Chesterfield 1-1 Bromley - I thought the boys were outstanding! I just said how proud I am and honoured to be their manager after a performance like that, says Bromley boss Neil Smith

Tuesday 27th November 2018
Chesterfield 1 – 1 Bromley
Location Sheffield Road, Chesterfield, Derbyshire S41 8NZ
Kickoff 27/11/2018 19:45

Vanarama National League
Tuesday 27 November 2018
Stephen McCartney reports from Sheffield Road

BROMLEY manager Neil Smith says he was proud of the performance from his players after coming so agonisingly close to pulling off a famous victory at Chesterfield.

The Ravens took the lead nine minutes before half-time through a headed goal from George Porter, 26, scoring his fifth goal of the season.

Martin Allen’s under-performing side grabbed an equaliser with just 59 seconds of normal time remaining when Zavon Hines slotted home a penalty after Richard Brindley broke the hearts of the 85 travelling fans by raising his arms and making contact with the ball inside the box.

Despite a heroic performance, Bromley slipped down a place to eighteenth in the Vanarama National League table with 24 points from 22 games.

Chesterfield have extended their winless run to 19 league games but have drawn their last eight in the league but remain in the bottom four with 20 points. This was the Spireites’ ninth 1-1 draw of the season.

“I thought they were outstanding, the boys.  I just said how proud I am and honoured to be their manager after a performance like that,” said Smith.

“When you go away from home, seen their stadium and the players’ that they’ve got, to leave it until the last minute was disappointing in that respect but I couldn’t be more pleased with the boys performance.

“After (losing 2-0 at home to Dagenham & Redbridge on Saturday) when we were disappointed, we had a few home truths but we don’t want to keep saying that – but we do. We look at ourselves and when we’re good and we’re organised and we’re together we are very good. When one or two don’t turn up, we’re always going to struggle.

“This League is getting more and more difficult, when you’ve got a club like Chesterfield with the facilities they’ve got and everything else, we’re disappointed going home with a draw so I’m delighted with the players that we got the result.”

Smith was playing for Gillingham when League Two Chesterfield reached The FA Cup Semi-Finals in 1997 – Bromley struggled to finish in the bottom five of the Ryman (Isthmian) League and there was a feeling of disappointment when Chesterfield grabbed their lifeline.

“I played against them for Gillingham in that season when Kevin Davies was playing and people that that. The stadium or the pitch (at Saltergate) wasn’t as nice as this by the way!

“It’s a fantastic club Chesterfield and I now Martin (Allen) as well and if he wanted to win one game this season, it would have been against myself but he was very honest in there and said they’ve nicked a draw against us.”

Smith got his game plan spot on, playing with three centre-halves with Jake Goodman in the middle of Jack Holland and Roger Johnson and Sam Wood had a great game at left-back and striker Jack Barham (who is on loan from Barnet) worked his socks off up front on his own.

“Jake’s been training really well and he’s been unlucky not to start games but he’s got the sweeper role sown up. He reads the game well and we had Marc-Anthony Okoye in front to contend with Denton and I thought they were magnificent first half,” said Smith.

Chesterfield created an opening in the 13th minute when Bradley Barry’s free-kick was played out to midfielder Curtis Weston and his cross was headed away by Holland and Jonathan Smith guided his header into David Gregory’s hands from 22-yards.

Bromley created a glorious chance to take the lead within the next three minutes.

Wood released Barham down the left wing and he whipped in a cross for Porter to plant his free header sailing agonisingly past the left-hand post – with goalkeeper Callum Burton rooted to the spot – from 16-yards.

Smith said: “I thought Jack Barham and George ran their socks off. We changed our formation because of Denton and knowing their formation and their strengths and when he missed that you think ‘oh please, don’t hide, go and get yourself back there’ and low and behold, he did the boy.”

Chesterfield were too over reliant on the long-throws from left-back Samuel Muggleton, who launched seven of them into the Bromley box and the Bromley defenders dealt with huge target man Thomas Denton, who has scored six goals for the home club this season.

Chesterfield striker Jordan Hallam reached the by-line but drilled his shot into the base of the side netting as Bromley’s defenders kept their opponents at bay.

Chesterfield went close to scoring in the 25th minute when central midfielder Smith played a one-two with Joe Rowley and drilled a right-footed drive from 35-yards, which dipped just over the crossbar as he attempted to crack one into the top right-hand corner.

“That’s what we wanted. What we didn’t want was balls in the box where Denton’s so strong and dominant in the air and we kept it to a minimum. We had a game plan and we stuck to it and it worked first 45,” added Smith.

