Bromley 2-2 Maidstone United - The run we've been on no one would've fancied us to come here and get anything from this today so we can take a lot from that, says Maidstone United boss Jay Saunders

Saturday 10th February 2018
Bromley 2 – 2 Maidstone United
Location Hayes Lane, Bromley, Kent BR2 9EF
Kickoff 10/02/2018 15:00

Vanarama National League
Saturday 10 February 2018
Stephen McCartney reports from Hayes Lane

MAIDSTONE UNITED manager Jay Saunders says no one would have fancied his side to come away from promotion chasing Bromley with a point.

Bromley booked their place in The Buildbase FA Trophy Quarter-Finals with an emphatic 7-1 home replay win over Evo-Stik Northern Premier League side Workington on Tuesday, while Maidstone United’s hopes were ended with a 3-0 defeat up at Gateshead in their replay.

The Ravens went into this Kent derby in seventh-place in the table but today’s point ensures they secured their Vanarama National League status for a fourth season as they reached the magical 51 point marker with 14 games remaining, while Maidstone United remained in 16th place with 39 points and now without a league win in 14 attempts.

Bromley got off to a flying start with former Chelmsford City midfielder Josh Rees rolling in his 16th goal of the season after a defensive mix-up inside the opening five minutes on a wet and windy day at Hayes Lane.

Maidstone United equalised ten minutes before the break when Jamar Loza applied a finish from within a crowded goal-mouth following a short corner routine.

But Bromley strangled back the lead on the stroke of half-time when George Porter scored against his old club to score his seventh goal of the season.

A win for Bromley would have sent them into the top six but substitute Blair Turgott denied his home-town club by scoring a debut goal for Maidstone United with 13 minutes left before the Stones finished the game with ten-men when a second debutant, Dean Beckwith, picked up his second booking of the game.

“Pleased with a point,” said Saunders in the post-match press conference held in the John Fiorini Stand, 17 years to the day that the Bromley stalwart passed away during an away match at Aylesbury United.

“Smudger has got Bromley flying, he’s done an excellent job here, up there in the play-off places and we’ve been struggling, so for me it was a really good point especially when you’re trailing in the game. 

“To come here and get a point out of it, it’s good.  If you had said before the game would you have taken a point - of course you want to get three points – but yes, I would have!”

Bromley boss Neil Smith said he was feeling “disappointment” after being held at home to a side in the bottom half of the table.

“We were winning 2-1, I didn’t see them getting a goal and then we gifted them one and it’s something that we haven’t done all season so I’m disappointed at the moment.  We have chances to score so it’s a little bit of a disappointment after everything’s that gone on so far.

“It feels like a defeat because we’re winning. I think we looked comfortable. They’re putting players on, I could see them going for it, but I thought we looked secure and to come away with a point sort of makes me feel a bit deflated.”

A crowd of 2,027, with Maidstone United bringing 504 fans, watched this Kent derby on a miserable day weather wise.

Bromley got off to a flying start for the second home game running, taking the lead with only four minutes and 58 seconds on the clock.

Tyrone Sterling played the ball down the line to winger Luke Wanadio, who ran back down the line before cutting the ball back to Rees, who played the ball forward.  A mix-up in defence involving Jai Reason and goalkeeper Lee Worgan ensured Rees had the simple task of rolling his shot into the empty net from 20-yards.

Smith said: “Again, the conditions here, very windy, we were against the wind so to go a goal up you’d take that because you know the wind is going to play a part in the second half but Rees had the awareness, he saw the goalkeeper come out of the box, slipped it in, great finish.”

Rees has had an outstanding first season at Hayes Lane.

Smith said: “He’s done brilliant! He’s work ethic as well. You look at the stats, he does more running than anyone else in the team. He thoroughly deserves what he gets at the moment.”

Saunders added: “It was what we’ve been like recently! The ball’s got played over the top and the wind has held it up. Worgs has committed himself and it didn’t come through and then they got in a bit of a mix-up and the balls got to be dealt with.

“My biggest gripe today is the two goals we’ve conceded were very poor from my point of view and that’s where we’ve been at lately.  I’ve got no issues teams creating chances against us but the two goals we conceded were a bit of a shambles defensively.”

It was a shaky start for Worgan, who raced out of his penalty box to head the ball away and Louis Dennis decided not to shoot from 30-yards, played the ball inside to Rees, who swept his shot over the crossbar and landing on the roof of the net from the edge of the box.

Dennis cut in from the left to play a one-two with Rees and his right-footed chip from outside the box was sailing towards the top far corner but Worgan plucked the ball out of the air at the last moment.

Maidstone United’s first opening arrived in the 14th minute.

