Bromley 1-1 Maidstone United - The story has just started, it hasn't ended, insists relegated Kent Senior Cup winner Maidstone United head coach Hakan Hayrettin

Tuesday 16th April 2019
Bromley 1 – 1 Maidstone United
Location Hayes Lane, Bromley, Kent BR2 9EF
Kickoff 16/04/2019 19:45

(Maidstone United win 3-2 on penalties)
Kent Senior Cup Final
Tuesday 16 April 2019
Stephen McCartney reports from Hayes Lane

MAIDSTONE UNITED head coach Hakan Hayrettin says he is donating their Kent Senior Cup glory to their supporters.

The Stones retained the silverware after holding their nerve in a penalty shoot-out for the third successive game in this years competition to claim the silverware in front of 1,587 fans at Hayes Lane.

With three league games left to play, Bromley went into the Final sitting in 13th place in the Vanarama National League table with 56 points, while relegated Maidstone United were at the foot of the table on 33 points, a point adrift of Braintree Town.

Bromley beat Faversham Town (4-1); Charlton Athletic (3-1) and Tonbridge Angels (1-0) to reach their first Kent Senior Cup Final in 12 years.

Maidstone United defeated Dover Athletic (4-2) and needed penalties to beat Dartford (8-7 after a 1-1 draw at a wintry Princes Park) and Gillingham (4-2 after a 2-2 draw) and Bromley hosted the final because they asked Kent FA officials if they could.

Bromley took the lead through Frankie Sutherland’s penalty in the first half, the holding midfielder’s tenth goal of the season.

Maidstone United forced the lottery of a penalty shoot-out through striker Elliot Romain’s fifth goal of the season in the 61st minute.

Maidstone United goalkeeper Chris Lewington, 30, saved three of Bromley’s penalties in the shoot-out as Sutherland, Zavon Hines and George Porter all failed to score as Bromley manager Neil Smith suffered more penalty shoot-out despair, having lost 5-4 to Brackley Town after a 1-1 draw after extra time in The Buildbase FA Trophy Final at Wembley Stadium on 20 May 2018.

“I’m just so, so pleased for the supporters really.  It is important, yes it is for the players to end on a high,” said Hayrettin.

“The supporters have had a hard, hard season and I’ve said this before I’ve come, (they give us) amazing support home and away and tonight was no different.  No set of supporters want to get relegated and they’re still there, they’re still following their team.

“We we have to work really, really hard. It’s exciting, it’s like follow the yellow brick road. The story ain’t finished yet, it’s just starting for us.

“I think we were much better than them in the second half. I think we gave them too many free-kicks in the first half and we worked ever so hard in doing that and their biggest threat was from re-starts, putting the ball in the box.

“Bromley are a good team but I thought we were good in the second half. We pinned them back, we got the ball in their box.  It was a good game.

“When it goes to penalties it’s a lottery.  Our boys have done enough. I’m pleased for Chris Lewington, three great saves.  I might have to sign him now!

“Just in general, I think we played alright. Listen, Bromley are a good club, a good team. We came here a little while back and they rolled us proper, not tonight. We didn’t give them that opportunity. We actually turned up and said we’re not gonna roll. It’s good for the players and the supporters.

“It’s a cup, however, you look at it, it’s a cup and we donate that to the supporters.”

Bromley manager Neil Smith added: “Disappointed! I don’t think the game was great. Obviously to lose a couple of players before the game through being cup-tied and JJ Hooper and then you lose Omar Bugiel 27 minutes into the game, it was always going to be difficult.

“But I thought the boys deservedly go 1-0 up. I don’t think their goal is a great one and then the penalties, is what it is.

“Disappointed in respect we didn’t perform to our best, so you lose a scrappy game, it makes it even worse.”

Bromley striker Omar Bugiel – who missed a penalty at Wembley which would have won them The FA Trophy - lasted only 27 minutes before he was withdrawn due to a twisted ankle and was replaced by centre-half Marc-Anthony Okoye, who was deployed as an emergency target-man.

