Hartlepool United marched into the play-off semi-finals with a 3-2 victory over Bromley FC. Despite two second-half goals, Pools were comfortable for most of the game after a brace from Rhys Oates and a well-taken strike from Luke Armstrong.
Rhys Oates was in the mood from the off with a snapshot flying wide of Cousins’ goal before Bromley’s Billy Bingham went into the book for a late lunge on the striker.
A flurry of corners followed before the breakthrough came. Featherstone’s lofted pass through beat the Bromley defence and fell perfectly for Oates who prodded past Cousins for his 15th goal of the season. Barely two minutes later, Victoria Park erupted again. After Oates chased down a lost cause for the umpteenth time this season, the goalscorer found his strike partner in the box. Armstrong controlled the ball, shimmied past the defender, and fired past Cousins for 2-0.
Five minutes later, it got even better for the 1,700 Pools at The Vic. After good play around the box, Holohan saw his shot blocked before Oates picked up the ball and fired his left-footed shot past a helpless Mark Cousins. Another chance for Pools followed by Cousins got everything behind Sterry’s header.
Bromley had a chance to get back into it, but Gary Liddle was on the goal-line to clear the lob and the chance passed. Ferguson had the last chance of the half, but a good block from Bush kept it at three.
The second half started in the worst-possible fashion for Pools as the two Bromley substitutes combined from a corner and Alabi headed past James to reduce the deficit. A chance for Rhys Oates followed 10 minutes later, but the striker could only find the side-netting with his half-volley.
Chances for either side followed as Rhys Oates hit the side-netting for Pools before Jude Arthurs drove narrowly wide for Bromley. In the dying seconds, Bromley pulled back a second after a goalmouth scramble, but it wasn’t enough to deny Pools a place in the play-off semi-final.
Hartlepool: James, Sterry, Odusina, Liddle, Johnson, Ferguson (Donaldson 83), Shelton, Featherstone (C), Holohan (Francis-Angol 79), Armstrong, Oates (Elliott 87)
Subs: Ravas, Donaldson, Francis-Angol, Elliott, Saunders
Bookings: Oates (86)