his way towards the byline and playing a low cross across the face of goal, where it was picked up by Dennis at the back post and set back to fellow substitute George Porter at the corner of the six yard box, only to see the ball take a nasty bobble, resulting in his first time effort going high and wide of the target.
It only took two minutes after this for Bromley to extend their advantage though, and Porter was the man to do it. Rees controlled a high ball into the area with his back to goal and flicked the ball towards the advanced Williams, before seeing his pass intercepted. Yet, the Hartley clearance was scuffed into the path of Porter who made no mistake from close range, and prodded home at the back post.
This was enough to see Bromley through to full time and into the next round, but a spirited Hartley Wintney side can be proud of their efforts and take heart from the challenge they put up to their higher placed visitors.
Bromley XI: Gregory, Rees, Holland (C), Allen (Wanadio), Williams, Dennis, Higgs, Sterling, R.Johnson (Chorley), Sutherland, Vose (Porter).
Unused subs: D.Johnson, Mekki.
A big thank you to Hartley Wintney for their hospitality today and we wish them all the best of luck for the rest of the season.