Aldershot Town 1-1 Bromley - Coming away from Aldershot disappointed to get a draw shows how far we've come, says proud Bromley boss Neil Smith

Tuesday 20th February 2018
Aldershot Town 1 – 1 Bromley
Location Recreation Ground, High Street, Aldershot, Hampshire GU11 1TW
Kickoff 20/02/2018 19:45

Vanarama National League
Tuesday 20 February 2018
Stephen McCartney reports from Recreation Ground

BROMLEY manager Neil Smith says his players gave him everything as they were only 233 seconds away from sealing a great win at fellow promotion chasers Aldershot Town.

The Ravens remain in eighth-place in the Vanarama National League table on 52 points from their 34 league games after coming away from third-placed Aldershot Town with a point – but it should have been three!

Bromley opened the scoring through Luke Woolfenden’s first goal for the club in the first half before Aldershot Town deservedly claimed a point through Manny Oyeleke’s last-gasp equaliser.

Macclesfield Town remain top on 65 points from 34 games and the six club’s in the play-off places are Sutton United (60 points from 34 games), Aldershot Town (59 points from 34 games), Boreham Wood (59 points from 34 games), Wrexham (59 points from 35 games), Tranmere Rovers (58 points from 35 games) and Dover Athletic (54 points from 34 games).

“It seemed the ref was desperate for another minute to be added on but we had enough chances to put that game to bed as well and when you don’t with a team like Aldershot, they did again on Saturday with 10 men, they were throwing everything at you, it just takes one person not to do their job and you get punished,” said Smith during the post-match press conference.

“I’m so delighted for my players. They’ve given me everything. It’s a very disappointed changing room in there.  For us as Bromley FC to be coming away from Aldershot, an ex-League club, disappointed to get a draw shows how far we’ve come as a football club!

“The boys have been absolutely brilliant, they are!  They’re absolutely shattered in there.  Aldershot are a very good side, they’re one of the favourites to go up with your Tranmere Rovers and your Wrexham’s so for us to be competing like we are with them…

“If we get that second one when we had the chance, I think it’s a totally different game but we probably sat back just because we had so many tired legs at the end.”

Gary Waddock’s side enjoyed plenty of possession during the game but Bromley put in a resilient shift in defence, well-marshalled by Roger Johnson and Jack Holland, who put their bodies on the line throughout the match.

Aldershot midfielder Josh McQuoid was booked for using his hand to punch the ball into the Bromley goal after Adam McDonnell floated in a cross from the left inside the opening seven minutes.

But Bromley created their first chance within a minute when Johnson clipped the ball out of defence to striker Brandon Hanlan, who sprayed the ball out to George Porter, who cut inside and from the edge of the box his right-footed angled drive was held by Lewis Ward, diving low to his right.

Smith said: “I think we created enough chances to get the chance.  I’m just disappointed the boys it fell to you normally put your house on them to score the goals, even Omar (Bugiel) at the end, but it wasn’t to be.”

Aldershot passed the ball outside the Bromley penalty area and James Rowe cut the ball onto his right-foot only to send his shot sailing past the right-hand post from 30-yards.

Smith said: “We had a game plan. They like to pass it around and I think if you go chasing it they try to pick out spaces so we played very narrow, made them go wide.  I think we had the height advantage and we played a little bit more direct and we were playing well and to go a goal up as well was full credit to the players.”

Jordan Higgs, who was recalled into the Bromley team, leaving winger Luke Wanadio on the bench, played the ball inside to Dennis, who cut inside before stinging’s Ward’s fingers with a left-footed drive from 25-yards.

But Bromley took the lead with 22 minutes and 57 seconds on the clock through the most unlikeliest of sources, right-back Woolfenden, 19.

Dennis played the ball inside to Hanlan, Woolfeden suffered from a nosebleed as he darted unmarked into the Aldershot box to gleefully sweep his right-footed shot sweetly into the bottom left-hand corner from 12-yards, nipping in front of Dennis inside the box.

Reflecting on his side’s 56th league goal of the season, Smith said: “He finished it well, in fact of all of the players that you didn’t want in there it was going to be him, but he took it brilliantly!  I thought he was outstanding today Luke.  I thought since he’s come here (on loan) from Ipswich, a 19-year-old kid, he’s been absolutely outstanding and to get a goal here tonight, full credit to him.”

Aldershot Town were patient in their build-up play and McDonnell cut inside Josh Rees in the middle to pass to Lewis Kinsella, who played the ball back inside to McDonnell, whose right-footed drive from 25-yards dipped over the Bromley bar.

