Sunday 04th September 2005

Wakeling will deal with crippling injury crisis


Bromley manager George Wakeling is used to battling against the odds at the Hayes Lane club - but this current crippling injury crisis is causing him the biggest headache of his 502 matches in charge of the club, writes Stephen McCartney.

His injury crippled side have picked up five points from their opening five Ryman Premier League games.

But it would be fair to say if he had star players like Gary Drewett (fractured ankle), Adam Locke (broken toe) and Colin Luckett (ankle) fit and raring to go, his side would be challenging the likes of leaders Hampton & Richmond Borough, AFC Wimbledon, Billericay Town and Staines Town at the top of the table.

But at the moment they have to settle for fourteenth place and Wakeling has to do a head count before each game to see which players are "fit" enough to take to the field.

Their next game, however, is a daunting trip to second placed, and much fancied side, AFC Wimbledon, but Wakeling is confident his walking wounded can take to the field and relish the chance of playing in front of 3,000 fans on Tuesday night.

But with Bromley's loyal band of followers, that support their team through thick and thin, they will inspire their team to battle against the odds, and who knows could knock the Surrey side off their pedestal.

Wakeling, however, will demand a response from his squad following a poor performance at Claremont Road on Saturday.  It's been a very long time that Bromley have won a football match at Hendon but their miserable run of results in North West London continues.

Bromley left it late to get anything from the game but striker Nic McDonnell almost nicked an underserved point with a late header that grazed the far post with seconds left.

Bromley welcomed back Joe Vines - whose still unfit according to Wakeling - into the defence and big, powerful target-man Wade Falana partnered McDonnell up front after Adolph Amoako was relegated to the bench following a disappointing start to the season - maybe the possible switch to Walton & Hersham in the close season has affected his game?

The opening exchanges were scrappy from both sides with neither really keeping possession.

However, Bromley had a penalty appeal waved away when former Ashford Town midfielder Barry Gardner was tackled from behind, just as he was setting to shoot, whilst Bromley goalkeeper Andy Walker made a good saved after Aiteouakrim beat a risky Bromley off-side trap.

A sign of things to come as five minutes later Bromley failed to clear their lines sufficiently, Ofori glided past Mark Willy out wide and delivering across which Danny Julienne met with a stunning volley from the corner of the box that whistled past Walker.

Bromley almost got straight back into the game as Allan McLeod's low free kick almost caught out Hendon goalkeeper King at his near post.

The goalkeeper was called upon again minutes later as McDonnell's shot, on the turn, after a flick on by Falana, was palmed away for a corner.

Soon after Bromley were two down after an uncharacteristic "slip" by Walker, who headed a long ball clear from well out of his area went straight to John Frendo, who returned it with interest from 40 yards.

The half-time break brought a change of formation to 3-5-2 with the introduction of Gavin McGowan for Steve Potterill.  The South African will be on the sidelines for two weeks after picking up a back injury.

Bromley struggled to get to grips with the change in the opening minutes as their defence were torn apart on a number of occasions only for Walker to make three superb point blank saves and a last ditch tackle from Vines to keep the score manageable.

But with the introduction of former Cray Wanderers wing-back Sam Wood (on a season loan from Dagenham & Redbridge), playing in a central role, and Henry Darko forcing McGowan to sweep and McDonnell playing behind the front two, Bromley started to get into a game they had always been second best in.

Falana headed just over from Wood's deep cross and with 12 minutes left another Wood cross swung towards the far post, which was kept in play by Falana, Henriques headed against the crossbar and McDonnell stabbed the rebound home to score his third goal of the season.

However, Hendon still looked very dangerous on the break with Walker making two more good saves from Frendo and Burgess and helped by Henriques - who admitted he is currently playing with two injuries - scrambling the ball out of play.

With seconds running out Bromley's best move of the match saw Wood play a ball over the top for Darko to play off to the rampaging McGowan whose deep cross was met at the far post by the unmarked McDonnell and the former Carshalton Athletic striker headed agonsinislgly wide from ten yards and with it Bromley's chance of stealing a point had gone.

Reflecting on the game, in an EXCLUSIVE interview with www.kentishfootball.co.uk, the Bromley boss admitted: "I would say, from coming back last December, that was probably our worse performance from the team collectively."

He added: "With so many injuries we've got players playing, not firing on all cylinders, having different knocks.

"We've got players 85% fit and that contributed towards it but I still expected better from what we produced.

"It probably is the worse (injury crisis) I've faced, but these things happen in football but we've just have to dig a bit deeper and make it happen for us."

Luckett trained with the team on Saturday, having had an injection, and Wakeling said: "things are looking promising" with regards to the former Kingstonian star. 

However, Wakeling's hands are tied behind his back as he cannot delve into the transfer market as the club has no extra funds available.

"It's very difficult to delve into the transfer market as we are carrying a big enough squad," he said.

Maybe the transfer kitty may become available to Wakeling if his side have a successful run in the FA Cup.

Wakeling takes his side to Combined Counties League side Bedfont next Saturday - with £2,250 awaiting them if they progress from the first qualifying round tie. But that money doesn't go far nowadays does it?

Wakeling admits he knows nothing about Bedfont but added: "It's a game got to be won, it's the FA Cup, it's very important to us.  It's a cup everyone wants to do well in, needs to do well in."

But before their embark on the Road to Wembley, Bromley tackle AFC Wimbledon and Wakeling hopes his players will rise to the occasion.

"Everyone wants to go to AFC Wimbledon and play in front of three thousand people, but I wanted to go there to pick from all of my squad, but that's not the case but we will deal with it and see how we go on," he said.

Can they win there? "Why not?" he replied.  "If we stick together and work hard for each other we can.

"We are giving away silly goals at the moment.  First and foremost that's our priority to regroup and stop giving away silly goals."

But the experienced manager, whose seen it all before, has high hopes for tall striker McDonnell.

"Nic is a good player - he'll score goals and the more games he'll have he will get better.  He's a natural goalscorer and he will get us 20 goals," promised Wakeling.

He added: "I think we should have done better.  We could have been doing better than we've done.

"It's not all doom and gloom with some good points but at the end of the day football is like that.

"Sometimes you hit certain situations and have to deal with them, and that's what we have to do."

Bromley were dealt a blow in the close season when Sam Okafor and Danny Carroll admitted they couldn't play this season due to promotion at work.  So a message to Mr Carroll, who I know reads this website, YOU ARE NEEDED ON TUESDAY NIGHT.

Bromley's team at Hendon:  Walker, Potterill (McGowan), Willy, Henriques, Vines (Darko), Boateng, Logan (Wood), Gardner, McDonnell, Falana, McLeod.  Subs: Amoako, Julius

AFC Wimbledon v Bromley
Ryman League Premier Division
Tuesday 6th September 2005
Kick Off 7:45pm
at Kingsmeadow, 422a Kingston Road, Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey