Bromley 0-2 Dover Athletic - Ricky Miller got that desire to score goals, he lives and breaths to score goals, says Dover Athletic assistant Jake Leberl

Monday 24th October 2016
Bromley 0 – 2 Dover Athletic
Location Hayes Lane, Bromley, Kent BR2 9EF
Kickoff 25/10/2016 19:45

Vanarama National League
Tuesday 25th October 2016
Stephen McCartney reports from Hayes Lane

DOVER ATHLETIC assistant manager Jake Leberl praised the professionalism of his players during their comfortable win over Bromley at Hayes Lane.

The Whites went into this Vanarama National League Kent derby on the back of a 5-0 win at Ryman Premier League side Burgess Hill Town in The FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round and  they then thrashed Braintree Town 6-1 at Crabble at the weekend.

Bromley have suffered back-to-back defeats at the hands of Braintree Town (leading the FA Cup tie 2-0 before crashing to a 4-2 defeat) and came away from Wrexham with a 2-1 defeat at the weekend.

Dover Athletic became the 15th side to take the lead in 19 games in all competitions against Bromley this season, as striker Ricky Miller, 27, notched his 17th goal of the season – Bromley have scored 19 league goals this season – before his strike partner Ross Lafayette took his tally to six for the season as Bromley faced a mountain to climb after 28 minutes.

Central defender Daniel Johnson, 19, became the fourth Bromley player to be sent off this season when he collected a second yellow card in the final five minutes.

Dover Athletic’s tenth league win in 17 league games takes them up to sixth-place in the table on 31 points – level on points with fifth-placed Barrow, while Bromley remain in 17th place on 18 points from 17 games  - only five points clear of the relegation zone.

“Very professional performance, absolutely delighted,” said Leberl afterwards.

“It’s the first time on a Tuesday night after a Saturday we’ve put together a decent result.  I hope we’ve turned the corner now and get a little bit more consistency.

“I thought it was an outstanding performance defensively. I thought the lads were brilliant individually.  I thought the defenders played really well. Yes, it was a really, really, good three points.

“We started the game really well. We got a couple of goals relatively early and looked reasonably comfortable the whole way through, until the last ten minutes when Bromley had five corners on the bounce, which we defended for our lives and managed to keep the ball out.

“It gives everyone confidence. We know we can beat teams in this league as we’ve proven.  The Forest Green result and the other good results we’ve had this season, so it was just a case of trying to get a bit of a run together, like we’ve proven in previous years. If we can go on a run, confidence grows and we feel we can beat anyone, anywhere.”

Reflecting on his side’s fifth home league defeat of the season, Bromley manager Neil Smith said: “Very unfortunate. Ricky Miller is on fire at the moment, took his goal really well with a bit of good movement and then the second goal we gifted them, so I wasn’t pleased with that one.  I think that was pretty much the game over.

“I wasn’t really threatened by them at all but you can’t make mistakes against a clinical side that has two top forwards like they’ve got.

“Look, it wasn’t any more than I told the boys it would be. They like to get the ball up front early, they play man-for-man and they’re very, very good. They play to their strengths and they’re very good at it so it wasn’t any different than I told the boys and unfortunately what I said the team that makes the least mistakes will win the game and that’s what Dover did.”

The first three chances of the game came from set-pieces, without either goalkeeper being troubled.

Bromley left-back Joe Anderson swung in a free-kick into the Dover Athletic box where central midfielder Lee Minshull got underneath the ball to loop his header over the crossbar from eight-yards after 185 seconds.

Dover Athletic were a well-drilled outfit. Kinnear deployed a 5-3-2 formation, which Bromley couldn’t deal with.  Jamie Grimes marshalled Adam Cunnington and Jack Parkinson had a quiet game playing in the heart of three central defenders as Bromley clearly missed seven-goal winger Blair Turgott, who picked up five bookings and was serving a one-match suspension.

Dover Athletic’s first chance arrived shortly afterwards.

Sammy Moore floated in a free-kick from the right and the ball was cleared out to Jim Stevenson, who hit a first time right-footed volley, which whistled just past the foot of the left-hand post from 25-yards.

Leberl said: “We haven’t been on the front foot in previous games. Even Saturday when we beat Braintree 6-1, we conceded the first goal, so it’s so important to get on the front foot in any game, especially away from home on a Tuesday night."

Anderson delivered another free-kick into the Dover Athletic box where Bromley central defender Rob Swaine rose to steer his free header harmlessly wide of the goal from 12-yards.

Dover Athletic took a deserved lead with the clock showing 24 minutes and 20 seconds.

