Please credit article to Stephen McCartney - www.kentishfootball.co.uk
|Stephen McCartney reports from Hayes Lane|
Mark Tompkins 53
Allan McLeod 68
Tony Russell 81
Aiming for the play-offs
BROMLEY stormed to within one place and one point of the play-off's with a powerful display against their tenants Cray Wanderers at Hayes Lane on Saturday.
They led 3-0 thanks to beautiful strikes from Colin Luckett, Mark Tompkins and Allan McLeod before letting Cray back into the game late on with goals coming from Phil Collins and Tony Russell, which set up a nail biting finale, in front of 510 fans.
In what was a tense affair early on, Cray - who thrashed Bromley 5-2 in October - should have taken an eighth minute lead.
Latching onto Jamie Wood's low pass into the Bromley penalty area, Jamie Kempster left defender Tutu Henriques in his wake. But the talented midfielder, with only goalkeeper Andy Walker to beat, scuffed his shot against the far post and Walker was able to pounce on the loose ball.
Bromley, however, thought they had drawn first blood three minutes later but Tompkins, who poked home Danny Carroll's shot across goal, was adjudged to be offside so the goal was ruled out.
Bromley were a threat from set-pieces and following Luckett's flag-kicks, Henriques twice headed over and Carroll hooked a six-yard shot wide of the post after Wade Falana flicked on Steve Potterill's long throw.
Bromley winger Gary Drewett's right-footed shot from 19 yards rolled harmlessly wide of Steve Northwood's goal before the Bromley faithful were celebrating Luckett's seventh goal of the season after 31 minutes to put them on track.
The move started when Cray's Drew Watkins played a wayward pass behind Kempster, and although he retrieved the ball on the right flank, he fell over as he tried to keep the ball in, allowing Potterill to steal the ball off him.
Racing down the line, the South African swept the ball to the left for McLeod and the wing-back played the ball forward.
A simple ball found Luckett, and he was given freedom to run towards the edge of the penalty area down the left hand side and from 19-yards, the former Kingstonian star let fly with a left-footed drive.
Northwood couldn't do anything as he watched the thunderbolt fly over him, finding the back of the net via the underside of the bar.
A great way to settle the nerves!
However, you don't get too many poor performances from Cray. Sadly, for them, Cray - who have just secured a ten-year deal to stay at Hayes Lane - this was the day they weren't given an opportunity to perform by a rampant Bromley side.
From their first corner of the game, taken by Jamie Wood, Walker got down well to prevent Russell's header going in.
Early in the second half, Kempster's low cross from the right, went through Ross Lover's legs but Jamie Wood, following up, blazed high and wide from the edge of the box.
They were made to pay as Bromley doubled their lead after 53 minutes.
Full credit to Potterill, whose composure on the ball at the right back position, set the wheels in motion for a quick Bromley counter-attack.
Driving forward, he laid the ball to Drewett, who roamed forward and from his low cross, former Cray striker Tompkins, turned on a sixpence and from inside the D, swept the ball past a rooted Northwood.
Cray were obviously stunned and Bromley almost added to their tally twice in the space of four minutes.
Carroll - although shoved by Watkins - headed wide and a clever low free kick from Luckett almost embarrassed Northwood. The former Thamesmead Town goalkeeper left a gap at his near post, which Luckett noticed, but credit to the goalkeeper for realising his error, and getting low down to his left to prevent the ball creeping inside his near post.
Wing-back McLeod, who joined Bromley in February, opened his account with a sweet volley, giving Northwood no chance.
Striking a sweet volley - following a knock down by Falana - the former Arsenal youngster, found the top right hand corner from 20-yards on the left hand side of the box with 22 minutes left.
But five minutes later Cray striker Phil Collins' blasted home his ninth goal of the season, from 16-yards, as Walker was finally beaten for the first time in 481 minutes of football.
The last man to score against him was Newport IOW's David Greening, in their 1-1 draw across the Solent on the 19th February.
However, the former Wingate & Finchley player-of-the year, was breached again eight minutes later.
He punched Ross Lover's 26-yard free kick away from his goal, and after Cray had a couple of attempts on goal, which were blocked in a congested goal-mouth, Russell bundled home his first goal of the season from close range, but it was too little too late for Ian Jenkins' side.
The defeat, Cray's fifth of the campaign, left Jenkins' disappointed.
"We didn't play too well on the day," he said. "I think it was a deserved result to be honest with you. We got two goals back which probably flattered us a bit. I think 3-0 would have been a fairer result."
Joint-Bromley boss George Wakeling, however, was pleased his side got the three points against their tenants.
"The first half won us the game," the former Ashford Town and Hastings boss admitted. "It was so one sided really, we won everything.
"We didn't clear our lines and they got a couple of goals and all of a sudden they're back in the game.
"I think over the 90 minutes, the best team won."
Both sides, however, are looking to finish in the play-off zone. Although Cray are already there - they need three points against Hastings United at Hayes Lane next Saturday to secure their position - before finishing their season with a trip to champions AFC Wimbledon and a home game with second placed Walton & Hersham on the final day of the season.
Bromley travel to Fleet Town next weekend, they then face play-off rivals Metropolitan Police at Hayes Lane on Tuesday 19th April and end their campaign against Dulwich Hamlet (home) and a trip to Banstead Athletic.
Jenkins added: "If we had won today that would have been magic because we would have picked up upon Horsham (who lost) and pushed on towards second spot."
Looking ahead to their battle with Hastings, he added: "That is a massive game. We've lost today, but we've only lost five this season so let's not make it six. We'll bounce back next week and go on from there.
"Whatever happens, we need to be in the play-off's," he insisted. "If we don't then we've had an absolutely poor season. I won't be happy with that!
"We've had a good run up to now, losing two in eleven, but we'll need to bounce back to ride into the play-off's."
Wakeling, however, is focusing on next Saturday's trip to Fleet Town before they consider playing their game in hand, against the Police.
"Fleet is the one we have to concentrate on," he said.
"People asked me about this Cray game. I came down here today with one thing on my mind - three points."
The icing on the cake for Wakeling was to beat his "apprentices" Jenkins and Cray's assistant manager Joe Francis and a number of the Cray team that have played under him earlier in their careers.
He said: "The icing on the cake was playing against all my apprentices. But I respect them big time but I still wanted to beat them. It was important we done that. That was the little bit of cream I got out of today's game but I was just here for three points.
"Next Saturday is what we are all focusing on now. We won't worry about Met. Police until after Fleet."
With four games to go, Wakeling spelled out his hopes: "Our aim is to get into the play-off's. You can't ask for no more than that unless everyone keep's losing. It won't happen now so we are aiming for the play-off's."
I get a feeling there will be a third meeting between these two sides......
Bromley: Andy Walker, Allan McLeod, Colin Luckett, Steve Potterill (Capt), Tutu Henriques, Sam Okafor, Danny Carroll (Kevin George 77), Wade Falana, Mark Tompkins, Adam Locke, Gary Drewett. Subs: Adolph Amoako, Fraser Logan, Billy Harding, Tom Stradwick
Cray Wanderers: Steve Northwood, Drew Watkins (Sam Wood 62), Ian Rawlings (Capt), David Gray, Danny Bower, Tony Russell (James Taylor 88), Ross Lover, Jamie Kempster, Phil Collins, Michael Power, Jamie Wood (Matt Woolf 70). Subs: Phil Turner, Dean Morris
Referee: P Faulkner
Assistants: I Fissenden & R Albert