Bromley 1-4 Stevenage - The boys have given an amazing account of themselves and they've put Bromley Football Club Academy on the map, says proud Mark Hammond

Thursday 16th November 2017
Bromley 1 – 4 Stevenage
Location Hayes Lane, Bromley, Kent BR2 9EF
Kickoff 16/11/2017 19:45

The FA Youth Cup Second Round
Thursday 16th November 2017
Stephen McCartney reports from Hayes Lane

BROMLEY Academy manager Mark Hammond says he was feeling proud of his players after reaching The FA Youth Cup Second Round for the first time in the clubs history.

Lithuanian born Bromley goalkeeper Kristupas Burba pulled off a string of saves during the first half to keep his side in the game, although the Vanarama National League club grabbed the lead through Aiden Enver’s fine strike.

Sky Bet League Two outfit Stevenage, who won the corner count 17-2, scored their four goals inside the final 29 minutes of the game.

Central defender Ben Wilmot broke Burba’s resilience, coming up from the back to level things up, before Andronicos Georgiou lashed in a shot to give Stevenage the lead.

Stevenage scored two late goals from substitute Drilon Krasniqi and a solo goal from the impressive Georgiou to set up a Third Round trip to League One side Fleetwood Town.

Bromley have defeated Maidstone United, Hastings United and Chipstead to reach this stage of the competition but Stevenage, who ended Charlton Athletic’s interest last season, were just too good on the night at Hayes Lane.

“Really good for 75 minutes, we showed that we had the character and the willingness to outplay a professional football club, or a professional football Academy and I just think if we kept the ball for longer spells we would’ve maybe tired them but I thought they looked stronger in terms of their physicality towards the end, but we’ll bounce back,” said Hammond.

“I’m really proud, really proud. The club hasn’t been into the Second Round. We were in touching distance of the Third Round. We knew what the draw was, it would’ve maybe have been nice to have won and have drawn maybe Chelsea or Man U but we’re still in the National Cup and still in with a shout of winning the League.

“I think it’s more important about their development and their our products and wherever they go in their football, whatever tier they play, they take the Academy ethos with them and the club’s ethos.

“It’s a great advert for the youth structure for the club and it will only enhance our recruitment for next year. It now shows that the club are trying to work with younger players, trying to produce them, create a production line for the first team.”

Stevenage went close following their first corner of the night inside the opening four minutes.

Marcus Gouldbourne cut the ball back to Georgiou, who drilled a low angled drive towards the bottom near corner, the ball was poked wide by striker Harry Draper from inside the six-yard box.

When Burba was defeated inside five minutes, shots from Joe Leslie and Draper were cleared off the line as Bromley threw their bodies on the line.

“They put their bodies on the line, they just believed that they didn’t want to lose for certain periods of the game.  They would’ve done anything to win the game and they showed that there was a defending spirit and belief not to concede,” said Hammond.

Bromley weathered the early storm and they wasted a glorious chance to grab the lead after 13 minutes.

Winger Rodney Adamon sprinted down the left, linked up well with Spencer Cripps and Adamon’s low centre slipped underneath the feet of unmarked lone striker Tahjae Anderson inside the Stevenage box.

“That was a really well-crafted move,” said Hammond.

“We’ve been working on it on the training ground with Ben Chorley. We’ve been working on some patterns, some of the attacking patterns and combinations surfaced tonight and it just skidded underneath Tahjae’s foot. He was free in the box and if he connects with that, that’s going in!”

Burba pulled off a fine save in the 18th minute when Draper played the ball to Georgious, who swept the ball out wide to Gouldbourne on the right, he hit a shot on the turn from 22-yards, forcing Burba to dive to his right to push around the post.

Hammond said of the former Crowborough Athletic goalkeeper: “He made three or four key saves and he pulled off an excellent save in the first half, which gave the back four, the boys, belief, which then gave them the impetus to go on and set the goal up, which is cliché.”

Bromley cleared their lines following Stevenage’s seventh corner of the night and Charley O’Keefe fed Leslie, who struck a low left-footed angled drive towards the bottom near corner from 20-yards, forcing Burba to dive to his right to push around the post again.

Bromley switched off at a corner and allowed Georgiou to cross from the right and watched O’Keefe flick his shot past the post from 10-yards.

But despite Stevenage’s dominance, it was Bromley who grabbed the lead, timed at 32 minutes and 41 seconds.

The names on scouts’ lips during this FA Youth Cup run has been that of former Crystal Palace midfielder Cripps and he played an influential role in Bromley’s goal.

Cripps played the ball out to right-back Guy Buskerville, who played the ball back inside to Enver, who sent Cripps on his way charging towards the edge of the Stevenage penalty area. His shot was blocked by Wilmot and Enver stroked a first time left-footed drive from 20-yards, flying past stranded keeper Nathan Harness into the back of the net.