The Ravens received a slice of luck when Denton flicked on a long ball and Goodman sliced the ball just past the near post with his keeper off his line.

But Bromley were a well-organised outfit and the home faithful regularly voicing their displeasure, often booing their players during the game and at half-time and at the final whistle, while the 85 travelling fans made their voices heard.

Smith said: “That’s what we heard. They were booing them so we’re doing something right! When you come away from home and come to a club like this and the supporters are booing you and the opposition as well you’re doing something right!

Smith thanked the Bromley fans that made the 374-mile round trip to give their players great vocal support.

“Thank you so much, the support was immense. You could hear them singing even though there were over 3,000 of their supporters.  The support has been magnificent, as it always is and I just wished we could come back with three points – but I don’t think they’ll be disappointed.”

Bromley grabbed the lead with 35 minutes and 28 seconds on the clock and it came from a set-piece.

Frankie Sutherland floated a deep free-kick into the Chesterfield penalty area from the half-way line, Holland rose in a group of players at the far post to head the ball across the box and Porter applied the finish, heading into the near corner to send the Bromley fans into raptures.

“I think it was headed back by Jack Holland and finished by George Porter. It was a fantastic goal. It’s one that we work on and I thought it worked to a tee,” said Smith.

“We’re always a threat (from set-pieces) and when we had the big boys that we had in there it was always going to cause a problem but we work on them. They’re not lucky goals, they’re worked on and fair play to the boys. We work on them because we know we’ve got to be better at them and we have to work against them.”

Chesterfield won the corner count by 8-0 and Rowley floated in their fourth of the night but Smith steered his header over the crossbar from 14-yards out.

Smith (Jonathan, not Neil) flashed a deflected drive past the post from 22-yards and Muggleton floated in the resulting corner and centre-half Laurence Maguire came up from the back to loop his towering header wide.

Bromley could have been in dreamland had they doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time.

Everyone expected Porter to launch a long throw in from the right but he threw it short to Sutherland, who was in acres of space to put in a cross for Holland to guide his free-header straight into Burton’s hands.

The Ravens boss said of his inspirational leader, Holland: “He just headed it straight at the keeper. He got up really well but that’s been our luck at the moment. The fact that we’re creating chances and the fact we had someone in the box at that last minute is testament to the boys.”

When asked about his thoughts at the break, Smith replied: “Don’t change anything, keep doing exactly what we’re doing. We might be under the cosh and might be on the back foot but if you stick together out there, we get what we deserve.”

Allen made a double change at the interval with Denton and Weston making way and you sensed Chesterfield would start to dominate the play.

Gregory was called into action after only 79 seconds when Rowley fed Hines down the left and he cut inside towards the corner of the penalty area before drilling a powerful shot towards goal, which forced Gregory to dive to tip it around his post.

Smith said:  “Gregaz had to be alive. He took a couple of crosses as well and saved a bit of time and took a bit of pressure of the defenders but Zavon Hines is a very good player.”

Substitute Lee Shaw (who played wide on the right) started to get on the ball and he linked up well with right-back Barry on several occasions.

Boos echoed around the stadium when Barry floated a cross in from the right, which was comfortably plucked out of the air by Gregory.

The home side kept knocking on the door but Bromley’s defence was holding firm and the longer the game went on frustration was creeping in both on and off the pitch from the fed up home faithful, who can’t accept where their club are playing their football nowadays, having been relegated from League Two in May.

More good wing play from Hines saw him cut inside from the right and put a chance on a plate for Smith, who from a central position on the edge of the box, hit a low shot which was comfortably gobbled up by Gregory.

Smith added: “We didn’t want them to get into the box, that’s where they’re dangerous and we managed to keep them out and shoot from distance and knowing the keeper Gregaz is, we expect him to save them.”

Chesterfield’s only threat, Hines was on the end of some heavy Bromley tackles and the home fans weren’t a happy bunch as time ticked on, slowly.

It was hearts in mouths time when Marc-Anthony Okoye tripped Hines on the edge of the penalty area but Chesterfield produced the worst free-kick routine of the season and allowed Bromley to clear their lines. Cue, even more booing!

Chesterfield continued to press for an equaliser during a dominant final 10 minutes as Bromley sat back.

Bromley broke through the heart of the pitch through Sutherland and he played the ball inside to Porter, who sliced his left-footed curler around the far post from 25-yards and he couldn’t hide his disgust with himself.

“It was great link-up play, I think it was Frankie Sutherland and it came back. I don’t care whether they miss, just get into the position to miss. It’s when you start fearing that you might miss when you don’t get in there,” added Smith.