Reason fed a free-kick into Loza, who cut inside Frankie Raymond but dragged his shot a few yards past the near post from 25-yards.

Poor defending from Dennis gave The Stones another chance when Reason’s pass put in debutant Ross Lafayette, who lifted his shot over the advancing David Gregory and over the crossbar from inside the six-yard box.

Saunders felt the Sutton United loanee should have scored.

“He’s kicking himself a little bit. He’s on his debut, he won’t get many better chances than that,” said Saunders.

“Sometimes that happens. We kept going and that was the main thing. I thought he was excellent today on his debut, so I won’t hold that against him!”

Smith added: “That was the warning! Ross Lafayette is a good player and we know all about him so you can’t give someone a free chance in the six-yard box!”

Bromley winger Luke Wanadio used his pace to race down the channel, cut into the box and drag his low shot past the near post, which was picked up by Worgan.

Maidstone United then got on top and had a good lengthy spell of pressure, much to Saunders’ pleasure.

“I thought we did.  Do you know what? I thought both teams struggled a little bit.  I know there’s a slight slope here but against the wind and the rain it was tough conditions.

“I thought at that point we kind of got on top a little bit and we were getting back in the game.

“We had a good spell and that was pleasing.  I don’t think we started the game well but we asked our midfield to step on five or 10 and really try to get in their faces a little bit and once we did that we looked a bit more comfortable.”

Smith added: “I wouldn’t say they were better! I felt we did better in the first half than we did in the second. I just think we probably overplayed it, had too many touches on the ball and got caught in possession.”

Maidstone Untied deserved their equaliser when it arrived with 34 minutes and 36 seconds on the clock.

Bromley fell asleep from a short corner from the right.  Reason played it short to Joe Anderson and the left-back floated over a deep cross, which was knocked down by Andre Coker and Loza applied the finish from within a crowded goal-mouth.

“Really pleased because when you’re having that sort of spell you need to get back into the game,” admitted Saunders.

“Of late when we had spells like that we’ve not managed to get a goal so a ball in from Anderson, I’m pleased that Coker’s gambled at the far post and Jams just there to tap it in.  Both him and Ross were queuing up so pleased and at that point we were in a good place.”

When asked about Anderson’s return to Hayes Lane, Saunders replied: “He was desperate to come back and get a result but he was a good servant here.  I know he maybe didn’t leave on the best of terms but I think he’s pleased to come here and not get beat.”

Smith said: “We’ve been working on free-kicks and set-plays and stuff like that and we switched off and didn’t react quick enough.  They took a quick corner, Joe, we know he’s got a great delivery, put it in the back post.  I’ve just seen it on the video and no ones picking up the guy that heads it and he plays it across and Loza scores.

“It was the first bit that I didn’t like, the fact that we weren’t aware of the quick corner.”

There were three chances created inside first half injury time.

Bromley striker Brandon Hanlan released Wanadio down the right, he skipped past Beckwith to cross for Rees, who struck his first time drive over the crossbar from 16-yards.

Maidstone United then linked up well down the left through substitute Jack Paxman and Loza and Paxman centred for an unmarked Stuart Lewis, who sliced his shot past the far post from outside the D.

Bromley grabbed the lead against the run of play, courtesy of their 55th league goal of the season, timed at four minutes and 42 seconds into injury-time.

Wanadio played a low pass inside from the right to Rees, who precisely threaded the ball through the eye of a needle to put in Porter, who kept composed to dink his left-footed shot from 15-yards over the advancing Worgan, the ball dropping into the centre of the goal.

Smith said: “Great ball! I thought Frankie was awesome today.  I think the two centre midfield players Josh Rees and Frankie Raymond were brilliant and it was a great ball and George made the run and with Frankie he’s got that precision to find a pass and it was a great dink over the keeper as he came out, so as I said we’re going in 2-1 and I thought we thoroughly deserved it.”

Porter scoring against his old club again? “He loves scoring, George, so it doesn’t matter if it was against his old club or not – he would’ve done the same thing!”

Saunders said: “Again, defensively from us, it’s poor! Seth (Nana Twumasi) has got to narrow up! The ball shouldn’t be played in between him and Alex Wynter and he’s let Ports come in the blind side of him and George, since he’s left us, seems to score every time he plays against us but it was a good finish!

“Again, defensively, from our point of view, it was really poor especially a minute before half-time.  We really have to eradicate that because it’s costing us.”

The Ravens were in sixth-place in the table at half-time and both managers expressed their thoughts.

Smith insisted: “You’ve got to liven up! We’ve got to move it quicker in front of goal with the wind, make sure we shoot!”

Saunders added: “A few home truths about the defending side of it, the two goals we conceded but then it was about being positive.  I think the boys were in a good place in there but I think they felt they were having a good spell at that point and we were still in the game.  We felt we could get something out of it.

