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Bromley are in the Football League!
Bromley are in the Football League!

Although it took winning a penalty shoot-out to achieve it, Bromley manager Andy Woodman finally fulfilled his ambition of taking Bromley into the English Football League.

In two hours of football that preceded the dramatic finale, the Ravens had the better of the chances against Solihull Moors, hitting the bar, post and having a header cleared of the line, so they were worthy of their promotion from the National League.

They came out quickly and Louis Dennis curled wide of the far post from one side before Idris Odutayo received a pass from Jude Arthurs and fired just beyond the goal after cutting in from the left wing. 

There were no further opportunities at either end until after the midway point of the first period when Solihull’s Joe Sbarra’s shot struck team-mate Tahvon Campbell and was claimed by Bromley goalkeeper Grant Smith.

Four minutes before half time, Bromley went ahead. Michael Cheek was too strong for Alex Whitmore before he slid it across goalkeeper Nick Hayes, and inside the far post.

Three minutes after the half time, parity was restored. Smith, at full stretch, blocked Campbell’s shot and it came out to Sbarra who fired home. Tyrese Shade then got on the end of a deep cross but couldn’t get it under control to fire the Moors ahead.

That proved costly as, shortly after, the Ravens went back ahead. Cheek went clear, and as he rounded Hayes, he was taken down by the Moors’ goalkeeper for a penalty. Cheek took the responsibility himself and slotted home confidently.

Again, Bromley couldn’t hold on to their lead as the Midlanders levelled seven minutes later. Jamey Osborne advanced and the Ravens defence backed-off rather than closing him down. Osborne took full advantage and fired into the bottom corner.

Jon Benton, a Solihull substitute, shot well over after a free kick was headed out into his path. He then had another opportunity and took his time before his tame shot rolled wide. At the other end, a good Bromley build up created an opening and Corey Whitely shot into the side netting.

Seven additional minutes were signalled and both teams had opportunities to win it. Callum Reynolds met an Arthurs corner with a header towards the far post but James Clarke was in the right place at the right time to head off the line.

He was then in action at the other end when he curled an effort wide with Smith at full stretch. Whitely had one last shot that was claimed by Hayes before the teams prepared for extra time.

Alex Kirk, who had been brought on by Woodman just after the hour mark, worked himself into a great position but was unable to bend it inside the far post then Whitely had a shot deflected wide.

Kirk was even closer to scoring when meeting a flicked on Arthurs corner with a firm header which came out off the bar. Cheek then spotted Hayes off his line but his audacious forty yard effort flew over.

Woodman’s team continued to be the stronger time in the second period of extra time and Kirk went even closer to winning it when his sweetly struck shot came back out off the inside off the post.

Despite the Ravens’ extra time dominance, the last chance of the match fell to Whitmore who side-footed a shot wide of the post.

As a result, the promotion decider went to penalties. Shade and Joss Labadie both had their efforts saved by Smith. Cheek converted for Bromley before Hayes saved from Ashley Charles.

Campbell and Nana Boateng were successful for Solihull, as were Whiteley and Arthurs for Bromley. Benton converted for the Moors meaning that if Bromley scored their final spot-kick, they would win.

Captain Byron Webster had the responsibility and he sent Hayes the wrong way to seal promotion and joyous celebrations.

Bromley now become the first club of the Metropolitan Kent area to join to play league football and join Gillingham as Kent’s representatives in the EFL. 

Bromley: Smith, Reynolds, Odutayo, Arthurs, Webster, Charles, Grant, Whiteley, Cheek, Dennis (Olomola 83), Weston (Kirk 61).

Subs not used: Thomas, Woods, Davies.

Goalscorers: Cheek (41), pen (58)

Yellow cards: Reynolds, Smith

Solihull Moors: Hayes, Clarke, Newton, Osborne (Labadie 95), Morrison (Taylor 101), Whitmore, Shade, Maycock, Campbell, Sbarra (Boateng 112), Stevens (Benton 71).

Sub not used: Beck.

Goalscorers: Sbarra (48), Osborne (65)

Yellow cards: Osborne

Referee: James Durkin

Assistants: Danny Guest and Andrew Ellis

Fourth official: Matthew Russell

Attendance: 23,374

Pictures supplied by Dave Budden.

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