Spennymoor Town 1-2 Bromley - Semi-Final of The FA Trophy? For us to be there, a club like Bromley, I’m so honoured and excited about us being there, says Neil Smith

Wednesday 14th March 2018
Spennymoor Town 1 – 2 Bromley
Location Blackwell Meadows, Grange Road, Darlington, County Durham DL1 5NR
Kickoff 14/03/2018 19:45

The Buildbase FA Trophy Quarter-Final Replay
Wednesday 14 March 2018
Stephen McCartney reports from Blackwell Meadows

BROMLEY boss Neil Smith says it will be his biggest achievement to lead his home town club out at Wembley Stadium in The FA Trophy Final on 20 May.

Bromley now face a make-or-break two-legged semi-final against their Vanarama National League rivals Gateshead, who stand in the Ravens’ way to replicate the great 1949 team that beat Romford 1-0 to land The FA Amateur Cup at the national stadium.

Smith’s men were held to a goal-less draw by the seventh-placed Vanarama National League North side at Hayes Lane on 24 February and Spennymoor Town lost home advantage after failing to get their pitch playable on 27 February, 6 March and last night so The Football Association found common ground and played tonight’s game in Darlington.

Jason Ainsley’s men got off to a dream start as striker Glen Taylor stroked in his 19th goal of the season to give Spennymoor Town an early lead.

But Bromley were gifted a swift equaliser by sloppy defending and Louis Dennis slotted in his 19th goal of the campaign.

It was a comfortable and professional performance from Smith’s men and Frankie Raymond curled in a free-kick from the right wing, which found the far corner ten minutes into the second half.

Gateshead visit Hayes Lane on Saturday (15:00), before Smith takes his side to Solihull Moors for a League game next Tuesday, before returning to the North East for the Second-Leg at Gateshead on 24 March.

Bromley Football Club. FA Trophy Semi-Final. Put that into words?

“I’m just delighted for the club,” came Smith’s reply, to the opening question.

“Jerry (Dolke), Robin (Stanton-Gleaves), David Waller, Jeff (Hutton), could go through all them all, Brian (Olley) and George, who work there and the players’ and the supporters, who travelled up twice for this game.  We finally got it done!

“We made hard work of it but we’re there!  What I said to the boys is let’s get to the Semi-Final, I don’t care how we get there!

“We probably played on the biggest pitch I’ve seen in my life. We’ve done it and I’m delighted for everybody at this football club.  From the guys and the girls who work in the offices and the supporters, to the directors and the management.”

Thirty-supporters took advantage of free coach travel that six local sponsors provided -  and this reporter spent over £500 to attend this fixture (taking into account travel and accommodation for all these replays). It was worth every penny!

“I don’t think it’s a blame on Spennymoor, it could have been dealt (better).  I felt for the supporters that made their way last week, that’s why we went in the pub afterwards and bought them a drink.

“It’s cost a lot of money to come to places like this and then the local companies of Bromley putting up sponsorship for the supporters to come up here, if nothing else, that’s galvanised the club and it brings the club together a little bit closer and they got their reward for it tonight.”

Smith was without right-back Luke Woolfenden, who was ill, so Jordan Higgs slotted in his place and this was the area that Spennymoor exploited by taking the lead with only four minutes and 16 seconds on the clock.

Shane Henry played the ball inside to Taylor, who cut the ball onto his left-foot before stroking a sweet low drive nestling into the bottom left-hand corner from 25-yards.

Smith said: “Look, there were two comparisons.  They haven’t played for a little while (since the 0-0 draw at Hayes Lane) and we’ve just had to do an eight hour coach journey to get here, so they came at us.

“It could have been dealt with a lot better and we’ll have words about that on another day but I think when you’re travelling that sort of distance on a coach, you have to make sure you start lively and we didn’t!”

Bromley could have so easily folded but they responded brilliantly and swiftly equalised with five minutes and 59 seconds on the clock.

Raymond threaded a sublime through ball which wasn’t cut out by Moors’ central defender James Curtis and keeper Daniel Lowson failed to gather and let in Dennis who had the simplest task of slotting his shot into the empty net from 10-yards.

“We didn’t realise how big the pitch was until we stood on it and it was going to be a turn ball,” admitted Smith.

“We were against the wind as well and their pitch caused confusion between the centre half and the goalkeeper and Louis, who has been absolutely brilliant tonight! I’ve had to play him out of position for the sake of the team and he stuck to his job and he got his reward for it.”

Spennymoor’s defence were shaky early on and Bromley winger George Porter shot straight at Lowson as Bromley enjoyed a good opening spell.

