Bromley 2-1 Woking - It was a massive win, says Bromley boss Neil Smith, now seven points clear of the relegation zone

Tuesday 04th October 2016
Bromley 2 – 1 Woking
Location Hayes Lane, Bromley, Kent BR2 9EF
Kickoff 04/10/2016 19:45

Vanarama National League
Tuesday 4th October 2016
Stephen McCartney reports from Hayes Lane

BROMLEY manager Neil Smith says his side have claimed a massive win over fellow strugglers Woking.

The Ravens went a goal down after only 160 seconds through Fabio Saraiva, who scored his third goal for Woking after impressing for both Merstham and Maidstone United previously.

But Bromley pulled a goal back through Blair Turgott’s fourth goal of the season in the first half before Lee Minshall came off the bench to snatch a vital late winner, timed at 43 minutes and 51 seconds in the second half to score only his second career goal for Bromley.

It’s been a good week’s work from Smith’s men after coming away from fellow strugglers Southport with a 2-1 win at the weekend, as they stretched their winning run to three games (in all competitions).

Bromley remain in eighteenth-place in the Vanarama National League table on 17 points from 14 games – but more importantly seven points clear of the relegation zone.

“It was a massive win, especially when we’ve just seen the results,” said Smith during the post-match press conference.

“We’ve had two wins on the trot and haven’t moved anywhere so it was a vital win. It now brings us into the middle half of the league and gets us away from the bottom half but we have not made it by any means.

“That was down to hard work today, going a goal down but full credit to the boys.”

Bromley can’t afford to be flirting in and around the bottom four in the National League – because it’s a season long struggle to stay safe.

Smith said: “That was another great win  We lost two players before the game from Saturday as well, which was a bit of a nightmare, but full credit to the boys that have come in as well.

“Jack Holland’s just has a slight groin but we just didn’t want to chance it and Rob Swaine came in and was superb.

“Dave Martin was suspended after five bookings. Again that was all sort of thrown on us yesterday so the preparation went right out of the window but it was a good result and I’m really pleased with the boys.”

But Smith wasn’t pleased when Woking opened the scoring after only 160 seconds.

Saravia found a pocket of space, left open by Jordan Higgs and central defender Rob Swaine to stride forward before picking his spot with a superb left-footed 30-yard drive, which nestled into the bottom left-hand corner.

“Swainey sort of fell over and we didn’t win the second ball. Maybe if we had done that he wouldn’t have got that chance. He took it well - but the boys never gave up,” said Smith.

“We always said we have to start well – and we didn’t!  I’m not going to come out until after five minutes,” laughed Smith, after his side conceded the first goal again.

Woking dominated the opening 20 minutes as it was flat both on-and-off-the-pitch for Bromley’s perspective.

Joe Anderson played the ball inside to Bromley striker Bradley Goldberg, who cracked a speculative right-footed drive from 30-yards which sailed about 30-yards over the Woking crossbar.

Woking should have doubled their lead in the 23rd minute through another long-range drive from Saraiva.

Right-back Connor Essam hit a long ball out of defence, the ball was brought down in the middle by striker Delano Sam-Yorke and Saraiva’s right-footed drive from 25-yards was tipped around the post by Bromley keeper Alan Julian, diving low to his right.

“We played a couple of players that didn’t play (at Southport) on Saturday that came in late notice because of certain circumstances and it took us a bit of time to get us into the game because of that reason,” explained Smith.

“I thought once we did get into the game after about half-an-hour into the first half I think we looked more dominant and we looked more solid and I thought we thoroughly deserved getting the equaliser.”

Bromley squandered a glorious chance to grab an equaliser within two minutes.

Anderson clipped a long ball out of defence, the ball was flicked on by target-man Adam Cunnington putting Goldberg through on goal, but the striker lashed his left-footed shot over the crossbar from 16-yards.

Smith said: “Normally you put your house on Brad to hit the target and score. It didn’t happen but he didn’t give up. He kept on going, so that’s one of those things. He got in those areas and got those shots off, that’s what I’m after.”

Swaine was pushed from behind by Woking central defender Brian Saah but Turgott’s right-footed free-kick sailed over the crossbar from 28-yards.

Bromley right-back Joe Howe drove in a free-kick from midfield and Swaine rose to send his header across goal, which was comfortably gathered by Michael Poke.

Bromley lifted the gloom around Hayes Lane with a well-taken equaliser, timed at 34 minutes and 24 seconds.

Holding midfielder Reece Prestedge was inside Bromley’s half when he swept a sublime pass to put Tobi Sho-Silva down the right, whose pace took him past Joey Jones to find the right channel and his cut back was hit first time by Turgott into the top right-hand corner from 14-yards.

“We switched them. Blair started on the right but then we put Tobi on the right and Blair on the left and it worked a treat,” said Smith.

