The Fleet bowed out of this season’s FA Cup with a whimper as Bromley eased to victory at a windy Hayes Lane this afternoon.
Hoping to kick-start his side’s season via the cup competitions, Liam Daish included new signing Clint Easton at left back and raised eyebrows by giving Ricky Shakes a start at right back. Youngsters Scott Ginty and Chris Henry kept their places, while Daish’s other recent signing Chris Riley was on the bench.
And the Fleet had two good opportunities in the opening minutes, Chris Henry firing in a shot that was only half-parried by goalkeeper Williams who cleared the danger before a red shirt could pounce. On five minutes a speculative Scott Ginty cross from the right glanced the top of the crossbar as Williams seemed to misjudge the flight of the ball.
But Bromley had already fired a warning with a quick break and on 6 minutes they sharpened their sights. Ryan Hall got behind Shakes down the Bromley left and fired in a cross to the middle of the box where Jacob Erskine, having left the Fleet defence appealing for offside, finished well with a drive past Lance Cronin.
And the home side could have increased their lead as they troubled the Fleet time and again with the ball wide to Hall and crosses into the middle or balls over the top. Warren McBean fired just off-target on 10 minutes and Mark Corneille drove from distance but wide.
It was all reminiscent of the FA Cup a year ago at Woking and on 20 minutes, the early scoreline was the same. Bromley won a corner and Hall’s inswinger to the near post was tucked away by McBean and the Lilywhites looked home and dry.
They might have expected an onslaught from their more ‘esteemed’ neighbours but it never came. True, the Fleet improved as the half wore on and started to enjoy more possession, but Ginty and Elliott Charles were largely spectators. Indeed McBean should have claimed his second on 36 minutes when clean through after cutting inside Darius Charles and Leon Crooks but Cronin was off his line and got down well to block the shot.
The Fleet won a succession of corners but created little, the nearest a Ginty turn inside the box that lacked any pace.
Daish threw on Vieira at the start of the second half and the game was tilting slightly in the Fleet’s favour as Bromley seemed content to mop up what little pressure there was. The visitors’ best move of the game came on 49 minutes when Ishmael Welsh and Vieira combined and a cross to the far post found Michael West poised but his snap shot was very well saved by Williams.
Bromley broke immediately and showed the Fleet exactly how to take such chances, that man McBean showing a clean pair of heels to bend the ball away from Cronin and into the bottom corner of the goal.
It could have been four in bizarre circumstances four minutes later when Ashley Carew supplied Tutu Henriques who backheeled the ball just over the bar.
Stefan Bailey came on to give the Fleet midfield some much-needed bite and Kane Wills, pushed out wide, threatened to get behind the Bromley defence once or twice, but his crosses were snuffed out. Bailey’s low long-range shot bobbled out of Williams’ grasp just past the hour mark and rolled towards the goalline but lacked power and the goalkeeper recovered.
With the game effectively finished as a contest, Fleet fans drifted off in their ones and twos to leave the celebrating and the anticipation of the First Round draw to a Bromley side who must have expected a far tougher afternoon. They may not have been three goals better than the Fleet today but with the lack of competitiveness on show, they really only needed to take their chances… as they did.
TEAM: Cronin, Shakes, Easton, Crooks, Charles, Henry, Wills, West (Bailey 57), Welsh, Ginty (Vieira 46), Charles. Subs not used: Lamprell, Salmon, Riley, Sherlock.