Aldershot Town 0-1 Bromley - We've come here and we've done a job on Aldershot and that's a fantastic feeling, says Bromley boss Neil Smith

Tuesday 13th August 2019
Aldershot Town 0 – 1 Bromley
Location Recreation Ground, High Street, Aldershot, Hampshire GU11 1TW
Kickoff 13/08/2019 19:45

Vanarama National League
Tuesday 13 August 2019
Stephen McCartney reports from The Recreation Ground

BROMLEY manager Neil Smith says it’s a fantastic feeling to celebrate a maiden league win over Aldershot Town.


The Lillywhites are unbeaten in their opening four games and are now in fifth-place in the Vanarama National League table with eight points on the board after grinding out a 1-0 win.

Centre-half Jack Holland came up from the back to score with a deflected near-post header following a corner in the 28th minute, before Bromley put in a resilient defensive shift for the rest of the game to claim a famous win.

Aldershot Town, who finished in the bottom four last season and escaped the drop with a reprieve, are in the bottom six with three points.

There were a couple of dug-out spats towards the end of the game and referee Richard Hulme showed a yellow card to Aldershot Town manager Danny Seale and then a red-card to his goalkeeping coach Dave Blackmore.

“Really pleased. We were a little bit disappointed and frustrated on Saturday (being held to a 3-3 draw at home to Torquay United) because I thought we were looking for a result and then we’ve come back away from home against a very good side in Aldershot and come away with three points so I’m absolutely delighted,” said Smith, who was then asked what he got from his players’ tonight.

“Commitment, desire, team effort. Everything that you look for out of a squad of players, not just the 11 but the 16.”

Reeco Hackett-Fairchild underwent a pre-match fitness test and Smith explained why he gave Adam Mekki his first start since January instead of the former Charlton Athletic winger.

“He didn’t fail, he could’ve been involved but I didn’t want to chance him with so many games coming up,” said Smith.

“I thought Mekki came in and did a fantastic job. It was great to have him back. He should’ve scored really. He’s disappointed with himself but I thought for 45 minutes he put a shift in to show he’s really back.

“He’s waited a long time for that start. The club have been very supportive of him and he’s been very supportive of the players, so it was great to be able to announce him as fully-fit.”

Mekki had an opening inside the opening five minutes, as Bromley started the game on the front foot.

Strike pair George Porter and Michael Cheek linked up and the ball was played out to Bromley right-back Joe Kizzi, who floated in a cross for Mekki, who drove a first time shot through the Aldershot penalty area before the home side cleared their lines.

Bromley were bossing the early exchanges and they went even closer in the tenth minute.

Aldershot keeper Mitch Walker’s kick was headed back towards him by Frankie Raymond and Porter played the ball out to winger Luke Coulson, who clipped the ball back to Porter, who from the by-line dinked the ball back into the danger area. The ball was cleared out to former Gillingham midfielder Billy Bingham, who flashed his left-footed drive flashing just past the foot of the right-hand post from 20-yards.

“Billy been an absolutely fantastic signing for this club.  Billy and Frankie Raymond have got a fantastic understanding and he’ll get in there and he’ll try to shoot or try to get goals but he was just unfortunate today,” said Smith.

Bingham tried to score with a free-kick from close to the centre-spot but the ball was comfortably plucked out of the air by the former Dover Athletic keeper.

Aldershot Town started to get back into the game by spreading the ball out to both flanks and Aaron Eyoma put in an impressive performance, often asking questions to Bromley’s right-back Kizzi.

Alefe Santos D’Abadia controlled the ball by using his knees before whipping in a great cross, which sailed over the head of jumping sole target-man Shamir Mullings.

Ethan Chislett retrieved the ball on the left and cut the ball back to left-back Lewis Kinsella and his low cross was cleared and Harry Panayiotoh’s left-footed shot had Mark Cousins scrambling to his left, relieved that the ball flashed behind for a corner.

Kinsella fed the ball into D’Abadia, who cut the ball onto his right-foot before hitting a dipping drive just over the crossbar from 25-yards, during a dominant spell from the Hampshire outfit.

“They put pace on today. Obviously we know Shamir Mullings. He thrives on crosses in the box. They played with wingers and full-backs to get in and I thought our back four coped with him very well in the first half,” Smith said of Mullings and the home side’s attacking threat.

Bromley claimed the victory by scoring the only goal of the game, timed at 27 minutes and 53 seconds on the clock, following their fourth of six corners on the night.

Raymond swung in his trademark high-quality delivery in from the right with his left foot and Holland got in front of his man at the near post to flick his header into the bottom near corner, aided by a deflection.

“He just got across there, won it with the head and you’ve also had Michael Cheek in there and he comes up trumps every time,” added Smith.

“But the delivery was on point. When you’ve got Frankie Raymond putting the balls in there, you’re just asking for someone to get on the end of it and Jack was very brave, got across someone and finished it off.

