Hartlepool United 3-2 Bromley
Hartlepool United 3-2 Bromley

Bromley’s tilt at the National League promotion play offs came to an end at the first time of asking as they were blown away by a devastating 23 minute three goal spell from Hartlepool at the start of the first half at Victoria Park on Sunday.

Andy Woodman made one change to his starting line up ahead of the game, bringing in Harry Forster for Frankie Raymond in a surprisingly attacking move in the midfield, while Byron Webster replaced Jack Holland on the bench, keeping the 4-4-2 formation.

Hartlepool started the game on the front foot putting Bromley under pressure, Oates firing and early chance wide and they had a series of corners that The Ravens’ defence coped well with.

Billy Bingham was booked for a foul in midfield after only two minutes, which made things difficult for him and his style of play for the rest of the tie.

Just as Bromley looked like they were beginning to settle into the game though, Pools grabbed the lead on 16 minutes. A long cross field ball caught Chris Bush out of position and Oates nipped in behind the defender to touch the ball past Mark Cousins and put the home side in front.

Before Bromley could even catch their breath it was 2-0, when another long ball down the right caught Bush out of position and Oates cut the ball back to Armstrong who did well to control the ball on the edge of the area and then smash the ball into the net through a crowd of players on 19 minutes.

Four minutes later it was effectively game over when Pools once again pressed down their right and after Oates and traded passes with Holohan, he gave Cousins no chance from just inside the area making it 3-0 with a powerful drive.

With The Ravens all at sea Shelton crossed for Sterry whose header was saved by Cousins. Bromley tried to get back into things from there, after James had failed to punch a cross clear, Bush had a lobbed effort headed off the line by Liddle, but Pools also went close again with Oates and Armstrong shooting over from distance.

Right on the half time whistle Hartlepool nearly made it four when a corner from the left dipped in under the bar, but Cousins did brilliantly to tip the ball over and keep it at 3-0. 

Woodman made two changes at the break bringing on James Alabi and Byron Webster, with Bush moving to left back and they made a very positive start. Forster had a run down the right and sent in a dangerous cross which was turned away for a corner by Odusina, after a second dead ball set piece they pulled one back on 47minutes when a short corner routine saw Alex Mitchell head the ball back into the six yard box for Albi to head home from close range and make it 3-1.

Forster fired over soon after, but from there Pools did well to keep possession and stifle the Bromley revival. Oates hit the side netting after breaking down the right as he looked for his hatrick, keeping The Ravens at arms length for long spells and passing the ball well.

When Bromley did attack Alabi turned a corner just wide at the front post, a Bush long throw was turned away by James for a spell of corners and Alabi had a shot saved after good work by Tate Campbell and Michael Cheek down the right, but they couldn’t find a way through.

Hartlepool also created chances though, with Shelton having a free kick fly wide and Oates had a goal bound effort deflected wide off a Webster block.

Deep into injury time Bromley had one final go, Bush sent in another long throw from the left and Mitchell flicked the ball in at the front post with his right foot to pull the score back to 3-2, but there was no more time left for The Ravens to claw their way back into the match and their season was over. 

The defeat was only the second Bromley have suffered under manager Andy Woodman, but in the end it was a bridge too far for his side against Dave Challinor’s excellent Hartlepool team. 

The Ravens now have time to reflect on a good National League season, with a seventh placed finish and build for next season.  

Hartlepool – James, Sterry, Odusina, Featherstone, Johnson, Liddle, Ferguson (Donaldson 83), Holohan (Francis-Angol 80), Shelton, Armstrong, Oates (Elliott 88).

Subs Not Used: Ravas, Saunders. 

Bromley – Cousins, Kizzi, Fox (Webster 45), Bush, Mitchell, Arthurs, Bingham, Forster (Campbell 69), Bridge, Williamson (Alabi 45), Cheek.

Subs Not Used: Trotter, Raymond.   

Goals: Pools – Oates 16 & 23mins, Armstrong 19mins. Bromley – Alabi 47mins, Mitchell 92mins.  

Att: 1,700 (home fans only)

HT 3-0

FT 3-2 

Ref: Lewis Smith                   

Picture supplied by Bromley Football Club.