Abbey Rangers 1-0 Bromley - It's a learning curve for us - they don't know how to play a men's game yet, which is something that we've got to teach them over the coming months, says Bromley manager Danny Mills

Tuesday 23rd April 2019
Abbey Rangers 1 – 0 Bromley
Location Imber Court, Ember Lane, East Molesey, Surrey KT8 0BT
Kickoff 23/04/2019 19:30

Tuesday 23 April 2019
Suburban League Challenge Plate Final
Stephen McCartney reports from Imber Court

BROMLEY development manager Danny Mills says his young side will learn a lot after losing to Abbey Rangers in the Suburban League Challenge Plate Final.

Bromley’s development side arrived at Imber Court sitting in eighth-place of 11 sides in the Suburban League Premier Division table with 17 points from as many games but on a run of six games without a win.

Bromley beat Tunbridge Wells (4-2); Hartley Wintney (5-4 on penalties after a goal-less draw) and Lingfield (5-4 on penalties after a 1-1 draw) to reach the Final.

Abbey Rangers, meanwhile, play their reserve team football in the Suburban League Central Division and are in fifth-place with 28 points from 20 games and arrived here having lost back-to-back games.

The Surrey side beat Cray Valley (5-1); Knaphill (2-0) and Dunstable Town (2-0) and they pulled off a giant-killing act to lift the Plate at the home of Metropolitan Police Football Club.

The Suburban League is a set-up that is open to players of all ages and they are inviting applicants from Kent clubs to join their Southern Division next season.

Bromley fielded a side full of full-time Academy prospects, while their Addlestone-based opponents were an older outfit and they deserved their victory on the night.

Tom Arnold’s side won the contest, courtesy of left-sided midfielder Michael Carey’s floated cross-come-shot in the first half.

Despite Bromley enjoying large chunks of possession, their young players failed to turn possession into creating too many goalscoring opportunities – and this cagey affair was watched by Alan Dunne and Mark Hammond.

“I thought Abbey Rangers deserved it,” admitted Mills, who is not to be confused with the current Welling United striker with the same name.

“Although we’ve got some talented boys, they (Abbey Rangers) showed us how to work and get behind the ball quick and just give 100% and our boys need to work on that.  We looked good in patches but we’re not clinical enough and they’ll learn a lot from this defeat.”

It was a case of men against boys in this game and Mills added: “It’s been like that all season! We’re trying to impose our game on other teams is a stretch. It’s been good for us this year. We’ve played neigh on 30 games this year in cup competitions and the league and our average age is 17.  I can’t grumble. We’ve been beaten up a little bit but it’s good for the boys and hopefully they’ll come back stronger for it.”

Abbey Rangers’ centre-half Sam Hanger ran out of defence with the ball on a 30-yard run before sweeping the ball out to Carey, who whipped in a cross from the left and striker Bobby Main rose at the far post with Bromley’s left-back Riphi Kalala and goalkeeper Kristupus Burba caught the looping ball underneath his crossbar.

Bromley took nearly 19 minutes to create an opening when centre-half Mamadou Alpha Bah came up for a set-piece and played a clearance back into Briggs Ojemen, who flicked the ball up to Princewill Ogunmekan, who jumped up to steer his header harmlessly wide from a couple of yards inside the box from a central position.

Abbey Rangers created the game’s first real chance of the night in the 25th minute.

Carey drilled his left-footed free-kick crashing against the crossbar from 35-yards, which proved to be a warning shot for the Ravens, who had plenty of possession but failed to exploit it where it really mattered.

“He did issue a warning but we did call it from where we were sitting but sometimes getting information on the pitch is not all that easy,” added Mills, who sat on the bench during the entire game.

Abbey Rangers sealed the victory with a fluke goal, timed at 26 minutes an 13 seconds on the clock.

Right-sided midfielder Matthew Bryant played the ball inside to central midfielder Bradley Thomas, who swept a diagonal pass out to their main threat, Carey, who was given time and space to whip in a cross by Bromley’s right-back Scott Jarvis. 

Goalkeeper Burba should have done better than to flap at the cross-come-shot, which sailed over his left shoulder and dropped into the bottom far corner, the keeper ending up in the back of the net himself along with the ball.

“I think that was their outball, they were hitting the diags to the left and to be fair he had a very good cross on him and a good strike and we should’ve tried to stop it at source,” said Mills.