“Consistently Spencer Cripps is showing promise and he’s learning and getting stronger every week and he’s been one of the best players, if not the best player in every game,” highlighted Hammond.

“Aiden sored one of those against Crystal Palace in a pre-season friendly and he’s got exactly the same goal tonight.  Technically, Aiden’s very good and he was given the time and instinctively he just connected with it well.  I think it stunned Stevenage.

“Spencer travelled, he’s come inside and he used his guile and his skill to create the move.”

When asked his thoughts at the time, Hammond replied: “Because of where we were, it’s one of those.  We wanted to go and get the second. At the same time we knew they’ve got to try and come for the equaliser. It’s a kind of you’re being cautious but at the same time you want to kill the game off. I just think we needed to keep the ball for longer spells.”

Bromley rode their luck at times. Winger Gouldbourne cut in from the right and his low shot forced Burba to dive to his right and push the ball away with a strong right-hand.  Leslie put the ball back into the danger area and Bromley made more defensive blocks inside their box.

Georgiou hit a dipping curling drive towards the far corner from 25-yards, which was destined to sail into the back of the net, albeit Burba stepped to his left to flick it around his post.

Bromley switched off from Theo Sackey-Mensah’s throw-in and Draper cut in towards the by-line and his shot from a tight angle was pushed around the post by the busy Burba as half-time approached.

Dominant Stevenage missed another chance with a fine move on the deck on the stroke of half-time.

Left-back Ali Omar played the ball up to Draper, who slipped the ball into Georgiou’s feet and his flicked pass released Leslie down the left and Georgiou found space inside the Bromley penalty area to slice his shot past the far post.

Bromley escaped and went into Ben Chorley’s half-time team-talk with a precious single-goal lead.

Hammond said: “Ben Chorley said stick to the game plan, make their centre half force them long, negate Georgiou and try to get our Spencer on the ball and our wingers on the ball.”

Stevenage created their first chance of the second half after only 15 seconds as the talented Georgiou drove forward before hitting a left-footed drive towards goal from 30-yards, forcing the Bromley keeper to dive to his left to tip the ball around the post to give Stevenage their tenth corner of the night.

It was swung in by Gouldbourne and Georgiou’s shot was comfortably caught by Burba.

“Kristupas has played a save there, I think we were still in the changing room!  Ben Chorley said to them they’re going to come out and start hard and fast and don’t start slow!”

Stevenage holding midfielder Alex Cole-Taylor picked up the ball and drove forward on more than one occasion and he played in Gouldbourne, who cut into the box from the left and his shot beat Burba but clipped the foot of the near post and hit the goalkeeper on the back and rolled behind.

Stevenage finally got their deserved equaliser with 15 minutes and 57 seconds on the clock.

Georgiou’s corner from the right was cleared back out to him and he floated over a deep cross towards the far post, which was controlled by Wilmot at the far post before he drilled a low shot across the keeper into the far corner from the corner of the six-yard box.

“Danny Mills, who is the Academy Manager of the first years, went to watch them and he said their two key threats were the 10 (Georgiou) and the 11 (Leslie),” revealed Hammond.

“Georgiou is a very good player. On the same page I think we allowed him towards the end, I think it’s due to fitness and the mental fatigue told today.  I don’t think the boys have been under those conditions yet, so it’s there but part of being mentally fatigued, the demand of the game but some of them have got to deal with that week-in-week-out now.”

Bromley created a good chance to go up the other end and snatch the lead for the second time.

Adamon played the ball into Cripps and his right-footed drive from 23-yards was heading towards the bottom left-hand corner but Harness dived low to his right to turn around the post for Bromley’s first corner of the night.

Hammond said: “I thought that was going to creep in to the bottom left.  Again he was a big threat and I heard their bench shouting ‘you’ve got to stop him, you need to track him’, so we tried to keep moving him around.”

Enver swung in the resulting corner from the left and Ola Williams rose to steer his header harmlessly wide.

Central defender Williams was recalled from his three-week trial at Sky Bet Championship club Barnsley to play tonight.

“It’s going well, he’s been training with the under 23s and he’s playing for Barnsley against Crystal Palace on Saturday.  He’s got two weeks left, hopefully we shall see,” said Hammond.

Leslie drove forward before drilling a drive which was palmed behind by the excellent Burba, diving to his right, in the 66th minute.

Georgiou’s corner from the left was hooked through a crowd of players by Omar, which was easily gathered by the busy Bromley stopper.

Stevenage lost their goalkeeper Harness to an injury as he bravely smothered the ball at Anderson’s feet, after he was played in through on goal by a sublime through ball along the deck by substitute midfielder Zak Dainkeh.

“It was a great ball from Zak. He slipped him through, he just, just didn’t connect with it. It was running away from Tahjae.  If he just touched it to the right, then he would’ve been in on goal,” said Hammond.