Lafayette slipped a through ball in between Swaine and Johnson to put Miller through on goal down the heart of the pitch and he swept his left-footed shot rolling past Alan Julian to score from 16-yards.

“Ross has got an extra bit of quality as well,” added Leberl.

“He’s not just your normal average target man. He’s good with his feet and he can pick a pass and he played a nice little ball for Rick, with a great little diag run and Ricky’s tucked another one away.”

Reflecting on Miller’s 17-goal haul, Leberl added: “He is on fire and he’s not fully fit either at the moment! He’s been under the weather. Fair play to him. He’s got that desire to score goals. He lives and breathes to score goals and at the moment they’re flying in the back of the net.”

Smith added: “That’s why there were so many scouts watching the game today!  He took it really, really well and it was the movement off the ball that we got sucked into, so it’s disappointing but you can’t take away from someone whose on fire like he is at the moment.”

Dover Athletic doubled their lead just 195 seconds later.

Poor defending from Swaine on the right-hand side of the Bromley penalty area when he failed to clear his lines, gifted Lafayette a chance from a tight angle and he drilled his low left-footed shot across Julian, the ball nestling into the bottom far corner.

Leberl added: “A little slip and Ross finished it pretty coolly. He hasn’t scored for a couple of weeks so I’m delighted for him.  I’m sure he’s delighted for himself.

"He's been terrific since he's come in. He hasn't scored for a couple of games so delighted for him to get a goal tonight - and clear one of the line in the last couple of minutes as well, so it just goes to show what a great team effort it was and everyone's desparate to keep a clean sheet and to get the three points."

Smith added: “It was a catalogue of errors. It came from a throw in of ours. It ended up someone trying to head the ball away and he ended up heading it into our box and instead of heading the ball clear we waited for it to come down and we tried to volley it down straight into Ross Lafayette. He’s a clinical striker, who’s been around and done it at this level for years.  Again, we’ve gifted them a chance, which was very disappointing going into half-time.”

Bromley have only taken the lead in four of their 19 games this season and the Hayes Lane faithful were fearing the worst.

Smith admitted he was clearly missing the suspended Blair Turgott and a certain Moses Emmanuel, whom scored 20 goals for the Ravens last season and was sitting on the away dug-out tonight.

“Of course we did, yes, you miss your best players and he’s one of our best players,” Smith said of Turgott.

“Like if they haven’t had Ricky Miller today, they don’t score you the goals they scored.  Your good players are always going to be missed if their not playing.

“It’s always a concern (conceding first) but when you lose someone like Moses Emmanuel to a club like Dover and he’s only sitting on the bench for them and he’s a hard player to replace.

“We haven’t got the money to replace someone like Moses. I’ve got to try to develop players (like Jamie Philpot, Tobi Sho-Silva, Jordan Higgs and Daniel Johnson).

“Sometimes it’s going to work, sometimes it isn’t but I have to be patient.  I haven’t got the resources to go out and get ready made experienced players like a Ricky Miller or a Lafayette so I’ve got to develop players.  I’ve got to make them into bigger and better players. It’s going to take time but hopefully everyone stays with it.”

Dover Athletic goalkeeper Mitch Walker pulled off a brilliant diving save to deny Bromley a lifeline in the 33rd minute.

Jordan Higgs played the ball up to David Martin, who fed Tobi Sho-Silva, who started the game out on the right wing but was in a central position when he powered a stunning right-footed drive towards the far corner from 17-yards, only for Walker to dive full-length to his left to tip the ball around the post.

“Yes, it was a great save,” said Leberl.

“He pulled off a few great saves Saturday as well against Braintree. He’s got himself back in with Steve Arnold picking up an injury and he hasn’t put a foot wrong since he got himself back in.”

Smith added: “Tobi pulls off a great shot and the keeper pulls off a great save. It’s like we haven’t had to do that yet!

“That’s what I’m saying! Sometimes when things are going for you, if that goes in, all off a sudden we’re going into half-time on a bit of a high, disappointed that we’ve let the two goals in, but we’ve got a goal back but he pulls off a fantastic save whereas we’ve had a better chance of clearing the ball and don’t and they’ve got the second goal.”

Martin swung in the resulting corner and Walker comfortably caught Minshull’s looping header at the far post.

Moore floated another free-kick towards the edge of the Bromley penalty area where Lafayette steered his header wide, before Miller charged down the heart of the pitch and drove his shot over from 25-yards when his initial shot was blocked by Swaine.

