Ebbsfleet United 0-1 Bromley - We're not good enough at the minute, admits Ebbsfleet United boss Jamie Day
EBBSFLEET UNITED 0-1 BROMLEY
Vanarama Conference South
Tuesday 17th February 2015
Stephen McCartney reports from Stonebridge Road
BROMLEY manager Mark Goldberg says his side deserve to be sitting proudly at the top of the Vanarama Conference South table with 12 games remaining.
The Ravens leapfrogged over Boreham Wood to lead the table by one point with 56 points from 28 games after claiming a deserved victory, courtesy of central midfielder Reece Prestedge’s third goal for the club.
Ebbsfleet United’s tenth league defeat of the season sees them drop a place to ninth with eleven games remaining, thirteen points adrift of their title-chasing Kent rivals and facing a fight to qualify for the end-of-season play-off lottery.
The game attracted Ebbsfleet United’s largest crowd of the season (1,227) and although the game proved to be disappointing, the result is all that mattered for around 250 travelling fans, who saw their side continue their impressive record on the road, winning their tenth (of fourteen games) on their travels.
“I thought it was a steady performance throughout the whole 94 minutes,” said Goldberg after his side’s seventeenth league win of the campaign.
“I think that we didn’t really allow them to breath. We kept pressing. I made sure that we were compact and we won second balls so once we got on the ball I thought our movement was great. We got in behind quite a few times.
“I think it’s fair to say we had more goalscoring opportunities and therefore we deserved to win. When it’s 1-0, you’re always concerned right up until the last minute.
“We deserved to win the game. There’s no doubt that Bromley deserved the win.”
Ebbsfleet United boss Jamie Day was disappointed to suffer his sixth defeat in fifteen games since his switch from Vanarama Conference side Welling United.
“I thought it was a tight game. There was nothing much in it,” he said.
“I thought our shape was good. We played reasonably well. It was going to be a bit of magic or a mistake that was probably going to get the winner and we made the mistake and they punished us for it.
“I don’t think we’ve done enough second half to threaten (Alan) Julian. I think we didn’t do enough with the ball and I’m disappointed we got beat.”
Bromley, who finished in a personal best of third last season, were thrashed 4-0 on their last visit to Stonebridge Road, the Conference South play-off semi-final first leg at the end of last season.
That night, Steve Brown’s Fleet raced into a 2-0 lead inside the opening eight minutes, and Danny Kedwell almost gave the home side the lead after only 75 seconds following the first corner tonight.
Bromley failed to clear Brendan Kiernan’s corner from the left, the ball was played out to an unmarked Kedwell and the former Gillingham striker powered his right-footed shot over the bar from sixteen-yards.
Day said: “I think whoever was going to score first was probably going to go on and win the game.
“I knew it was going to be a tight game and that weren’t for a reason because they’re obviously a good, well-organsied side that are picking up points.”
Goldberg added: “I thought that was their only real chance. They gave us a little scare at the end.
“I thought we were a little bit nervous actually. I thought we grew as the first half went on. We grew in confidence and actually second half we came out very confident.”
Bromley’s first chance arrived in the fifteenth minute when Ben May almost scored against his former club.
Former Fleet winger, Anthony Cook, delivered a free-kick from the left channel, the ball was headed away, only as far as Danny Waldren, who teed up May, whose low right-footed drive from 20-yards was tipped around the post by Preston Edwards, diving low to his right.
Goldberg said: “Ben held the ball up well, won his headers and I thought he linked up very well.”
Day added: “We know what Ben and Cookie are capable of doing.
“I thought our back four played really well tonight. I think as a whole we did fairly well. They took on board what we told them in the week (at training).”
Patient play from Bromley gave them another chance when Waldren whipped in a cross from the right and May teed up Louis Dennis, who hooked his right-footed shot over the bar from 25-yards.
Ebbsfleet United’s next opportunity arrived in the 27th minute and Kiernan should have done better against his former club.
Left-winger Sean Shields played a one-two with striker Adam Cunnington before clipping a sublime high diagonal pass, which sailed over Joe Anderson’s head and Kiernan brought the ball under his spell inside the box.
However, he cut in but his right-footed shot from 10-yards lacked power and Alan Julian simply collected the rolling ball at his near post.
After both sides cancelled each other out, Bromley finished the half on the front foot and created a trio of late openings.
Striker Bradley Goldberg swept the ball out wide to Cook on the right, whose diagonal pass found Goldberg, who gave Dennis the chance to cut into the box but his left-footed shot was caught low down by Edwards.
Right-back Ugo Udoji whipped in a cross to find Goldberg, who cut into the box but dragged his left-footed shot across Edwards and just past the far post.
Dennis and Prestedge did well to combine down the left and a low centre was stabbed narrowly past the foot of the near post by Cook, who ghosted in.
