Can history-maker Andy Woodman mastermind another successful Bromley season?

4 min

Two months is a long time in football but for Bromley FC it will have felt like a whirlwind…

What seems like only yesterday as they lifted the FA Trophy at Wembley at the end of May must quickly be pushed to one side as manager Andy Woodman gears his side up for what he hopes will be another history-making season.

Not even two years into the job and the 50-year-old has already secured a first ever Play-Off finish in the National League as well winning the FA Trophy.

Yet that success has only served to raise the bar of expectation at Hayes Lane this term as Bromley move from dark horses to legitimate promotion challengers.

A poor second-half of the season and a spate of injuries in the run-in contributed to Bromley falling out of the Play-Off places at the end of last term, finishing tenth in the table, seven points adrift.

For Woodman, he believes fine margins made the difference and cites three games in particular where he felt circumstances worked against his side.

Speaking exclusively to London Football Scene, Woodman said: “Three games were re-arranged for different reasons last season that meant we had to travel on the day rather than previously booked overnight stays. 

“I think that hampered us greatly. Halifax, Southend and Kings Lynn all saw us perform much poorer than our usual standards. 

“People will say that sounds like excuses but it’s those fine margins that matter if you are to finish above the ‘bigger’ sides in the division”.

The Bromley boss has moved quickly to ensure his side are better equipped this time round, making the difficult decision to release fan favourites Luke Coulson, James Alabi and Mark Cousins for a more energetic and attacking thrust this time out.

Reece Hannam has joined on loan from Crystal Palace U23s to add a dual wing-back threat in addition to the highly-rated Harry Forster on the right-hand side.

Both are direct players with a clear mandate to take on their man and get crosses into the box.

READ MORE: Why Bromley FC’s ‘The long, long road to Wembley’ is more than just another football book

Meanwhile, Callum Reynolds has jumped across the river from London rivals Dagenham & Redbridge as an upgrade to Joe Partington who has moved to Aldershot Town.

In the middle of the park, Woodman made former Charlton U23 prospect, James Vennings a permanent addition after last season’s successful loan spell and he will compete with the talented homegrown pair Jude Arthurs and Marcus Sablier to partner the experienced Billy Bingham.

Yet possibly Woodman’s most important move will prove to be a change of position rather than a new signing – Corey Whitely, man of the match at Wembley, will continue to play in the coveted number 10 as opposed to his previously accustomed left wing-back role.

One of the criticisms levelled at Bromley in preceding seasons has been their over-reliance on forward Michael Cheek, making the Ravens one dimensional and lacking other match winners when games got tough.

Although Cheek will continue to be a certainty for 20 goals a season should he remain fit, Woodman has added Adam Marriott from Barnet to hopefully alleviate some of the goalscoring pressure.

Even if Marriott produces half of the 20 goals he plundered last season in a sub-par Barnet outfit, it would be a significant improvement for a Bromley side that saw no-one other than Cheek hit double figures last season.

Buoyed by the FA Trophy success and 2,800 season tickets sold ahead of the new campaign Woodman is in confident mood ahead of this weekend’s curtain raiser at Wealdstone.

READ MORE: ‘Heart vs Hollywood’ – how Andy Woodman’s Bromley underdogs aim to lift the FA Trophy

“I will always say that I do not believe there is any side better prepared in the National League than Bromley,” Woodman said.

“With my backroom staff, Steve Aris and Alan Dunne, we believe in the mantra that if we keep on top of the 1%s it gives us a 10% better chance than everyone else.”

It was those intangibles that Bromley handled so well in the FA Trophy final and ultimately produced a tactical masterclass to upset big spending Wrexham at Wembley.

The evidence of that performance alone as well as Woodman’s overall managerial record that has seen his Bromley side avoid defeat in 75% of his matches, suggest a Play-Off challenge is not only realistic but a minimum expectation this season.

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