Bromley fall victim to a wild West as Michael nets a hat-trick…
The Fleet have been making a recent habit of putting north Kent neighbours to the sword and so it proved once more as Michael West scored the first hat-trick for more than eight years as his treble sent Bromley tumbling out of the FA Trophy.
The Fleet number seven will be the first man to take home the match ball since Che Stadhart scored three goals at Woking in September 2002.
Liam Daish made his first unenforced change for some time, Ricky Shakes dropping to the bench as Bromley old boy Gareth Williams earned a start. Meanwhile another ex-White, Ashley Carew, was suspended so Joe Howe came in for the hero of last Thursday night.
And after the efforts of that game, there was always the danger that a tired and disappointed Fleet side might not be over-enthused about this one. And though the initial exchanges saw the Fleet unsurprisingly lack much in the way of sparkle, the home side took control from about the 20-minute mark and never let up.
Bromley, who fielded ex-Fleet goalkeeper Craig Holloway, began as the livelier side. Warren McBean showed good positioning, pulling the Fleet centre two with him as he fired two shots wide and Edwards pushed away a fierce free kick. Jerome Sobers nodded a corner just past the post on nine minutes while Harrison Dunk was keeping his forwards supplied with some good work down the left flank.
Fleet were reduced to two wild efforts from Williams and Michael West but stepped things up on 20 minutes when Tom Phipp rampaged through midfield and fed West on the Fleet right but the resulting shot was disappointingly a fraction wide of the post.
But West was not to be denied for long and four minutes later Williams got between Holloway and his defence to strike a shot against the post. It rebounded across the goal and West was on hand to rifle it home with the aid of a deflection and the underside of the crossbar.
That settled the Fleet down though Bromley still looked threatening when they got forward, McBean and Dunk both with decent efforts. Williams could have made it 2-0 on 35 minutes but he wasn’t having much luck in front of goal and shot wide from Calum Willock’s lay-off. But two minutes later Williams turned supplier once again as he lobbed a quick free-kick over the surprised Bromley defence which West ran on to and he showed immense composure and skill to power a high shot over and beyond Holloway.
The second half was more of a formality as Bromley appeared to run out of ideas against a Fleet defence well-marshalled by Paul Lorraine and Clint Easton, allowing Craig Stone and Derek Duncan to get forward down the flanks to support their midfield. Stone and the industrious Howe showed good understanding down the right while Williams, West and Marwa provided a good range of passing in the Bromley half.
And with the Fleet having threatened to break their eight-year hat-trick hoodoo in recent games, West finally obliged 20 minutes from time, finishing off a well-worked move. Duncan and Willock combined and Phipp produced a wonderful cross to the far post where West headed home, planting the ball far out of Holloway’s reach.
After a largely dormant second half, Bromley could and should have pulled one back on 76 minutes when Edwards beat Marlon Patterson’s free-kick clear and substitute Joseph Afusi contrived to hit the post from just outside the six-yard box.
Fleet picked up again following the introduction of Ricky Shakes and he kept the crowd entertained with a series of right-wing dashes, the best of which saw him fire in a low shot that both Howe and Stone attempted to finish off but Bromley cleared. But the home side were determined to add to their tally and on 87 minutes, Phipp was again involved, sending a ball into the centre that Shakes cleverly diverted into Willock’s pass and the Fleet number nine fired past Holloway.
Shakes cut a path through the defence once again a minute later and Willock was only denied a second as Holloway managed to pounce on the ball before a shot could be delivered. Even then Bromley could have taken the edge off the scoreline when Paul Vines got space to run and shoot at Edwards and the Fleet keeper’s save fell to Afusi once again who blasted it wide with an open goal at his mercy. Falling to the ground and hiding his head in his hands summed up Bromley’s evening.
For the Fleet, they get a second payday at home to Hayes & Yeading on December 11, pitting Ram Marwa, Peter Holmes and Jamie Hand against their former clubs. On present form, this will be a tie the Fleet will believe they can win against one of last season’s relegation rivals.
TEAM: Edwards, Stone, Duncan, Howe, Easton, Lorraine (Pooley 74), West (Shakes 79), Marwa (Henry 88), Willock, Williams, Phipp.
Man of the match against AFC Wimbledon was Ashley Carew with 34% of the vote. Who gets that honour tonight? Vote [HERE].