Undefeated Ryman League losers Bromley distinguished themselves in what in the score alone seemed a comfortable passage into the second round of the FA Cup for the First Division club Gillingham. In reality, Bromley stretched Gillingham almost all the way. For most of the time they were far from inferior. Bromley are an ambitious club. When, last summer, Mark Goldberg, the former Crystal Palace chairman, decided he wanted to be more "hands on" and became manager, no one really knew what to expect. Since then they have risen to the top of their league.
Apart from recent results, Bromley could call on the morale-boosting stimulus that had come from beating a near-full-sprint Gillingham in a pre-season friendly. And yesterday they made it clear from the outset that, physically as well, they were not going to be intimidated.
They fairly, and sometimes not too fairly, slammed into tackles. Having established themselves in that respect, they set off matching Gillingham in every other aspect.
Bromley's young left-side defender Sam Wood was particularly up for the day's challenge. Quick and with an eye for the overlap, he was also unflinching in his challenges, one of which left Gillingham defender Leon Johnson struggling with an ankle injury that soon forced him to abandon the game.
Gillingham barely deserved the lead that came their way after half an hour with a header from near the far post by Mark Bentley who really only made sure that a goal-bound shot from Gary Mulligan actually went in.
Bromley changed their approach in the early stages of the second half, keeping possession and placing less emphasis on obstructiveness. It was as if to stress that they could play a bit. They could, and deserved not to go further behind when Gillingham's Dean McDonald broke away down the left and centred low for Matthew Jarvis who suddenly found Bromley's goalkeeper, Andy Walker successfully diving at his feet.
That buoyed their hopes until the 58th minute. Gillingham attacked in numbers and Clint Easton's shot was only blocked at the near post where Bentley hammered in his second. Yet Bromley were still competing hard in midfield and coping quite well as Gillingham increased the pressure.
So it was only right that they should get a glimpse of a recovery. In the 70th minute they counter-attacked at speed. The former Wales Under-21 player Gareth Williams, who had come on as second-half substitute, sent Nic McDonnell away down the centre. Kelvin Jack came out trying to intercept but McDonald beat him with a powerful low drive.
Wood continued to drive Bromley on from the left. His pace was a constant threat and his passing no less impressive. As a result, his side never looked anything less than hopeful. Indeed, they forced a last ditch interception from Jack before Gillingham put some respectability into their score when Jarvis hooked the ball across goal and substitute Guylain Ndumbu-Nsungu turned it in.
Ndumbu-Nsungu then added another in the last minute with a fine 15-yard curling shot that was cruel on Bromley.Reuse content