Bromley v Boreham Wood
Monday 10th April 2023, 3.00pm
Hayes Lane, Vanarama National League

Easter Monday will see the Wood look to resurrect after defeat last time out saw the gap to eighth place narrow to three points, and they will be keen to avoid seeing it close entirely when they visit fellow play-off hopefuls Bromley.

IN FOCUS: BROMLEY

After winning the 2014/15 National League South title, Bromley achieved promotion to the top level of non-league football alongside the Wood and like their opponents on Monday, have remained there ever since. A serial mid-table team, the Ravens have established themselves in English football’s fifth tier and have finished 14th, 10th, 9th, 11th, 13th, 7th and 10th since their promotion, rarely being troubled by relegation. However, the arrival of Andy Woodman in 2021 has seen them begin to push up the league and challenge for the play-offs, and this is no different this time around with just two points separating them from Eastleigh in the final play-off spot.

The Ravens were aided last summer by the arrivals of Reice Charles-Cook, Callum Reynolds and James Vennings as they looked to sure up their defence, as well as giving top scorer Michael Cheek competition by signing Adam Marriott from National League rivals Barnet, and the striker has contributed ten goals of his own to the Ravens’ play-off hopes. The Kent-based outfit were in need of reinforcements though as they looked to ignite their push in the second half of the season, especially after Chris Bush joined the likes of Mason Bloomfield, James Alabi, Joe Partington, Liam Trotter and Luke Coulson in the summer departure lounge in December. This inspired the Ravens to add Besart Topalloj, Deji Elerewe, Charley Kendall and Ryan Stirk to their ranks on loan, along with Mitchel Bergkamp joining following his release from Watford in 2021. This has seen the Ravens fly up the league as a result, and with the chance to close the gap on the Wood on Monday, they will be hoping to get over the line as they enter the final five games of the National League season.

LAST TIME OUT

Barnet 1-1 Bromley
Friday 7th April 2023
Vanarama National League

Bromley continued their play-off push by drawing away 1-1 to fellow promotion hopefuls Barnet at The Hive on Good Friday.

The Bees commenced the game with real intent, with David Moyo delivering a dangerous cross that went wide for a corner. Moyo was causing issues throughout for Bromley, and went close again when he placed a header over the crossbar after meeting Ryan De Havilland’s corner. A couple of dangerous attacks continued with Idris Kanu’s venomous effort from 20-yards being deflected just wide and they continued to maintain control over proceedings, although Bromley responded by creating a handful of opportunities in their pursuit of an opener, with Corey Whitely turning his marker before skiing his effort over the crossbar, prior to their best moment of the game as Ryan Stirk’s free kick found Omar Sowunmi at the back post who forced a good save from Laurie Walker. Stirk’s perfect crosses inside Barnet’s penalty area continued though, and one of them set up Besart Topalloj for a header which needed to be well-saved by the Barnet keeper, who will have been relieved as the half was coming to a close when Louis Dennis produced a cross for Michael Cheek who volleyed wide. It was Barnet who broke the deadlock after all though despite some late pressure from Bromley, with Finley Potter pouncing on Reice Charles-Cook’s save to put the ball into an empty net on the stroke of half time, seeing the Bees go into the break ahead.

Bromley made sure they didn’t let their heads drop after the restart though, and avoided letting their opponents build momentum as they got off to a dream start in the second half, with Cheek scrambling the ball goalwards after Stirk’s free kick to equalise for the Ravens. This would be followed by a lengthy spell with action at a premium as both teams were able to keep hold of possession, without really troubling their opponent. The most either side could muster saw a De Havilland free kick from 25-yards fly over the crossbar as a tense and cagey second half for both teams saw little in the way of clear chances. With the game coming to an end, there was just enough time for Jude Arthur to test Walker with his shot producing an incredible save from the Barnet stopper, who then followed up his heroics by saving Cheek’s close effort as the Ravens looked to steal the victory. It wasn’t to be though, with Bromley adding one more point in their quest for a play-off place.

RECENT FORM

Barnet (A) D1-1
Solihull Moors (H) W4-0
Maidstone United (A) W2-3
Yeovil Town (A) W0-1
Wrexham (H) L1-2
York City (H) L0-3

Bromley have certainly hit form in recent weeks, and they will be looking to remain consistent as they look to sneak into the play-off places come the end of the season. Indeed, they kicked off 2023 in superb form as they lost just twice in their opening 13 games of the new year – these being against Wrexham and Woking who occupy two of the top three spots in the National League table, but they would be shocked by their positive run coming to an end as a sucker-punch saw York City overcome the Ravens with a 3-0 win at Hayes Lane, before Wrexham saw them lose twice in a row for the first time since October. Fortunately, they have responded well and are unbeaten in their last four outings as they looked to quickly return to form, with an early strike from Besart Topalloj being enough to see them bounce back to winning ways at the hands of relegation threatened Yeovil Town, before a five-goal thriller saw them beat bottom-placed Maidstone United at the death with a late goal from Louis Dennis nicking all three points at the Gallagher Stadium. This would be followed by a 4-0 thumping of Solihull Moors, before they secured a point at fellow play-off hopefuls Barnet last time out, which saw them go within two points of the top seven with the chance to jump into the play-off places on Easter Monday.

