City started life as a Blue Square South side in a similar way to how they finished as a British Gas Business League member, with a goal from Chris Holland via a Mark McKeever corner. However, unlike the strike against Rugby Town in April that completed a season’s scoring and a 6-0 victory, this goal against Bromley rescued a point deep into stoppage time. On the balance of play it was probably no less than City deserved, although understandably the home side could feel somewhat unfortunate not to have won the game after taking the lead with less than ten minutes left. City’s starting line-up showed one expected change and one more surprising inclusion. With Paul Evans failing to recover from his neck injury, Steve Perrin was drafted in from Melksham Town to take his place between the posts. It was the left midfield position that saw an unanticipated change with Paul Keddle starting in place of McKeever – although with the latter was still carrying a minor knock picked up in the first half of last week’s British Gas Business Football League Championship Challenge match.
The 2007-08 season could have got out to a perfect start when City won a free-kick around 25 yards out in the first minute but Scott Rogers’ effort flew several yards wide. This start settled City and they looked the stronger side in the early exchanges. A 14th minute corner was headed over the bar by Holland and any attacking threat from Bromley was easily snuffed out by the City backline. There were signs that the home side were capable of neat passing but rarely did the final ball match the build-up. However, on occasion there were glimpses that their game was beginning to come together and on 19 minutes Perrin was forced to tip a Hockton shot over the bar at full stretch. Despite the warm temperature the game was being played at a decent pace and providing good entertainment for the sun-basking crowd. The best opening of the first half fell to City after 22 minutes when Darren Edwards beat the offside trap to race clear on goal only to see his low shot blocked by keeper Walker. The otherwise ineffective Scott Rogers then freed Lewis Hogg and his driven cross just evaded the in-rushing Dave Gilroy and was collected by Walker. The remainder of the half saw both sides continue to probe but there was little further action in the way of goalscoring opportunities.
The first sight of goal after the interval saw Wood for the Kent side clear the bar from 25 yards before an Adeniyi effort was comfortably held by Perrin. City’s response on the hour mark saw another Holland header from a Hogg corner look destined for the net before it was inadvertently blocked on the line by Edwards. This fortunate escape for the home side finally seem to wake them up and for the next 20 minutes City were on the back foot. Williams shot narrowly wide on 68 minutes, then McDonnell and Chabban both failed to test Perrin when well-placed. The latter did then bring a fine low stop out of City’s keeper with a neat turn and shot. With City visibly tiring John Relish replaced Gilroy and Keddle with Phil Walsh and McKeever but the home side kept the pressure on, Perrin again denying Chabban. However, the breakthrough finally came on 81 minutes as Williams took advantage of a slip by the otherwise excellent Gethin Jones to fire the ball past Perrin. McKeever nearly took advantage of an error by Duku, who had looked the weak link in Bromley’s defence all afternoon, but as the game went into stoppage time it looked as if City’s first Blue Square outing was to end in defeat. This all changed with a minute gone beyond the 90 – McKeever’s corner was only half cleared toward the edge of the area where Holland fired the ball low and hard into the corner of the net much to the delight of the 100 or so travelling city fans.
So, in the end a hard earned point gained for City. If the match is any indication of the season to come then City do seem well-equipped for a solid season at this higher level, although clearly after just a single game it is impossible to tell for certain. The match saw impressive performances in particular from Adie Harris, continuing his excellent pre-season form, and Holland, who as usual won almost everything in the air and again popped up with a vital goal. Also, playing a crucial role was emergency keeper Steve Perrin, showing that he will be a more than able deputy in Paul Evans’ absence.