Bromley 0-2 Aldershot Town - It seems like every time we get near we just miss out, admits frustrated Bromley boss Neil Smith

Tuesday 28th November 2017
Bromley 0 – 2 Aldershot Town
Location Hayes Lane, Bromley, Kent BR2 9EF
Kickoff 28/11/2017 19:45

Vanarama National League
Tuesday 28th November 2017
Stephen McCartney reports from Hayes Lane

BROMLEY boss Neil Smith says his side endured a frustrating night after missing out on the great opportunity of climbing up to third place in the Vanarama National League table after 22 games.

Aldershot Town rose from sixth-place to the summit on 39 points from 22 games after grabbing a 2-0 win on a frustrating night at Hayes Lane.

Gary Waddock’s side were reduced to ten-men in the 41st minute when holding midfielder Adam McDonnell picked up his second yellow card from referee Carl Brook, who also sent off Bromley’s right-back Jordan Higgs inside injury time at the end of the game.

Aldershot Town opened the scoring through Bernard Mensah’s quality strike just before the half-hour mark and they grabbed a second in the second half through substitute striker Scott Rendell’s finish following a mistake from Higgs.

“Disappointed with the result because I don’t think they’re two goals better than us,” said Smith during the post-match press conference.

“They’re one of the favourites to get promotion and I think they’ve been telling everyone that as well and I think up until they got their goal, I thought we were in it.

“But they went down to 10 men and you just think ‘right here we go’, they got the goal and their movement was very, very good.

“Gary Waddock’s a very good manager, they’ve got a fantastic squad that they’ve put together but I’m still very disappointed because I know they’re top of the league but I thought we were as good as them.”

Bromley were without central defender Roger Johnson, who suffered a knock to his knee during Saturday’s 3-0 win up at Barrow. Higgs slotted in at right-back as Alan Dunne was also out injured, while striker Brett Williams came back from his three-match ban coming on as substitute.

“Roger took a whack to his knee at Barrow.  After playing a couple of games after coming back from his hamstring, I didn’t want him to do anything that would keep him out for longer than one game. I’m hoping he’ll be fit for Saturday and come straight back in,” revealed Smith.

“Alan Dunne’s got an injury that could take a few weeks as well but we’ve got Ben Wynter so I’ve got a full-back, we’ll be ok.”

Bromley created the first chance of the game inside the opening nine minutes.

Winger Luke Wanadio collected a loose ball near to the halfway line and sped down the right, cutting inside left-back Callum Reynolds before cutting into the box and his low drilled shot towards the bottom near corner was pushed around the post by goalkeeper Lewis Ward.

“We started off fine.  I couldn’t have asked for anymore,” said Smith.

“Luke had a run and a shot. We got an early goal on Saturday, maybe that’s what we needed today just to settle the nerves because I think there were a few nervous players out there.”

Bromley were attacking Aldershot Town down the left-hand side and another chance was created during even exchanges.

Frankie Raymond released Wanadio down the left, reaching the by-line before whipping in a cross for Dan Johnson – Bromley’s central defender who had stayed up for a corner – looping his header from six-yards into Ward’s hands.

Aldershot Town took 24 minutes to fashion their first chance of the night as Mensah played the ball in low from the left to unmarked striker James Rowe, who stroked a low right-footed drive towards the bottom far corner from 25-yards, which was held by keeper David Gregory, low to his right.

“I was comfortable with Greggors today,” said Smith.

“That was their only shot apart from the goal in the first half.  I thought defending we were ok.  We were matching them like-for-like.  I wasn’t worried at all.  It was really up until they scored that goal that you’ve got to find one where you leave gaps for them to hit you on the break.”

Aldershot Town were keen to pass the ball around the pitch and they produced a moment of sheer quality to open the scoring, the goal being timed at 27 minutes and 8 seconds on the clock.

Keeper Ward launched a kick which was well-controlled by Reynolds on the left touchline and he played the ball out to Fabian Robert, who played the ball over to Mensah on the right, who cut inside and curled a looping left-footed drive into the top far corner of the net from 25-yards, sailing over Gregory, who had dived high to his right and stuck up his arms.

Mensah ran over to the main stand cupping his ear after receiving friendly banter as he stood on the left-hand touchline a moments before scoring his fourth goal of the season.