Parkinson came up from the back and climbed to send his header from eight-yards over the Bromley goal from another Moore free-kick.

Miller almost pulled off a beautiful volleyed goal on the stroke of half-time.

Stevenson pinged a beautiful 30-yard crossfield pass from the right towards the far corner of the box and Miller watched the ball drop over his shoulder and hit a stunning left-footed volley towards the near corner from 16-yards.  The post saving Bromley’s bacon on this occasion.

“I don’t know whether it should’ve been, I think it would’ve been another unbelievable Ricky Miller goal if he’d scored,” marvelled Leberl.

“I told him he should’ve hit across the goal, but he wouldn’t listen to me, he knows best!”

Smith said: “Look, the guy’s in form and when a ball comes over your shoulder, a guy in form doesn’t think about bringing it down, he hits it first time. It was great technique from a very, very good player. He’s been doing it for Luton. He’s been in the League. To come down he’s applying his trade how he should be as a striker. 

“We’ve got two strikers learning their trade, young strikers in Tobi Sho-Silva and Jamie Philpot.”

When asked how Philpot, 20, who was making his home debut having arrived from League One side Millwall on loan, fared, Smith replied: “I thought Jamie’s going to be a very, very good player. You don’t play 10 games for Millwall’s first team and scoring from his first touch in the game.  He’s made very intelligent runs and it’s down to us now to get the best out of him but his work ethic and his attitude has been first class.”

Both camps were asked their thoughts at the break.

Smith said: “At half-time, I said whoever makes the first mistake will lose the goal and if they do then it’s half a chance they lose the game but we’re still in it.

“I wanted us to go at Dover and put them under pressure because they are sceptical to goals away from home after letting in five (at Chester) and four (at Gateshead this month), so we just wanted to play on it, but we didn’t look like we were going to score a goal!”

Leberl added: “We’ve been here before and we’ve come out sloppy in games. Let’s not get carried away. Let’s put in an ultra-professional performance tonight. The game’s won as far as we’re concerned, 2-0 up, it’s ours to lose now so defend for your lives, defend in numbers, bodies on the line. Let’s get a clean sheet and let’s get three points.”

Dover Athletic took nearly ten minutes to create the first chance of the second half.

Moore teed the ball up for Lafayette, whose right-footed drive from 25-yards brought a comfortable save from Julian.

Dover Athletic broke down the left and Miller sent his 25-yard shot over the bar, before he forced Julian into making a save high to his left to deny Miller from scoring with a left-footed angled drive from just inside the penalty area.

Leberl added: “Ricky tends to get five or six chances a game. He puts himself in there but that one was a comfortable save but again he’s getting strikes away, puts pressure on the Bromley defence.”

Miller then bent a left-footed drive just around the near post and it appeared that Dover Athletic declared at 2-0 by replacing Miller for Mitchell Pinnock in the 65th minute.

Bromley lacked any threat in the final third and Adam Cunnington, David Martin and Jamie Philpot must improve if Bromley are to win this relegation dog-fight to ensure National League football is played for a third season next August.

Philpot took 66 minutes to register his first shot on goal, hitting a left-footed drive past the left-hand post from 25-yards as the ball came to him after Anderson clipped the ball forward.

Philpot ran the channel and cut the ball back to right-back Jack Holland, who whipped in a first time cross towards the edge of the Dover box but Cunnington’s hooked shot was poor and Walker made a comfortable save.

Smith said: “Jack is an absolute super star. He works his socks off, he’ll give you everything he’s got. He put a ball in the box, it was behind Adam Cunnington and he’s tried to wrangle a shot out of it but it was never going to trouble the keeper if I’ve got to be brutally honest.”

Bromley finished the game with ten men when former Herne Bay defender Johnson picked up his second yellow card for pulling down Lafayette in the 85th minute.

Smith said: “Right decision. He got sucked in. He tried to win it in front, the guy’s turned him, again that’s experienced players against an inexperienced player trying to learn his trade. There’s no complains of the referee.

“But I actually think when we went down to ten we had better chances to put crosses into the box and should have scored.

“We had a shot cleared off the line. We actually put them under pressure.  My whole thing was that’s how we wanted to start the game and I don’t know what I’ve got to keep saying to the boys. That’s what Dover did!  Dover didn’t out-play us or out-think us, they played direct football. They had people that run in behind and chased things down and they got their rewards.

“We try to over-do stuff.  We overthink it and we should be a little bit more direct, play to our strengths.  When you’ve got someone who can put a good ball in the box like Dave Martin, get on the end of it!”

