Bromley 2-2 Stockport County - Where we are is a major achievement but we've set our standards and we didn't reach them tonight, says Bromley boss Neil Smith

Tuesday 29th October 2019
Bromley 2 – 2 Stockport County
Location Hayes Lane, Bromley, Kent BR2 9EF
Kickoff 29/10/2019 19:45

Vanarama National League
Tuesday 29 October 2019
Stephen McCartney reports from Hayes Lane

BROMLEY manager Neil Smith says his players’ didn’t reach the standards that they set at the weekend after being held to a disappointing draw by part-timers Stockport County.

The Lillywhites returned to the summit of the Vanarama National League table after humiliating then leaders FC Halifax Town 5-0 at Hayes Lane at the weekend but they had to settle for a point against seventeenth-placed Stockport County tonight.

All of Bromley’s goals were scored during the second half at the weekend but all four goals tonight came during an 19 minute spell during an exciting first half

Bromley opened the scoring through Reeco Hackett-Fairchild’s seventh-goal of the season, before Jim Gannon’s men equalised through Elliot Osborne’s 35-yard run and drilled near-post finish before the Hatters took a deserved lead through winger Tom Walker.

Bromley equalised through an own-goal from Stockport County right-back Sam Minihan before they dominated the second half and struck the woodwork on two occasions, while Stockport County hit the crossbar following a rare attack.

“Disappointing after a Saturday like we’ve had, everyone expectations levels have gone through the roof and they’re going to expect that every week, it’s only Stockport and you’ve got to give every club – and you’ve seen the results today – the respect they deserve,” said Smith.

“I think when we went a goal up, I think everyone thought it was going to be exactly the same as Saturday.

“Jim Gannon hasn’t stayed in the game for as long as that just to let a team capitulate like (Halifax on) Saturday, so I’m disappointed that we didn’t play to the level that we set but second half when we did go and attack teams and we’ve got at teams at pace, we created enough chances to have won the game in the end.

“I had a go at them at half-time because that’s not Bromley Football Club that we’ve done from the start of the season but at the same time where we are is a major achievement from the same boys.  I’m disappointed only because we’ve set our standards and we didn’t reach them tonight.”

Bromley were attacking the wrong end during the first half as they were kicking down towards the car-park north bank terracing.

It took almost 15 minutes for Bromley to create their first opening.

Adam Mekki, who was playing up front alongside Michael Cheek, used his chest to send Hackett-Fairchild charging down the middle of the pitch before he rolled the ball out to Luke Coulson, who cut the ball onto his left-boot before his shot from 25-yards was caught by Ben Hinchliffe, stepping to his left.

“I thought that was the one where he’s come inside on his left and we were saying on the side he’s got to get down the outside on his right, hit it across the goal because their keeper might deflect it our palm it out and you’ve got a rebound so we actually said it when he was going through but the second time he goes through he did the right thing,” added Smith.

A mistake from last-defender Festus Arthur helped Bromley take a deserved lead with 17 minutes and 7 seconds on the clock.

Winger Coulson capitalised on the slip to sprint straight down the middle of the pitch before hitting a low drive, which was spilt by Hinchliffe and former Charlton Athletic attacker Hackett-Fairchild rolled a first time shot across the keeper to find the bottom right-hand corner from eight-yards.

“So Coulson’s learnt from the first chance, coming onto his stronger foot, hitting it across the goal, you’re getting a chance of a rebound and Reeco’s on a rich vein of form at the moment, puts it away,” said Smith, whose side was watched by a Kent-based scout from League Two club Colchester United.

“Look, we know what Reeco can do. He’s going to be in and out because of where we play him and stuff like that but I thought he’s just starting to get into the groove again.”

Bromley centre-half Chris Bush delivered a deep free-kick from inside his half, which was cleared out to Josh Rees, who played the ball in from the right and Jack Holland teed up Mekki, whose left-footed drive from 25-yards was destined for the bottom corner, forcing Hinchliffe to dive to his left to push the ball towards safety.

“He pulled off a great save,” said Smith.

“Mekki’s just coming back from form, obviously scored and got confidence from Saturday and hits the shot. That’s what we’re saying, just do what you’re good at!”

Bromley keeper Ryan Huddart should have done better with Stockport County’s equalising goal, which was timed at 23 minutes and 31 seconds.

Minihan fed the ball down the line to Osborne, who picked the ball up in midfield ran forward with the ball for about 35-yards and wasn’t tackled by either Sam Wood or Bush and from a tight angle drilled his right-footed shot screaming past the keeper at his near post into the roof of the net from 10-yards.

Bromley’s injured first-choice keeper Mark Cousins was sitting behind the goal and told Smith that the shot was too hot to handle.

