Defeat is a bitter pill to swallow, admits Locke
Fourth Qualifying Round
|Stephen McCartney reports from The Courage Stadium|
|Aldershot Town||1||Tim Sills 1|
|Bromley suffered FA Cup fourth
qualifying round heartbreak for the second season running - but they gave
full-time Nationwide Conference outfit Aldershot Town a run for their
money, which left Shots' manager Terry Brown puffing his cheeks and
patting his heart as he walked off the pitch, writes Stephen McCartney.
Last season - with Stuart McIntyre at the helm - Bromley were knocked out by Cambridge City (0-3), but the Ryman Premier League side should be the ones making the trip to Canvey Island or Burnham in the first round proper in two weeks time.
But after knocking out Bedfont, Chipstead and Mangotsfield United in this year's competition, Bromley were dealt an early blow when feared striker, Tim Sills headed home his sixth goal of the season after only 24 SECONDS.
The former Kingstonian striker rose to meet Matt Somner's cross from the right to plant his header past Andy Walker into the bottom corner from six yards.
Not the greatest of starts by the Kent side, but it turned out to be the crucial goal.
Bromley's top scorer, Nic McDonnell, however, was the most likely to score, and should have added to his nine goal haul.
Meeting Allan McLeod's cross from the right, the former Carshalton Athletic striker, who declared himself fit on Thursday night after missing their last three games with a hamstring injury, drew a fine save from Aldershot goalkeeper Nikki Bull, who, diving to his left, clawed the ball out for a corner.
But he squandered an even better chance fourteen minutes later, when, latching onto a long ball out of defence from Des Boateng, the tall striker left impressive defender Tobi Jinadu in his wake, and from twenty yards stroked the ball towards the bottom far corner, but Bull, who came off his line was able to save comfortably.
Ever present Bromley goalkeeper, Andy Walker dived to his right to clutch Nick Crittenden's right-footed 30-yard free kick and made a comfortable save from Sills' audacious chip from the right hand side.
A last gasp chance fell to Bromley when McDonnell played the ball inside to Sam Wood, whose left-footed shot from the edge of the area sailed over the bar.
Could Bromley find the clinical finish to earn a place in the first round proper for the first time in nine years? Sadly, no.
But they twice went close around the hour mark with Colin Luckett's screamer flew wide of the post from distance and Adrian Stone's cross from the right was met by McDonnell's header, which brought another fine save from Bull, but the offside flag was already raised.
Walker made a fine block after 77 minutes from Crittenden, after the former Yeovil Town striker latched onto a mistake by Luckett, after Andre Bouchaud's pass.
Roared on by their passionate fans, Bromley left it late to try to gain a deserved draw.
Skipper McLeod cut into the penalty area from the right flank but his shot took a deflection off Jinadu and the Hampshire side can counted their blessings inside stoppage time when Bromley substitute, Barry Gardner's effort was sliced agonisingly wide of the foot of the far post by Aldershot's Kevin Scott.
But Bromley's former Crystal Palace, Southend United, Colchester United, Bristol City, Luton Town, Swansea City and Hornchurch midfielder, Adam Locke admitted in an EXCLUSIVE interview with www.kentishfootball.co.uk that he's disappointed not to make a return into the first round proper of the FA Cup with Bromley.
"I don't think we got out of the traps very well and we paid the price," he said. "Apart from that we made a good account of ourselves really."
The 33-year-old central midfielder added: "We feel quite content with the way we played but obviously we're not happy with the result. But overall I think we deserved at least a draw out of it.
"In cup football you've got to go through in ninety minutes. Overall, it's quite a good base to build from in the league."
Before today, Bromley were unbeaten at Hayes Lane, and were on a ten match unbeaten run. They host AFC Wimbledon on Tuesday night - a game they are looking to win.
"The games are coming around thick and fast," added Locke. "A few of the lads are getting their fitness back and we're looking a half decent side so I don't think we're too worried with the league position.
"George (Wakeling) and Billy (Smith) are quite happy with what they've seen today.
"We are gradually getting a few players stronger. Like I say, it's just annoying we've let that early goal in. We were running uphill throughout the game trying to get the equaliser."
