Barnet 1-2 Bromley - We're a big team, apparantly, that everyone wants to beat, that's what everybody's saying, says Bromley boss Neil Smith

Tuesday 08th October 2019
Barnet 1 – 2 Bromley
Location The Hive, Camrose Avenue, Edgware, London HA8 6AG
Kickoff 08/10/2019 19:45

Vanarama National League
Tuesday 8 October 2019
Stephen McCartney reports from The Hive

BROMLEY manager Neil Smith says beating Barnet at The Hive was a great result for the club and that he’s enjoying life sitting in second-place in the Vanarama National League table after 16 games.

The Lillywhites arrived in Edgware with back-to-back losses to their name, having lost their unbeaten run of 15 games by going down to a 3-1 defeat to Yeovil Town, before putting in their poorest performance of the season by losing 2-1 at Hayes Lane to Barrow at the weekend.

Darren Currie’s side were unbeaten in three games and sat in sixth-place in the Vanarama National League table with 29 points from 15 games.

Barnet took a tenth-minute lead through Josh Walker’s fourth goal of the season, but Bromley bounced back and two Frankie Raymond free-kicks were of high quality and were headed in by centre-half Chris Bush and right-back Joe Kizzi.

“Circumstances the other week when we lost against Yeovil and Saturday I said to the boys ‘that wasn’t us’ and we needed to put a performance on that shows what we’re really about and we did today,” said a really pleased Smith following his side’s ninth league win of the season.

“Barnet started off so much quicker than us, obviously got the goal and we got the goal back and we just grew in confidence. We’re away from home, they’re at home and are going to put us under pressure but I thought we soaked it up well and I thought Ryan Huddart was amazing today. He really stamped it, put a performance in that said he’s with us!"

“Mark Cousins was here supporting the boys. He’s had the operation. Hopefully there’s no problems from it. He’s got a long recovery but we want to give him the best opportunity of being in and amongst it come the end of the season but I thought Ryan’s come in under difficult circumstances especially last Saturday and showed why we brought him in.”

Bromley should have opened the scoring with the first chance of the game after only 75 seconds.

The versatile Luke Coulson released eight-goal striker Michael Cheek down the right and he reached the by-line before cutting the ball back for Billy Bingham, who swept his first time right-footed shot across the keeper and dragged the ball past the far post.

“If it’s on his left foot I’m saying that’s a goal! On his right foot you hope he hits the target. He just miss-kicked it but again that showed an intent from us,” said Smith.

Bromley received a let-off following Barnet’s second corner of the game, defending zonally and leaving both posts unguarded.

Barnet’s right-wing-back Cheye Alexander floated the ball in from the right and Ricardo Santos – one of three centre-halves – planted his free header over the crossbar from 15-yards.

Barnet took the lead with nine minutes and 12 seconds on the clock.

The Bees played with three centre-halves in the shape of Santos (centre), Callum Reynolds (left) and Dan Sweeney (right) and this allowed David Tutonda (left-wing-back) and Alexander (right-wing-back) to get in behind Bromley’s full-backs on numerous occasions during the first half but Sam Wood and Kizzi tightened up after the interval.

Tutonda was released down the left and cut inside before whipping in a cross for striker Alfie Pavey to head across goal. Alexander did well to retrieve the ball close to the by-line and cut inside and play in a low cross for Walker to pounce (just as Bush was attempting to close the ball down) and sweep his right-footed shot across the keeper to find the bottom far corner from 12-yards.

“Very disappointed because we said about how they play, their formation wise,” said Smith.

“I thought Alfie Pavey did really well for them today. I thought he caused us problems in the first half and then we nullified them in the second.  I like Alfie. I liked him when he was here (at Bromley), he didn’t get the rub of the green but obviously he’s doing well for Barnet.”

Bromley’s lone striker Cheek went close to grabbing an equaliser, following their first of three corners of the night.

Coulson’s deep corner came in the from the left and was smacked on the volley by an unmarked Cheek at the far post, which he crashed high into the side netting from a tight angle.

Barnet started the game on the front foot and they should have doubled their lead in the 16th minute.

Tutonda floated in a cross of high quality from within the left wing and Pavey outjumped Bush to loop his header over the crossbar from 12-yards.

Wesley Fonguck rolled the ball out to Tutonda, who cut into the box and clipped a near post cross onto Mauro Vilhete’s head but the diminutive midfielder sent his header over the crossbar from inside the six-yard box.

But Bromley can rely on Raymond’s wand of a left-foot to get them out of trouble as Smith’s men grabbed an equaliser with 24 minutes and 48 seconds on the clock.

Bromley won a free-kick on the edge of the centre circle in the centre of the pitch and Raymond floated the ball deep towards the far post, which was knocked down by a towering Cheek and Bush cushioned his looping header across keeper Scott Loach into the top far corner.

“We’ve just been saying believe it or not that Bushy needs to start contributing to goals,” said Smith.

