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Woking 1-2 Bromley
The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
These really are heady times we live in as Bromley fans.
Wednesday night saw the club journey to Woking as play-off eliminator underdogs and emerge victorious to make yet more history.
Andy Woodman can now add taking Bromley to their first-ever National League play-off semi-finals to his growing resume.
It was a victory built on the foundations of the Woodman DNA that has served him and Bromley so well. More importantly, it was fully deserved.
As ever, I reflect on The Good, The Bad and The Ugly from Bromley’s 2-1 away win against Woking.
Have a read and let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
The Line-up vs Woking
On social media in the run-up to the game, I made the bold claim that if Bromley were at full strength they would win the match. And so it came to pass.
But, before I declare myself the non-league Nostradamus, there was a clear method to my thought process. On both previous occasions this season, Woking had played weakened Bromley sides.
On Wednesday, they faced a Bromley side on a nine-game unbeaten run, with the imperious Deji Elerewe and Ryan Stirk added to their ranks, and with Michael Cheek back doing what Michael Cheek does.
Seventh place be damned, time your run right and anything is possible.
Woking may have taken the lead in the match but at no stage did Bromley ever look out of it or second best. Prior to the opening goal, Bromley should arguably have already taken the lead, and by half-time they’d done everything right bar score.
When Cheek equalised just shy of the hour mark, there was a sense that if anyone was going to win it from there it would be Bromley.
Their early wastefulness in front of goal aside, given the importance of the game, you could argue it was Bromley’s most complete performance of the season.
Woking finished the season three places (and 11 points) higher than Bromley, but it was the Ravens who looked better drilled and prepared for the big occasion.
I wrote a preview piece for London Football Scene prior to the game which focused on the big game narrative. In my last interview with Andy Woodman, I asked him about the knack he and his backroom staff have for preparing the squad for a big game where Bromley are the underdog.
Once again, all of those attributes were on show in the eliminator. This isn’t a fluke, this is all by design, and it is precisely why Chesterfield will be so wary of Bromley in the semi-final.
Woking are a strong, robust team who have outworked a lot of teams this season. But Bromley appeared to flip Woking’s gameplan back at them, and it left the Cardinals looking leggy and bereft of ideas once Cheek had equalised.
When looking at individual performances, it was one of those nights where everyone stood up and was counted.
However, there were a few individuals who I believe need to be highlighted.
I will be the first to put my hands up and say I’ve been critical of Corey Whitely at times this season. He struggled to find his groove and that led to a lot of up-and-down performances. But, much like Michael Cheek, he has come good when it matters.
Corey’s driving runs from midfield and his link play with the front two has markedly improved the team’s attacking transitions and created space for others to exploit. As a result, he’s been at the heart of Bromley’s ten-game unbeaten run.
For me, on a night where so many played well, Corey was a strong candidate for man of the match.
My other shout goes to Adam Marriott. Adam has been in and out this season and really struggled to get a clear run of games. In spite of that, he has still contributed 10 goals to the cause.
When Louis Dennis went off injured in the 49th minute, it was a blow from a creative standpoint, but arguably Marriott brought a different dynamic to the front two.
It might have gone under the radar, but his linkup play was imperative to Bromley moving up the pitch. Arthurs and Stirk certainly played with more freedom in the final third once Marriott came on.
For a relatively diminutive striker, Marriott has an all-round game that belies the view that he is just a goal-getter.
The question for Andy Woodman now is who starts at Chesterfield. If Louis is declared fit, does he go in with an unchanged XI?
As mentioned, Louis Dennis went off injured just minutes after the restart. I couldn’t quite work out what he tweaked but it was enough for Andy Woodman to make the substitution, most likely on Hus’s advice.
Yes, Bromley went on to win the game, and yes it’s a squad game, but it is also undeniable that Dennis has brought the best out of Cheek since the turn of the year.
Whatever happens, Chesterfield away in a playoff semi-final is a daunting proposition.
If Woodman had a full squad to choose from, I have no doubt that he would go into the match with Dennis and Cheek as his front two. But will it work out that way?
When Andy Woodman and Alan Dunne signed a new contract after the Wembley victory, I assumed a release clause would be written into it. I don’t know for certain whether that’s the case, but I bring it up for the following reason.
Often this season, when raving about different players (Ryan Stirk, Deji Elerewe, Besart Topalloj, Omar Sowunmi, Kellen Fisher), I’ve said they will be Football League players with or without Bromley Football Club.
I think it is now high time that ALL Bromley fans accept and appreciate that Andy Woodman will be a Football League manager one day, with or without Bromley. And on merit, too.
As great as it has been watching us create history over the last two-and-a-half seasons, there is a limit to how long this continues before someone gives Robin Stanton-Gleaves the readies to break Woodman’s contract.
You would be naïve to think that other football boards haven’t noticed the year-on-year progress at Bromley.
If I was RSG, I would be giving Andy Woodman whatever he asks for next season. If he doesn’t, who could blame the gaffer if his head got turned?
Get at me in the comments below.
Reice Charles-Cook (8)
Kellen Fisher (8)
Omar Sowunmi (8)
Callum Reynolds (8)
Deji Elerewe (8)
Besart Topalloj (8)
Ryan Stirk (8)
Jude Arthurs (8)
Corey Whitely (9)
Michael Cheek (8)
Louis Dennis (7)
Adam Marriott for Louis Dennis 49’ (8)
Thanks for taking the time to read the match synopsis above.
Please note all photographs in this article are by Martin Greig - please follow him on Twitter here
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