“I feel it was very close, uphill, going into their crowd so we knew it was going to be difficult but I thought we just edged it.  I thought it was very close but I thought we just edged it in the end.”

Three and a half minutes later and Holland almost helped himself to a second goal.

This time it was Kizzi who delivered a deep free-kick from the halfway line down the right towards the far post and Holland showed more desire than two Aldershot defenders but he steered his header straight into Walker’s hands.

Bromley should have increased their lead in the 33rd minute when centre-half Chris Bush hit a long ball sailing over the head of Aldershot centre-half George Fowler to release Coulson down the left and he slipped the ball through for Mekki, who curled his shot over the top of the far post from the edge of the six-yard box.

Bromley then got away with it on a couple of occasions as Aldershot Town turned the screw.

Aldershot right-back Robbie Tinkler got in behind Sam Wood to whip in a cross of quality towards the far post where an unmarked Panayiotou glanced his free header across Cousins and just past the far post from eight-yards.

“He just came across and one of the player’s switched off, which we had a go at half-time because you can’t do that against a team like Aldershot and they didn’t in the second half,” added Smith.

Kinsella swept a crossfield pass over to D’Abadia on the right hand side who whipped in a cross, which was chested down by Panayiotou for Chislett to lash his right-footed volley over the Bromley crossbar from 18-yards.

Bromley went close to doubling their lead, following their fifth and final corner of the first half.

Coulson floated in a deep corner from the left and Kizzi ghosted in at the far post and planted his downward header past the post from within the six-yard box.

Tinkler and Eyoma often linked up well down the right, giving Wood a torrid time and after Eyoma cut into the box with good skill, Chislett rather snatched at his shot and smashed it harmlessly wide.

The pressure was getting to Wood, who rolled an angled 20-yard pass towards his goalkeeper, who charged out of his penalty area to get to the ball before Mullings, the ball ricocheting off the Aldershot lone striker 25-yards from goal and rolling just past the foot of the right-hand post.

“I thought Cousins was outstanding today I thought and that’s why we brought him in, especially second half,” said Smith.

“His talking, his communication and organisation of the players’ in front of him is absolutely immense – he doesn’t stop shouting!

“He gets the players’ going, especially at set-pieces. That’s when he had to come into his own. He was on the front foot and he was in the right position to actually get there before Shamir Mullings.”

Smith, who is now unbeaten in six games, if you also include last season’s results, knew his side’s keeping their second successive clean sheet on the road would seal the win.

“Keep a clean-sheet, win the game! That’s the only factual thing I can give you,” said Smith.

“If you win all your battles, I want a clean sheet and I think you saw players’ throw themselves in the way of it.  We knew Adam Mekki was going to tire. It was how long we could give him and that’s why I made my decisions of the change.

A glimpse at the league table and Bromley were in third-place at the interval but Aldershot Town dominated the entire second half as Bromley were holding on and this was a game that they would have thrown away a winning position last season and would have settled for a point.

Aldershot Town won themselves a free-kick from within the left-channel after 129 seconds but D’Abadia’s effort lacked curl on it and harmlessly arrowed across Cousins and past the far post from 25-yards.

Kinsella played a crossfield pass over to Dean Rance who played the ball into Panayiotou, who fed Mullings, whose shot on the turn deflected past the far post from 20-yards, with the keeper down on his knees.

Bromley’s only opening came in the 12th minute when they hit Aldershot Town on the break.

Bingham played the ball on the deck over to Porter, whose good first touch allowed him to burst into the box on the left-hand side before cutting the ball onto his right-boot and curling it over the top of the far post from 18-yards.

Smith made all three of his substitutions in the space of nine minutes.  Jordan Higgs slotted into midfield after Mekki’s return lasted 54 minutes.  Coulson and Porter were replaced by Marc-Anthony Okoye and forward Adrian Clifton.

Bromley played with three centre-halves in Holland, Okoye and Chris Bush, with Wood and Kizzi used as wing-backs with a diamond three in midfield and two men up front but Bromley did swiftly put all men behind the ball to soak up the pressure.

“Because they were putting the ball in the box and they were looking to peel off and get on to the spare man and the gap that the two centre-halves might be leaving in the first half.  I thought I’d put Marc-Anthony Okoye in there to combat that and I thought he did remarkably well.”

Aldershot Town enjoyed plenty of possession during a one-sided second half as they were camped inside Bromley’s half of the pitch for the final 20 minutes but Okoye was outstanding as he put his body on the line to maintain the clean sheet.

Aldershot Town felt they had deservedly equalised with 15 minutes remaining when Chislett swung in a precise cross from the left for Mullings to bury his header, which forced a brilliant save from Cousins, diving to his right to push towards safety.

“He got down and was very brave,” Smith said of his goalkeeper, a summer signing from their league rivals Barnet.

