Report: Hartlepool United 3-2 Bromley

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Bromley’s first ever taste of National League playoff eliminators ended in defeat, as a second half fightback proved to not be enough.

The Ravens were under heavy pressure from kickoff, with the hosts’ 1700 creating some atmosphere and driving their team on.

Within two minutes, a Jack Bridge clearance took a deflection off Luke Armstrong and fell kindly for Rhys Oates in the box, but he dragged his effort wide.

The Ravens then had to weather three consecutive corners, which they did well, as it seemed the hosts were intent on piling on the pressure without relent.

At the other end, neat footwork from Harry Forster saw him weave into the box, before sliding the ball to Ben Williamson, who saw his low, drilled cross parried by Brad James, before being cleared by the hosts’ defence.

However, on 17 minutes, Pools would open the scoring. A long ball forward was latched onto by Oates, who got in behind Chris Bush and prodded past the onrushing Mark Cousins.

Three minutes later, one would become two for Hartlepool. Oates again was the driving force, as he kept the ball in play at the byeline and found Luke Armstrong in space, and he made no mistake, placing an effort beyond Cousins.

It would get worse for the Ravens though, as just three minutes after that, Oates added a third after some defensive hesitancy from the Ravens. With only 23 minutes gone, the Ravens had a mountain to climb.

The Ravens were shellshocked but looked to fight back on the half hour mark, but Bush’s goalbound, lobbed effort was cleared off the line with James stranded.

The second half would prove to be a very different affair, with Andy Woodman making two changes at the break. James Alabi replaced Ben Williamson, while Byron Webster took the place of Charlie Fox, meaning Bush would play the second half at left-back.

Just two minutes in, the Ravens would be back in the game. Jude Arthurs’ delivery was nodded across goal by Alex Mitchell, and Alabi, who had only just come on, headed beyond James and into the bottom corner to give Bromley a glimmer of hope.

After Forster directed an effort high over the crossbar, Oates was looking for a hat-trick and almost got his wish, but after seeing Webster block his initial effort, he smashed the rebound into the side netting.

20 minutes from time, the Ravens still pushed for another goal, and almost got one. Bush’s long throw was flicked goalwards by Webster at the near post, but James made a smart block to deny him.

From the resulting corner, the ball fell to Bingham 20 yards out, but his fierce effort was deflected inches wide.

Two half chances would follow, with a tame Alabi effort being saved by James, before a late Kizzi header went the wrong side of the post, after he was first to a deep Cousins free kick.

The Ravens did pull one back deep into injury time, as this time, Mitchell managed to divert Bush’s long throw beyond James, but the Ravens would have little time to push for an equaliser, and it was the hosts who progressed.

Bromley XI: Cousins, Kizzi, Fox (Webster), Bingham, Bush (C), Cheek, Williamson (Alabi), Forster, Arthurs, Bridge, Mitchell

Unused substitutes: Raymond, Trotter

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