Porter threw the ball to Higgs, who whipped in a low cross from the by-line to find Porter at the near post and his shot was parried by Lowson and Brandon Hanlan set up his strike partner Omar Bugiel, whose deflected drive flashed past the foot of the near post.

Spennymoor were a threat down both flanks with Ryan Hall (right) and Andrew Johnson (left) and Rob Ramshaw’s flicked pass let in Hall, who cut into the box and saw his shot sail into the side netting.

Bromley keeper David Gregory was called into making a flying save in the 25th minute.

Henry broke through the heart of the pitch from midfield and played the ball out to Johnson on the left and he cut inside and drove a right-footed drive towards the far corner from 25-yards, forcing Gregory to dive to his left to push the ball behind for a corner.

Smith said: “They’ve got some good players and Johnson is one of them and Ramshaw, the 10.  I think Taylor was a handful today and you’ve got Hall, the number seven, but I think they’re a good side and they proved that today.  Gregaz was at his best again!”

A floated cross from Spennymoor right-back Callum Griffiths was knocked down by Curtis inside the box and the ball was cleared out to Henry, whose shot sailed against the top of the crossbar and over for a goal-kick, despite a foul being given on the Ravens keeper.

Bromley finished the first half on the front foot and created chances that they should have taken.

Raymond floated in a free-kick, the ball was knocked down by Porter and Hanlan had to dig the ball out from under his feet and flashed his shot across the goal and past the foot of the far post.

Bugiel, who came off the bench to snatch a last-gasp 2-1 home win over basement side Guiseley at the weekend, had a glorious chance at the near post.

Frankie Sutherland swung in a corner from the left and Bugiel poked his shot past the foot of the near post from close range.

“It’s just come off his knee and you think if you go 2-1 up with the wind and a big pitch, you think that gives you the impetus,” said Smith.

“We were on top in the last 10-15 minutes and we wanted to start the second half in that vein and I thought we did. We came out and made an intent.

“I thought the two forwards, Brandon Hanlan and Omar Bugiel, the distance they had to cover because it was a big pitch, probably the most they’ve ever done and we got the reward a little bit later.

“At half-time I said just keep going! It’s going to be a messy game.  They’re a good team, don’t have too many touches.  If you get a chance, an opportunity, take it and thank God we did!”

The home side created an early half-chance when Matthew Dixon lofted a long ball into the Bromley box and Gregory came off his line to smother at Taylor’s feet.

And at the other end, Porter played the ball inside to Raymond, whose drilled low shot was blocked inside the box and Dennis hooked his shot straight at Lowson from eight-yards.

A cagey start to the second half was won by Bromley as early as nine minutes and 55 seconds into it.

Raymond swung in a quality free-kick from the right wing, a long way out and full credit must go to Bromley leader Jack Holland, who made a run across the struggling keeper and tried to hook the ball into the far corner and in it went.

“I think Jack’s claiming it, I don’t know yet, he may have done,” said Smith.

“The fact that he made the run and we’re confused whether he got a touch or not but what a great ball it was! The keeper’s not going to know if Jack’s going to get a touch or not. As soon as he goes in we were right behind it and we were going ‘that’s going straight in,’ so whether he got a touch or not, it was irrelevant, because he ran across the keepers eye line to make him step-back.”

Bugiel pressed his man in midfield, won the ball and slipped a short pass to Dennis, who dove into the box and Lowson got down low to his left to smother the low shot, kicking the ball away before it trickled over the line beside the post.

“I still thought we can go and get another one,” said Smith. 

“I didn’t want us to defend, I wanted us to get another one and really get on top.  A couple of them were going down with cramp and they battled well but we just couldn’t finish it off, we had chances,” said Smith.

Smith added: “Look, we know how good the keeper was. He made three great saves at our place in the first game, so we knew we’d have to be good to beat him toady and when we hit the target we need people to follow up and we just didn’t have people doing that enough today.

“Louis was exceptional! He done a job for the team today, very unselfishly and we’ve got the rewards.”

Bromley were playing well, you could tell as the whole stadium was quiet around the 65th minute mark and you could hear a pin drop.

But Spennymoor Town went close to equalising halfway through the second half.

Midfielder Dixon split the otherwise brilliant Bromley back line with a fine ball over the top to play in Ramshaw, who cut the ball onto his right foot and stroked a low shot across Gregory and past the far post.

“I think he wanted to wrap it a little bit more than he did, I think he wanted a little bit more bend and he hit it straight and as soon as it left his foot the danger was gone because it was going wide,” said Smith.

