Bromley were defeated in back-to-back league fixtures for the first time this season, as they went down to mid-table Chelmsford City at Melbourne Park on Saturday.
In what was their worst display of the season thus far, Bromley squandered four good chances in the opening half-hour, before it all went downhill and by the final whistle they were a well-beaten side.
Bromley certainly did not look like league leaders, as there was no cohesion in their play, ball control was non-existent and they lacked a cutting edge.
The visitors were a tad unlucky in the 11th minute when Joe Anderson’s cross ball picked out Bradley Goldberg on the edge of the penalty area, whose shot came back off the inside of the far upright and to safety.
Three minutes later another crossfield pass was retrieved on the by-line by Brendan Kiernan, whose cross was stabbed wide of the goal by Pierre Joseph-Dubois.
Chelmsford’s first attempt at goal came on 17 minutes when Michael Cheek fastened onto a long clearance by the goalkeeper, but was denied by Bromley’s newcomer, Devante McKain, who did well to block the striker’s effort.
Jay May should have done better with his free header from a right-wing corner, putting the ball wide from four yards.
The home side began to take control, and in one attack, four penetrating crosses were put in by the Chelmsford wingers before Joe Welch turned around the post Christian Smith’s cross.
Chelmsford goalkeeper, Carl Pentney, could not hold Ashley Nicholls’s shot, but saved Joseph-Dubois’s follow up; before Danny Waldren’s shot from the edge of the box was narrowly wide.
But the hosts went ahead in the 32nd minute when Bagasan Graham got free before his shot looped up and off of Welch to Cheek, who was on hand for a free header towards an empty goal.
Kieron St Aimie and Cheek were both denied by Welch, before St Aimie doubled Chelmsford’s lead on 44 minutes heading home Matt Lock’s corner.
Bromley started the second half perfectly, halving the deficit within 50 seconds as Joseph-Dubois latched onto May’s knock-down to drive past Pentney; before May saw his shot blocked moments later.
Jack Holland cleared off the line for Bromley after Welch had been beaten by Sam Long’s shot, and Graham blasted over with only Welch to beat a few minutes later.
The woodwork came to Chelmsford’s rescue again on 61 minutes, following a good build-up between Goldberg and Nicholls, Waldren’s shot hit the foot of the post and May lashed the loose ball wide of a gaping goal.
Lock headed into the side-netting for the home side, and Dean Pooley cleared off the line from substitute, Joe Ward; while at the other end Goldberg headed just over.
Another substitute, Aaron Greene, then saw his shot cleared off the line, this time by Joe Anderson, but only as far as St Aimie who was denied by Welch at the expense of a corner which led to the third Chelmsford goal.
From Lock’s flag kick, Bromley’s defence was exposed as the unmarked Smith powered home a free header on 76 minutes from around 10 yards.
Demoralised now, Bromley appeared to give up the ghost and Cheek was allowed a 40-yard run at goal before Holland came in with a face-saving tackle; and in the last minute Welch moved smartly to smother Ward’s low shot in what was a well-deserved victory for the Essex side.
Bromley: Welch, Pooley, Anderson, Waldren, McKain, Holland (Buchanan, 84), Joseph-Dubois (Jarrett, 55), Nicholls (Fuseini, 66), May, Goldberg, Kiernan. Subs not used: McDonnell, Dennis. Gate: 738