Goldberg said: “Some clever little inter-play, good feet around the box and we just couldn’t hit the target, but we were pressing and you felt like we were the team who were going to get one – if there was one that was going to score to get the winner.”
Day said: “I think they got in a couple of times down our right, their left, which again was half chances. I think Preston done ok but I always felt there wasn’t much in it.
“Second half, I don’t think Preston had that much to do. We haven’t worked their keeper enough and they’ve punished a mistake that we’ve made and took advantage of that and got the three points.”
Both managers were asked their thoughts at the break.
Day said: “Just keep going. I think the shape had been good. I think we worked hard, just lacked a bit of quality on the ball when we needed to keep possession.
“I think we tried to get the ball forward early when we could have took an extra pass and that was the instructions – and keep the tempo up.
“I’m not going to criticise the boys because I thought we played fairly well but just in the final third we just lacked a bit of quality to open them up.”
Goldberg drummed into his team to believe that they could win the game to return to the summit.
“I think it was about believing in ourselves that we deserve to be where we are,” he said.
“For some reason we were a little bit slow off the mark in terms of confidence. Not in terms of work ethic or work-rate. It was almost like we didn’t believe how good we can be.
“I told them at half-time, look guys the only thing lacking in your performance is belief. You can go on and win this and second half they showed that they could and they showed they believed.”
A mistake after 58 minutes gifted Bromley the deserved victory, which could be a defining moment as the Hayes Lane club bids to win their first league title since 1961.
Ebbsfleet United right-back Kenny Clark cleared the ball out of defence straight to Prestedge, who took a touch before stroking a right-footed drive from 25-yards, which bounced past Edwards’ dive and found the bottom left-hand corner and the vocal travelling contingent started to believe that this would be their year.
Goldberg hailed the former Bishop’s Stortford captain for scoring his most important goal for Bromley.
He said: “Reece has owed me a goal. Last year he scored 11 or 12 goals for Bishop’s Stortford. So far this is his third but he’s had a lot of opportunities where on another day he might have well of scored so today was his day to bury one for us and to be the match winner and we’re absolutely delighted for him but also delighted for the team.”
Day said: “We can’t give the ball away as cheaply as we did in that area of the pitch!
“We wasn’t under any pressure from it to give it away. If you’re 25-yards out and you give it to players that are confident and near the top of the table they’re going to punish you for it!
“I think we could have done better with their shot as well but we shouldn’t give it away in the first place!”
The home fans expected a reaction from their side but they had to wait until the 65th minute for a shot at goal.
Clark, who was keen to make amends for his costly mistake, was given time and space to whip in a cross into the penalty area but with his back to goal Kiernan hooked his acrobatic over-head kick straight into the hands of the former Dartford keeper.
Bromley boss Goldberg hailed his central defensive partnership of Rob Swaine and Jack Holland for slamming the door and keeping Kedwell and Cunnington in their pockets throughout.
“I think Jack Holland, especially was absolutely outstanding, showed he’s getting stronger and stronger but Rob Swaine is the one that makes everyone else work.
“I thought the whole team worked hard. There was a lot of hard work and endeavour and closing down from the back right the way down to the front.”
Swaine faces a three match ban (Chelmsford, Ebbsfleet and Hemel Hempstead) after being sent-off in the 1-1 home draw against Hayes & Yeading last Saturday.
“Hopefully not. We’ve appealed it and we’re hoping we’ll get him off,” revealed Goldberg.
Bromley’s next opportunity arrived in the final ten minutes when Edwards comfortably saved Anderson’s left-footed free-kick from 30-yards.
But Bromley should have killed the game off just 42 seconds later when Prestedge played a fine diagonal pass to put Goldberg through on goal, but the on-loan from Dagenham & Redbridge striker stroked his right-footed shot straight at Edwards, who made a comfortable save at his near post.
The manager said: “I mean one-on-one like that, you expect Brad to maybe do a bit better but I think the work that he put in, I think it’s fair to say the legs in the end probably didn’t give the sort of finish that he’s capable off.”
The Bromley manager brought on Ali Fuseini and Moses Ademola, taking off May and Dennis and played the rest of the final minutes with a 4-5-1 formation to protect their lead.
Day, who has an extremely high 31-man squad at Stonebridge Road, revealed why he kept faith with the same starting eleven for the entire game.
He said: “We will only go with a squad of 20 next year but I think in that 31 we’ve only got fourteen fit players so we’re not in a position to be able to turn it around tactically.
“We (couldn’t) bring attacking players on because we ain’t got one. We’ve got a centre half and two midfielders on the bench, so no disrespect to the boys on the bench, they’re not going to change games.
“Matt Johnson’s injured anyway with a shoulder so you’re only looking at Mark Gower and Dean Pooley that are available and Mark’s a little bit short of fitness to play in a game like this, the sharpness of it so we’re limited what we can do so hopefully the break of ten days now we can get a couple back fit if we can.”