Richard Brindley, who played wide on the right, whipped in a cross, which wasn’t cleared by the Maidstone United defence and Bugiel’s swept shot lacked power and rolled into Lewington’s gloves for a comfortable save after exactly 60 seconds play.

Bromley goalkeeper David Gregory and centre-half Jack Holland allowed Romain a couple of early sniffs at goal after some hesitant defending close to the by-line but the Maidstone United striker failed to capitalise on it.

Bromley’s right-back Alan Dunne sliced a volleyed clearance into Romain’s feet and his first time left-footed drive from 20-yards was hit straight at Gregory, who made a comfortable save in the 14th minute.

“First half, I think everyone was cancelling each other out,” admitted Smith.

“We had players playing out of position with a centre-half (Okoye) playing up front and a right-back (Brindley) playing right-wing and Alan Dunne coming in (at right-back) after not playing so many games.  It was a mix and a match and I don’t think there was any fluency to it.  I don’t think they deserved anything after that.”

Bromley are a constant threat from set-pieces and Frankie Raymond chipped a free-kick into Maidstone United’s penalty area and the versatile Jordan Higgs flicked his header towards goal from 15-yards, which was comfortably gathered by the Stones keeper.

Higgs had a slightly better opening in the 19th minute but failed to call Lewington into making a save.

Raymond released Brindley down the line and he played the ball inside to Sutherland, who played the ball back to Brindley, who set up Higgs just inside the box and his right-footed shot on the turn was tame and trickled past the left-hand post from 16-yards.

Bromley were clearly missing their 18-goal striker Jonathan Hooper, who sat out through an injury to his groin.

But they grabbed the lead with 31 minutes and 39 seconds on the clock.

Gregory launched a free-kick from a long way out of his penalty area and the ball dropped just inside the Maidstone United box.  Higgs was fouled by Maidstone United’s right-back Aaron Davies and referee Isaac Searle pointed to the spot.

Sutherland slotted his right-footed penalty into the bottom left-hand corner, sending keeper Lewington the other way, to give the Ravens the lead.

“I don’t think there were many attempts at goal at both ends. I don’t think there were many at all,” admitted Smith.

“So you go a goal up and I just thought we’d see it out.  I didn’t fear them, even though they had a stronger side then we did, if you look at their first team.”

Reflecting on Sutherland’s successful spot-kick, Smith said: “How ironic! He scores that one and doesn’t score the other one. He’s been brilliant with his penalties, very calm.

“I thought Jordan Higgs was outstanding again today after Saturday (a 2-2 draw at FC Halifax Town) as well. He was brilliant.”

Hayrettin said: “I weren’t looking to be honest. It was a lottery wasn’t it so we won on penalties and that’s the most important thing. They deserved it (the lead).

The second half was much better than the stagnant first half between these two full-time sides.

Maidstone United created the first opening inside 157 seconds when Romain controlled the ball some 30-yards from goal and ran into the box and stroked a low left-footed drive from 15-yards, which Gregory held low to his left.

Bromley left-back Sam Wood – who played for the Ravens in their Kent Senior Cup wins in 2006 and 2007 - threw the ball to Sutherland and as space opened up in front of him, his first time right-footed drive from 22-yards was comfortably saved by Lewington.

Wide-man Danny Phillips whipped in a cross from the left into the Bromley box and Romain rose above Jack Holland at the far post to loop his header over the crossbar from six-yards.

Bromley also created a half-chance when Brindley whipped in a cross towards the near post for Okoye to loop his header wide of the mark.

The introduction of former Bromley favourite Blair Turgott at the interval helped
Maidstone United become more of a threat down the left-wing.

And they deservedly levelled proceedings with 15 minutes and 7 seconds on the clock.

Bromley centre-half Roger Johnson ran into Romain just a couple of yards outside the box and Higgs took one for the team to block Ollie Muldoon’s driven free-kick.

Turgott’s second phase cross was flicked on inside the box and Brindley failed to clear his lines and Romain swept his left-footed shot trickling into the bottom left-hand corner from 12-yards.

Smith immediately made a change and gave Academy prospect Billy Craske a run-out and threw centre-half Holland up front, while Okoye moved back to his more natural centre-half position alongside Johnson.

