I'll be the proudest man ever to take my home town club to Wembley, says Bromley boss Neil Smith
BROMLEY manager Neil Smith says he wants to be the man who takes his home-town club to Wembley.
The Ravens are preparing for their biggest game in living history today as they play their Vanarama National League rivals Gateshead in a winner-takes-all clash in The Buildbase FA Trophy Semi-Final Second Leg.
Bromley won the first leg 3-2 at Hayes Lane last Saturday and will need to put in a great performance if they are to reach the Wembley Final on 20 May.
Steve Watson’s side took the lead after only 43 seconds through Richard Peniket’s deflected strike and luck was on Bromley’s side when Gateshead twice hit the post inside the opening six minutes.
Bromley levelled through Brandon Hanlan’s controversial 15th minute penalty before Gateshead took the lead through Danny Johnson’s strike just before half-time.
But Bromley travel up to the North East with a single goal advantage, courtesy of two second half strikes from Louis Dennis, 25.
Bromley’s previously visit to Wembley Stadium was to beat Romford 1-0 to land The FA Amateur Cup back in 1949.
“We know it’s going to be tough, we don’t expect anything different, they’re a very good side,” said Smith, whose side are in tenth-place in the Vanarama National League table with 55 points from 36 games, a couple of places above Gateshead, who have banked 48 points from the same number of games.
“There’s excitement because the prize is so great. We’d love to make it but we know Gateshead are thinking exactly the same.”
At least 200 fans are travelling up to Gateshead and are praying that Smith’s men can reach the Wembley Final against lower league sides Brackley Town or Wealdstone on 20 May.
Brackley travel to Wealdstone with a slender 1-0 lead.
“We’d love an early goal, we’d love that and keep a clean sheet as well,” added Smith, which would be the perfect scenario for his side.
“No doubt there will be a decent crowd there and they’ll have a lot of support behind them. I know we’re taking a few coaches as well. I just hope we don’t let ourselves down.
“I’m expecting a tough game. We know how quick they’ll come out of the blocks. At our place the first 10 minutes was like a blur. We have to start a hell of a lot lively than we did at our place.
“We’re expecting them to come at us and we know their strengths are up front and we have to make sure that we’re ready.”
When asked what he will tell his players before the game, Smith replied: “Just don’t let the moment take over you, take hold of the moment! We’re going to need everyone of us, subs as well. We’ve got 20 players coming up, everyone wants the same goal, so really make sure you concentrate right up to the last minute, basically from the first minute to the last. That’s where we got undone last week so we’ve got to make sure from the first whistle we’re on it!
“I can’t sit back. I think the way we play we don’t sit back. We know it’s going to be tough and we have to make sure that if we sit back and then they score a goal then you’re having to change your game plan. We want to try to win the game.”
When asked what it would mean to get to a Wembley Final, Smith made it very clear indeed.
“It will mean everything, not just for me, the whole club, supporters and the players.
“Being my home-town club, I went to school across the goal, I was brought up in Bromley. To take my home town club to Wembley, I’ll be the proudest man ever and I will be proud to lead these bunch of boys we’ve had as well to Wembley as well because I think they deserve it with the hard work they’ve put in.
“We’ve surprised a few people that we’ve shown a few people what we’re about and it would be lovely for them to finish it off by having a trip to Wembley.
“It will be a tough game. If anybody expects it to be anything different, they’re in the wrong game.”
Smith urges travelling fans to get raise the roof in the away section at the International Stadium – to make it a day to remember!
“Just get behind us like they have done and hopefully we can repay their support. Whatever happens we have done our best and the boys will give their all like they have done this season and hopefully we can get the result we want.”
Visit Bromley’s website: www.bromleyfc.tv
Gateshead v Bromley
The Buildbase FA Trophy Semi-Final Second Leg
Saturday 24 March 2018
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Gateshead International Stadium, Neilson Road, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear NE10 0EF