“He drives through a couple of people, we should’ve put a tackle in and slowed him down or stopped him at least and then he gets in the wrong side of Sam Wood, Chris Bush shows him down the line, he hits it across, apparently the ball moved and Ryan lost the flight off the ball.

“Mark Cousins was sitting behind the goal and did say it did move a lot but I still think the keeper shouldn’t be done at the near post.”

The goal lifted Stockport County’s spirits, in what was to be the first meeting between the two clubs.

Lone striker Frank Mulhern released winger Adam Thomas in behind Bromley left-back Wood and the ball was fizzed across the face of goal before Stockport County deservedly grabbed the lead with 33 minutes and 45 seconds on the clock.

The ball was worked out to Minihan, who was within the right channel and he cut the ball back to holding midfielder Jordan Keane, who took a touch before whipping in a cross towards the near post.

In an attempt to clear his lines, Wood’s flick ensured the ball went behind him and across the keeper and Tom Walker ghosted in to accept the gift by burying his shot past Huddart.

“They got on the front foot and deservedly went 2-1 ahead, “ admitted Smith.

“I had a go at them at half-time, our boys. I thought we just lacked a little bit of energy out there.

“It’s gone behind Sam Wood, he’s raised his foot up to try to deflect it but he’s actually deflected in the path of the player and he’s actually knocked it away from a couple of defenders.

“It’s just sloppy defending and Woody, second-half was unbelievable, Saturday was unbelievable. We just had a rash couple of minutes when he probably should’ve got his body across it and tried to head it and he hasn’t.”

By the time that travelling fans had finished chanting “top of the league, you’re having a laugh!”, Bromley received a huge slice of luck to snatch an equaliser, which was timed at 36 minutes and 15 seconds on the clock.

Centre-half Holland launched a long ball up towards Cheek, who spun Stockport County centre-half Ash Palmer before the former Ebbsfleet United striker aimed towards the bottom near corner in an attempt to add to his 10 goals this term.

However, Minihan prodded the ball past his diving keeper some eight-yards from goal and the ball trickled into the bottom near corner.

“Look, I thought Cheeky got a touch to it anyway but the announcer was quite adamant that it was an own-goal but Cheeky’s in the right place so we go in at 2-2 disappointed but not worse than what it could’ve been,” added Smith.

Stockport County missed a glorious chance in the 38th minute following their first of four corners.

Tom Walker and Osborne were involved with the short corner and the ball was crossed towards an unmarked Arthur who glanced his free header across the keeper and bouncing past the far post from 10-yards.

Smith said: “Again, we’re just having warning signs from them. We told the boys literally before the game, we got in early and went through what they’re good at. They’ve got the big man at centre-half and he’s dangerous from corners and we’ve just got to defend better.”

An entertaining first-half for the 2,205 fans inside Hayes Lane but Smith revealed he had a go at his team during the interval.

“We finished the half not going in a goal down,” said Smith.

“I had a go at them because we’ve set standards.  I don’t care if a team beats us, obviously I don’t like it. If we play to our strengths and our best and they’re better at it than us, then you’d take it on the chin. I don’t think after we scored the first goal we got to the levels we’ve set so far this season and the boys put that right in the second half.”

Bromley played the majority of the second half on the front foot and they should have took the lead after 106 seconds.

Rees cut the ball back from within the left channel to an unmarked Wood, who took a touch before delivering a deep cross towards the far post.  Cheek brought the ball down before striking a half-volley across the keeper to clip the far post from six-yards out.

“That was the intent, get the ball, just don’t have to be flash with it, don’t have to be anything, over extravagant, just get the ball in the box,” added Smith.

Wood was putting in some great crosses for Bromley and his second one was met by Cheek’s head (despite towering above two Stockport defenders) but sent his attempt straight at the keeper from 10-yards.

Smith said: “If he goes either side or down, you’ve got half a chance. It was straight into his hands but what we’re doing was the basics, which we normally do and we’re very good at.”

Bromley’s holding midfielder Michael Klass rolled the ball into Mekki, who flashed his right-footed drive flashing just past the foot of the left-hand post from 25-yards as the home side kept knocking on the door.

Bromley were to be denied a deserved lead with 12 minutes into the second half after Keane sent Cheek tumbling to the ground on the edge of the D in a central position.

Coulson and Hackett-Fairchild were over the ball but Hackett-Fairchild stroked his left-footed free-kick over the keeper’s left-shoulder and watched the ball agonisingly clip the top of the crossbar before dropping behind from 22-yards.

“He clipped the crossbar on Saturday as well and got his eye on and you’re hoping he gets another chance and maybe put it in. All off a sudden we’re showing an intent and the desire to go and score the winner,” said Smith.

