2 March 2024
Bromley welcomed National League South side Aveley for an enticing FA Trophy fifth round encounter this Saturday, following a nail-biting penalty shoot-out win for Andy Woodman’s men in the previous round over Chippenham Town, whilst the team from Essex granted themselves a matchup against the Ravens after a 1-0 win at home to National League outfit AFC Fylde. Goals from Michael Cheek and Louis Dennis boosted Bromley into the hat for the FA Trophy quarter finals.
The first chance of the game fell Bromley’s way, after a drilled corner from Josh Passley three minutes in spiralled across the six-yard box, begging to be converted by a black and white shirt – Alex Kirk’s back post run opened up space for him to divert a header goal-bound, but the number fifteen’s forceful effort was on the receiving end of a firm glove from Jonathan North to palm the ball away from danger.
The hosts certainly looked the more dangerous of the two sides in the opening parts of the game, and came close to edging ahead on ten minutes, after an intricate one-two between Ben Krauhaus and Sam Woods allowed the youngster to poke towards goal; the legs of North between the sticks managed to deflect the effort behind for a corner.
Topalloj nearly caught North napping half an hour in, after the full back’s wayward cross appeared to be looping over the goalkeeper’s head; a hasty recovery allowed the number thirteen to push the effort away.
A series of miraculous events minutes later left everyone in the stadium wondering how Bromley hadn’t taken the lead. A lofted pass from Krauhaus created an opening for Dennis to go one-on-one with North – the number 11 fired low, forcing an impressive save, before the Ravens winger laid off for Cheek to have a second bite at the cherry. The prolific number nine fired a rocket from point-blank range, thwarted only by consecutive goal-line blocks, allowing The Millers to breathe a huge sigh of relief.
The second half continued in the same vein of few chances for either side, with Bromley still looking the more likely of the two to score. Mesmerising footwork from Topalloj early on saw the number twenty-three beat his man and cut the ball back into the box from the byline; his cross failed to locate any of his teammates.
Kamarl Grant probably should have scored on 50 minutes, after he met a Passley corner with a firm downwards header – his aerial attempt could not penetrate the brick wall of North in goal.
Topalloj continued to prove a nuisance for the Aveley backline, finding himself in behind a sea of red shirts 55 minutes in, and captain Harry Gibbs certainly found himself in an undesirable situation; all he could do was flail desperately as Topalloj breezed past him, making contact with the full back in the process, and gifting the Ravens a penalty, despite the Bromley man honourably staying on his feet.
Cheek was the man to place the ball on the spot, stepping up to the plate in search of his 16th of the season in all competitions. A composed yet powerful finish past a defenceless North confirmed this addition to the tally for the frontman, smashing the deadlock wide open, and propelling the Ravens ahead.
One became two for Bromley seventy minutes in – the dynamic duo of Dennis and Whitely combined on the edge of the 18-yard box, the latter breaching any Aveley security with a perfectly weighted pass to his forward colleague. Dennis fired low and hard, rendering North’s outstretched legs as useless, leaving the ‘keeper with no choice but to observe as the ball flew past him and into his net for 2-0.
A much-deserved Topalloj goal would have been the cherry on top of an efficient performance for the hosts – the defender stood over the cake, ready to apply the icing himself with a curling shot, but the post refused to cooperate, denying from close range.
The referee’s whistle confirmed an important win for the Ravens, seeing them progress into the FA Trophy quarter finals, one step closer to a glistening return to Wembley, whilst the visitors trail back home without a single shot on target. Up next, we face league leaders Chesterfield at home next Saturday.
Attendance: 1,311 (78 away)
Written by Daniel Catlin