Smith said: “Because Jordan Higgs has been booked, he’s been going up for headers, obviously he came out on the right-hand side and where he would’ve headed the ball, he didn’t.  The winger had enough time to then switch it to the other side and the guy’s cut inside and we we’re standing behind it. It’s a great finish but again he shouldn’t have been given that amount of time to get the shot off and Gregory’s had no chance."

The first half was a combative affair and Aldershot Town were reduced to ten-men in the 41st minute when referee Carl Brook pulled out a second yellow for McDonnell, for dissent.

Smith said: “I just think the ref set himself up that something like this was going to happen. He made so many yellow cards it was going to take something stupid to get a second one.  I think if he had just been a little bit calmer early on, I don’t think we would’ve had any player sent off today.”

Aldershot Town made a tactical change at the break, bringing on Kodi Lyons-Foster at right-back and Rendell was their lone striker.

When asked his thoughts at the break, the Bromley boss replied: “Just keep doing what you’re doing. I don’t think it was a bad performance. I think we were doing everything we were asking them to do without that end product in the 18-yard box.

“They had one shot and scored one and that was their whole attacking force in that first 45.  With the man over, I told them to keep the ball and passing and moving.”

Rendell knocked the ball down and Jake Gallagher hit a right-footed half-volley into Gregory’s hands for a comfortable save from 35-yards after only 39 seconds.

Bromley missed a glorious chance to level things up when the lively Wanadio swept a through ball into the path of lone striker Louis Dennis, who dragged his right-footed angled drive across the keeper and past the far post from 20-yards shortly afterwards.

“I don’t think he had to take it when he did,” said Smith.

“He had another pass outside of him or at least another yard. He just pulled it. At least he had a shot and that’s what I was most disappointed with in the second half, we got into situations where we could’ve hit it and we didn’t.”

Smith, meanwhile, explained why he only had one-man up front at home for at least an hour.

“Because they play with a narrow playing style, their wingers come in so we wanted to make sure we nullified it.

“I think Louis done very well up front. It’s always going to be hard to support.  You’ve got to remember Aldershot are one of the favourites to get promotion. Even though we’re at home, you’ve got to give them a lot of respect and I think we did. We nullified them and we actually had more of the ball than they did.”

Bromley missed another great chance to restore parity in the 51st minute.

Raymond’s free-kick down the line found Wanadio, who whipped in a cross, which was poorly cleared and Adam Mekki drilled his right-footed drive over the crossbar from 16-yards.

Smith added: “Again, getting over the top of the ball and keeping it down you’ve got a chance.  He didn’t get his head over it and he didn’t kick it down into the ground, so it went over and you’re not making the keeper work.”

When asked about Mekki’s withdrawal, Smith revealed: “He just whacked his knee. We’ll see how he is on Thursday. We’ve got Iffy Allen and Dominic Vose on the bench, I’ve got good boys that can come in and we’ll have to use every one of them.”

Aldershot Town shut up shop, as Smith threw on ineffective striker George Porter, although winger Dominic Vose impressed.

“I put on all the forwards. I put on Dominic Vose who’s been brilliant since he’s come in here (from Wrexham) and trying to get a win. If they’re going to get another one, let’s go in trying to score.”

Bromley were caught offside on seven occasions during the second half as Aldershot Town were a well-drilled defensive outfit.

The Shots confirmed their status at the top of the table with a breakaway second-goal, timed at 22 minutes and 38 seconds on the clock.

They broke down the left and substitute Matt McClure pressed Higgs, the ball broke across the penalty area for Rendell to flick his right-footed shot from six-yards under Gregory, the ball nestling inside the bottom left-hand corner.

“It was frustrating. They go up the other end with a nothing ball and score from it,” said Smith.

“I think it was more of a case of we had two chances to clear it and then Jordan Higgs, instead of just clearing his lines he’s just trying to be a little bit clever and see it out, they nicked the ball and just put it near post and they’ve scored from it.

“It wasn’t a case of a winger getting past anyone, we just didn’t do our basic job of defending.”

Smith must find a right-back and a striker who can score 20 plus goals at this level, as they lacked the cutting edge in the final third.

Bromley threw bodies forward as they went in search of a lifeline but with Vose showing his manager why he should be in the team on Saturday when Dover Athletic visit Hayes Lane.

Jack Holland’s last action as a defender before he joined in with the attack was to launch a long ball forward which Williams rose to guide his header into Ward’s hands for a simple save in the final seven minutes.