And Locke is pleased with the club's progress in the Ryman Premier League following their promotion via the division one play-off's last term.
"I think we've paid the price early season with a few injured lads out of the side," he said.
"We are doing allright now. I think it's quite an optimistic outlook here and we can only get stronger.
"As I say, we're out of the FA Cup, but we've had a good little run in it and created a good bit of revenue - that's the most important thing."
Locke, however, admitted losing to Aldershot in the final qualifying round was a bitter pill to swallow.
"I've got to put my own feelings to one side for a minute," he said. "I'm playing this level of football now and that's the way it is.
"I'm enjoying it down here, obviously it's a bitter pill to swallow sometimes as I'm going out at such an early stage but like I say, we've got to realise our capabilities here.
"All of our lads can be proud of themselves really. Aldershot are full-time, the fitness levels do show a little bit, not just in the last minutes of the game but also in their general play.
"Although I felt we were the better side over the ninety minutes to be honest with you, they've got the result and are in the next round."
Bromley's South African defender Steve Potterill admitted he was disappointed going out of the FA Cup to a side they matched throughout.
"Disappointed because we think we did very well against them," he said.
"I know they're two leagues above us but we matched them most of the game. We felt we outplayed them in a lot of patches but obviously their experience counted - they were organised.
"We had our chances, which we should have taken but we are disappointed because we should have beaten them and they know themselves we outplayed them.
"As I say, we had our chances. You can see that's why they're in the Conference. One chance - one goal. That just tells you the difference between the two teams."
The Bromley full-back is confident his team-mates can bounce back and collect three points from under performing AFC Wimbledon on Tuesday night.
"If we play like we did today we should beat AFC Wimbledon but we'll have to take our chances," he stated.
"But the boys will be up for it. We are disappointed today but we know we've got a big game on Tuesday and we're back to the league and have to concentrate again."
George Wakeling - the last manager to lead the club into the first round proper back in 1996 - added: "I'm really pleased. I think we've showed how far we've come since (I returned in) December.
"I am over the moon. I'm really pleased for the lads but we got suckered in the first minute.
"We knew what too expect and we didn't deal with it so we're really disappointed we let a goal in like that after 24 seconds. It's ridiculous but that's football and let's hope we can learn from it."
And the experienced manager added: "I felt we matched them here, there and everywhere.
"Aldershot are full-time, they were a little bit sharper as the game got to the end but I just felt - a little bit more belief - we could have created a little bit more."
Wakeling, however, was pleased with his top scorer, McDonnell, adding: "He had some chances and that's good against a side like that, but we just need everyone fit, everyone training and I think we are a good side."
Looking ahead to Tuesday night, Wakeling said: "I think we'll be allright. I just hope it's just a case of today hasn't taken too much out of us really. We've put a lot into today's game so hopefully we can put on another good effort."
And he was pleased with the crowd of 1545. "That's what we're here for," he beamed. "We want to go as high as we can, as quick as we can and get this atmosphere every week."
And if Bromley can get players like Gary Drewett, Tutu Henriques, Fraser Logan and McDonnell all fit, the play-off's will beckon for the Ravens and if promoted into the Nationwide Conference South, the club can stage more matches like this one.
|Bromley: Andy Walker, Allan McLeod
(Capt), Steve Potterill (Barry Gardner71), Joe Vines, Mark Willy, Des
Boateng, Colin Luckett, Adam Locke, Adrian Stone (Wade Falana 71), Nic
McDonnell, Sam Wood (Kevin George 63). Subs: Gary Drewett, Fraser
Aldershot Town: Nikki Bull (Capt), Matt Somner, Darren Barnard, Greg Heald, Tobu Boucaud, Gary Holloway (Ahmed Deen 45), Ryan Scott, Nick Crittenden, Omari Coleman, Tim Sills. Subs: Daniel West, Hasson Sulaiman, Stephen Reed, Lewis Hamilton.
Referee: Mr G Scott
Assistants: Mr D Margetts & Mr S Connor
Fourth Official: Mr D Buck