Gill's hat-trick proves to be the difference for Heath
UNBEATEN Bromley Heath United maintained top spot with a 7-1 aggregate win over a spirited Warmley Rangers who deserved more than they got, particularly from the second game.
Bromley Heath nearly took the lead just 15 seconds in when Kieran McDonagh-Langley's poked effort at the front post from a low, driven cross from Harry Richardson rebounded off Warmley keeper Jacob Phillips but, arriving at pace, Luke Gill failed to control his first-time effort sending the ball wide of the goal.
The visitors came forward again when Warmley's Jack Lapham inadvertently poked the ball into Richardson's path, but the winger's first touch let him down and Phillips was able to block his close-range effort.
The early pressure soon paid off for Bromley Heath when, six minutes in, they took the lead. McDonagh-Langley's strong work just inside the box allowed him to find the space to pick out Sam Wallage in the middle, and he turned exquisitely beyond his marker before poking the ball into the bottom corner.
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Four minutes later, the visitors struck again. McDonagh-Langley's brilliant switch found Tom Walker in the box and he laid the ball first time inside to Gill, past the only covering defender, and the nippy striker curled the ball up and over Phillips to make it 2-0.
Warmley then had their first chance of the game when Alex Hussey tried to release Aaron Pullin, but Bromley captain Isaac Spencer managed to reach the ball first and poke it behind for a corner.
Pullin managed to get on the end of the resulting in-swinging corner from Lapham, but the striker didn't connect cleanly and his effort bounced harmlessly wide of Sebastian Miller's goal.
Four minutes before the end of the half, Bromley were awarded a penalty when Gill somehow jinked his way past three defenders and into the box, where he was clearly brought down from behind by Warmley captain Luke Clarridge.
Gill took the penalty which was well saved by Phillips, who also did extraordinarily well to block Wallage's rebound effort, but eventually Gill was able to bundle the ball over the line.
Gill then completed his hat-trick just before half time in bizarre fashion. Travelling along the byline he attempted to find the unmarked McDonagh-Langley at the back post, but somehow the ball managed to squeeze its way between Phillips and the near post.
The second half started slowly, however, Warmley forced a first save out of Miller when he parried Hussey's powerful effort from a free-kick, but before Lucas Naylor could pounce on the loose ball in came Richardson with a superb tackle to deny an almost certain goal.
Two minutes from time, Wallage completed his brace with a lovely finish, rolling his man on the edge of the box before caressing the ball through a crowded penalty area and into the bottom corner to seal a 5-0 lead.
That was the way it remained at the end of the first game, Gill having played a major part in his team's victory with his brilliance on and off the ball, and being well supported by Wallage, Richardson, Walker and McDonagh-Langley, who all caused problems for the Warmley defence.
Although Warmley failed to create many chances in the first game, the second half had been a much more even affair than the one-sided first 20 minutes, but on the whole Bromley deserved their lead.
Warmley started the second game the brighter side, creating a good chance less than two minutes in after Cameron Williams's powerful shot across goal was palmed out by Ole Bainbridge.
Williams again surged forward two minutes later, this time feeding Hulbert, who cut back on to his right foot, but in came Jamie Taylor with a strong challenge to block Hulbert's shot behind for a corner.
The home side continued to press forward, catching Bromley on the counter attack when Hulbert picked up the ball from a Bromley corner well inside his own half and steamed down the right wing, but again he failed to beat Bainbridge.
Warmley continued to pepper the Bromley goal with shots, Hulbert and Ben Cook both trying their luck from around the box.
Despite spending the vast majority of the first half under the cosh, on 14 minutes Bromley Heath took the lead. After some lovely work down the left, Joel Britton managed to produce a low, driven cross which was met by the outside of Taylor's right boot as he steered the ball beyond Woody Haskins to make it 1-0.
Three minutes later, Warmley equalised through Williams. The striker showed great pace to reach the ball ahead of his defender before nut-megging a second and then squeezing the ball between Bainbridge's legs, who just failed to prevent it from trickling over the line.
A minute later, Williams could have fired his team into the lead when Hulbert found him completely free deep inside the Bromley box, but unfortunately he missed his kick as he tried to turn the ball in on the swivel and Bainbridge was able to gather easily.
Bromley took advantage of their opponents' missed opportunities as on the stroke of half-time, Britton broke free from Oli Iles, who felt he had been impeded, and under no pressure the striker had all the time in the world to pick his spot and coolly slot the ball into the bottom corner past Haskins.
Warmley had dominated the first-half of the second game, but failed to fully capitalise on their chances, whereas their opponents did the opposite and pinched a lead against the run of play.
The second half started with neither team threatening much until Bromley's Harley Nicholas' long-range free-kick took a slight deflection, forcing Haskins to make a good stop diving to his left.
Bromley had another effort soon after in a half of few chances when Sam Lane tried to steer the ball beyond Haskins, but Sam Iles got his body in the way and blocked the effort.
Warmley could have drawn level for the second time a minute later, when a mix up between Lewis Tozer and Flynn allowed Williams to steal the ball and run freely into the empty Bromley half, but Flynn managed to chase down the striker whose poked shot under pressure was tame.
Williams then broke away again after he was found by Hulbert, but his attempt to curl the ball into the far top corner was well saved by Bainbridge.
Cameron Hopkins had two great chances to get his name on the scoresheet for Bromley towards the end of the game, but could only find the side netting with his first attempt, and then a cruel bobble sent the ball spinning behind him off his shin to deny him a certain goal.
The game ended with Warmley suffering an undeserved loss in the second game, with the scoreline not really a true reflection of this particular encounter.
But Bromley had been more clinical than Warmley and overall deserved the three points that the 7-1 aggregate win brought them.
So not quite the tonic that Warmley manager Ashley Wright was hoping for after suffering a serious footballing injury last week.
But both sides deserve plaudits for the way they played and should remain in contention to the end of the season.
Warmley Rangers: Woody Haskins, Joe Lansdown, Lucas Naylor, Oli Iles, Dan Iles, Sam Iles, Connor Iles, Tom Hulbert, Riley Moore, Ben Cook, Jacob Phillips, Luke Clarridge, Alex Hussey, Cameron Williams, Harry Gabler, Will Flemington-Clare, Jack Lapham, Ben Palmer, Aaron Pullin, Spencer Hawkins
Bromley Heath United: Sebastian Miller, Sam Wallage, Jamie Taylor, Harry Richardson, Tom Walker, Luke Gill, Cameron Hopkins, Kieran McDonagh-Langley, Aaron Flynn, Charlie Watts, Isaac Spencer, Lewis Tozer, Ole Bainbridge, Oliver Harper, Joel Britton, Harley Nicholas, Matthew Pound, Sam Lane