“Tobi, with his blistering pace, got to the ball, got to the by-line, pulled it back and Blair, again a fantastic finish and a goal I think we fully deserved.”

Essam hit another long ball out of Woking’s defence to the edge of the Bromley box but the quiet Matt Tubbs glanced his header into Julian’s hands for a comfortable save.

With Jack Holland missing through a groin injury, Swaine was partnered in defence by Daniel Johnson, who put in another impressive defensive display, having made the three level jump from Ryman League Division One South side Herne Bay.

Smith said: “He’s been a revelation! He came in at pre-season for a trial and he’s just getting better and better. I think there’s a lot of distance on where he can go in football. I think he’s an intelligent player, he’s got a left and right foot, he's great on a one-v-one which has sadly gone out of the game a little bit but for an 19-year-old he’s done brilliant for us.  We took a chance on him and think he's repaying us and I think he’ll go on and be a better defender as well.”

Smith questioned the decision to disallow Swaine’s poked finish on the stroke of half-time after Jordan Higgs recycled the ball back into the box after Anderson’s corner was flicked on by Sho-Silva.

“From where we were standing we couldn’t see what the problem was,” said Smith.

“They (the match officials) said that Tobi interfered with the keeper before he caught the ball or flapped at it but I don’t know whether he did but from where we were standing I didn’t see why it was disallowed. Obviously the ref saw something that we didn’t.”

When asked his thoughts at the break, Smith replied: “Don’t start like the first half! Start like you just finished it – and the boys did!

“I thought Jordan Higgs, again in there (central midfield) is showing a maturity. I think Reece Prestedge was fantastic and I think we needed to get more second ball.”

Jones played the ball out of Woking’s defence and played the ball out to winger Dennon Lewis, who was given time to cut in from the right just inside the Bromley box to roll his shot past the right-hand post – after 176 seconds.

Anderson swung in his second corner, which was cleared out to Goldberg, who hooked his volley over the Woking goal.

Bromley received a lucky break when Howe was booked for pulling back left-back Nathan Ralph as he charged down the wing.  Saraiva floated in a free-kick with his left foot and Essam’s deflected drive went just past the right-hand post from 14-yards.

Smith was full of praise for Higgs, who has comfortably fitted into Max Porter’s shoes, after the former Newport County midfielder left the club this week to drop down a level to play for Vanarama National League South side Chelmsford City.

“Max has been brilliant, he’s been very unlucky with his injury again, kept his head down, worked really hard, got back into (the team) this season but just couldn’t commit to full-time,” explained Smith.

“He was looking at what was going to happen when his contract finished here. He was starting to look building a personal training business up and he couldn’t do that if he was full-time or semi-full time. We train three mornings a week and he made a decision and said maybe it’s better if he looks now for what he does when he finishes playing and as a business rather than the end of the season when there’s a few ones that may not get a contract.”

Higgs is delighting the Hayes Lane crowd with yet another accomplished display in the middle of the park.

“I said on Saturday, I’ve not signed Jordan Higgs as a token gesture just because he’s an Academy player. He’s come through and I chose and signed Jordan,” said Smith.

“I’ve been with him since he was 15, or he’s been with me through the Academy and I’ve seen him develop into from a boy to a man and Jordan can be as good as he wants to be.

“He’s a hard worker, he’s dedicated to this club. He’s gone out on loan and played three seasons at Carshalton, been captain, player-of-the-season and stuff like that so I’ve got a player that’s developed as well with another club while he was under our radar so when I signed him on his contract it was because I wanted him to push to play in the first team.”

When asked about the second half, Smith replied: “I think we nullified them where their strengths were and I think we were playing to our strengths a little bit better.  We were winning more second ball. 

“The number eight, Kieran Murtagh, was dominating the midfield in the first 20 minutes of the first half, didn’t then dominate as well as he was in the second half and then I thought Blair was getting more into the game. 

“I think Adam Cunnington was winning more headers and I honestly saw the goal coming. Again, we did actually say we saw our goal coming from a set-play.”

It was nearly heartbreak for Bromley when Sam-Yorke progressed down the left and played a short pass inside to Saraiva, who hit a hooked volley screaming just past the near post from 30-yards.

But it appeared at that moment that Woking were going to be the side that were going to win the game and Smith had to act.

Minshull replaced Prestedge and seven minutes later pacy striker Daniel Ajakaiye offered Woking’s back four something to think about as Goldberg made way.

“Daniel adds pace, raw pace. He’s still learning the game but what he gives you is unbelievable pace,” said Smith.

“Lee Minshull came on and dominated the midfield and did what he does really well and then we just through we throw on another body (Connor Dymond) on to try to get a winner. We didn’t want to settle for a draw.”

Bromley were a threat from Anderson’s corners and Cunnington rose to send his header over the crossbar with less than 15 minutes remaining.

Woking squandered an excellent chance to kill the game off following another set-piece.