“Listen, Elliott isn’t a prolific goalscorer but he works his socks off for the cause and I was pleased for him,” added Hayrettin.

Smith admitted: “We just lost it when they got their equaliser!

“I think Brinds (Brindley) tries to clear it, it hits someone and it goes straight to Elliott Romain and in the middle of the goal and he just fumbles it in.

“I think it sums it up at the moment! As I say, there wasn’t any clear-cut chances at either end. I think it was a very stale, stagnant game really.”

Turgott hit a right-footed half-volley from 30-yards, which forced Gregory to dive to his right to hold onto the ball in the 66th minute.

“Blair’s a good player.  We’ve rested him tonight because he’s come back and we pushed him and pushed him. We’ve got three games in about a week so I thought about giving him a break really,” added Hayrettin.

Bromley went agonisingly close to grabbing the lead just five minutes later when Higgs’ driven shot was blocked on the edge of the box and he had a second bite of the cherry to loop the ball into the box towards the near post for Porter to rise too early and loop his header dropping over the top of the right-hand post from four-yards out.

“I think he needed to make a better contact on it but as I say Higgs’ played in about three different positions for me tonight and I thought he was brilliant in every one of them,” added Smith.

Raymond gave the ball away inside Bromley’s half and this gave Romain the licence to drive through the heart of the pitch before releasing Phillips past Higgs, who showed enough desire to chase after his man and make a vital block on the edge of the Ravens’ six-yard box.

Bromley wasted a glorious chance to win it when Brindley floated in a deep cross from the right, Holland flicked the ball into an unmarked Porter at the far post but he lacked composure and snatched at the shot, dragging it past the near post from 12-yards out.

Smith gave former Maidstone United and Chesterfield winger Zavon Hines, 30, a surprise nine minute run-out at the end of the game but he was denied a farewell goal thanks to a great save from Lewington.

Gregory launched a big kick straight down the middle, which was flicked on by Holland and Hines collected the ball down the left. He went on a mazy 35-yard run with the ball at his feet and danced from the left, arching into the box and cut the ball onto his right-foot but Lewington dived high to his left to palm the ball behind for a corner.

Smith revealed: “He’s not back from retirement, he’s still retired but I thought it would be a fitting end for him to come on tonight.

“He had a great mazy run, took on about 30 players and just missed the target.  I thought it was only fitting. I’ve got no players, I’ve got kids on the bench. I could put them on but I just thought it would be a nice way for Zavon to go out.  That will probably be his last game.”

Hayrettin added: “They’re going to aren’t they because they are the home team and throw caution to the wind and we dealt with it.”

Smith was upset when his side had a goal ruled out inside the final four minutes when referee Isaac Searle deemed Johnson used his hand to score from the edge of the six-yard box following Raymond’s in-swinging corner from the right.

Smith said: “Even the goal that was disallowed from Roger, we’ve just seen it on the video, he doesn’t handball it!

“When you speak to the ref and he goes ‘I thought he did’, you can’t think, you’ve got to see it! The linesman didn’t think he handballed it. He probably got the result that he wanted wearing that illuminious shirt!”

Maidstone United could have won it at the death when Romain held the ball up and as Bromley got defenders back into their penalty area, the Maidstone United front man spooned his right-footed shot over the crossbar.

Neither side could find the winner, so the game was settled by 10 penalties.

Bromley failed to bury the ghost of Wembley, by suffering more cup final heartbreak in the cruellest fashion.

Smith said: “It is what it is, not the greatest, if I’ve got to be brutally honest to see Frankie miss, Zavon miss and George, who are quite prolific when you do it in training and stuff like that. It’s a bit of a disappointment especially after we save and they miss one but there it is, we move on.”

Maidstone United went first and Bromley keeper Gregory dived low to his right to push away Jack Richards’ right-footed penalty.

Bromley’s penalty-specialist Sutherland saw his right-footed penalty pushed away by Lewington, diving to his left to flick away.

Maidstone United missed their second spot-kick when Muldoon skied his right-footed penalty over the crossbar to the delight of the Bromley fans behind the goal standing on the North Bank.