“He was a danger Ramshaw. He gets into good positions. He drives from midfield and you can see why he was an asset to this club.

Hanlan could have made it a more comfortable ending in the 70th minute.

Spennymoor dealt with Sutherland’s corner from the left, Adam Mekki, Bromley’s face-mask wearing substitute winger, hooked the ball back into the box from the centre and the flag stayed down and Hanlan lost composure by hooking his shot straight at Lowson when left unmarked 12-yards from goal.

“That’s why we need someone to tell him – you’re onside! You can have a touch, bring it down and do whatever he wants with it but I think because he panicked and didn’t know whether he was on or off and there was a defender near him and he just rushed it.  That’s where people need to communicate a little bit better.”

Bromley received a slice of luck when a long ball out of defence should have put in substitute David Foley through the middle but an initial poor touch got Bromley out of jail.  Foley kept composed, however, played the ball inside to Taylor, who smashed his shot over the bar from 30-yards.

An injury to Spennymoor right-back Griffiths gave them the licence to throw everything at Bromley during the final 15 minutes as Smith opted to play Hanlan up top and park the bus.

They came unstuck at Aldershot, who grabbed a last-gasp equaliser in the National League on 20 February, but with Holland, excellent as always, Bromley were resilient and put their bodies on the line to make it a great night for their 50 travelling fans.

“I made changes, I brought fresh legs on.  They were just going to put balls in the box and they were always dangerous when they did,” added Smith.

“I thought Taylor started winning balls in the last 10 minutes. Until then Jack had the better of him so you’re always panicking of something coming down in the box and it just flashed wide and Jack got in the way of a shot.”

“We knew they were a tough team, they’re doing well in their division. They want to come up this year and if they play like that you can see them getting that goal that they want to achieve.

“Full credit to my boys, that’s two tough games that we’ve had and to do that travelling and come all this way it was worth it in the end.”

Smith paid tribute to the travelling fans here in Darlington tonight and those who went to The Brewery Field in Spennymoor Town last Tuesday, before the game was called off 75 minutes before kick-off due to a waterlogged pitch.

“I can’t thank them enough! We’re professional footballers, so we get on with it but for people to take all their time out of their days off work and the cost of it, I can’t thank them enough and I hope this is some sort of reward and a thank you for everything that they’ve done for us this season.  

“I want them to be there for us for the Semi-Final and the dreams still alive and we want to go for it.

“Semi-Final of The FA Trophy?  If you said that at the beginning of the season you wouldn’t believed it! For us to be there, a club like Bromley, I’m so honoured and excited about us being there.

“We’ve got two days to recover and I hope the fans all come out and get behind us at Hayes Lane on Saturday because they’re going to be like another player.  They’ve done it all season but we’re going to really need them.  We’ve had a day less than Gateshead to recover and we have to make sure we’re up for it.”

Smith was asked what it would mean to lead his home-town football club out at Wembley Stadium, against lower division Brackley Town or Wealdstone and that Wembley dream is now only 180 minutes away.

“Look, to get there first of all would be the biggest achievement that I’ve ever done.  The fact that I’ve taken the club, we’re not there, as a dream, it’s just the place you want to be at.

“It’s more for the supporters, the supporters have been very supportive of the team and myself and the board. It will be the biggest thank you I could give anyone and that’s what I want to achieve and just to say thanks.

Spennymoor Town: Daniel Lowson, Kallum Griffiths (Bradley Fewster 76), Christopher Mason, Matthew Dixon (Mark Anderson 71), Joe Tait, James Curtis, Ryan Hall (David Foley 62), Shane Henry, Glen Taylor, Rob Ramshaw, Andrew Johnson.
Subs: Jordan Porter, Chris Chantler

Goal: Glen Taylor 5

Booked: James Curtis 33, Rob Ramshaw 90

Bromley: David Gregory, Jordan Higgs, Tyrone Sterling, Frankie Sutherland, Roger Johnson, Jack Holland, George Porter (Adam Mekki 60), Frankie Raymond (Ben Chorley 90), Brandon Hanlan, Omar Bugiel (Josh Rees 87), Louis Dennis.
Subs: Dan Johnson, Luke Wanadio

Goals: Louis Dennis 6, Frankie Raymond 55

Booked: Tyrone Sterling 52

Attendance: 802
Referee: Mr Karl Evans (Worsley, Manchester)
Assistants: Mr Stephen Dial (Blaydon-on-Tyne, Tyne and Wear) & Mr Bradley Hall (Great Barr, Birmingham, West Midlands)
Fourth Official: Mr John Matthews (Norton, Stockton-on-Tees)

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