Gateshead will be a tough game and I can't wait, says Bromley boss Neil Smith

Friday 16th March 2018

BROMLEY manager Neil Smith is preparing his troops for the club’s biggest game in living history – The Buildbase FA Trophy Semi-Final First Leg against Gateshead on Saturday.

Smith’s men put in a professional performance to see off Spennymoor Town 2-1 up at Darlington on Wednesday night to set up a two-legged showdown against their Vanarama National League rivals Gateshead.

Spennymoor, in seventh-place in the Vanarama National League North, took the lead through striker Glen Taylor’s 19th goal of the season, before Louis Dennis rolled in an equaliser after a mistake at the back.

Bromley won it ten minutes into the second half through Frankie Raymond’s curling free-kick from a long way out from the right flank, thanks to Jack Holland’s run across the keeper.

Bromley travelled to Darlington by coach, leaving Hayes Lane at ten o’clock in the morning and they travelled back home by that method getting home just before five o’clock on Thursday morning.

It was a day off for Smith’s men on Thursday before they met today to prepare for their showdown against Gateshead.

Bromley are in tenth-place in the table with 55 points from their 35 league outings, while Steve Watson’s side are in 12th-place in the table on 48 points from their 36 games.

“We’re at home and then we’re away for the second leg. I don’t look at any advantage or anything like that because you could do something at home and then the next home side has the advantage,” said Smith.

“We’ll just take one game at a time, make sure that we’re prepared and do the best we can and see where we are going into the following game the following week.”

Smith then takes his side to Solihull Moors next Tuesday, 20 March, before the make-or-break back to the North East for the Second Leg against Gateshead on Saturday 24 March.

“We’re the victim of a couple of cancelled games but we’re also a victim of our success,” said Smith.

“We’re doing well in The FA Trophy so it means we will have to play Tuesday.  We’ll play Tuesday but our first thoughts are Saturday now.  We’ll get in on Friday and have a look at the players’ and see how they are and we’ll pick a team from the ones who are fit.”

Smith is keen to lead his home-town club out at Wembley Stadium in The Final against Brackley Town or Wealdstone on 20 May.

“On that first train (for the trip to Spennymoor) we went past and we sort of looked at it (Wembley Stadium) and you’ve got the arch and you think we could be there.

“We’ve got two very tough games.  Gateshead had a great result beating Maidenhead 7-1 and they drew 2-2 against Solihull on Tuesday night.

“Steve Watson’s very experienced. It will be a good game, they’re two evenly-matched sides. I don’t think there’s going to be a lot in it and I hope we have the edge.

“Gateshead will be a tough game. I can’t wait.”

Smith urges the Hayes Lane faithful to pack the stadium and give his side vocal support to give them an advantage going up to the North East.

“I want them to be there for us for the Semi-Final and the dreams still alive and we want to go for it,” said Smith.

“Semi-Final of The FA Trophy?  If you said that at the beginning of the season you wouldn’t believed it! For us to be there, a club like Bromley, I’m so honoured and excited about us being there.

“I hope the fans all come out and get behind us at Hayes Lane on Saturday because they’re going to be like another player.  They’ve done it all season but we’re going to really need them.  We’ve had a day less than Gateshead to recover and we have to make sure we’re up for it.”

Smith was asked what it would mean to lead his home-town football club out at Wembley Stadium and that Wembley dream is now only 180 minutes away.

“Look, to get there first of all would be the biggest achievement that I’ve ever done.  The fact that I’ve taken the club, we’re not there, as a dream, it’s just the place you want to be at.

“It’s more for the supporters, the supporters have been very supportive of the team and myself and the board. It will be the biggest thank you I could give anyone and that’s what I want to achieve and just to say thanks.

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Bromley  v  Gateshead
The Buildbase FA Trophy Semi-Final First Leg
Saturday 17 March 2018
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Hayes Lane, Bromley, Kent BR2 9EF