Of course, I’d love to play at Wembley and win The FA Trophy Final but my ultimate goal is promotion, says Bromley boss Neil Smith

Wednesday 07th February 2018

BROMLEY manager Neil Smith says he would rather win promotion into the Sky Bet League Two rather than win The Buildbase FA Trophy Final at Wembley Stadium.

The Ravens thrashed Workington 7-1 in a memorable Third Round Replay at Hayes Lane last night to reach the Quarter-Finals for the first time. 

Brandon Hanlan opened the scoring with only two minutes and 59 seconds into his second home debut following his loan move from League One neighbours Charlton Athletic.

But eighth-placed Evo-Stik Northern Premier League part-timers Workington swiftly levelled through Nathan Waterston’s strike to make it a nervous time.

Louis Dennis, 25, curled a beautiful shot into the top far corner from 25-yards following a short corner to knock the stuffing out of Workington a couple of minutes before half-time.

Bromley sent shockwaves to their rivals by rattling in five second half goals from George Porter, Dennis, substitute Luke Wanadio, Jordan Higgs and Jack Holland, who rescued Bromley with a 79th minute headed equaliser up in Cumbria at the weekend.

Maidstone United’s Wembley dream was ended last night when they lost 3-0 at Gateshead in their Third Round Replay.

Jay Saunders brings his side to Hayes Lane for a Vanarama National League clash on Saturday sitting in sixteenth-place in the table with 38 points from 31 games, just eight points clear of the relegation zone.

Promotion chasing Bromley are in the top-seven with 50 points from 31 games and occupy the final play-off berth and have everything to play for in their final 15 league outings.

“It’s going to be a tough game,” said Smith, whose side are only six points adrift of leaders Wrexham.

“They’ve travelled a long way, they’ve lost again but that goes out of the window in these local derbies.

“If they don’t win another game they’d like to beat us on Saturday so we’ve got to make sure we’re fully up to it.”

Smith was asked whether he’d prefer promotion into League Two for the first time or to win The FA Trophy Final.

“I’d take promotion and the reason being is every game we’ve had to play has been like a Cup Final,” said Smith.

“There’s massive clubs in this division and we’re not one of them and for us to be competing on an even keel at the moment with them is full credit to the club, the board of directors, the chairman and the players.

“Of course, I’d love to play at Wembley and win the Cup Final but my ultimate goal is promotion and we all know how difficult that’s going to be, but at this moment in time, I’ll take anything.”

When asked how last night’s glorious 7-1 win ranks during his time at Hayes Lane, Smith said it comes second to Bromley’s 6-1 home win over Leyton Orient in the fourth league game of this season.

“That’s up there with Leyton Orient 6-1 at the beginning of the season,” said Smith.

“Leyton Orient was probably bigger because they were coming here to beat us and beat us heavy because they were the League club and they were coming to little Bromley.

“For us to beat them, that gave us impetus for the rest of the season.

“Last night was just a great result for the supporters for the fact that they travelled up to Workington the other day and they needed rewarding and I think we gave them it.”

Bromley just keep upsetting former Football League clubs. Workington lost their League status to Wimbledon in 1977 and Maidstone United have played in the League.

After two dates with Maidstone United – the other being a Kent Reliance Senior Cup Semi-Final on Tuesday 13 February for the right to play Folkestone Invicta or Charlton Athletic in the Final – Bromley face two make-or-break away games.

Smith takes his side to fourth-placed Tranmere Rovers (17 February) and then to third-placed Aldershot Town three days later before their Quarter-Final date.

Bromley will host Vanarama National League North side Spennymoor Town in The Buildbase FA Trophy Quarter-Finals on Saturday 24 February.

Spennymoor came away from Essex to end East Thurrock United’s interest with a 5-2 Replay win last night.

“It’s (Wembley) a lot closer but take one game at a time. Spennymoor will be difficult but we couldn’t have asked for any more last night.”

Spennymoor Town defeated Tunbridge Wells 2-1 in The FA Vase Final at Wembley Stadium on 4 May 2013.

The Buildbase FA Trophy Revised Quarter-Final Draw (Saturday 24 February):

Billericay Town (Bostik Premier)  v  Wealdstone (Vanarama National League South)
Stockport County (Vanarama National League North)  v  Brackley Town (Vanarama National League North)
Leyton Orient (Vanarama National League)  v  Gateshead (Vanarama National League)
Bromley (Vanarama National League)  v  Spennymoor Town (Vanarama National League North)

Visit Bromley’s website: www.bromleyfc.tv

Bromley  v  Maidstone United
Vanarama National League
Saturday 10 February 2018
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Hayes Lane, Bromley, Kent BR2 9EF