We're in this division, we've earned the right to play against Tranmere Rovers, says proud Bromley manager Neil Smith

Monday 13th February 2017

BROMLEY manager Neil Smith says he’s feeling proud of his players after pulling off a great result by holding Tranmere Rovers to a 2-2 draw on Saturday.

The Ravens found themselves two goals down after only 15 minutes through Andy Cook’s brace and the 74 fans that made the trip up to Prenton Park were fearing the worst.

Bromley were thrashed 4-0 at the same stadium last season but when Adam Buxton was sent-off in the 56th minute at the weekend, this gave Bromley hope.

Striker Brandon Hanlon, who scored his third goal in three games since his loan move from Charlton Athletic, lifted Bromley, who grabbed a point through Jack Holland’s tap-in with only three minutes remaining.

“First half the set-plays really, really, they punished us on them and it was backs against the wall,” admitted Smith, when interviewed post-match on Bromley’s You Tube channel.

“It was getting to that stage of ‘just get in now!’ so we can sort something out.  We didn’t let any more goals in and we did change it. We just changed it and brought Jordan Higgs in midfield just to crowd that midfield area and when the sending off happened the boys just exploited it.

“People say how hard it is to play against 10-men. Well, as soon as we got that goal there was a belief in the players that they could go on that we could get something out of it.

“We did have a go at them, we did wind them up a little bit because I don’t think we did ourselves justice in the first 15-20 minutes.  I thought we grew into the game and by then we were 2-0 down!”

This was the fourth meeting between Tranmere Rovers and Bromley and the Ravens lost all of their previous three games without scoring a goal.

Tranmere Rovers were founder members of Division Three North in 1921 and remained a Football League outfit until losing their status after finishing bottom of League Two in April 2015.

Last season Rovers finished in sixth-place in the National League, while Bromley finished their debut season at non-league football’s top table in a respectable fourteenth-place with 60 points from their 46 league outings.

Some Tranmere Rovers fans’ can’t stomach playing little old Bromley in a league fixture.

Bromley’s club shop manager, Jim Brown, said: “As we were leaving the stadium we passed some Tranmere fans, they were in shock, poor souls.  One guy said ‘we shouldn’t be playing teams like Bromley, we’re not non-league’, funny I thought they are!

“The players were buzzing on the train home, I’m so proud of them.  A special mention to Neil Smith, he certainly has the players on his side and whatever he said to them at half-time, it was so, so good.”

Smith has done a great job to guide Bromley into eleventh-place in the Vanarama National League table with 45 points and with 15 league games left to play, Bromley are only eight points adrift of the play-offs and a whopping 15 points clear of the relegation zone.

Smith insists Bromley players and fans should no longer be in awe of Tranmere Rovers now that they have secured a third season sitting at non-league’s top table.

Smith said: “Before the game we walked out here and the boys were all videoing it, ‘look at the stadium!’

“We’re competing with these! We’re in this division, we’ve earned the right to play against Tranmere Rovers. This isn’t a Cup game, these are in the same division as us! Apart from the setting and everything else there just another football club so don’t come here and be in awe of it, don’t just make the numbers up, go out there believing that you can go out and do something and we did and they never stopped believing in there and  I’m so proud of them , they just kept going.

“It would have been easy not to let any goals in but we didn’t – we went out and tried to go out and get a result and achieved it.

“We just had to make sure that we punished them for only having 10 men.  To still do it with the players that they’ve got, against Tranmere Rovers, to come here 2-0 down and still get a point, I couldn’t ask for any more of them.”

Bromley fan Simon Carlton asked Smith pre-match that all he wanted was to celebrate a goal at Prenton Park to take home with him.

Smith said: “Thanks to the supporters, they were brilliant and I hope I’ve given them something.  On the way up someone said ‘just get a goal!’ That’s all they wanted. They wanted a goal.  But we’re going home with two goals and a point so.  Hopefully they can enjoy that.”

Now that safety is secured, Bromley’s next aim is to break into the top ten – they are only one point adrift of tenth-placed Wrexham, but with the Welsh club, Macclesfield Town, Gateshead, Barrow, Aldershot Town, Dover Athletic, Tranmere Rovers, Forest Green Rovers, Dagenham & Redbridge and Lincoln City above them in the table, the Bromley faithful are so proud of their team especially considering Smith’s men were rooted to the foot of the table in August and suffering from “second season syndrome.”

Bromley welcome Solihull Moors to Hayes Lane on Saturday (3pm), where the Hayes Lane faithful will dare to dream about what lies ahead….

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