2 March 2024
An unbeaten-in-eight Bromley beckoned National League South side Chippenham Town for an FA Trophy fourth round match-up this Saturday, hoping to edge one step closer to a return to Wembley Stadium. The visitors’ enthralling 5-3 triumph over Gloucester City in the third round granted them this challenging tie, with Gary Horgan’s side winless in their last three games, but unbeaten in their last three away from home, and hoping to upset the cart for a place in the fifth round.
Ben Krauhaus kickstarted proceedings, and chances were few and far between for either side in the opening parts of the game. Jude Arthurs tried his luck from range ten minutes in, following a cross that fell to him on the edge of the box, but his optimistic effort flew over Will Henry’s crossbar.
As time progressed, the home side began to take control of the game, and it was the Ravens that drew first blood, following an audacious chip from Michael Cheek to unleash youngster Krauhaus in behind – the number 28 did not need a second invitation, as his hurtling rocket zoomed past a defenceless Henry at his near post to boost Bromley ahead.
An inch-perfect drilled ball from Besart Topalloj to find Olufela Olomola set the wheels in motion for a sweeping move half an hour in – luscious interplay eventually culminated in Josh Passley being picked out down the right-hand side. The full-back’s cross arched towards the head of prolific bagsman Cheek; the number nine’s header narrowly failed to trouble Henry between the sticks, flying agonisingly over, much to the shot-stopper’s relief. Cheek did manage to beat Henry moments later, cleverly rounding the keeper, but his eventual cross into the box was not converted by any in black and white.
Chippenham’s only real chance of the first half came on the stroke of half-time – the men in blue enjoyed a spell of possession on the edge of the Bromley box, before danger man Matt McClure, who has notched an impressive eight league goals this season, fired goalwards; his shot could not pierce the sea of bodies in front of him.
The referee’s whistle marked the end of a dominant forty-five minutes of football for the home side, with the visitors failing to conjure up any magic to test Teddy Sharman-Lowe in goal.
The beginning of the second half mirrored that of the first, with a lack of chances for both teams. A solitary change to Bromley’s side introduced Louis Dennis into proceedings in place of Corey Whitely. Andy Woodman opted for another change sixty minutes in, seeing goalscorer Krauhaus make way for Tate Campbell.
Chippenham drew level sixty-three minutes in against the run of play, after an untracked run from winger Craig Fasanmade granted the number four the opportunity to tap home from point blank range, for one of the easiest goals he will score all season.
Fasanmade’s equaliser seemed to evoke a newfound energy amongst the Chippenham eleven, matched by the increasing vociferance of the away support. Another chance was carved out for the Blues, who should have had their second in as many minutes when defender Freddie Grant found himself wide open at the far post; the number three somehow failed to direct his volley towards goal – a huge let off for the Ravens.
Bromley came close to snatching back the lead through Olomola seventy minutes in – the outstretched gloves of Henry miraculously managed to keep the number 29’s ferocious driven effort at bay. Olomola came close again minutes later, through a spectacular acrobatic effort; the striker could not muster enough power to beat Henry.
A dipping volley from Dennis in the dying enders of the game got hearts racing, but the ball refused to cooperate, dipping over the crossbar.
Neither side could find the back of the net in the remaining time, which could mean only one thing – penalties.
Chippenham were first to take, and Matt McClure was the man to place the ball on the spot. The roar of the North Stand behind the goal did everything they could to deter him, but the number nine calmy dispatched his penalty. Bromley’s number nine did the same moments later, as Cheek lashed past Henry. Luke Spokes and Olomola both scored to make it two apiece, with Spokes’ effort rattling against both posts.
Substitute Tom Owen-Evans was next to step up to the plate; the number ten’s shot towards the bottom left hand corner was clawed away by Sharman-Lowe. Arthurs then calmly dispatched to give the advantage to Bromley. All the pressure was on Chippenham to score their next penalty; Caine Bradbury could not deliver, sending his penalty flying over the crossbar.
Up stepped Topalloj to seal the game for the Ravens – the number twenty-three stepped up with sublime composure to tuck past Henry, confirming Chippenham Town’s exit from the FA Trophy.
This enthralling win for the Ravens boosts them into the hat for the FA Trophy fifth round. Next up, we face Boreham Wood at home next Saturday.
Written by Daniel Catlin