“We asked them to up the tempo a little bit and try and get in and around Ross. I felt when we got into Ross the ball stuck and enabled us to get up the pitch and we knew against the wind we had to make sure it stuck up front and get runners off him and I felt we got better as the game went on.”

Bromley had chances to win the game during the second half, the first coming after only 65 seconds.

Right-back Luke Woolfenden played a searching long ball out of defence and Hanlan sprinted past two defenders, a heavy touch ensured Worgan closed the angle and the ball ran out of play.

“I don’t think he needed that second touch,” admitted Smith.

“I think he’s looking for that perfect goal. In conditions like this, just hit the target and make the keeper work!”

When asked how he’s settled in for his second spell out on loan from Charlton Athletic, Smith replied: “Brilliant! Brilliant!  He scored Tuesday. He’s work ethic has been brilliant. He’s been ill for the last couple of days so he hasn’t done as much training but he’s still put a shift out there and he’s going to cause people problems.”

Porter cut the ball back for Woolfenden to hang over a cross and Jack Holland, who was up for the initial corner, sent his downward header into the Maidstone keeper’s hands from eight-yards.

“You need to dig deep at those times and we managed to do that,” said Saunders.

“I think both teams had good chances today, probably I’m not saying, maybe we could’ve won the game but Bromley had good chances to maybe go on and win it but at that point we managed to not concede and that enabled us to get back into the game.”

Bromley went close to taking the lead in the 59th minute.

Ben Chorley clipped a long ball over the top of Maidstone’s defence and Wanadio reached the by-line to cut the ball back. The ball bounced off Dennis’ heels inside the box and Hanlan cut the ball onto his right foot to curl his shot around the far post from 16-yards.

Wanadio then rolled the ball out to Porter on the right-wing and he floated over a cross but all Rees could do was head straight at Worgan from the edge of the box in the 63rd minute.

“I’ve said it all season, we’ll create chances but at some stage when you’re creating them, like we did on Tuesday (against Workington), maybe against lesser opposition, you shoot but that doesn’t mean you don’t do it when you play against the bigger clubs, you’ve got to take them!”

Maidstone United then had a good spell of possession, without really threatening but it was inevitable that Turgott would score against his old club to snatch a point for Maidstone United.

The goal came with 31 minutes and 27 seconds on the clock and it was a horrible mistake by Chorley on the corner of his own penalty box.

He failed to put his boot through the ball to clear his lines and Bromley’s nemesis over the years, Lafayette, stole the ball off him, cut inside and squared to Turgott, who skipped past Holland inside the box, stepped aside Gregory to plant his low shot into the back of the net.

“I told Blair to go and be positive, get at the full back.  I felt we could get at Woolfenden,” said Saunders.

“It was a tricky one. I wanted to start Blair but he hadn’t met everyone. He signed late on Thursday night so he missed the Thursday training session. He met all of the boys as he walked in. He knew Joe Anderson, Reece Prestedge has just had his baby so he wasn’t here so he only knew Ando (from their time together at Bromley before leaving to play for Stevenage and then Boreham Wood).

“Do you know what, he’s always impressed me. He’s always been bright and positive and he could really get at them and he did that and caused a few problems when he came on.

“Ross done really well.  I suppose from Smudger’s point of view they’ll be kicking themselves that Chorley hasn’t put his foot through it because I would be the same to be honest and Ross has done well. He’s closed him down, gambled on it and I know it looks quite an easy finish but Blair’s had to do a lot but he’s chopped the defender, gone past the keeper and rolled it in so I’m pleased with him. He’s got a lot of quality and he’s going to be a good signing for us.”

Smith blamed Chorley for costing his side a place in the top six.

“Listen, I’ve just said to him, I wanted him to just smash it, that’s what you do, just put your foot through it and let them defend from the edge of their 18-yard box!”

Smith added: “Up until then he done really well but just put your foot through it!  You don’t need to be clever, we’re winning. They need to be clever, so yes it was a disappointing goal.”

The jury is out on Bromley’s on-loan striker Omar Bugiel but he went close to scoring his first goal for the club inside the final 10 minutes.

Rees played in a first time cross from the left and Bugiel slipped his low shot agonisingly past the foot of the far post from 16-yards.

Maidstone United’s six corners all came in the first half, while Bromley’s seven all came in the second half and Bromley almost won it following their final flag-kick.

Raymond’s out-swinging corner from the left came out to Holland, who hooked his shot towards the bottom right-hand corner from the edge of the Maidstone box, only for Worgan to dive to his left to make an excellent save.

Saunders admitted: “We were backs against the wall at that point! We’re away from home and they’re going to throw everyone at you. 