“I’ve got no complaints about the goal. I think it got deflected but the warning signs were there. I think there was a 10 minute spell in the first half when we were pushed on to the back foot.

“I think there was always going to be a goal like that that won it really. We had a lot of possession and got into some very good areas but we were a bit toothless today.

“In other games we’ve created a hell of a lot of chances and still not scored. We’re not very clinical at both ends, although our back four defended ok in spells and I think limited them to few chances.  We didn’t have great chances but we had a lot of possession. They deserved it today, they were more than worth their win.”

Bromley created a good chance to equalise in the 36th minute when winger Rodney Adamon Erutor released Bah down the right channel and he put in a cross towards the near post for diminutive striker Onur Bakici to head straight at Jason MacGregor at his near post from six-yards out.

“Everything was straight at their goalkeeper.  We didn’t really hurt him. He dropped a couple and we haven’t reacted to it. Our shots on target today has gone straight down his throat,” added Mills.

Erutor then slipped a give-and-go along the deck to Klaudio Krasiniqu before Erutor placed his left-footed free-kick just past the foot of the right-hand post from 22-yards.

Mills added: “You’re going to go through a list of this stuff now and it’s going to be situation after situation and our final ball was very poor tonight, whether it was a shot or a slip pass.  We do create some really good patterns in our play but we’re toothless at both ends at the moment. We can’t keep a clean-sheet and we don’t hit the target enough.”

Mills revealed he wanted more from his side in the second half.

“Up the tempo! We sort of gave them too much respect.  Listen, I know they’re bigger and stronger and slightly older and have a little bit of savvy but we ended up playing their game.

“For the first 20 minutes there was only going to be one winner. We had a lot of possession and we done nothing with it and as soon as they got a foothold in the game they looked like they were going to cause us problems every time they went forward, especially from the left crosses.  I told them to up the tempo, I got into them a little but about desire and work-rate.”

Bromley were forced to shoot from distance as Abbey Rangers’ centre-halves James Louison and Hanger were resilient in front of MacGregor, who had a poor game in their 3-0 defeat at Glebe in the Shield Semi-Final on 10 April.

Central midfielder Martin Youngah cut the ball onto his right foot and from a central position cracked a right-footed dipping drive just over the crossbar from 30-yards inside the opening four minutes.

Mills said:  “One thing we spoke about at half-time, we were getting into positions where we were trying to play a forward pass 30-40 yards out where we try to tell them to drive onto the back four a little bit more so not to shoot from distance really.

“It was hard to pull their back four out of their shape, when we did that they were quite clever in the way they fouled and done stuff. It’s a learning curve for us. Every time they got past them, our boys, I wouldn’t say they’re honest, they don’t know how to play a men’s game yet, which is something that we’ve got to teach them over the coming months.”

Bakici then did well to turn his man, Abbey Rangers’ right-back George Davies, before cutting the ball across to the middle of the pitch for Ogunmekan to bring a comfortable save out of MacGregor, who comfortably gathered the bouncing ball from a speculative attempt from 30-yards.

Abbey Rangers almost killed the game off when Jordan Timbrell delivered an out-swinging corner from the left and Davies came up to steer his header wide from 15-yards.

Abbey Rangers’ quiet wide-striker Brian Chimbina stroked his right-footed free-kick through a three-man Bromley wall from 25-yards, which was comfortably gathered by Burpa after the halfway mark.

Thomas pinged a quality 40-yard diagonal pass over to Bryant in space down the right and his angled drive from 20-yards stung Burba’s fingers as he grabbed hold of the ball.

“For us, it’s not so much the chances, it’s stopping it at source. Every chance they had we had possession, so we gave away possession sloppily,” explained Mills.

“We go forward at 80% and run back at 50% where you’ve got to run back behind the ball quicker, which would’ve stopped that shot. It comes down to fine detail and they have to learn that.”

Bromley had earlier made a double change on the hour mark, bringing on 16-year-old former Arsenal winger Ollie Tanner and Juljiano Marku in the number 10 role.

Mills made a tactical change inside the final 20 minutes when Emiliano Hysi came on for left-back Riphi Kalala to slot in at right-back, while Jarvis moved over to the left full-back position.

Abbey Rangers created a decent opening inside the final eight minutes when Bryant found a pocket of space in behind Jarvis but dragged his right-footed half-volley across the keeper and watched the ball trickle past the far post.