Leberl added: “I see it as a young centre half trying to learn his trade. It’s not for me to say, he’s Bromley’s player. I felt for him a bit because we’ve all been there as young players. I thought the boy did very well against Ross. It’s one of those unfortunate things. Ross has got round the other side and he’s dragged him back and I’m sure he’ll learn from it.”

It took the 87th minute introduction of striker Bradley Goldberg to bring Bromley back from the dead – they should have started the game like they finished it!

Martin speculative left-footed shot from 45-yards was dipping in and forced Walker to tip the ball over the crossbar with his outstretched left-hand.

Martin swung in the resulting corner from the right and Goldberg’s header was cleared off the line by Lafayette.

Leberl said: “When Bromley are down what Bromley do they do give everything.  They’ve got heart and passion and they don’t lie down like some teams so we were worried there, because I felt if Bromley had got one from those late corners it would’ve been a very nervous last couple of minutes.”

Parkinson got in the way of Connor Dymond’s drive and deflected the ball behind for a corner but it proved to be too little too late.

Dover Athletic are now only a couple of points behind fourth-placed Tranmere Rovers, who come to Crabble on Saturday.

“I mean, Tranmere and Dover is ridiculous isn’t it? When you even think about Tranmere coming to Dover in a league game,” said Leberl.

“We drew at home with Tranmere last year and we beat them away so we know that we can compete with these type of clubs so hopefully we can patch everyone up, get the 11 out there and give them a right game.”

Bromley must do some soul-searching and come away from bottom-of-the-table North Ferriby United – a side that have lost their last seven games without scoring - with nothing but a win on Saturday.

Now only five points clear of the relegation zone, Smith sees this as a must-win game.

“It’s a massive game.  But I was talking to someone today and they’re all massive games because you’re either playing someone that’s just outside the play-offs, or someone like Dover who can go into the play-offs or you’ve someone down the bottom fighting for their lives like we are so there’s no easy games in this division.

“That’s the whole point of being in the National League because you’re always under pressure but we’ll see from the players’ reaction who's up for the fight and who isn’t. I definitely am, I know my coaching staff are and the players have to stand up and be counted and go into a game where there is a lot of pressure and get a result out of it.

“We want to get away from the bottom, the relegation zone and we want to come into a position where were safe and crack on until Christmas.”

Bromley finished in fourteenth-place on 60 points in their debut National League season and Smith admits they are suffering from Second Season Syndrome.

“What happens, you get promotion so you’re champions anyway, you’ve got the momentum and euphoria and you’re going into the games and it’s all new and an exciting experience and the second year it can be a little bit ‘we’ve got them, we’ve got them,’

“We haven’t managed to change it very much, had to keep the majority of the players and they have to generate their own enthusiasm and desire to go and do it again. They always call it Second Season Syndrome - and it is!

“It was always going to be difficult. When you win the championship it’s easy to motivate the players because they motivate themselves. When you’re having a bit of trouble that’s when you have to do stuff that gets them going and that’s my job. That’s what I’ll do with the players.

“If it means I’ve got to bring in more players, I’ve got to speak to the board and see what we can do.  We’re in for a long haul. We know it’s going to be tough, we know it’s going to be hard and so does everyone else.”

Bromley: Alan Julian, Jack Holland, Joe Anderson, Lee Minshull, Rob Swaine, Daniel Johnson, David Martin, Jordan Higgs (Connor Dymond 83), Jamie Philpot (Bradley Goldberg 87), Adam Cunnington (George Porter 73), Tobi Sho-Silva.
Subs: Joe Howe, Reece Prestedge

Booked: Daniel Johnson 18, Jamie Philpot 40, David Martin 90

Sent Off: Daniel Johnson 85

Dover Athletic: Mitch Walker, Sam Magri, Aswad Thomas, Jack Parkinson, Jamie Grimes, Tyrone Sterling, Ricky Modeste, Jim Stevenson, Ricky Miller (Mitchell Pinnock 65), Ross Lafayette, Sammy Moore.
Subs: Oyo Obileye, Loui Fazakerley, Moses Emmanuel, Steve Arnold

Goals: Ricky Miller 25, Ross Lafayette 28

Booked: Ross Lafayette 16, Ricky Miller 64, Sammy Moore 74, Sam Magri 90

Attendance: 1,052 (232 away)
Referee: Mr Carl Brook (St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex)
Assistants: Mr Paul Yates (Maidstone) & Mr Mark Lucie (Southsea, Hampshire)
Fourth Official: Mr Paul Johnson (Walton-on-Thames, Surrey)

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