“We took Jai Reason off, holding in midfield at the end. We’ve got Turgott one side, we’ve got Delano Sam-Yorke the other, Ross up top and Coker and we ended up with four forwards on the pitch to get back into the game. When you do get back in the game and Bromley get on top it’s hard because you haven’t got as many defenders on the pitch.  We were a little bit open but we sort of gambled to try to win the game and thankfully we were able to not concede another one.”

Saunders felt Bromley substitute Jordan Higgs should have picked up his second yellow after taking one for the team to prevent Coker braking away and scoring the winner late on.

Turgott stepped up and unleashed the resulting right-footed free-kick screaming past the far post from 30-yards.

Raymond’s diagonal pass went into Hanlan’s feet, he cut inside and dragged his low shot towards the bottom near corner, which was held by Worgan as he dived low to his right inside injury-time.

Referee San Purkiss pulled out a yellow and then a red-card to Beckwith, who slid in to bring down Hanlan as the on-loan Charlton Athletic striker skipped past him down the left touchline at the end.

Smith said: “It was a great free-kick because he was through! He’s done that for the team so I’m not going to knock that but we should’ve been doing that a lot earlier against Dean Beckwith.”

Saunders said: “Alex Wynter can’t let the ball bounce, he does and that becomes difficult for Dean because if he doesn’t, Hanlan’s through.

“My biggest gripe on that though, the boy Higgs’ should’ve gone! It’s a horrendous tackle on the far corner on Andre Coker. He comes through the back of him. It’s a booking, I’m not saying it’s a sending off.  The ref doesn’t book him. He then goes through Andre Coker, it’s a booking, takes him out and that should be a second yellow so both teams should’ve been on 10 men.  That’s a little bit of consistency I’m asking from referee’s that we don’t seem to get at this level.”

The two sides meet again on Tuesday night as Maidstone United have home advantage in the Kent Reliance Senior Cup Semi-Final with the winners playing Folkestone Invicta or Charlton Athletic in the Final.

“Disappointed, we’re 2-1 up, I think we looked comfortable and we’re doing everything right apart from moving the ball quicker and getting the shots off,” said Smith.

“Yes, it feels like a defeat. I know Jay Saunders and he needed a result but not as bad as we wanted the win. We’re out of the play-offs now and I don’t like it!

“It feels awful (being in eighth-place) because I want to be in and amongst (the play-offs) for as long as I can. We were winning and I don’t see them getting a goal.  In fact, I saw us scoring again but hey-ho, we’ve got them in the Cup on Tuesday.

“I’ll make loads of changes, obviously I want to win it but there’s people who need games. There’s young lads who are knocking on the door as well so we’ve got a massive game on Saturday against Tranmere Rovers (away) as well, so I’ve got to play it right.”

“It’s a good point for us, especially when you’re chasing a game.  I’m disappointed with the defending for the two goals but it’s a good point,” added Saunders.

“Smudger’s got them flying, he’s a good mate of mine and he’s got a good side here. 

“The run we’ve been on, no one would’ve fancied us to come here and get anything from this today, so we can take a lot from that and we showed in spells that we can match teams that are up there.

“I thought the new boys were good and they’ll improve us. We’ve got a couple of sessions to work with them and we’ve got some big games coming up.  We’ve got Bromley again on Tuesday.”

Bromley: David Gregory, Luke Woolfenden (Omar Bugiel 77), Tyrone Sterling, Frankie Raymond, Ben Chorley, Jack Holland, Luke Wanadio (Jordan Higgs 71), Josh Rees, Brandon Hanlan, Louis Dennis, George Porter.
Subs: Dan Johnson, Roger Johnson, Frankie Sutherland

Goals: Josh Rees 5, George Porter 45

Booked: Frankie Raymond 33, Tyrone Sterling 49, Luke Woolfenden 56, Jordan Higgs 87

Maidstone United: Lee Worgan, Seth Nana Twumasi, Joe Anderson, Ollie Muldoon (Jack Paxman 42), Alex Wynter, Dean Beckwith, Jai Reason (Delano Sam-Yorke 76), Stuart Lewis, Ross Lafayette, Jamar Loza (Blair Turgott 65), Andre Coker.
Subs: Josh Hare, Daruis Osei

Goals: Jamar Loza 35, Blair Turgott 77

Booked: Stuart Lewis 33, Dean Beckwith 75

Sent Off: Dean Beckwith 90

Attendance: 2,027 (504 away supporters)
Referee: Mr Sam Purkiss (Highbury, London N5)
Assistants: Mr James Vallance (Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire) & Mr Marcus Carmichael (Camberley, Surrey)
Fourth Official: Mr Kane Dempster (Hythe)

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