Bromley 2-1 Charlton Athletic - I don't want to just settle for staying up, I want to improve every year, says Bromley boss Neil Smith

Tuesday 12th July 2016
Bromley 2 – 1 Charlton Athletic
Location Hayes Lane, Bromley, Kent BR2 9EF
Kickoff 12/07/2016 19:45

Pre-Season Friendly
Tuesday 12th July 2016
Stephen McCartney reports from Hayes Lane

BROMLEY manager Neil Smith says he wants the club to continue making history and finish in their highest ever placing at the end of this season.

The Ravens open their second Vanarama National League campaign with a tasty home clash against Tranmere Rovers on 6 August and Smith says that he wants to finish higher than last season’s respectable fourteenth-placed finish.

Bromley opened their pre-season campaign with a 4-2 defeat away to Ryman Premier League side Dulwich Hamlet at the weekend, while relegated Charlton Athletic came away from Mark Goldberg’s Welling United with a 4-1 win.

Bromley impressed during tonight’s 2-1 win over League One Charlton Athletic and Russell Slade must improve the football being played at The Valley to prevent this fixture becoming a National League Boxing Day clash in 2019.

Bromley stunned Charlton Athletic by racing into a deserved 2-0 lead inside the opening 26 minutes, against a Charlton Athletic side playing at a slow tempo.

George Porter, who has signed from relegated Welling United, opened his account for Bromley, while fellow striker Blair Turgott, 22, capped off an impressive performance with a 30-yard free-kick.

Charlton Athletic made 10 changes at the interval and Bromley had made six of their 10 changes by the time that Charlton sub Brandon Hanlan cracked a volley into the corner of the Ravens net with 21 minutes remaining.

“Really, really pleased. It was another fitness test today and we worked on a few things in training and the boys took it on board, especially the first half,” said Smith, 44, who has now been at Hayes Lane for five years.

“We went and made so many changes in the second half like Saturday, you’re going to be a little bit disrupted but in the first half, like against Dulwich, was really, really pleasing.  We’ve just given them new stuff to think about and they’re taking it on board.”

The Hayes Lane faithful were keen to see how their side would cope without leading goalscorer Moses Emmanuel, 26, who has left the club after the expiry of his two-year contract.

A lot will be riding on Adam Cunnington’s shoulders and he was the central figure in Bromley’s front three, supported by Porter and Turgott.

Bromley were to be denied an opening goal inside the opening five minutes.

Porter played the ball inside to left-winger David Martin and the summer arrival from Whitehawk floated over a lovely cross towards the far post and Cunnington’s downward header was cleared away by Erzi Konsa at the far post.

Smith said: “We came in at half-time and just said he won every header.  The fact that he nearly scored within the first five minutes when it was just cleared off the line. He had his chances. We know Adam Cunnington, he’s not doing anything new that we didn’t know he could do.”

Returning central midfielder Reece Prestedge then slipped the ball to Martin, whose left-footed cross was met by another towering header from Cunnington, who directed his header wide from eight-yards.

“Reece has come back like a man possessed. He’s desperate.  He went on loan and did fantastically with Chelmsford, who wanted him again. He’s here and he’s done everything I’ve asked for so he’ll get his chance,” said Smith.

Speaking about Martin’s home debut, Smith added: “He was fantastic tonight. He showed his experience, kept the ball well and he done his job. Some of our young boys can learn from him.”

Bromley took a deserved lead with 13 minutes and 40 seconds on the clock from Porter.

Ex Crystal Palace midfielder Connor Dymond released Porter down the right and he rode a challenge from Konsa before stroking his right-footed drive across keeper Stephen Henderson in off the foot of the far post from eight-yards.

“George’s work ethic has been fantastic since he’s walked through the door. He’s desperate to do well,” said Smith.

“The only thing he said, he’s got to score goals for us if he’s going to play up there with Adam (Cunnington) and he took his chance again today.

“Connor Dymond, I’ve got to say something about him, he’s on trial. He’s looking to hopefully get something here. I think he’s shown a great attitude of what can be achieved.”

Bromley-born Turgott, 22, who made 31 appearances for League Two side Leyton Orient last season, was keen to impress on his home debut and he capped off an impressive first half by scoring Bromley’s deserved second goal in the 26th minute.

Charlton Athletic’s right-back Chris Solly was booked for bringing Turgott down on the left-hand side and Turgott curled his free-kick into the near corner from 30-yards, although he was given a helping hand by sloppy Henderson, who allowed the ball to slip through his fingers.

The Bromley faithful will be calling on Smith to sign Turgott, who will cause National League defences problems going on tonight’s performance.