Bromley almost grabbed an equaliser to take the game to a dreaded penalty shoot-out, waiting until the 87th minute to create their best chance of the night.

Youngah released Tanner down the right and his pace saw him beat Abbey Rangers’ left-back Louis Collins to reach the by-line and he managed to wrap his boot around the ball to put it on a plate for Bakici at the near post but all he could do was flick his shot up into MacGregor’s hands from a couple of yards from goal.

“We had a chance near the end, a good bit of play from Ollie Tanner. He’s gone down the wing and he’s crossed it and he actually got a good connection on it and it’s gone straight into the keeper’s hands,” agonised Mills.

“That’s the story of our season. We didn’t create loads of stuff today but we usually create five or six of those a game. Today it was limited.  I still think we could’ve got something out of the game.”

Bromley play the side immediately above them in the Suburban Premier Division table in the shape of Binfield at Hayes Lane on Friday, 26 April (20:00), before Neil Smith’s side complete their Vanarama National League campaign against Ebbsfleet United at the same venue on the Saturday.

“For Abbey Rangers’ work-rate, I think they were more than (worthy winners), but it’s a lesson learnt for our boys.”

When asked what his players learnt from tonight’s defeat, Mills replied: “I don’t know yet.  Once we speak to them and sit them down because it’s the end of the season. We’re now looking to progress. I want the boys to step up and look at individual performances, the way they lead their life. You’re in at 08:30, they’re two or three minutes late and they still think they’re on time so we need to change that mentality and become more professional. We’ve been singing from the same hymn sheet for the last three or four years, now it’s time to put up or shut up if you like and become men.”

Mills’ job is to produce players for Bromley’s first team squad and three of his players’ are starting to break through.

“We’ve had two boys play this year. Billy Craske (who was injured tonight), played in The FA Cup First Round against Peterborough United and (centre-half) Briggs Ojemen played the other day, even though he ain’t a left-winger but came on at left-wing.  Princewill Ogunmekan (holding midfielder), who I thought played very well today, he was substitute on Monday and unlucky not to get on.

“We’ve got Ebbsfleet on Saturday, which I think he’ll make his debut or play some part in. If we get three boys in the first team this year and signed then where ever we finish in the league or whatever cups we win, it’s irrelevant. My job is to create players.”

Mills revealed that his young side are coming up against more seasoned and experienced players in the Suburban League every week.

“It’s hard for us because we haven’t got a massive squad. A lot of our Academy boys play. We never have a settled back four every week,” he said.

“For us, it’s not really a 23’s, it’s more of a reserves. It changes all the time but eight of the 11 teams you play are men’s teams, which are very good for our boys, very good for a physical test and they’re only going to get stronger from it.

“I’ve enjoyed it this year. It’s been a bit hectic. I run the 18s as well so they call it a hybrid role but I’ve never heard of that before but it’s been very good this year. 

“We’ve had 11 first years’ play so that’s 16-year-old boys. Ollie Tanner came on today, he’s not yet 17 so he’s still 16.”  

Abbey Rangers: Jason MacGregor, George Davies, Louis Collins, Bradley Thomas, James Louison, Sam Hanger, Matthew Bryant, Jordan Timbrell (George Chandler 84), Brian Chimbina, Bobby Main, Michael Carey (Rajiv Rutah 79).
Subs: Kenny Govinden, Yooku Mensah, Jack Field

Goal: Michael Carey 27

Booked: Bradley Thomas 48, Rajiv Rutah 81, James Louison 85

Bromley: Kristupus Burba, Scott Jarvis, Riphi Kalala (Emiliano Hysi 71), Princewill Ogunmekan, Mamadou Alpha Bah, Briggs Ojemen, Rasheve Stewart (Ollie Tanner 60), Martin Youngah, Onur Bakici, Klaudio Krasiniqi (Juljiano Marku 60), Rodney Adamon Erutor.
Subs: Olawale Agbolade, Jamie Watson

Booked: Martin Youngah 77, Juljiano Marku 90

Attendance: 72
Referee: Mr Tony Aslam (Shepherd’s Bush, London W12)
Assistants: Mr David Osborn (Farnham, Surrey) & Mr Ken Murray (Morden, Surrey)
Fourth Official: Mr Trevor Beard (Ash Vale, Surrey)