Both sides saw their winning runs end at Hayes Lane this Boxing Day but a goalless draw was ultimately a fair result in a tough if unspectacular clash.
League leaders Bromley’s 100% home record went west as Fleet, who had a good first half but faded in the second, surrendered their own nine-game winning run.
Fleet boss Steve Brown was able to welcome Daryl McMahon back into the starting line-up after his illness and he replaced Michael Corcoran, while a hip injury to Michael Thalassitis saw Ben May reclaim his spot up front alongside Billy Bricknell.
And it was Bricknell who got the Fleet going straight away with a shot from the edge of the box as the visitors started on the front foot, with another sight of goal following when Alex Osborn found Anthony Cook at the far post but the ball skewed to safety.
Bromley looked effective through ex-Leeds winger Ryan Hall but his contribution soon faded, while the powerful presence of their recent signing from Hayes & Yeading, Jake Reid, kept Paul Lorraine busy early on. Energetic midfielder Brendan Kiernan was doing his best to kick-start the home side and he had Preston Edwards tumbling into the mud to stop a shot skidding into the bottom corner on the quarter-hour mark.
Osborn was then somewhat unfortunate to see a cross bounce off his arm on the edge of the box but Bromley’s resulting free-kick was driven wastefully over the stand by Danny Waldren. Fleet were struggling to get their strikers in the game as Ben May toiled for much of a frustrating afternoon against the formidable height of Rob Swaine and a referee who seemed to favour Swaine more often than not in the 50/50 challenges.
But it wasn’t just the strikers who were struggling to get a grip as both sets of midfielders found getting the ball down and playing it along the floor something of a fine art on a heavy pitch. McMahon grappled to make an impact and though he was Fleet’s brightest spark, even Cook’s usual flair game lacked some fluidity and he was well-marshalled by Dean Pooley.
Just past the half-hour mark, Fleet upped the tempo and Aiden Palmer produced a decent surge into the box but his shot was tame, though Joe Welch took two attempts to subdue it. Minutes later, great approach work from Chris Sessegnon and Bricknell, saw May wriggle free in the box but he fired just wide.
Then Cook finally got the better of the Bromley defence when he outsprinted Pooley and Swaine to loose off a shot that Welch had to push behind the post. He had another effort fly wide before half-time, while McMahon also shot over as Fleet ended the first period the more positive of the two sides.
As the low sun finally dipped below the horizon during half-time, the gloom descended and it seemed to have a negative effect on the Fleet. Bromley wrestled the upper hand immediately upon the restart and Kiernan – as he did in the first half – warmed Edwards’ hands with a decent drive. Skrill South top scorer Bradley Goldberg, quiet during the opening 45 minutes, twice threatened to wriggle through the Fleet defence, but his control let him down. The home side by now had established the upper hand but their final ball was poor and their finishing wasteful.
At the other end, May and Bricknell continued to run the line but without much to feed off and it was Cook who had Fleet’s best opportunity on 61 minutes, curling a high cross towards the top corner that had Welch back-pedalling to push it clear before the lurking Osborn could convert.
Seven minutes later came Bromley’s chance to win the game when Ashley Nicholls carved open a space for Goldberg who picked his spot and curled a shot goalwards that Edwards did ever so well to parry and it fell kindly for Osei Sankofa to hoist clear. With Fleet rocking, Brown withdrew the out-of-sorts McMahon, clearly still feeling the effects of his illness and a coshing he took earlier in the half, and introduced Corcoran to shore up his side’s rearguard.
It steadied the Fleet ship, though there were still too many half clearances dropping at the feet of Bromley players for comfort and it was a relief when Bricknell finally earned his side some respite, a shot deflected behind for a corner. Corcoran went even closer on 84 minutes when he fired a hefty effort that reaped another corner as it too took a deflection, while at the other end Edwards saved his side again, just getting his fingertips to substitute Ben Swallow’s goalbound effort to push it over the crossbar.
Bromley had taken their feet off the pedal to such an extent that Welch was booked for time-wasting in the final minutes by an overly choosy referee and both sides – though probably for different reasons – seemed content to settle for the point.
So it’s back to Stonebridge Road on New Year’s Day for these two, with the small matter of Dover up before that for the Fleet as they seek to close the gap at the top of the table.
TEAM: Edwards, Sessegnon, Palmer, McMahon (Corcoran 71), Lorraine, Sankofa, Osborn, Rance, May, Bricknell (Phipp 90), Cook. Subs not used: Hall, Howe, Long.