Bromley King Louis Dennis: No one gave us a chance to be where we are in the league, let alone in The FA Trophy so we’ve proved a lot of people wrong so now we’ve got to get our legs over the line
KING Louis Dennis believes Bromley can get the job done up at Gateshead on Saturday and reach Wembley for The Buildbase FA Trophy Final.
The Ravens did it the hard way against their Vanarama National League rivals in Saturday’s Semi-Final First Leg at a bitterly cold Hayes Lane, winning 3-2.
SUBLIME: Louis Dennis (out of picture) curls a beauty
in the top far corner to bring Bromley level in Saturday's
FA Buildbase FA Trophy Semi-Final First Leg against
Gateshead on a freezing cold day at Hayes Lane.
Photo: Edmund Boyden
Steve Watson’s side took the lead after only 43 seconds through Richard Peniket’s deflected strike and they hit the post through Wes York’s free header and Danny Johnson’s strike – all inside the opening six minutes.
Referee Dean Whitestone awarded Bromley a controversial penalty when Brandon Hanlan went down too easily inside the box and dinked home the resulting penalty to bring his side back from the dead after 15 minutes.
Gateshead striker Johnson skipped past David Gregory to give the visitors a deserved lead five minutes before half-time.
Dennis, 25, pulled off a sublime, brilliant curling finish into the top far corner from 25-yards to bring Bromley back on level terms six minutes into the second half, before drilling home a winner with nine minutes left after a slick move involving substitute Josh Rees and Hanlan.
“We’ve done all we can do at this stage,” said a shivering Dennis as he faced the questions post-match.
“We knew the game can’t get won today but we’ve put one foot in front.”
Reflecting on his side’s poor start, which is a current occurrence, Dennis added: “It’s not good enough! But we sometimes give ourselves that hill to climb but at the same time we’ve got that belief and we’ve got the character, we know that we can come back and we’ve proved that again.
“We didn’t start the game well enough but we got ourselves back into it and they scored a second goal that could’ve been avoidable but we went in at half-time, re-grouped, got the belief back and come out and did what we did.”
Groundsman Ian Jordan arrived at Hayes Lane on Saturday morning and saw the artificial pitch covered in snow but with his team working tirelessly they managed to clear the snow so Bromley could claim a morale boosting first leg win.
Dennis said: “All week we’ve been training, it’s been like 10-11 degrees, lovely out there and for one day of the year the Beast from the East comes back and we’re shivering but it’s what we get paid to do, you have to embrace it.”
Reflecting on his stunning equaliser, Dennis said: I was running down the line and I was really going to try to cross it in for Brandon, I saw him in there but it just didn’t seem on, so I cut back onto my left, eyed up the corner that I looked and I found it, luckily.
“It was a bit of relief to get us back into the tie. I knew we could go on and win the first leg.”
Hanlan is a willing hard-working runner in the number 9 role and has put in a number of impressive performances for the club since his loan move from League One side Charlton Athletic and Dennis revealed his winning goal came from plenty of practice.
“Me and Brandon are always working together, working, doing extras ourselves after training and happy that it’s actually come off in a game and I think we linked up well.”
Bromley seem to be rooted in the north in this FA Trophy run.
They did, however, start off in Hampshire in the First Round by beating Hartley Wintney 2-0 on 16 December.
They then came away from Blyth Spartans with a 4-1 win before being held to a 1-1 draw by Northern Premier League side Workington on a mud-bath in Cumbria, before thrashing them 7-1 at Hayes Lane in the replay.
The Ravens were held to a 0-0 draw at home to Spennymoor Town on 24 February, before they claimed a satisfying 2-1 away win over the National League North side at Darlington’s ground last Wednesday – at the fourth attempt of playing the away replay.
“The week we’ve had as well travelling up to Darlington, we’ve had some tough away games. We’ve had to show character. It’s not always been the greatest football but we’ve showed character in cup games and we’ve got one more to go and then we’re at Wembley!”
Before Saturday’s Second Leg trip to Gateshead, Bromley travel to the Midlands to play struggling Solihull Borough in the Vanarama National League on Tuesday night (19:45).
Bromley are in tenth-place in the table on 55 points from 35 games and are seven points adrift of the play-offs but Dover Athletic do have three games in hand on Chris Kinnear’s side.
Solihull Moors are, however, fighting for their lives in the bottom four and their 1-1 draw at home to fellow strugglers Torquay United at the weekend was their 36th point in the league and they have nine games left to save their bacon. They are three points adrift of Hartlepool United - Bromley’s destination - next Tuesday 27 March.
“It’s all about recovery, recover, get ready for a game. We’ve got to get our game back on the league now and we’re still going for the play-offs,” confirmed Dennis.
Bromley’s previous visit to Wembley Stadium was back in 1949 when Romford were beaten 1-0 in The FA Amateur Cup Final. It was the third time that the silverware was won by the Lillywhites.
“We’re used to travelling, we’re doing really well on the road so we fancy ourselves but we know we have to graft and we’ve got to battle, stay in it. They’re going to throw everything at it and we’ve got to be ready for it,” said Dennis, who takes a one-goal lead up to Gateshead.
Bromley are now 90 minutes – or a clean sheet – away from playing at Wembley!
“It will mean the world to be honest! When you’re a footballer, every footballer deserves to play at Wembley and we know the hard work we have put in,” said Dennis.
“No one gave us a chance to be where we are in the league, let alone in The FA Trophy so we’ve proved a lot of people wrong so now we’ve got to get our legs over the line.”
This is the most together Bromley side in recent years and manager Neil Smith is the man to lead his home town club to their greatest day in living memory.
Bromley have been on a fairytail whirl-wind since they won the Vanarama Conference South title in April 2015 – the club’s first league title in 53 years.
“For the club, it just shows how far the club’s come from when I first came here,” said Dennis.
“We’re massively overachieving but that’s credit to the boys and the management. The team they’ve put together have gelled and we’re a hard-working team.”
Dennis warms that he is cooking up another trademark outside the box finish to get his club over the winning line.
He said: “You can’t go into games not believing so we do believe. We’ve given ourselves a good chance now. We need to get over the line. We’ll do everything we can to win the game.
“I’ll be trying to cook one up all week but it’s all about the team, the effort, staying together and getting a result and then we’re through!”
Visit Bromley’s website: www.bromleyfc.tv
Photographs courtesy of Edmund Boyden - www.edboydenphotos.co.uk
Solihull Moors v Bromley
Vanarama National League
Tuesday 20 March 2018
Kick Off 7:45pm
at Damson Park, Damson Parkway, Solihull, West Midlands B91 2PP