“I thought we won it in the 88th minute. I couldn’t see them breaking us down. I thought we looked solid, I thought we were picking up the second ball.”

Rowley played the ball into Hines, who cut onto his left-foot and called Gregory into making a flying save to his right to push towards safety in the final five minutes.

“Gregaz has been great, working with (goalkeeper coach) Jim Stannard as well. I think he’s improved, especially taking the crosses and shot-stopping and when he’s been called upon, he’s been brilliant.”

Bromley were so close to producing a famous win at Chesterfield – as the sick twist of fate swung in Chesterfield’s favour as Hines scored his fourth goal of the season.

However, referee Simon Mather made the correct decision to award Chesterfield a penalty after Brindley’s costly error and Hines sent Gregory the wrong way to slot his right-footed penalty just right of centre, the goal timed at 44:01.

Smith said: “When the ball goes in the box, we think Brinds gets pushed and that’s why his arms are up and it’s a penalty and you’re just hoping that they miss – they didn’t!

“I thought Zavon Hines was outstanding today. I thought he was the highlight of their team. When you come near him you always worry what he can do but it was a needless penalty in the first place. Whether he got pushed or not, he shouldn’t have reacted by putting his arms up.  You haven’t got a chance because the ball actually falls to one of our defenders. It’s not even heading towards goal.

“Brinds has been brilliance since he signed for us. It is what it is.”

Smith added:  “I think before the game you would have taken a draw away from home to Chesterfield and I’m disappointed we have so yes we have gone a long way.

“After Saturday, I know the supporters were disappointed, as we all were to have so many chances on goal and not score.  We probably had less chances tonight and we scored.  They stuck with us. The support even after the game on Saturday has been immense and the kind of good wishes for the team to go up and get a result today and the boys have shown what they’re about to this club.,  I asked them to show how much they want to play for this club and I think they proved it today!

“I think they should be honoured to play for this club. I’m honoured to be the manager and I’m proud and I just want them to feel the same way.”

Chesterfield almost added insult to injury when substitute winger Kyel Reid whipped in a great cross from the left for Hines to plant his diving header just over the crossbar.

Nights like these prove that Little Old Bromley can compete against the big boys in this division – and staying in the Vanarama National League is vital.

“If we keep playing like that and keep putting in performances like that, I think we’ll win more games than we lose and that’s what we’ve got to do,” said Smith, who takes his side to seventh-placed Gateshead on 8 December.

“I’ll have Omar Bugiel back for the next game, Frankie Raymond and the squad then gets stronger. Players’ are competing for places. We don’t play on Saturday, we’ve got Gateshead in a couple of weeks and we’ve got to make sure we’re fresh and ready and give another performance like that.

“But we can’t take one eye off the league and staying in this division.  I want to come midtable. I think it’s going to be difficult to try and better what we did last year, coming ninth, Wembley Final, First Round of The FA Cup, but we’ll give it our best shot. If we can be midtable and learn from our mistakes and become a better team and a better club for it, I’ll take it.”

Put this result in cotext.  Bromley have come away from a club that has 4,000 season ticket holders with a point.  Bromley are higher in the table and have four more points than a massive club like Chesterfield.  It’s a night of feeling proud of The Ravens and Smith is doing an excellent job at his home-town club.

Chesterfield: Callum Burton, Bradley Barry, Samuel Muggleton (Kyel Reid 79), Joe Rowley, Haydn Hollis, Laurence Maguire, Jonathan Smith, Curtis Weston (Lee Shaw 46), Thomas Denton (Manani Amantchi 46), Jordan Hallam, Zavon Hines.
Subs: Michael Nelson, Joe Anyon

Goal: Zavon Hines 90 (penalty)

Booked: Joe Rowley 65

Bromley: David Gregory, Richard Brindley, Sam Wood, Jake Goodman (Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe 60), Roger Johnson (Alan Dunne 82), Jack Holland, George Porter, Frankie Sutherland, Jack Barham, Marc-Anthony Okoye, Jordan Higgs (John Goddard 72).
Subs: Adam Mekki, Joe Quigley

Goal: George Porter 36

Booked: Roger Johnson 34, Sam Wood 63, Frankie Sutherland 67

Attendance: 3,729 (85 away)
Referee: Mr Simon Mather (Manchester)
Assistants: Mr Dale Baines (Kirby, Merseyside) & Mr Steven Lennon (Sunderland, Northumberland)
Fourth Official: Mr Benjamin Wyatt (Worsley, Manchester)