Stockport County almost won it too, when in the 18th minute, the underside of the crossbar saved Bromley’s bacon.

Osborne’s corner from the left was cleared, substitute Ben Jackson recycled the ball back into the box and Osborne’s back-heal played in substitute striker Nyall Bell, who crossed low into the box for Thomas to flick his shot against the crossbar from inside the six-yard box.

“Yes, listen, we went for the win. We didn’t want to settle for a draw so they’re going to get a chance if you’re going to throw all your players forward but you just hope that we can put it in the other end before they do,” added Smith.

Smith made three of his substitutions all within a seven minute spell. Frankie Raymond and Rarmani Edmonds-Green, a defender, both slotted into the middle of the park, while Adrian Clifton played in the number 10 role behind Cheek.

Smith said: “I’ve brought the three subs on, fresh legs. Frankie Raymond’s deliveries are always going to be good and makes you have to do something.  Obviously bringing Rarmani on, who nearly scored as well and Clifton up there being busy gets a chance.

“Rarmani has settled in. Saturday was the first time we properly met him. We’ve spoken and got everything sorted beforehand on the Friday. He came in on the Saturday, what a way to come and make your debut in a game like that! Today you saw the other side and I thought he showed some great qualities.”

Raymond whipped in a cross from the right which was met by a downward header from Bush, which was comfortably gathered by Hinchliffe, inside the final 21 minutes.

Raymond whipped in a left-footed free-kick from the right which was met by Hackett-Fairchild’s header, which he steered across the goal and past the far post.

Stockport County should have snatched the winning in the 75th minute when Raymond lost the ball to his midfield counterpart Sam Walker and the ball was worked out to Osborne, who released Jackson down the left and his low cross was missed at the near post as Bell slid in.

Bromley finished the game on the front foot and threw everything at Stockport County as they went in search for a winner.

Cheek was sent crashing to the ground by Keane and Raymond and Hackett-Fairchild were standing over the ball but Hackett-Fairchild whipped his left-footed free-kick just over the crossbar from 30-yards, the ball landing on top of the roof of the net.

With Stockport County hanging on, Bromley wasted two glorious chances to claim the victory inside stoppage time.

Raymond was given time and space to take a touch before whipping in a great cross from the left which was met by Edmonds-Green’s free-header, which the Huddersfield Town loanee guided over the crossbar from 12-yards.

Cheek then put a chance on a plate for Hackett-Fairchild, but his left-footed angled drive flashed across the keeper and agonisingly past the far post at the death.

“I just said to the boys, I knew we would get one more chance.  I think he just needs to be composed there, just hit the target and make the keeper work but he's snatched at it and missed the target,” said Smith.

Bromley travel to bottom-three side Wrexham on Saturday (15:00), before travelling to League One side Bristol Rovers in The FA Cup First Round on Sunday 10 November (12:45).

Bromley remain top of the Vanarama National League table with 36 points from 19 games and the play-off places are occupied by FC Halifax Town (35 points), Yeovil Town (34 points and with a game in hand), Harrogate Town (32), Barrow (31 and with a game in hand), Torquay United (31) and Notts County (30).

Stockport County remain in seventeenth-place in the table with 25 points from 18 games, while the relegation places contain Sutton United (16 points from 18 games), Wrexham (16 points from 19 games), Ebbsfleet United (16 points from 19 games) and Chorley (13 points from 19 games).

Bromley: Ryan Huddart, Joe Kizzi, Sam Wood, Michael Klass (Adrian Clifton 72), Chris Bush, Jack Holland, Luke Coulson, Josh Rees (Frankie Raymond 68), Michael Cheek, Adam Mekki (Rarmani Edmonds-Green 65), Reeco Hackett-Fairchild.
Subs: Korrey Henry, Tarek Najia

Goals: Reeco Hackett-Fairchild 18, Sam Minihan 37 (own goal)

Booked: Michael Klass 26

Stockport County: Ben Hinchliffe, Sam Minihan, Tyler Garratt, Jordan Keane, Ash Palmer, Festus Arthur, Adam Thomas, Sam Walker, Frank Mulhern (Nyal Bell 63), Elliot Osborne (Dan Cowan 89), Tom Walker (Ben Jackson 53).
Subs: Ian Ormson, Adam Hammill

Goals: Elliot Osborne 24, Tom Walker 34

Booked: Sam Walker 72, Sam Minihan 90

Attendance: 2,205 (197 away)
Referee: Mr Carl Brook (St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex)
Assistants: Mr Andy Bennett (Woking, Surrey) & Mr Gary Jerden (Wickford, Essex)
Fourth Official: Mr Scott Rudd (Rochester)