Thursday 01st September 2005

 Point taken
Bromley 2-2 Croydon Athletic
Tuesday 24 February 2004
Ryman League Division One South
by Stephen McCartney

Two talented teams graced the Hayes Lane pitch in front of Bromley’s lowest crowd for many years on Tuesday night.      

Only 105 fans turned up for the local derby against Croydon Athletic – 301 fans watched the corresponding fixture last season – but the loyal followers were rewarded with an entertaining contest.

Bromley gave thirty-two year old goalkeeper Dean Mann his debut, replacing the suspended Danny Harwood and attacking striker Landry Zahana-Oni made a return to the club after signing from Ryman Premier Division side Carshalton Athletic earlier in the day.

Mann signed from Go Travel Kent League tenants Cray Wanderers and has previously played for Millwall, Leyton Orient, Leyton Wingate, Leyton and Collier Row and has experience in the Ryman Premier Division with Enfield and Grays Athletic.

Bromley supporters will remember Zahana-Oni for his performances at the start of the 1998-99 season when he helped Bromley thrash Heybridge Swifts 6-1 on the opening day of the season and after 27 appearances was sold to Luton Town.

Mann was tested in the opening four minutes blocking James Evans shot after the debutant dropped a cross from the left before saving James Gibson’s volley from sixteen yards.

Two Croydon Athletic shots in the space of a minute from Scott Todd and Rams skipper Evans drifted well wide of the target finding the corner flag. 

It took Bromley twenty-one minutes to have their first effort on goal when skipper John Myatt squared the ball for right-back Danny Smith but his 25-yard shot flew over Robert Frankland’s crossbar.

A minute later, Mann dived full stretch to his left to punch John Fowler’s 24 yard shot, which was heading for the top right hand corner, over the crossbar before Todd’s inch perfect cross took Mann out of the game but Gibson’s header narrowly missed the right upright.

Bromley opened the scoring, however, in the 29th minute when Zahana-Oni slipped the ball for Adolph Amoako who left James Hall for dead before clinically firing low into the bottom far corner of the net from 16 yards to score his nineteenth goal of the season.

With seven minutes before the break, Myatt can count himself unlucky not to increase the home side’s scoreline when his 25 yard effort was pushed away by Frankland.

You expect to see diving in the Premiership and not in the Ryman League so Barry Stevens was deservedly booked for diving just outside the Bromley penalty area as he took to the air as Mann came rushing out of his penalty area and had the judges been at Hayes Lane they would have awarded ten out of ten for the dive.

At the other end, Paul Vines rolled a shot towards goal but was denied by Gibson who almost collided with the right post as he played the ball away from the goalline.

Colin Luckett screamed a free kick narrowly wide of the left post for Bromley and this was sandwiched by Mann clawing a shot from Todd around the left post and getting his body fully behind Evans’ low free kick that zipped off the slippery Hayes Lane turf.

Two minutes into the second half, Amoako’s curling effort was saved by Frankland but the goalkeeper was beaten for the second time after 52 minutes.

Amoako intended to thread the ball to Vines but the ball was cut out by last defender Anthony Funnell.  Amoako received a second bite of the cherry, finding Vines who raced towards goal before slotting the ball into the back of the net.

Mann seemed happy to parry most shots that the Rams rained in at him and he blocked Fowler’s shot before he did the same from Evans’ 30 yard free kick.  However, James Hall should have done better with the loose ball, blasting the rebound high over the right post.

After 63 minutes Zahana-Oni set up Vines and the powerful strike wasn’t too much trouble for Frankland but a double substitution by Croydon Athletic manager Hayden Bird, urged them forward to try to pull back Bromley’s two-goal advantage.

Todd’s pace fought of Luckett before the former Carshalton Athletic striker lifted the ball over the crossbar before Mann was at fault for Croydon Athletic’s first goal with only nineteen minutes remaining.

He parried Jamie Byatt’s shot from outside the penalty area and although he recovered well to block Simon Huckle’s follow up shot the ball was poked home at the far post from close range by Barry Stevens.

Four minutes later, Mark Willy, who tried to take the ball past Evans in the centre circle, lost possession to Todd who surged forward before curling a 22-yard effort over the crossbar.

The  home side clipped the top of the crossbar, albeit from Luckett’s corner before Stuart McIntyre’s men were reduced to ten men when Gary Drewett, who was booked on the stroke of half time, was harshly sent off for a foul on dangerman Leon Johnson.

After making two mistakes in the game, Referee Mr Ayers appeared to want to even things out a bit so when Hall went to ground with John Wilfort close by him, the man in black pointed to the penalty spot.

Funnell slotted home the resulting 89th minute penalty to Mann’s right to earn the visitors a deserved point.

Bromley will be looking to beat Whyteleafe at Hayes Lane on Saturday (3pm) in the Ryman League Division One South and will probably need to win ten of their last fourteen league games to finish in the "super six".

The following Tuesday, 3 March (7.45pm), Bromley make the short trip to Mayfields in Thornton Heath for the return game against Croydon Athletic.

Croydon Athletic manager Hayden Bird was pleased with the point his side gained at Hayes Lane.

He said:  “Considering we were 2-0 down with 19 minutes to go, it was an excellent point.  There were two good sides out on the pitch tonight and it’s a pity the standard of the match officials didn’t match the two teams on the pitch because the officials didn’t do the game justice.  I think from both teams the referee and his assistants made crucial errors at critical times of the game.

 “I think Bromley’s second goal was definitely offside and from their point of view there is no way Gary Drewett deserved to be dismissed from the field of play.

 “What I would say about Croydon Athletic is that there is real character within the first team squad and that are a terrific bunch of young lads and they will always will fight to the last whistle.  From that point of view they are a bit of a menace to play against.  Once they got their scent of the equaliser I think on reflection a draw was a fair result tonight.

 “If next Tuesday’s second leg is half as good as this game, I think it will be worth watching.  Even if we had lost tonight, I would have said from a spectators point of view, a really enjoyable game. As I say there were two very good sides tonight, the only pity was I think the official let the players down! 

“The biggest thing for me tonight was to see Stuart McIntyre back at Bromley. He is a good friend of mine. I think he is a terrific football manager and his teams always play the right way.  It was a shame, a real pity, when he left, and it’s good to see such a good friend back in football.” 

Bromley: Dean Mann, Danny Smith, Gary Drewett (sent off 86), John Wilfort, Colin Luckett (Michael Harney 83), Mark Willy, Kevin George (Jason McKoy 46), John Myatt (Capt), Paul Vines (Wade Falana 75), Adolph Amoako, Landry Zahana-Oni.  Subs:  Steve Potterill, Paul Kember

Croydon Athletic: Robert Frankland, Justin Brauer-Jones (Simon Huckle 66), Leon Johnson, Anthony Funnell, James Hall, James Gibson, James Evans (Capt), Barry Stevens, John Fowler (Jamie Byatt 66), Scott Todd, Danny Stassinos (Adrian Toppin 12).  Sub: Danny Cecil

Attendance: 105
Referee: Mr B Ayers
Assistants: Mr T Cogley & Mr I Fissenden

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