We have to be at our very, very best to try and come away with something from Barrow, says Bromley boss Neil Smith
BROMLEY manager Neil Smith says his players’ will give their all against top-of-the-table Barrow on Saturday evening.
The highly-anticipated Vanarama National League clash between the two surprise packages will kick off at 17:20 because it has been selected for live television coverage by BT Sport.
Ian Evatt’s side are sitting proudly at the top of the table, having collected 55 points from their 28 league outings, while Bromley are in fourth-place in the pecking order, just five points behind, but having played a couple of games more.
Barrow go into the game on a 14 match unbeaten run and without a defeat at Holker Street since Solihull Moors won 1-0 in The FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round on Saturday 19 October 2019.
Bromley have lost back-to-back games, having lost 2-1 at Notts County in their last league game on Saturday 4 January and were knocked out of the Kent Senior Cup in the Second Round by League One side Gillingham, who won 2-0 at Hayes Lane.
“Yes, it is a big one, it’s a tough one, a top of the table at their place on tele and they’ve scored 16 goals in their last three games, so no pressure on us really, all the pressure is on them so we go there after three confident performances, two wins and a loss where I thought we played really well at Notts County and deserved something,” said Smith.
“We have to be at our very, very best to try and come away with something from there.”
Smith revealed that Ryan Huddart will keep the goalkeeping jersey, despite Mark Cousins returning to training after recovering from a shoulder operation, an injury that he sustained at Yeovil Town on 28 September, which happened to be the first time that Bromley suffered a league defeat this season.
“It’s probably too early,” admitted Smith.
“Mark’s back in training fully now, we can’t really throw him in. Ryan’s playing really well. He’s kept two clean sheets (against Dagenham & Redbridge and Dover Athletic) and none of the goals were his fault the other day (at Notts County) and he’s getting more and more confident as the season’s progressing but Mark’s knocking on the door and that competition can only do good really.”
When asked what kind of game he is expecting at Barrow tomorrow, Smith replied: “It depends on the conditions! They’ve had a lot of rain but we have played there when it’s very windy and rainy up there because you are so in the open and it will probably have an effect.
“We know they like to pass it around, pass and move and play it around and we have to make sure they don’t get caught up in the euphoria of it being on the tele and just go in and do what we’re good at and be a hard team to play against.”
The six play-off places consist of Yeovil Town (52 points); Harrogate Town (52); Bromley; Notts County (46 with a game in hand); Solihull Moors (45 with two games in hand) and Boreham Wood (45 with a game in hand).
“We’re looking, like we were at the beginning of the season, being in and around those play-offs come the end of the season,” emphasised Smith.
“We’ve got off to a fantastic start and an inconsistent middle part of the season – due to suspensions and injuries, not just a couple of weak injuries but season long-time injuries.
“I don’t think anybody else has had to accommodate some of the stuff that we’ve had to in four or five months.
“The boys have kept to it and whoever I play I’m going to get 100% and all I know I’m going to get is 110% commitment to each other.
“We know it’s going to be tough but our ultimate aim is to get into the play-offs for the first time in the club’s history and that’s still it!”
Smith had this message for the Hayes Lane faithful who will be making the 654-mile round trek to Cumbria to support their team rather than watch it on the television back home.
“I’ve left a message with the club to put it out there that anybody who goes up there, the distance that it is, the weather that we’ve had as well, you will get everything from the players as that repayment for that effort that you’ve done,” said Smith.
“The support that we’ve had throughout the season and for me since I took over the job has been immense.
“All I’ve ever wanted to do is make all those Bromley supporters proud of their team. I know for a fact those boys won’t let them down tomorrow.
“If we get beat it’s because Barrow deserve to beat us and they were the better side.
“The last few weeks is the Bromley of old this season, very resilient and very together and I guarantee that the supporters’ that do travel they will get that from that team whoever I put out tomorrow.”
Barrow striker Scott Quigley has scored 17 goals this season while John Rooney has notched 16 for the Bluebirds this season.
“They’ve got Quigley and Rooney, who are hitting the headlines for them,” said Smith.
“We’ve played against Rooney for a few years now and this is the season where strikers have that moment.
“We had Reeco Hackett-Fairchild that was banging in (eight) goals and he’s gone to Portsmouth so I’m very surprised that someone hasn’t come in for him. Maybe he’s enjoying where he is and doesn’t want to go?
“But we know we’ve got to be on our full mettle to make sure they don’t get chances, they’ll get one or two and we have to make sure we defend with our lives and together and make sure they get very few chances like we did at Notts County the other week.
“There might be better teams out there but there will not be a hard-working team than I put out every week. We’ve lost because the team deserved to beat us.
“Maybe I can put on one hand this season where we didn’t deserve anything and every other game we’ve been in it and we’ll make sure we’re in it to the last second on Saturday.”
Smith added: “The players’ deserve all the credit for their hard work and their commitment to the club.”
Visit Bromley’s website: www.bromleyfc.tv
Barrow v Bromley
Vanarama National League
Saturday 18 January 2020
Kick Off 5:20pm
at Holker Street, Wilkie Road, Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria LA14 5UW