Bromley’s resilience was smashed into pieces when Stevenage took the lead with 28 minutes and 57 minutes on the clock.

Georgiou drove into the Bromley penalty area before lashing his shot high into the top near corner from a tight angle, which was Burba’s first mistake of the night.

Hammond said: “It was an amazing goal. That was an amazing finish, fair play to the kid.  I think he’s one for the future, hopefully we’ll see him.   Like our players they enter the stage where they compete week-in-week-out against each other.”

Bromley right-back Guy Baskerville was down in pain but Stevenage played on and substitute Liam Smyth cut into the box and his low shot was gathered by Burba at his near post.

Bromley striker Anderson held his head in his hands in despair when his header went straight into the hands of substitute goalkeeper Harry Payne, after Enver swung in a free-kick.

Stevenage went route-one to score their third goal, timed at 39 minutes and 1 second.

Payne launched a big kick straight down the middle of the pitch and last Bromley defender Tre Canns let the ball bounce over his head and Krasniqi flicked his shot over the keeper’s head into the empty net.

Hammond admitted it was a “carbon copy” of Rochdale’s third goal against Bromley in The Emirates FA Cup tie at Spotland at the start of the month.

He said: “I think Tre has just miss-judged the flight of the ball, kind of a catalogue of errors and he just lifted it over the goalie. It’s a shame really, Kristupas has played really well but he’s conceded four, not really a reflection of his performance.”

Stevenage wrapped up the win with a beautiful solo goal and finish from Georgiou, timed at 42 minutes and 22 seconds on the clock.

Georgiou collected the ball at his feet from inside his own half, sprinted with the ball, weaved past a high number of Bromley players, cut inside and smashed a left-footed drive into the top right-hand corner from a central position from 18-yards.

“It was amazing, he’ll be a very good player, very good player and he grew into it. Maybe we gave him too much space last 15, that’s probably down to fitness,” added Hammond.

Bromley closed their marvellous FA Youth Cup campaign with a late chance from a free-kick from 32-yards, taken by Anderson, which was held by Payne, diving low to his right to prevent the ball nestling inside the bottom left-hand corner.

“Overall summary, the boys have given an amazing account of themselves, they’ve put Bromley Football Club Academy on the map and I look forward to next year,” said Hammond.

“I don’t think the scoreline actually reflects our performance, which is cliché but the boys did brilliant!”

While Enver is already under contract, Bromley MUST put their best performers during this FA Youth Cup run – Cripps and Williams – under contract or run the risk of losing them to their Football League predators.

“We’re attracting scouts from Man United, Man City, Liverpool, Brighton, all looking now at Bromley Football Club, which has never been done before so the boys now are in the shop window for the bigger clubs,” said Hammond.

First team manager Neil Smith, who has guided Bromley to sixth-place in the Vanarama National League table, watched the game along with a number of first team players and met with Hammond in the manager’s office post-match.

“The gaffer said he was very proud of the boys, they learn from it and they now have to understand they learn from the experiences and they’re now working towards their own futures, their classwork, their progress into the first team, their progress into the new under 23s that we’re going to set-up next year and working hard and see where they go on their football journey’s.

“The under 23s strategy will be against professional football club under 23s like Millwall, Palace, Wycombe, Fulham, Southampton, Bournemouth, Brighton, all of those, Stevenage, so where they can develop at a level and they get that extra year of learning on the circuit and hopefully they an bridge the gap between the Academy and the first team and hopefully make the jump.

“Again, we’re going to deploy some of our Academy graduates into the lower levels of non-league where they can develop in adult football but also we can keep an eye on them and hopefully when their 19, 20, 21, they’re ready for the first team.”

Bromley: Kristupas Burba, Guy Baskerville (Tre Canns 82), Riphi Kalala, Marlon Peter-Brown, Ola Williams, Liam Coates, Rodney Adamon, Aiden Enver, Tahjae Anderson, Spencer Cripps, Ashan Jones (Zak Dainkeh 25).
Subs: Claudio Krasniqi, Aaron Clarke, Dexter Lovely

Goal: Aiden Enver 33

Booked: Aiden Enver 59, Tahjae Anderson 69

Stevenage: Nathan Harness (Harry Payne 71), Theo Sackey-Mensah, Ali Omar, Alex-Cole Taylor, Charley O’Keefe, Ben Wilmot, Marcus Gouldbourne, Jack Moriarty (Liam Smyth 74), Harry Draper (Drilon Krasniqi 55), Andronicos Georgiou, Joe Leslie.
Subs: Lewis Smith, Luis Fernandez

Goals: Ben Wilmot 61, Andronicos Georgiou 74, 87, Drilon Krasniqi 85

Attendance: 262
Referee: Mr Lee Dyson (West Malling)
Assistants: Mr Daniel D’Urso (Crowborough, East Sussex) & Mr Stuart Marriott (Ashford)

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