It will be a dream to reach The FA Cup First Round, says Bromley boss Neil Smith

Friday 13th October 2017

BROMLEY manager Neil Smith says it will be a dream to guide his home town club into the FA Cup First Round.

Since The Lilywhites reached the top-flight of non-league football, Bromley have lost to their Vanarama National League rivals Eastleigh and Braintree Town in the last two seasons and the draw hasn’t been any kinder this time around either as Smith prepares his side for Dover Athletic tomorrow.

Chris Kinnear’s side are in second-place in the table with 28 points from 15 games and are six games unbeaten going into this Fourth Qualifying Round winner-takes-all showdown.

Bromley, meanwhile, are in seventh-place in the table with 24 points on the board and fresh from two away wins at Maidstone United and Gateshead.

“It’s a very big game,” said Smith, on the eve of the Crabble clash.

“Very difficult, obviously they’re sitting second in the table, it’s a local derby again, so we know it’s going to be difficult, playing away from home. They’ve got the home advantage but we’ve done it before in the League and we hope we can do it again in the Cup this season.”

Smith was referring to his side’s 2-1 win at Dover Athletic, the second game of the season back on 8 August.

Smith revealed that his players are feeling “enthusiastic and happy” following their efforts on the road in the past couple of games.

“I was really pleased with our performance as well as the result against Maidstone, not so happy with the performance but an absolutely dream result at Gateshead, so contrasting styles but still getting the same results,” said Smith.

“They’ve just had two fantastic results and an unlucky home defeat against Tranmere Rovers in the last second.  The confidence is high at the moment but we’ve also got that respect for what Dover have achieved last season and this season, so going in there it’s going to be a physical game.”

Despite there only being four points difference, Smith is relishing the underdog tag against Kinnear’s direct side.

He said: “It’s going to be a tough game, they are direct, physically strong, they’re big, they play to their strengths and we have to match that to get our own game plan in order.

“We have very high expectations. We want to try to have a Cup run and to do that you’ve got to come across a Dover and beat them.

“We’re away from home against the team second in the table, it can’t get much harder than that but we’ve done it in the League and we’ve got to try and do that performance again into us and I know the lads’ are capable of doing it.

“We’ve got to get more consistency, well, that’s what we need tomorrow.”

Who were the last club to send Dover Athletic out of The FA Cup in the Qualifying rounds?

It was Bromley, who won a Third Qualifying Round tie 2-1 at Crabble in 2012 and since then Dover Athletic have lost to Milton Keynes Dons in the Second Round, Crystal Palace in the Third Round, Stourbridge in the First Round and Cambridge United in a First Round Replay.

“Well, let’s hope we still are the last team to beat them come five o’clock tomorrow – or I want to be in the hat on Monday,” added Smith.

“If it’s a draw, it’s a draw, if it’s a win, fantastic!  I don’t want to be out of the Cup come Monday evening when the draw’s being made.

“Realistically, it’s going to be very, very tough, it’s a tough ask.  Look at the players’ they’ve got, they’ve recruited well, still a big club, just missed out last year.

“The pressure is on them more than it is us at the moment.”

Bromley last reached The FA Cup First Round when as a Conference South club they lost a seven goal thriller at home to then Conference outfit Dartford in November 2014.

Bromley’s last success in The FA Cup First Round was back in season 1945-46 when Slough United were beaten 6-2 on aggregate.

The Lilywhites have since lost to Reading (1947-48); Watford (1949-50); Aldershot (1950-51); Swindon Town (1976-77); Enfield (1996); Gillingham (2006); Colchester United (2009), Leyton Orient (2011) and Fleetwood Town (2012), before Dartford piled more FA Cup heartbreak on the Hayes Lane outfit.

“It will be a dream, it will be a dream,” said Smith of reaching The FA Cup First Round.

“I know the new board of directors would absolutely love it and not only that, I think for the supporters.  I would absolutely love it for the supporters and the players to get into that draw come Monday and have a run in it, to get into that first round proper is the first goal and coming up against us will be a very tough Dover team.”

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Dover Athletic  v  Bromley
The Emirates FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round
Saturday 14th October 2017
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Crabble Athletic Ground, Lewisham Road, River, Dover, Kent CT17 0JB