“I’ve known Blair, I know his father Bob very well, worked with the Academy, worked with him in training and I’ve always kept in contact with what Blair’s up to. As soon as there was a chance, could he come in and train with us for us to have a look at?  He’s come in and in the last two games he’s shown his quality against a very strong Charlton side, so we know about what he could offer.”

When asked about signing the player, Smith replied: “Where we go from there, we’ll find out! He impressed on Saturday as well. At such short notice he did a double session yesterday with another club and I’ve asked him to come in and he’s played and he was absolutely fantastic but again he’s not done anything different from what I already knew he could do.”

It should have been three for the Ravens when Dymond floated in a cross from the right and Cunnington out-jumped Solly to loop his header towards goal, only Henderson made amends high to his right to prevent Bromley dishing out further embarrassment.

Charlton Athletic used that chance as a kick up the backside and they dominated the final 15 minutes of the first half as Bromley appeared to tire.

Right-winger Callum Harriott played a sublime pass that cut open Joe Howe and Jack Holland to put Nicky Ajose through on goal but the former Manchester United youngster, who has signed from Swindon Town for a reported £800,000, may have scored a hat-trick against Welling United on Saturday, but against Bromley all he could do was dink his shot past the right-hand post when he only had Alan Julian to beat.

Julian, though, was kept on his toes to deny Ajose with his next attempt, which looped towards the goal from the edge of the box after Jack Holland was robbed off the ball by Josh Umerah as he tried to run the ball out of play on the by-line.

Charlton skipper Johnnie Jackson delivered a cross from the left corner of the penalty area and Harriott’s header from a central position bounced wide.

Smith said: “You’re playing a side like Charlton so you expect them to have a couple of chances. I think the fact that we only restricted them to a couple after we already had gone 2-0 up is full credit to the boys.”

Bromley’s defence was otherwise well-marshalled by Holland, while former Herne Bay left-back Dan Johnson was the only Bromley player to get through the entire game, starting alongside Holland at the heart of defence before slotting in at his natural position.

“Rob Swaine’s just had a little niggle so we didn’t want to chance it so DJ (Johnson), who came in at centre back did a fantastic job and yet he was a left-back so another plus.  He’s just on trial, he’s come in and we were looking at him as a left-back. He’s come in at centre back and I thought he was fantastic. Hopefully Rob will be fitter for Saturday.”

Smith was delighted with his side’s impressive first half showing.

“Very pleased again. Great that we scored two goals but it was the defensive side that we were looking at mainly today and the organisation and the instructions that we gave them, they stuck to and to a man they were absolutely fantastic.

“It just bodes well that you’ve got players out there that are willing to listen.”

Charlton Athletic showed more desire and urgency during the second half as Slade made 10 changes at the interval, leaving Ajose on for 64 minutes before being replaced by goalscorer Hanlan.

Attacker Emmanuel Sonupe issued Bromley a trio of early warnings, forcing Julian to make a low save to his right, before curling his shot just past the far post.

Ricky Holmes then played the ball across the face of Bromley’s penalty area only for Sonupe to flash his firs time shot past the right-hand post from 18-yards.

Smith said of Charlton’s quick start, “We knew against Welling, they did absolutely the same. They played their younger boys in the first half and then put on their so-called first team in the second half so we weren’t going to change it.  We were going to give our boys at least 60-75 minutes, if not longer because we want to overload them so we knew they were going to be sharper coming out in the second half with a whole new team.

“I thought we withstood it. We brought on the subs. There was a lot of distruption but again they were all positives.”

With Smith now making wholesale changes, Bromley should have scored a third on the hour-mark.

Substitute Jack Sammoutis was hugging the right flank and whipped in a quality cross towards the near post but Cunnington directed his towering header just past the right-hand post.

It appears that Bromley will be ditching their flair football which resulted in pacy Emmanuel scoring 37 goals in his two seasons at Hayes Lane and will be getting the ball out to the flanks to utilise Cunnington’s aerial threat this season.

“Adam’s been so close and that’s what we want.  You’ve got someone like that in the team, you’ve got to give him an opportunity, get some crosses into him to head it. He was just out of range but his work ethic was fantastic, he won everything today.”

When asked about Emmanuel’s departure, Smith said: “He’s a big loss. He wanted to go on to bigger and better things. We couldn’t stand in his way. He let his contract run down. We offered him a deal at Christmas, he didn’t sign it. We still wanted to talk to him at the end of the season. He’s chosen to try his luck in the league. Absolutely no problem with it and good luck to him.”

Tony Watt set up a chance for Andrew Crofts, who steered his shot past the near post after the home side continued to make changes.

In fact, Bromley had six new players on the pitch by the time that Hanlan crashed in a brilliant volley with 69 minutes on the clock.