Ward dived high to his left to turn away Dennis’ right-footed curling shot towards the top far corner from 25-yards from the left-hand side of the box.

Smith said: “He made a little bit more of it but at least he hit the target. We needed to do that a little bit more. At Barrow on Saturday, we were so much better as an attacking force but today it just wasn’t going to be and you’ve got to give credit to Aldershot. “

Dennis, who was now on the left-wing put in a low ross but a couple of shots were blocked from inside the Aldershot box and Porter flashed his shot across the keeper and past the far post as Waddock’s men were happy to sit back and soak up the pressure before enjoying the win with their vocal fans as they celebrated knocking Sutton United off the summit.

Higgs bad night was complete when he picked up his second yellow of the night for an injury-time foul on Mensah.

Smith said: “Again a silly booking in the first half and I think even that one, if the guy remembered he booked him, I don’t think he’s aware he booked him. The guy was going nowhere, he’s tried to swing for the ball, he didn’t know the guy was behind him and he just got in front of him, so I don’t think it was a booking.”

Bromley remain in eighth-place, one place below the play-off zone,  with 35 points, only four points adrift of Aldershot Town.

Sixth-placed Dover Athletic, meanwhile, are two points clear of Bromley ahead of the Hayes Lane clash on Saturday.

“I just think it was a frustrating game,” said Smith, who says 51 points will be enough to avoid relegation.

“I’m coming in with a team of very disappointed players from having an absolutely fantastic result on Saturday against Barrow, where it could’ve been anything. 

“We just didn’t do the basics well enough around each 18-yard box. We’ll live and learn. We’ve got to think about it and move on and we’ve got Dover, another tough game on Saturday.

“But blimey, if someone had said after 22 games you’d be eighth and four points off the top, I would’ve taken their hands off.

“As disappointing as we are the reality is we’re above teams like Eastleigh, Tranmere Rovers and Hartlepool, you wouldn’t have thought that at the beginning of the season. I think people thought we’d be at the bottom end of it so we’re still not saying we’ve sorted everything and got everything right but we’re in a better position than I think most people would’ve given us at the start of the season.”

Bromley would have been third had they won tonight and Smith feels the disappointment that the club’s supporters are feeling tonight.

“It wasn’t a bad performance, it was a frustrating defeat and yes we would’ve gone third, we tried,” said Smith.

“It’s not about where you are now, it’s where you end up and for us for a small club like Bromley competing against some of those big sides and Aldershot are one of them, I think we’re making a good account of ourselves.

“I think in terms of performance we held our own today. I don’t know how long Aldershot have been in this division trying to get out of it but this is only our third season so I think we’re doing ok but as a manager I want to do better.

“We’ve had a fantastic start to the season. It seems every time we get near – if we had won tonight you could’ve gone third – we just miss out and that’s just gaining experience. We’ll keep gaining experience. We’re going to make sure we learn from this and make sure we come back stronger. We just lack that cutting edge at home. I don’t know whether they’re a little bit nervous, they’ve got to put it aside and go out and do what they’ve been doing.”

Bromley: David Gregory, Jordan Higgs, Tyrone Sterling, Josh Rees, Dan Johnson, Jack Holland, Luke Amadio (Brett Williams 82), Frankie Raymond, Louis Dennis, Frankie Sutherland, Adam Mekki (George Porter 59).
Subs: Iffy Allen, Ben Wynter

Booked: Adam Mekki 10, Jordan Higgs 26

Sent Off: Jordan Higgs 90

Aldershot Town: Lewis Ward, Jim Kellerman, Callum Reynolds, Adam McDonnell, Will Evans, George Fowler, Bernard Mensah, Jake Gallagher, James Rowe (Kodi Lyons-Foster 46), Shamir Fenelon (Scott Rendell 46), Fabian Robert (Matt McClure 61).
Sub: Luke Skinner

Goals: Bernard Mensah 28, Scott Rendell 68

Booked: Fabian Robert 32, Adam McDonnell 33, Kodi Lyons-Foster 57, Callum Reynolds 70

Sent off: Adam McDonnell 41

Attendance: 1,171
Referee: Mr Carl Brook (St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex)
Assistants: Mr Ryan Michael (Littlehampton, West Sussex)
Fourth Official: Mr Sean Karl

Coverage Sponsored by: