2 March 2024
Despite going in front through Michael Cheek, the Ravens suffered a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Hartlepool United at Hayes Lane on Saturday.
Bromley beckoned a thirteenth placed Hartlepool side for another enthralling instalment of the National League this Saturday, with The Pools only having won three of their last nine league games. Andy Woodman’s men strode into the fixture looking for their first win in 2024, hoping to replicate their brutal 4-1 bashing of their opponents earlier on in the season.
Ben Krauhaus commenced proceedings, and it wasn’t long before the Ravens struck oil – a piercing through ball ten minutes in latched itself onto the boots of Corey Whitely, whose silky feet were too much for Luke Waterfall to handle. The despairing defender could only watch as the winger darted into the box, before conjuring up a cross to provide bagsman Michael Cheek with a simple tap in, allowing him to add to his tally of fourteen goals for the season.
Bromley thought they should have had a penalty minutes later, after Besart Topalloj danced past three Hartlepool defenders as if they were mannequins, before appearing to trip over an outstretched leg; any appeals were quickly dismissed by the referee.
Cheek picked up the pen to re-write his name onto the scoresheet fifteen minutes in, as he found himself one-on-one with Joel Dixon, but the Hartlepool ‘keeper was able to prevent any ink from being spilled with an impressive low save.
Chances rained down for the Ravens as the visitors struggled to keep their umbrella upright, and Whitely came close to netting a deserved goal on twenty minutes; the number eighteen’s effort found itself hurtling the wrong side of Dixon’s post, crashing into the side netting.
Hartlepool’s first real chance of the game came half an hour in, after a tempting cross from captain Nicky Featherstone found the head of danger man Manny Dieseruvwe, who didn’t need to be asked twice, as he flicked a perfectly placed header past the outstretched glove of Grant Smith, notching his sixteenth of the season.
A free-kick in a dangerous position presented itself to the hosts after a foul on Krauhaus – Ashley Charles stepped up and fired over the wall, with only a superb save from Dixon denying the number four from netting on his debut.
Joe Grey thought he’d try his luck on the stroke of half time, but his long-range effort sailed high over the crossbar. New signing Kamarl Grant came close at the other end seconds later, but his header trickled agonisingly past Dixon’s post.
Hartlepool started the second half stronger than they did the first, and nearly took the lead fifty minutes in – an inviting free kick found a black and blue shirt, forcing an impressive stop from Smith.
Another chance fell to the visitors moments later, as Tom Crawford manipulated his way in behind the Bromley backline; an imperative exhibition of last-ditch defending from Josh Passley denied the forward from edging his side ahead.
The Pools refused to cease fire as they kept gunning for the next goal, and their bullets finally shattered the Bromley shield an hour in – Callum Cooke’s run forward set the wheels in motion for an attack, and the number ten laid off to Grey, who saw his menacing low cross towards Dieseruvwe turned in by Grant, for an unfortunate own goal to deservedly put the visitors 2-1 up.
Bromley attempted to retaliate as an unmarked Topalloj found himself the recipient of a floating corner from Charles, but the full back failed to convert from close range.
A far from impressive period of play almost got worse for the hosts as Hartlepool substitute Brennan Dickenson did well to craft space in the penalty area – the number thirty-eight’s low driven effort posed a comfortable save for Smith.
Much like for Bromley in the first half, chances continued to flow thick and fast for The Pools – Cooke rattled the crossbar from range on eighty minutes, leaving everyone in the stadium questioning how Hartlepool had not netted a third.
A Charles free kick in injury time presented a problem for Dixon, as the shot-stopper found himself back-peddling desperately; the number one recovered excellently to claim the rebound.
That would be that as the visitors came away with three points. Up next, we face Aveley at home next Saturday in the FA Trophy fifth round.