Holmes swung in Charlton’s third and final corner from the right and Hanlan was lurking on the edge of the box to hook a thunderbolt of a volley screaming into the far corner of the net.

Smith said: “It was a fantastic technique of a volley that he shouldn’t have been volleying a ball in the 18-yartd box!  But again players have just come on, might’ve been a little bit all over the pace looking at who to mark but I’m not going to discredit them.”

Midfielder Tom O’Connor managed to get a shot on target for Bromley, but his 22-yard right-footed drive brought a comfortable low save out of Nick Pope.

Smith added: “Against Dulwich in the first half Thomas was fantastic and he’s another one, a promising youngster. He’s come through the ranks and he’s deserved his chance and he’s taken it and long may that continue.”

Charlton Athletic then enjoyed plenty of possession with Bromley keeping their defensive shape by putting every outfield player behind the ball to protect their lead.

Crofts lashed his right-footed drive sailing over the crossbar from 20-yards after Charlton sprayed the ball around.

Bromley’s substitute keeper Joe Taylor was given a four minute cameo at the end and he was called into action in the final minute to hold Morgan Fox’s left-footed free-kick from 30-yards.

“Straight into his hands. If he hits the target I was just saying just make sure he gets his body in the way,” said Smith.

“They’re going to have that time on the ball. They were going to pass the ball around, Charlton are a very good side and Russell (Slade) is a very experienced manager and even in a friendly wouldn’t have wanted to have lost today so we knew they were going to come out second half all guns blazing but I thought our boys withstood it really, really well.”

While it’s too early for Bromley to be challenging for promotion to League Two with so many bigger clubs in the division, Smith wants his home-town club to be punching above their weight this season.

“It’s been absolutely manic! I’ve probably had a week off since the end of the season, other than that I’ve been in every day but loving every minute,” he said.

“Bringing Steve Lovell in as well (as my assistant), I think is just as big as bringing in another great signing as a player. He brings in all of his experience. I’ve known him for years so that was a major coup for the club as well.

“I want to improve, I want to improve on fourteenth. It’s going to be tough, it’s going to be tougher next year than it was last year. If we can beat the points, beat fourteenth then who knows where we’ll be, but I don’t want to just settle for staying up. I want to improve every year. Each year we’ve made history and so we want to make history again. We want to be higher than last year because we want to make history again and that’s all we want to do.”

Bromley host League One side Millwall on Saturday, before travelling to Sevenoaks Town (19 July), Glebe (20 July), Beckenham Town (23 July) and Welling United (30 July), before welcoming Premier League neighbours Crystal Palace to Hayes Lane in an ALL-TICKET clash on 2 August.

Tranmere Rovers – who beat Bromley twice last season – visit Hayes Lane on the opening day of the Vanarama National League season and Smith has 11 shirts up for grabs.

“Everybody’s got a chance. I’m not going to make predictions and say yes he’s got it. In my head I’ve got an idea. If someone’s doing well then I’m going to play him – if they’ve had a fantastic pre-season then I’m going to play him. I’m not just going to play on name sake, they’ve got to earn their position now.”

Bromley: Alan Julian (Joe Taylor 86), Joe Howe (Ugo Udoji 76), Joe Anderson (Ben Chorley 66), Reece Prestedge (Jack Sammoutis 53), Jack Holland (Chidi-James Williams-Agunabor 86), Dan Johnson, Blair Turgott (Tom O’Connor 64), Connor Dymond (Michak Stanic-Stewart 71), Adam Cunnington (Josh Oyinsan 66), George Porter (Bradley Goldberg 56), David Martin (Will Hoare 64).

Goals: George Porter 14, Blair Turgott 26

Charlton Athletic: Stephen Henderson (Nick Pope 46), Chris Solly (Morgan Fox 46), Tareiq Holmes-Dennis (Lewis Buxton 46), Johnnie Jackson (Kevin Foley 46), Roger Johnson (Terell Thomas 46), Ezri Konsa (Jorge Teizeira 46), Callum Harriott (Emmanuel Sonupe 46), Ollie Muldoon (Andrew Crofts 46), Nicky Ajose (Brandon Hanlan 64), Christian Ceballos (Ricky Holmes 46), Josh Ymerah (Tony Watt 46).
Sub: Mikhail Kennedy

Goal: Brandon Hanlan 69

Booked: Chris Solly 25

Attendance: 850
Referee: Mr David Rock (Hertford, Hertfordshire)
Assistants: Mr Graeme Ions (Tunbridge Wells) & Mr Alexis Stacchini (Orpington)
Fourth Official: Mr Peter Cruise (Rochester)