IN THE DUGOUT: ANDY WOODMAN

Following a playing career that spanned 12 clubs over 17 years, Andy Woodman transitioned into coaching with a spell as assistant manager at Rushden & Diamonds, before joining Alan Pardew’s coaching staff at West Ham United, Charlton Athletic, Newcastle United and Crystal Palace. His first managerial role saw him take over the reins at Whitehawk in 2017 before holding the role as Head of Goalkeeping at Arsenal until March 2021, leaving his position to return to management and join Bromley with whom he would guide to the play-offs on the final day of the season. He has since developed the Ravens into a side that consistently pushes for the play-offs, and although he is yet to get them over the line, he did manage to take them all the way to Wembley Stadium with a wonderful run in last season’s FA Trophy, where they overcame highflying Wrexham to secure his first trophy as a manager.

ONE TO WATCH: MICHAEL CHEEK

A proven goalscorer at National League level, Michael Cheek made a name for himself at Heybridge Swifts where he earned a move Chelmsford City, with 35 goals in just over a season-and-a-half seeing him switch to Braintree Town. A further 42 goals for the Iron earned him a move to fellow Essex-based outfit Dagenham & Redbridge where he netted 13 goals in his solitary season at the Chigwell Construction Stadium before making his move to Kent, going on to score a further 16 after moving to Ebbsfleet United. His form at non-league level has seen him develop a reputation as one of the most prolific strikers to come out of the lower divisions in recent years, and this convinced Bromley to move quickly to secure his signature after his release from Stonebridge Road. He has gone on to score 64 goals for the Ravens – including the only goal of the game in their FA Trophy final win over Wrexham at Wembley Stadium – and after adding another 12 to his tally this season, is on course to be their top scorer for the fourth successive campaign.

LAST TIME WE MET

Boreham Wood 0-2 Bromley
Tuesday 4th October 2022
Vanarama National League

Goals in each half saw Boreham Wood beaten 2-0 by Bromley, on a disappointing night at the LV Bet Stadium Meadow Park.

It was the Wood who started on the front foot with Danny Newton and Lee Ndlovu causing problems for the Bromley defence, with the former seeing the first chance of the game as he shot straight at Thomas Smith in the Ravens goal after 11 minutes. The visitors quickly grew into proceedings though and threatened when former Wood player Corey Whitely played in Michael Cheek whose header was easily gathered by Nathan Ashmore, with the Wood responding when Zak Brunt had a good run shortly after that resulted in his strike flying straight at Smith. Despite the Wood enjoying the better of things early on, the Ravens took the lead against the run of play after the half-hour mark when Cheek played in Adam Marriott put the ball beyond Ashmore, and this appeared to knock the stuffing out of the Wood who weren’t as effective from then onwards, with the visitors remaining on the front foot despite not really create anything else, but nonetheless remained in control as they entered the interval in front.

The visitors continued to dominate possession immediately after the break, but it was the Wood who almost netted an equaliser when Femi Ilesamni was denied by an excellent save from Smith. They weren’t able to build momentum after seemingly seeing an upsurge in intensity, with the Ravens doubling their lead Marriott added a second after Cheek’s header had come off the post. Despite having a two-goal cushion, it wasn’t all plain sailing for Bromley with the Wood hitting back well and produced chances for Newton who failed to convert from a Brunt corner, before a Josh Rees shot was deflected wide and Dennon Lewis struck off target following an excellent run. The visitors might have added to their lead after 75 minutes when Jude Arthurs fired over, and they almost paid the price when Danny Elliott headed just off target as he looked to set up a nervy finale for the Ravens. Nine minutes of added time certainly did this though, but they almost made the game safe when Cheek was denied but a brilliant Ashmore save when one on one, and a further ten minutes of added time owing to an injury to Lewis can’t have helped the visitors in their attempt to hold onto the victory. Nonetheless though, Arthurs would have another good chance for the Ravens as they almost finally added a third, before referee Scott Tallis called time on proceedings.

HAVEN’T WE MET BEFORE? COREY WHITLEY

Corey Whitley began his career in Boreham Wood’s PASE academy, and went on to play a handful of times for the first team before spending three seasons in the non-pyramid TTFF League for Yalova and later joining Isthmian League side Waltham Forest. He continued his rise up the non-league after enjoying success at Enfield Town, with moves to Dagenham & Redbridge and Ebbsfleet United preceding a switch to League Two side Newport County. Opportunities were limited during his time in Wales and moved on loan to Bromley prior to a temporary return to Meadow Park where he established himself in the starting XI on a consistent basis, making 37 appearances in all competitions. He would later depart Rodney Parade permanently, re-joining Bromley where he has gone on to play more than 50 times.

OUR CLUB. OUR TOWN. OUR COMMUNITY.

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