17 March 2018

FA Trophy Semi Final: Bromley head to Gateshead with a one goal advantage

  • Men's

After coming from behind twice, Bromley edged a thrilling match at a snowy H2T Group Stadium to take a goal’s advantage into the second leg of the Buildbase FA Trophy Semi-Final.

In typical fashion, Bromley did not take the easy route, and in fact, endured something of a nightmare start to the match. Less than 50 seconds in, after a bold start from the Heed, Richard Peniket took aim from just outside the penalty area and thanks to two heavy deflections, his effort wrong footed David Gregory and nestled in the back of the net.

Almost straight from kickoff, the visitors went on the attack again, and a shellshocked Bromley almost conceded again. Danny Johnson was picked out by a floated cross just outside the six yard box, and nodded an effort towards goal, but with Gregory beaten and unmoved, he saw his effort rebound back off the base of the post before being cleared to safety.

Just when Bromley fans were catching their breath, they would see their side again go close to conceding a second. Johnson, who was certainly making his presence felt, found space inside the box, narrowed his angle and side footed an effort goalwards, only to see it bounce off the other post and again, cleared to safety. It was quite conceivable that Bromley could have been three goals down within the opening five minutes.

Following this, Bromley found some momentum and began to get a foothold in the game, with some neat attacking play from Louis Dennis and Brandon Hanlan began to cause the Heed back line some concern. And this was the recipe for Bromley to get themselves back in the game on 15 minutes. Hanlan embarked on a burst into the box and was felled by a heavy tackle, prompting the referee to point to the spot and award a penalty. Up stepped Hanlan to take, and the on-loan Charlton Athletic front man made no mistake, dispatching an effort to James Montgomery’s left, despite the Gateshead goalkeeper getting a hand to it.

After a period of calm, Bromley continued to attack, and Hanlan went close to doubling his tally. After some good hold up play, he found the onrushing Dennis, who took the ball in his stride and played a ball back into Hanlan, but he was unable to tap home. Adam Mekki, making his first start since recovering from injury, nearly gave Bromley the lead just after the half hour mark, but after taking a pass from Frankie Sutherland and cutting in from the left, his low shot was well smothered by Montgomery.

However, despite being on top, the Ravens would fall victim to a sucker punch five minutes before half time. A defensive miscommunication allowed a ball to be threaded across goal for Johnson to run onto, evade the diving Gregory and slide the ball into an empty net to ensure the Heed would lead at the break.

As soon as the second half began, it was clear that the Ravens were intent on attacking continuously, and this paid off just six minutes in, thanks to an outstanding solo effort from Dennis. The Ravens top scorer embarked on what must have been a 60 yard run, before cutting back, evading a challenge and edging towards the box. Following this, he cut in towards the edge of the box and unleashed a stunning, curling drive, which clipped the inside of the unmoved Montgomery’s right hand post and nestled in the back of the net to restore parity.

This put Bromley into the ascendency further, and just two minutes later, they could have taken the lead. Another bursting run from the lively Hanlan saw him work his way into the box, before unleashing a ferocious strike which rattled the crossbar and fell into Mekki’s path, yet, he saw his shot blocked, with the crossbar still shaking.

Gateshead did remind Bromley of their threat though, and went close through Wes York. After a run down the left from Jordan Preston, the former Guiseley man swung in a cross towards the back post, where York was waiting in space, but he was unable to direct his effort on target, blasting over the crossbar.

But, as previously, Bromley were in control of the game and after Dennis received a well weighted pass from Jordan Higgs, he played a through ball to Hanlan in the box, who made a looping run around his man and went one on one with Montgomery, but couldn’t beat the visitors’ number 1, forcing a fine save from him after poking the ball towards goal.

However, on 81 minutes, Bromley would take the lead for the first time in the match, and it was thoroughly deserved. Yet more fantastic interplay between Hanlan and Dennis saw the latter into a great position in the box, and with the ball dropping, he lashed a volley past Montgomery, despite him getting a touch to it.

The Ravens held on for the remaining nine minutes to take a goal’s advantage into next week’s second leg, and with away goals not counting in the competition, the Ravens must simply avoid defeat to seal a dream trip to Wembley.

Bromley XI: Gregory, Holland (C), Raymond (Rees), Hanlan, Dennis (Bugiel), Mekki (Wanadio), Higgs, Sterling, R.Johnson, Sutherland, Woolfenden.

Unused subs: Chorley, D.Johnson

Attendance: 1254 (44 Gateshead supporters).

Report by Matt Hall – @hally_matt

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