Aldershot left-back Kinsella floated in a deep cross towards the far post but lone striker Nicke Kabamba couldn’t beat keeper David Gregory at his near post with a downward header from inside the six-yard box.

Bromley wasted a great chance to double their lead in the 44th minute.

Dennis fed Hanlan in the final third, the on-loan striker from Charlton Athletic, who was watched by a Charlton scout, was troubling the Aldershot defence with his pace.  Hanlan played the ball inside for Dennis, who couldn’t get the ball out from under his feet and his shot was blocked and came out to Rees, whose low drive deflected behind for a corner.

Aldershot Town created the final chance of the half when Robert slipped the ball in behind Tyrone Sterling for Rowe to float in a cross from the right and the unmarked McQuoid hooked his shot over the crossbar from 12-yards.

Smith said: “He’s hooked it over but we had chances before that.  Obviously their guy tried to handball it in as well, so they were playing it to their strengths, the wingers come in, the full-backs overlap, they’re a good side Aldershot, they’re a very good side.”

Smith issued instructions to his players to continue putting in a shift in defence after the interval.

“Just keep going, just keep enjoying it, just keep doing the defending side, enjoy defending because there will be times when you haven’t got possession but we’ve got to make sure that we always keep our shape and that’s why I made the substitutions when I did.”

Aldershot right-back Cheye Alexander clipped in a cross from the by-line but Robert glanced his header over the crossbar from six-yards after only 89 seconds.

But Bromley will be kicking themselves as they created chances to put the game to bed.

Dennis, who was a threat with his pace and skill, ran the left-hand channel, waited for support from Porter, who hit a first time shot around the top of the far post from 25-yards.

“We’ve been working on our finishing, the little cut-backs and if that was on the training ground, I tell you now, they’ll be going in the back of the net,” revealed Smith.

“It’s when you’re not creating chances I’ve got to be concerned, when we’re making them, we’re ok.”

Bromley keeper Gregory was called into making his second save of the night on the hour-mark at his near post, blocking an angled drive from substitute winger Shamir Fenelon after Oyeleke slipped him in with a fine diagonal pass along the deck.

But Bromley missed a glorious chance to make it 2-0 shortly afterwards on the break.

Porter passed to Rees, who released Hanlan down the right and his pace took him past last-defender Reynolds before cutting into the box and cutting the ball along the box to Dennis, who saw his shot deflect over the crossbar and behind for a corner.

“In the first half he had an extra touch when he didn’t need to and in that one he probably had the whole time in the world to do whatever he wanted and I think he rushed it,” agonised Smith.

“Louis has scored 18 goals this season, he’s been prolific and it wasn’t to be tonight. No doubt Louis will get chances and he’ll be back scoring goals for us.”

Waddock’s side dominated the final 25 minutes as Bromley sat back on their slender lead.

Kinsella whipped in a cross from the left which was cleared by Sterling and Bromley had a lucky escape when McDonnell drilled his first time curler just around the foot of the far post from 25-yards.

Kinsella’s low angled drive was gobbled up by Gregory low down beside his near post as Aldershot Town pressed for an equaliser their play demanded.

Bromley cleared Aldershot’s seventh-corner of the night, swung in by McDonnell from the right and Kinsella pumped another ball into the Bromley box and Gregory went up with Reynolds, who glanced his header past the upright.

Kinsella played the ball on the outside to former Maidstone United winger Bobby-Joe Taylor, who cut into the penalty area from the left and dragged his shot past the near post inside the final 10 minutes.

Taylor was a threat down the left and he cut the ball back from the by-line and Fenelon stabbed the ball past the foot of the left-hand post at the near post from inside the six-yard box.

Smith brought on Ben Chorley in the 84th minute to make it a back-five with Sterling, Johnson, Chorley, Holland and Woolfenden protecting their lead as the game turned into defence-against-attack with Bromley putting all men behind the ball.

“I looked at the players’ out here and I just saw tired people,” admitted Smith, whose side have won 14 league games, drawn 10 and lost 10.

“We’ve had a tough game against Maidstone and then there was a game (against them) in midweek (in the Kent Reliance Senior Cup Semi-Final) and then there was a long travel to Tranmere Rovers, another tough game and we haven’t got the size of the squads that some of these teams so we had tired legs and that’s why I made the changes and I thought let’s see it out! There’s no point in putting a striker on if we’re under the cosh.”