Ebbsfleet United just didn’t look like scoring and their last chance arrived in the final three minutes when Kelvin Langmead punted a long ball forward from the half-way line and Kiernan’s free header from ten-yards looped just over the crossbar.
Goldberg added: “It was a half chance wasn’t it. Brendan looked quite lively, dangerous, but the final ball wasn’t quite there for him.”
Day admitted: “I think the game was tight and we didn’t do enough in the final third to cause them a problem.
“We had a couple of half chances but not enough. I don’t think we looked to get in behind enough to stretch the game so I’m disappointed with that because at home you want to trouble the keeper and you want to be attacking and you want to create chances.
“Second half, we didn’t do that well enough to try to score!”
Boos rang out around Stonebridge Road, while the travelling fans celebrated a famous victory as Bromley start to believe that they could bring Conference top flight football to Hayes Lane for the first time in August.
Bromley have two more games in hand over Boreham Wood and travel to bitter-rivals Sutton United (Saturday) and Chelmsford City (28 February) before hosing Ebbsfleet United at Hayes Lane on 7 March full of beans.
Goldberg said: “I think it’s really important to win our games in hand, especially to win them against a team that’s fancied to still get promoted so it was a big win for us today.
“We came here saying we mustn’t lose, wanting a draw but we got the win, which is delightful.
“We’ve got massive games coming up. We’ve achieved nothing yet but it’s nice to enjoy the evening. We’ve got to enjoy the nights where we win and enjoy the time when you are in a good position.
“But there’s a lot of hard, hard games coming up, very, very tough. Hemel away, Chelmsford away, Sutton away, Ebbsfleet at home. I mean it continues doesn’t it.
“We struggled to beat teams at home wherever they are in the league. It’s going to be a hard run it but right now I’ll take the position that we’re in and say that it’s probably a better position that we were in last year.
“We’re a stronger squad this year. We couldn’t cope with injuries last year. I think we feel stronger and possibly the team spirit should get us over the line.
“The next 12 games are massive games for us. Let’s take one game at a time. Let’s enjoy today.”
When asked whether tonight’s result is revenge for that broken dream back in April, Goldberg replied: “I think no. It wasn’t necessarily like that. We know we’ve learnt a lot from last year and we were much better organised from set-pieces tonight. We’ve worked on them and we’re organised ourselves better, touch wood, we’ve been much more resolute.”
Goldberg confirmed that striker Jordan Robertson, 27, has left Hayes Lane.
“We’ve offered him an opportunity to stay and he didn’t want to accept our offer so we’d rather now, shall we say, we’ll try and see whether we can continue with the squad size we’ve got at the moment rather than spending money that we don’t need to spend.”
Ebbsfleet United now find themselves seven points adrift of fifth-placed Whitehawk – and Day admitted that his side face a battle to qualify for the play-offs after conceding the title tonight.
“It makes it difficult now. We’ve got eleven games left and we’ve got to win eight of them, nine of them,” he said.
“We’re in a situation where we’re slowly creeping away from it and I think it’s going to take a massive effort from the boys and supporters because we can hear them moaning from the side but that’s not going to help the group of players that are here now.
“The group of players that were here before weren’t good enough to get in the play-offs an that’s why we made the changes and if this group aren’t ready yet to get in it then we’ll have to worry about next years’ so we want to get in there but it’s making our task a little bit harder than we want to.
“We’ll see if we’re good enough to do that – to get into the play-offs – or not. I think we’ll need late 60s (points) to get in it, possibly 70s. I’m not sure but I personally think that’s the target we’ve got to get if we’re going to do it.
“Are we good enough? I think we are but are we playing well enough in the attacking third to do that. At the minute, probably not.”
Ebbsfleet United: Preston Edwards, Kenny Clark, Ben Jefford, Theo Lewis, Kelvin Langmead, Tom Bonner, Sean Shields, Stuart Lewis, Danny Kedwell, Adam Cunnington, Brendan Kiernan.
Subs: Matt Johnson, Jamie Turner, Mark Gower, Dean Pooley, Jamie Day
Booked: Kenny Clark 14, Stuart Lewis 62, Danny Kedwell 69, Theo Lewis 79, Adam Cunnington 90
Bromley: Alan Julian, Ugo Udoji, Joe Anderson, Danny Waldren, Rob Swaine, Jack Holland, Anthony Cook, Reece Prestedge, Ben May (Ali Fuseini 85), Bradley Goldberg, Louis Dennis (Moses Ademola 86).
Subs: Callum McNaughton, Paul Rodgers, Jamie Slabber
Goal: Reece Prestedge 58
Referee: Mr Michael George (North Walsham, Norfolk)
Assistants: Mr Simon Finnigan (Maidstone) & Mr Daniel Cook (Braintree, Essex)