Bromley took the lead in the shoot-out through Raymond, placing his left-footed penalty into the bottom right-hand corner, sending the keeper the wrong way.

Maidstone United scored their first penalty at the third attempt when Romain cracked his right-footed penalty in off the underside of the crossbar, as he tried to drill it into the top right-hand corner.

There was a delay for Bromley’s third penalty as it appeared that none of their players remembered who was going to take it as they lined up on the half-way line.  Brindley appeared to be persuaded to step up and he drilled his right-footed penalty into the left-hand corner, despite Lewington guessing the right way.

Maidstone United levelled through Dan Wishart’s left-footed penalty, sending Gregory the wrong way as he found the bottom left-hand corner.

With the score tied at 2-2, Hines could have brought his professional career to a glorious climax but a weak penalty just right of centre was saved by Lewington, who stepped to his left and made the block.

The ghost of Wembley came floating back at that point.

Turgott dinked a sublime right-footed penalty into the left-hand corner, sending Gregory the wrong way to ensure Maidstone United had one hand on the trophy.

And former Maidstone United man Porter gave the Hayes Lane faithful more penalty-shoot-out despair when Lewington dived to his left to save the tenth-penalty of the shoot-out.

Hayrettin said: “There was no commotion (regarding which end to take the penalties).  We just asked what are the rules? We have to toss up for it, a toss of a coin, which is the rules really and they were looking for the safety officer and we just made a point and it worked in our favour in the end.”

Maidstone United complete their miserable league campaign with a basement battle at home against Braintree Town on Good Friday (15:00), before travelling to ninth-placed Sutton United on Easter Monday (15:00) and completing their campaign at home to fellow relegated side Aldershot Town (12:30)

“Listen, no team likes to get relegated, no team,” said Hayrettin.

“I’m pleased for the supporters (winning tonight). We’ve just shown them we are here.  We know it’s been a disappointing season. We sort of say this is for you, just to please, please keep the faith because the story has just started here. It hasn’t ended here.

“Braintree is just another game. We just want to get as many points as we can, of course, we want to win every game.

“We will want to finish as high as we can.  The story has just started, it hasn’t ended,” vowed Hayrettin, the former Braintree Town manager.

Bromley host third-placed Solihull Moors at Hayes Lane on Good Friday, travel to fourteenth-placed Barnet two days later and complete their campaign at home to eighth-placed Ebbsfleet United on 27 April at the same kick-off times as above.

Smith added: “I want to get as many points on the board as we can. Just give it the best shot. Every game we’ve got something to play for at the moment.

“Solihull are trying to get automatic promotion, let alone the play-offs and then Ebbsfleet. Depending on the last game of the season and where they are, they could be a big game so two good home games for the supporters and hopefully we can come back with a few points.

“I want to win every game and every player is playing for something for next year as well so our season ain’t over in that situation, especially the home games. I want to make sure we go out on a high.”

Bromley: David Gregory, Alan Dunne (Billy Craske 61), Sam Wood, Frankie Sutherland, Roger Johnson, Jack Holland, Richard Brindley, Frankie Raymond, Omar Bugiel (Marc-Anthony Okoye 27), Jordan Higgs (Zavon Hines 81), George Porter.
Subs: Alex Brefo, Briggs Ojemen

Goal: Frankie Sutherland 32 (penalty)

Booked: Frankie Raymond 84, Zavon Hines 90

Maidstone United: Chris Lewington, Aaron Davies, Dan Wishart, Ollie Muldoon, Will De Havilland, Rob Swaine, Michael Phillips, Josh Taylor, Elliott Romain, Justin Amaluzor (Blair Turgott 46), Jack Richards.
Subs: Dion-Curtis Henry, Cameron Williams, Jacob Gilbert, Charlie Dale

Goal: Elliott Romain 61

Booked: Aaron Davies 21, Dan Wishart 74, Blair Turgott 76

Attendance: 1,587
Referee: Mr Isaac Searle (Dover)
Assistants: Mr Richard Joss (Margate) & Mr Jack Fagg (Dover)
Fourth Official: Mr Peter Cruise (Rochester)