Bromley SHOULD have went away with the three points when they missed a glorious chance in the final four minutes.

A quickly-taken free-kick put Dennis in down the left and he cut the ball back for an unmarked Omar Bugiel.  Somehow the loanee from League Two side Forest Green Rovers sliced his shot past the far post when he only had beaten keeper Ward to beat from 12-yards.

Bromley paid the ultimate price for that glaring miss!

Smith said: “That’s what I’m saying! It was all about the second goal or the next goal. I think if we get it that’s sort of the game over!”

The equaliser was inevitable and it arrived with one minute and 31 seconds into timed added on.

Bromley couldn’t get the ball out, the ball came in one final time from the right and Oyeleke thrashed his right-footed drive past Gregory into the right-hand corner from 16-yards from the heart of the pitch.

“The longer it goes, we’re sitting back, we’re sitting back, we’re sitting back and they’re going to get a chance. It might be a ricochet, it’s happened too many times and we tried to over play and you go, do you know what, we’ll defend from a goal-kick or we defend from a throw-in.  That’s just game management!

“I know it’s the old cliché, but you clear your lines! You don’t try to over-play in the wrong areas and we tried to play in the final third and got punished for it! 

“But the defending side of it, they were brilliant.  They were throwing themselves in the way of it a lot earlier than that goal so I’m not going to blame anyone today.  I thought it was a great team performance from us.  I thought they were outstanding today!”

Last season Bromley would have been celebrating a point at a place like Aldershot but they came so close to winning, Smith revealed his players’ were bitterly disappointed after the match.

“I’ve been proud of them all season,” said Smith.

“We’re disappointed in there. We’re actually arguing with each other because we should’ve done this and we could’ve done that. It’s brilliant because they’ve got that belief in them but I’d rather that than coming away ‘oh what a great result’.  It is in terms of where we’ve come from as a club but we’re disappointed because they think we should be coming here winning this game. We should be seeing it out. We did it against Leyton Orient (winning 1-0 away).  We thought we could’ve done it again but it wasn’t to be.

“But it’s full credit to the players they’ve got this belief in themselves, in each other, in the club, in the way we’re playing that we can go to Aldershot, who are one of the favourites to go up and give them a good game and we did it with Tranmere (losing 1-0 away on Saturday) and we shouldn’t have come away with nothing from Tranmere in my eyes.”

Bromley will have a day off tomorrow and return to Hayes Lane on Thursday to prepare for Saturday’s make-or-break FA Buildbase Trophy Quarter-Final tie against Spennymoor Town at Hayes Lane.

Spennymoor’s home game against AFC Telford United was postponed tonight so they will go into the game in seventh-place in the Vanarama National League North table with 48 points from 27 games.

A crowd of at least 2,000 is expected at Hayes Lane as Bromley bid for a Wembley date on 20 May.

“Just keep believing! We want this season to keep going for as long as we can. We’re going on a couple of fronts, Aldershot are probably only on one and they can throw all the eggs in one basket.

“We’ve got a Quarter-Final in the FA Trophy and I want to get a trip to Wembley to say thank you to the supporters but we know we’ve got to take one game at a time.”

Aldershot Town: Lewis Ward, Cheye Alexander, Lewis Kinsella, Adam McDonnell, Callum Reynolds, George Fowler, James Rowe, Manny Oyeleke, Nicke Kabamba (Scott Rendell 56), Fabien Robert (Shamir Fenelon 57), Josh McQuoid (Bobby-Joe Taylor 69).
Subs: Jake Cole, Jim Kellerman

Goal: Manny Oyeleke 90

Booked: Josh McQuoid 7, Manny Oyeleke 28

Bromley: David Gregory, Luke Woolfenden, Tyrone Sterling, Frankie Raymond, Roger Johnson, Jack Holland, Jordan Higgs, Josh Rees (Ben Chorley 84), Brandon Hanlan (Omar Bugiel 76), Louis Dennis, George Porter (Frankie Sutherland 64).
Subs: Dan Johnson, Luke Wanadio

Goal: Luke Woolfenden 23

Booked: Louis Dennis 70

Attendance: 1,909 (83 Bromley supporters)
Referee: Mr Adrian Quelch (Burton, Christchurch, Dorset)
Assistants: Mr Daniel Simpson (West Drayton, Middlesex) & Mr Bhupinder Gill (Iver, Buckinghamshire)
Fourth Official: Mr Jamaal Horne (Thornton Heath, Surrey)

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