2 March 2024
Braintree sunk Bromley’s hopes of a 2nd round tie in the FA Trophy, as the Ravens went down 1-0 at The Avanti Stadium. The game was evenly matched throughout, but a late Sean Marks goal sealed the win for the Essex side in this fixture at the third time of asking.
With illness and injury still plaguing the Bromley squad, Mark Goldberg set out a new look side with Sean Francis slotting into defence alongside Rob Swaine, allowing for Ben Chorley to move into a defensive midfield role. Alex Wall and Adam Cunnington led the line for The Ravens and looked to make their height count early on. Ali Fuseini won a free kick on the right flank early on but his effort was easily cleared by the Braintree defence. On a largely water damaged pitch sliding tackles proved to be a favoured defensive option by both sides. Paul Rodgers made his intent clear early on making a strong challenge which, in turn, earned him a booking after just 10 minutes gone.
The first clear cut chance came to Alex Wall who got on the end of another Fuseini free kick, but he could only direct his header into the hands of Norris in the Iron’s goal. Braintree went closer later on in the half as Michael Cheek looped a header goal-wards only to be denied on the line by Sean Francis. The playing surface didn’t help either side but the longer the game went on the more suited each side was becoming to the conditions. Going into half time Braintree were looking like the side most likely to score and this would prevail into the second as the wind and rain picked up.
The stalemate between defences opened up marginally as Bromley managed two shots on target in quick succession after the break. First, Brendan Kiernan who made an evasive run into the box then cutting onto his left foot striking into the arms of Norris. Then moments later, possession from Moses Emmanuel was played into Ali Fuseini who hit a shot goal-wards. It took a deflection which made the save from Norris slightly awkward, but he held onto it.
As the game dragged on many were beginning to talk of a replay. However, One of Braintree’s earlier substitutes, Dan Sparkes, fired in a shot late on which caused havoc in the Bromley 18-yard area. The Ravens’ back line made their best efforts to keep the ball out but it eventually fell to Sean Marks and he tapped home the winner with 89 minutes on the clock.
Bromley were desperately unlucky to concede late on but the performance couldn’t be knocked in such harsh conditions. Braintree will now face Stourbridge at home in the second round of the completion. Bromley’s concerns now turn back to League matters with a visit from Eastleigh on Boxing Day down at Hayes Lane.