BY LOUIS MENDEZ
Bromley finally started their National League campaign with a comfortable 4-1 home win as Michael Cheek bagged a brace against Dover Athletic.
Ending a seven-month spell without competitive football due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Hayes Lane outfit were a goal to the good at half-time thanks to Cheek’s finish. Jack Holland stretched the lead shortly after the interval although it was soon halved by former Bromley man Sam Wood.
Ben Williamson would then go on to make the points safe for the hosts 20 minutes from time, before Cheek added his second in added-time.
The Ravens were due to kick their campaign off at Macclesfield Town last Saturday but the Silkmen’s expulsion from the league meant the start of Bromley’s sixth consecutive season in the top-tier of non-league football was delayed until this evening.
The game was played behind-closed-doors as step one and two of the non-league pyramid are considered ‘elite’ sport by the government and must stick to coronavirus conventions.
Dover, who beat Notts County on the opening day of the season, looked sharper in the early stages but had little to show for it other than former Charlton trainee Ade Azeez’s effort from the edge of the area that was held by Mark Cousins in the home goal.
Neil Smith’s side soon grew into the contest. Joseph Kizzi had headed a decent opening over the bar from a set-piece but the hosts did edge ahead moments later.
A misplaced pass in the Dover defence gifted possession to Harry Forster on the right. The Watford loanee, 20, squared for Cheek to side-foot home his first of the campaign – after notching 15 in all competitions for the Ravens last season.
The lead could have been doubled soon after as Kizzi’s incisive ball through set Cheek away. The forward decided the angle was too tight for a shot and pulled back to Forster, who saw his effort charged down.
Ben Williamson should have made the keeper work as he headed a deep cross wide shortly before the interval as the Hayes Lane outfit ended the half on top.
The advantage was doubled just seven minutes after the restart. Forster’s perseverance on the edge of the Dover area paid off as he won a foul. The free-kick was worked to Billy Bingham, whose fierce drive was too hot to handle for Yusef Mersin. Skipper Holland did enough to bundle over the line, with the referee waving away appeals for a foul on the goalkeeper.
Bromley’s two-goal advantage only lasted six minutes. Wood, on his return to the ground where he started his career with Cray Wanderers and then spent two spells with Bromley, finished off a teasing cross at the far-post to half the arrears.
Andy Hessenthaler’s visitors could have wiped the lead out completely but Steve Rigg and Akheem Rose were both off-target from range and were made to pay as Bromley added a third with just under 20 minutes to play.
Williamson brought a flick-on under control inside the area before lifting a cute finish over Mersin to give the hosts breathing space.
Cheek then completed his brace in farcical circumstances in stoppage-time. Mersin misjudged a back-pass and laid it on a plate for the Bromley striker to put the seal on an emphatic start to the season.
PHOTOS: KEITH GILLARD
Please support your local paper by making a donation
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.