Aldershot Town take a break from National League action on Saturday, travelling to Hayes Lane on to take on Bromley in the 4th Qualifying Round of the FA Cup. The Ravens are flying high in the same division as The Shots and currently sit in 2nd place, on the same points as leaders FC Halifax Town.
Rob Worrall previews the game:
Manager Danny Searle should have a fairly full squad to choose from. Only Ollie O’Dwyer and James Rowe are doubtful for Saturday.
Name: Bromley FC
Nickname: The Ravens
Manager: Neil Smith
Stadium: Hayes Lane
2018/19 National League final position: 11th
Bromley Football Club was founded in 1892, switching between the Kent, London, Spartan, Athenian and Isthmian League before settling in the latter in 1952. They’ve won three FA Amateur Cups and were Isthmian League winners on four occasions, whilst their promotion via the Play-Offs in 2007 started a run of eight seasons in Conference South. On six consecutive occasions, they ended the season between 11th and 17th before a third-place finish in 2013-14 (losing to Ebbsfleet United in the Play-Off semi-final) and the National League South title twelve months later. The Ravens finished 14th with sixty points in their first campaign at a national level, one place and four points above Aldershot Town and have finished in upper mid-table every year since.
Former professional footballer Neil Smith played more than 350 games in the English Football League, for Gillingham, Fulham and Reading. He then switched to non-league football, making 142 appearances for Woking, in addition to brief spells at Welling, Bromley and Maidstone.
He was appointed joint Interim Manager of Woking in March 2007 and helped steer the Surrey side to safety, only for Frank Gray to ultimately get the permanent role. Smith then took the reins of Welling United for just six months, before being sacked in January 2008 and returning, briefly, as a player to Bromley. After coaching spells at Grays Athletic, Croydon and Lewes, he took the job as Assistant Manager at Bromley. In February 2016, following the departure of manager Mark Goldberg, Smith took over as interim Manager and after a successful run of results, was given the job on a permanent basis. In the 2014-15 season, Smith led Bromley to the Conference South title and promotion to the National League. In both of their first two seasons in Non-League’s top flight, they have finished in the top half and Smith also took them to Wembley last term, in the FA Trophy Final.
Smith recruited convincingly this summer in a real effort to take Bromley to the next level. Roger Johnson retired and Frankie Sutherland signed for Crawley, but along with goalkeeper David Gregory, they were the only key departures. Familiar faces Jack Holland, Frankie Raymond, Ex-Shot Adam Mekki, Luke Coulson and George Porter all signed new deals in May. Smith brought in goalkeeper Mark Cousins from Barnet, but following a bad injury sustained recently, he swooped for Borehamwood’s ‘out of favour’ Ryan Huddart. Other newcomers include; Right Back Joe Kizzi (Billericay), defender Chris Bsh (Ebbsfleet), midfielder Billy Bingham (Gillingham) and strikers Michael Cheek (8 goals since joining from Ebbsfleet) and Reece Hackett-Fairchild (5 goals since joining from Charlton Athletic). There have been some key loan signings too, including former Raven Josh Rees (back from Gillingham), Michael Klass (Southend United) and Alfie Doughty (Charlton) all of whom are midfielders.
Saturday’s referee is Elliott Swallow, who has taken the middle at National League level on 5 occasions so far this season, showing 17 Yellow cards and 0 Red cards to date.
BBC Surrey Sports Rob Worrall and Shots supporter Matthew Foot will be covering the game live on Saturday afternoon. Tune in to the BBC Sport website (or the BBC Sport App) from 2:50pm for full match commentary. To interact, tweet @RobShot66.