Aerial route pays off for Bromley as set-pieces prove Alty's undoing again
Report by John Edwards
Picture by David Munro
Altrincham 1 Bromley 2
Two early goals by Bromley from the all-too-familiar source of a set-piece proved too much for Altrincham as a second-half fightback fell agonisingly short of salvaging a point on an emotional night at The J.Davidson Stadium.
Alty trailed to a glancing header from a free-kick in the 20th minute and were really up against it when Michael Cheek punished their failure to deal with a corner by doubling the visitors' lead four minutes later.
Tyrese Sinclair gave the Robins renewed hope with his second goal in as many games in the 50th minute, but, on a night when we remembered the colossus that was John King, Alty couldn't quite rise to the occasion and ran out of time after hammering away at a Bromley back line that resembled a brick wall.
Bromley are renowned as a tough nut to crack, but Alty sliced their defence wide open after only five minutes.
Elliot Osborne forced his way into the box, and when he passed to Jordan Hulme on his right, the Alty skipper took the ball in his stride with a movement that left a defender flat-footed and suddenly put him clean through with just Reice Charles-Cook to beat.
Hulme seemed certain to score, and there was nothing much wrong with a left-foot shot (pictured) that looked bound for the right-hand corner until the Bromley keeper reacted brilliantly with an outstretched palm to turn it round the post.
Little had been seen of Bromley as an attacking force in the early stages, but they stunned Alty with a 20th-minute goal that was simplicity itself.
A free-kick was swung in from the left, and, as it reached the edge of the area, centre-back Byron Webster met it with a glancing header that bobbled into the right corner of the net, with Ollie Byrne rooted to the spot.
Worse followed, as Bromley extended their lead four minutes later, and again it was a set-piece that proved Alty's undoing.
Eddy Jones looked to have earned them a reprieve when he blocked a goalbound header on the line from a right-wing corner, but the ball ran loose to Cheek, who made no mistake with a low drive that flew through a crowded six-yard area and into the net from a tight angle.
Alty's preparations had been disrupted before a ball had been been kicked, with recent signing Regan Linney stuck in a motorway traffic hold-up caused by a serious accident and Osborne, originally named on the bench, having to swop places with him.
It wasn't exactly going to plan once a ball had been kicked, either. Everyone would have been desperate to put on a show for the family of John King, nearly 30 of them lining the side of the pitch before kick-off to join in a minute's applause for the incomparable former Robins skipper and manager.
They travelled over by coach from Liverpool to hear a pre-match tribute by co-chairman Bill Waterson over the tannoy system and hopefully see a performance befitting the occasion.
There was no sign of it materialising in the first-half, though, and it hardly got any better for Alty, as the opening 45 minutes ended with Sinclair limping after being clattered by Bessart Topalloj, who was rightly booked for a scything late challenge.
Sinclair was at least able to continue on the resumption and appeared to be moving freely as the Robins sought a way of stepping things up after a fairly tepid first half.
Indeed, it was the on-loan winger who breathed new life into his side with a stooping header that reduced the arrears in the 50th minute.
When a ball was played down the left flank, the ever-willing Josh Lundstram gave chase and made it his own before clipping a right-foot cross into the area, where Sinclair expertly guided a header beyond the reach of Charles-Cook and into the corner of the Golf Road End net.
Alty made a double substitution on the hour, with Linney and Ben Pringle replacing Hulme and Sinclair, and it almost reaped telling rewards just four minutes later.
With an ability to pick a pass that makes him such an effective replacement with time ticking away, Pringle played a sliderule ball through to young Linney, handing him a clear run at the Bromley goal.
What a chance for the highly-rated striker to announce himself in style, but while his shot was well directed towards the left corner of the net, it lacked the venom needed to beat Charles-Cook, and the Bromley keeper was able to dive to his right and safeguard his side's narrow advantage.
Alty kept plugging away, with 75th-minute substitute Egli Kaja's direct running style offering hope that Bromley's resistance might be pierced again, but the visitors held firm to take the points and leave the Robins frustrated.
Altrincham - Byrne, Welch-Hayes, J.Jones, Baines, E.Jones, Marriott, Lundstram, Sinclair (Pringle 60) Osborne, Cashman (Kaja 75), Hulme (Linney 60).
Subs not used - Oyedele, Gyasi. Booked - Hulme.
Bromley - Charles-Cook, Jennings, Sowunmi, Cheek, Dennis (Bergkamp 90), Kendal (Forster 71), Webster (Reynolds 69), Whitely, Arthurs, Topalloj, Fisher.
Subs not used - Long, Marriott. Booked - Topalloj.
Attendance - 1,446 (59 away fans).