Substitute Anthony Edgar swung in a free-kick just in front of the corner flag towards the near post but an unmarked Essam failed to get his header on target.

Smith said: “He didn’t get it on target. Set-plays are going to be like that. We just lost our player on one occasion. That was, well, I won’t say his name, but we know who should’ve been marking him. Other than that I thought we were solid from set-plays and that wasn’t really a problem. It was from open play.”

Bromley hit Woking on the counter-attack when Cunnington poked a short pass through to Turgett down the middle, who strode forward and played the ball down the channel to Ajakaiye, whose poor first touch forced him wide and he steered his angled drive agonisingly into the side netting.

“It was his first touch. Instead of taking him towards the goal, took him away from the goal and then he was trying to wrap his foot around because he just showed what he can do once he opens up,” said Smith.

Bromley defence gave Edgar time and space to hit a right-footed dipping drive just over the crossbar from 30-yards.

Smith threw on Connor Dymond for the final seven minutes and the former Crystal Palace midfielder was given time to float in a deep cross which was hit by Anderson’s wrong foot, bringing a comfortable save from Poke.

“He’s good on his right peg. I just don’t think he had the confidence or the composure to put the ball on the target,” said Smith.

“I think that’s what’s happening at the moment, I think we’re snatching at everything and rushing things when a little bit of composure, a little bit of time and make the keeper work.”

But Minshull recaptured those box-to-box days in the Ryman League for both Ramsgate and Tonbridge Angels by being Bromley’s hero by scoring a dramatic and most-welcome late winner.

Anderson swung in a corner of high quality with his left-foot and Swaine planted a free downward header, which brought a great save from Poke, low to his right but Minshull was on hand to slam the ball into the back of the net from two-yards to send Hayes Lane into raptures.

“Brilliant! We know what Minsh is about and it’s a shame that we’ve had to wait so long to get him playing, so to have him out playing on the field is a massive, massive bonus to the team and the club,” said Smith.

“For him to score the winner is fully deserved because he’s worked very, very hard from his injury. He’s had a very low time during the last six weeks and he’s kept going and that’s his reward for that hard work and getting himself fit.”

Bromley host second-placed Lincoln City to Hayes Lane on Saturday and Smith wants to continue his side’s rise up the league table.

“It’s going to be tough. They’ve got a massive budget. They’ve got the pressure of they’ve got to get up. The Cowley’s have done fantastic at Braintree with the resources they had, now they’ve got the resources they’ve always wanted. They train full-time, they’re a League club, but we’ll give it our best shot.

“We want to keep the run going and we’ve played all the top teams and baring a couple we’ve always stayed in the game. 

“I’ll have players back hopefully from injury, suspensions so it gives me a bit of a headache of who I play and how I play.”

Tonight was Bromley’s second league win of the season at Hayes Lane – four teams have come away from the iconic stadium victorious – and the Ravens must improve their home form.

“Oh, without a doubt, that’s what we haven’t had for a couple of years and it was great to get a win tonight,” said Smith.

“I said to the boys yesterday it will be lovely to give the supporters something because the support we’ve had from day one has been absolutely fantastic and the away supporters travelling the distances they do, we’ve been rewarding them (with three wins away from home).

“It was nice to come here against a Woking side that wanted to beat us to get out where they are (one place below Bromley after tonight’s results on 12 points) and to give the supporters something to cheer about on a Tuesday night.

“Hopefully they will all come on Saturday, because we’re going to need their support on Saturday.

“You don’t need the support when you’re doing well. You need the support when you’re down there and in amongst it and that’s what they’ve given us.”

Bromley: Alan Julian, Joe Howe, Joe Anderson, Reece Prestedge (Lee Minshull 65), Rob Swaine, Daniel Johnson, Blair Turgott, Jordan Higgs (Connor Dymond 83), Adam Cunnington, Bradley Goldberg (Daniel Ajakaiye 72), Tobi Sho-Silva.
Subs: Jack Holland, Michak Stanic-Stewart

Goals: Blair Turgott 35, Lee Minshull 89

Booked: Joe Howe 52, Tobi Sho-Silva 55

Woking: Michael Poke, Connnor Essam, Nathan Ralph, Frankie Sutherland (Charlie Carter 62), Brian Saah, Joey Jones, Fabio Saraiva, Kieran Murtagh, Matt Tubbs (Chike Kandi 68), Delano Smith-Yorke (Anthony Edgar 73), Dennon Lewis.
Subs: Ismail Yakubu, Brandon Hall

Goal: Fabio Saraiva 3

Booked: Nathan Ralph 64

Attendance: 808
Referee: Mr David Rock (Hertford, Hertfordshire)
Assistants: Mr Gregory Read (Addlestone, Surrey) & Mr Gary Jerden Wickford, Essex)
Fourth Official: Mr Gerry Heron (West Wickham)

Coverage Sponsored by:

Bromley’s pitch maintained by: