Hartlepool United 3-2 Bromley: Oates oozes class as Pools advance
Above: Hartlepool Hero Rhys Oates celebrates his goal (Source- Mark Fletcher/Getty Images/NurPhoto)

A fantastic solo performance from Rhys Oates helped inspire Hartlepool United to a classic victory in the Vanarama National League elimination round.

Joining Notts County in the semi-finals are the Pools, following a brace from Oates and a deflected finish from Luke Armstrong

Bromley failed to show up on the day following their final day success after defeating Notts County to seal their play-off position, but did spring a fight back through James Alabi after an early second half header, and a last minute consolation from Byron Webster.

Hartlepool will now travel to Stockport County for the play-off semi-finals.

  • Teams

Challinor opted to make two changes for the elimination rounds, as Lewis Cass and Danny Elliott were replaced by Armstrong and Timi Odusina.

Hartlepool United (5-3-2): James; Sterry, Odusina, Liddle, Johnson, Ferguson, Featherstone, Holohan, Shelton, Armstrong, Oates

Bromley were boosted by the news that Tate Campbell and Alex Mitchell had their loan spells extended for the play-offs.

Bromley (4-3-3): Cousins; Kizzi, Mitchell, Bush, Fox, Bingham, Arthurs, Bridge, Williamson, Forster, Cheek

  • Story of the match

Both sides were on cloud nine ahead of kick-off, with both sides ending the season strongly.

But it would only be Hartlepool who would start this contest looking the stronger, as Oates propelled the Pools into the lead. The former Morecambe attacker sprinted onto a teasing long ball from Nicky Featherstone, before calmly poking the ball past the helpless Mark Cousins to give Hartlepool an early lead.

This caused quite the ripple, as Bromley heads dropped and Hartlepool took advantage. Within three minutes, Armstrong, who had earned his place back in the team, lurked on the edge of the box before Oates pulled the back ball, allowing Armstrong to phase his way past two before deflecting a strike past Cousins.

And four minutes later, it was heaven in  the North. Not just with the weather though, as Oates added his second and the Pools third. Gavin Holohan collected the ball on the edge of the box before his strike was blocked, but Oates followed up and blasted the ball into the bottom corner, furthering Bromley’s abysmal start to the eliminator.

The Ravens did have a final sniff of goal before the half-time whistle, as Gary Liddle was forced to clear the ball off of the line following some lack of positioning from Brad James.

Heading into the second half, Andy Woodman needed to inspire his Bromley side, and it looked as if his words had a somewhat positive effect.

Bromley immediately nabbed a goal back, as Jude Arthurs, who was arguably lucky to be on the pitch after a rash challenge minutes earlier, chipped a cross onto the head of Mitchell, who headed back across goal into the path of Alabi, allowing the former Leyton Orient talisman to force the ball into the roof of the net.

Woodman’s Ravens came close to finding a second, as Byron Webster flicked on Chris Bush’s long throw towards goal, but James blocked his effort.

Some intricate football between the Hartlepool right-sided players ended with Jamie Sterry, who had only joined from Northern Premier League side South Shields earlier this season, hut the right-back dragged his shot wide of the target, ending the game 3-1 and with Hartlepool advancing to the Vanarama National League play-off semi-finals.

  • Takeaways

Oates oozes class

Hartlepool look dangerous as they advance into the play-off semi-finals, finishing the game off within the opening 25 minutes.

Despite the game becoming much closer in the final few minutes, Hartlepool need to show less complacency going into the second half after such a strong opening 45. Oates and Armstrong’s partnership up top terrorised the Bromley defence, and fans can remain confident going forward.

Ravens rally too slow

Despite the end score looking much closer, Woodman will be displeased with his Ravens performance in the end.

After such a rallying performance against Notts County on the final day, it’s a disappointing way to end the season for Bromley. They can take gratitude from the strength of their current squad, with league’s leading goal scorer and highest scoring right-back, not much needs to change going forward. 

  • Star man

​​​​​​​Rhys Oates

You can’t really look any further than Hartlepool’s talisman Oates, who directed every Pools attack and was a constant menace going forward. His two goals and assist were the main reason for Hartlepool’s success.