City take a break from the League on Saturday when they welcome Bromley to Twerton Park in the FA Trophy. Their National League opponents are of course the present holders of the Trophy having triumphed at Wembley back in May.
The south-east London club were regular opponents at this level from 2007 following our promotion to the Blue Square South until Bromley clinched the National League South title eight years later.
City did not have the best of records with only one victory against The Ravens, which came at Hayes Lane in the last month of the 2009/2010 season with goals from Chris Holland and Kaid Mohamed. The latter came from a spectacular overhead kick and the victory helped pave the way for City’s place in the playoffs a few weeks later, with promotion being achieved with that famous win against Woking.
Our record in that time at Twerton Park was very modest with only three draws coming from Bromley’s six visits.
In the seven seasons since their promotion The Ravens have firmly established themselves in the top level of non-league football, never finishing below 13th and playing in front of average home crowds of over 2000. Their best effort came two years ago when they reached the playoffs, their dream of promotion to the Football League only being ended by the eventual winners Hartlepool United.
In 2018 they also excelled in the FA Trophy, going all the way to the final only to lose to Brackley Town on penalties. That run had started with a familiar name in Hartley Wintney but then took in mammoth trips to Blyth, Workington, Spennymoor and Gateshead!
Bromley were back in the final last season having earnt their date at Wembley with wins over Dover, Aldershot, Tonbridge, Solihull and York. In front of a crowd of 46,000, Michael Cheek’s goal was enough to defeat Wrexham and secure the Trophy.
This was not Bromley’s first triumph at the national stadium, as back in 1949 they had beaten Romford to clinch the old Amateur Cup, having also won that trophy in 1911 and 1938 against Bishop Auckland and Edith & Belvedere respectively.
In the present season they have always been in the top half of the table, currently sitting in eleventh position just three points behind the playoff places. Their away record has seen victories at Aldershot, Boreham Wood and Dorking while a draw was achieved in front of 6000 at leaders Notts County. Their FA Cup hopes were dashed at the first attempt with a surprise defeat at home to Hereford.
Manager Andy Woodman was previously Alan Pardew’s goalkeeping coach at West Ham, Charlton, Newcastle and Crystal Palace and he joined the Hayes Lane club from a similar position at Arsenal.
Of course City’s most famous exploits have been in the FA Cup and supporters agree that it is high time they enjoyed at least as memorable a Trophy run as the one which saw us reach the semi-finals in 2015. Our most recent appearance at this third round stage was two seasons ago when Swindon Supermarine were defeated at Twerton Park before elimination by Peterborough Sports. And playing teams above our level has only seen four victories; over Carshalton in 2004 before those memorable wins over Bristol Rovers, Altrincham and Dover in that run to the semi-finals.
So Saturday’s match is keenly anticipated with supporters not only hoping the team will be embarking on a similar run but interested to see how they will compare with higher level opponents. They are reminded that this is an all pay match and tickets can be bought in advance at reduced price from the Club’s website.
Note: the status of this game is subject to change due to extreme weather conditions.