“When the opportunity was to get Mark Cousins in, you know what you were getting.  You’re getting experience, you’re getting a keeper who knows what he’s doing, getting into the right places and everything they attacked at the goal, he was in the right place.”

Sixty-four seconds later, Tinkler fed winger Eyoma, who was given time and space to drill a shot towards the roof of the net from the right and Cousins back peddled to palm the ball over his crossbar as the ball dipped.

Smith said: “We’re going to come across games like this.  I just thought with the legs we had, they were sort of tiring. We knew they were going to put the ball into Shamir Mullings. We watched them against Solihull here and he had a really good game against them, so we knew they was always going to be a threat.”

Smith explained why he replaced the players’ he did.

“Mekki’s legs were tiring. I thought George Porter’s legs because they put in a shift and Coulson so I thought right lets go and defend from the back and go a bit deeper. There was no space in behind. However, you want to look at it, it worked.” 

With Bromley hanging on, Chislett played the ball in from the left and Kinsella had his big moment inside the Bromley box, only to loop his first time shot across Cousins and watched the ball drop wide of the far post.

With Bromley performing like a well-drilled defensive outfit, Aldershot couldn’t find a way through and substitute left-winger Connor Shields, central midfielder Chislett and Tinkler were all forced to drill shots harmlessly over the Bromley crossbar from at least 30-yards out.

With Bromley’s players often winding the clock down, frustrations got the better of Searle and Blackmore, as a couple of dug-out spats resulted in the referee raising a yellow and a red card to the pair respectively.

When asked about the two incidents, Smith replied: “Danny Seale is a very good manager and he’s going to get these playing really well so there was a frustration on some of the decisions, like we had on Saturday, but there was nothing malicious in there. I think both teams wanted to win, both management teams wanted to win – it’s handbags!”

When asked about this rare win over Aldershot Town, Smith replied: “I was saying that on the way here! I can’t even remember even myself winning, even for Woking. I may have done. I may be proved wrong but I can’t remember. It’s always a fantastic crowd, they are an ex-League club. They’ve got all that stuff that goes with it and we’ve come here and we’ve done a job on Aldershot and that’s a fantastic feeling!”

Solihull Moors are top of the Vanarama National League table tonight with 10 points on the board from their four outings.

FC Halifax Town, Woking and Dover Athletic all follow on nine points, Bromley and AFC Fylde are both on eight, while Yeovil Town are one of four sides on seven points.

Bromley travel to seventeenth-placed Hartlepool United on Saturday and when asked whether Bromley are a surprise package for the title or promotion this season, Smith replied: “I think there’s a few.  You’ve got Solihull.  This league, I think, it’s wide open. It just needs a team to be consistent and at the moment it looks like Solihull is up there, pushing up there. It’s whoever can stay up there with them.

“We want to stay alongside them as long as we can but we know it’s going to be a tiring season.

“Tonight I saw a team that are willing to throw themselves in the way of each other and get around each other, protect each other and that’s a sign of a good team.  They believe in each other.  There will be times when they will have to do that away from home. You can’t go to these places expecting to win. These are a good side. Danny Searle is a very good coach and I’m very pleased and it’s a nice journey home.”

Bromley's first win over Aldershot Town? Bromley reached the Isthmian League Cup two-legged semi-finals in the 1998-99 season.  They lost 3-1 at Hayes Lane and were leading 2-0 at The Recreation Ground in the Second Leg, only for Gary Abbott to score in extra-time to send George Borg's side into the Final, which they won by beating Boreham Wood 2-1 in Southampton.

Bromley finished bottom of the Isthmian Premier Division at the end of the season!

Aldershot Town: Mitch Walker, Robbie Tinkler, Lewis Kinsella, Dean Rance, Alex Finney, George Fowler, Aaron Eyoma, Ethan Chislett, Shamir Mullings, Alefe Santos D’Abadia (Alfy Whittingham 73), Harry Panayiotou (Connor Shields 64).
Subs: James Rowe, Ryan Hall, Simba Kudyiwa

Booked: Lewis Kinsella 31, Danny Searle 86 (manager), Robbie Tinkler 90

Sent Off:  Dave Blackmore 90 (Goalkeeper coach)

Bromley: Mark Cousins, Joe Kizzi, Sam Wood, Frankie Raymond, Chris Bush, Jack Holland, Luke Coulson (Marc-Anthony Okoye 60), Billy Bingham, Michael Cheek, George Porter (Adrian Clifton 63), Adam Mekki (Jordan Higgs 54).
Subs: Alan Dunne, Michael Klass

Goal: Jack Holland 28

Booked: Michael Cheek 74, Billy Bingham 80, Jordan Higgs 90

Attendance: 1,774 (93 away)
Referee: Mr Richard Hulme (Taunton, Somerset)
Assistants: Miss Stacey Pearson (Bristol) & Mr Damith Bandara (Pease Cottage, West Sussex)
Fourth Official: Mr Charlie Bullock (Hungerford, Berkshire)