“He scored six for Ebbsfleet last season and we were saying he needs to do a little bit more but it was a great free-kick, something that we worked on and it worked!”

With former Barnet keeper Mark Cousins recovering from a shoulder operation, sustained inside the first couple of minutes at Yeovil Town on 28 September, Ryan Huddart, who was Boreham Wood’s number two behind former Bromley keeper David Gregory, was called into action in the 35th minute.

Sweeney run over the half-way line with the ball before playing the ball out to Alexander on the right. He was given oceans of space to float in a cross and Pavey rose to guide his header towards the roof of the net from 12-yards, which was pushed over the crossbar by Huddart’s raised right-hand.

Smith said:  “The wake-up call was literally 10 minutes into the game when he had that header for setting up the goal and then he had a second one. He caused us problems coming into the far post, putting himself on Sam Wood.  By the time we got it all sussed out, it was half-time.”

Alexander swung in the resulting deep corner from the right and Pavey’s header was plucked out of the air by Huddart.

With half-time approaching, Bromley played out from the back and once the ball reached midfield, Raymond passed to Coulson, who played a diagonal over to Kizzi down the right. He cut inside and played the ball back to Coulson and winger Reeco Hackett-Fairchild cut the ball onto his left-foot and whipped in a cross-come-shot which curled around the far post from 30-yards, as the keeper dived to his right in an attempt to flick the ball behind for a corner.

Smith said: “When I say people are trying too hard, Reeco is trying so hard scoring and that’s not what it’s about. Just play to your strengths and the goals will come. He’s desperate to get a goal but when you’re desperate you might do stuff that you do not really need to do. 

“His contribution today was amazing, cross-shot whatever you want to call it, just goes wide.  I think the keeper had it covered anyway but it just showed an intent from him as well that he wants to get back to scoring goals.”

Barnet went close to scoring just 91 seconds later from a free-kick after Fonguck was fouled by Kizzi some 35-yards from goal.

Alexander whipped in his right-footed free-kick, which sailed through a crowd of players and needed a touch for anybody as it bounced and Huddart did well to dive to his left to tip it around the post as it was destined to nestle into the bottom far corner.

“That’s one of those where you watch it and you watch it go in to the far post but Ryan Huddart could’ve come out for it, we think, but he watched it go inside the six-yard box and fair play to him, he got across and just covered it,” said Smith, who was then asked his thoughts at the break.

“Just relax! Just enjoy it! Play our formation. Barnet like to play around with the three at the back and everything else.  You don’t have to get blinded by it but if you just stay in your shape, we’ll be hard to break down and I think we proved it in the end. I thought we looked like we could spring a break on them at any time.”

Smith revealed the reasons as to why Alfie Doughty was withdrawn at the interval for Michael Klass and the loanee from Southend United played a part in Bromley’s opening chance of the second half after 85 seconds.

“Michael Klass has come in, he’s a very good player and I really rate him and he’s still only a young lad at 20 but he’s desperate to prove he wants to stay at this club and it showed there today. 

“I brought him on, on Saturday and he’s made a difference and that’s why I brought him on again today.

“Alfie Doughty just felt a bit dizzy, he felt really ill at half-time so that was the only reason why I was making the substitution and fair play to Michael he took the chance with both hands.”

Klass drove straight down the heart of the pitch before playing the ball to Coulson, who was closed down and a ricochet fell kindly for Cheek, who was through on goal but keeper Loach rushed off his line and narrowed the angle and made a vital block.

Bromley started the second half on the front foot and Kizzi fed the ball to Klass on the right touch-line, skipped past three Barnet players before hitting a left-footed drive flashing past the foot of the near post from 30-yards.

Barnet’s only real goalscoring chance came their way in the 53rd minute.

Santos hit a diagonal pass out of defence to Vilhete, who split open the Bromley defence to play the ball in behind Bush to Pavey, whose angled drive was comfortably held by Huddart, smothering the ball low to his right.

“He had good hands today Ryan,” said Smith, who was full of praise for Pavey, who came to Bromley on loan from Millwall, after loan spells with Barnet and Aldershot Town in 2016.

“As I say, I really like Alfie.  I won’t keep saying it, I do. I think he’s got something and he just needs to find somewhere where he’s loved a little bit and obviously it’s working here.  I though he caused us a few problems but I thought Ryan was just as good.”

Bromley notched the winning goal with 11 minutes and 27 seconds on the clock and Smith said that Raymond has the best set-piece delivery in the country, let alone the National League.

Sweeney picked up a yellow card for sending Hackett-Fairchild to the ground down the right touchline some 35-yards from the by-line and Raymond whipped in a free-kick of high quality with his left-boot, which was put on a plate for Kizzi, who glanced his header over Loach’s left-shoulder into the far corner.

“Kizzi’s done that before he was suspended and stuff like that but he’s got that in the locker.  I thought he could’ve scored another one straight after but with Frankie and Coulson’s delivery in the box, it just needs someone to get on the end of them,” said Smith.

Smith was asked if there is no better set-piece delivery in the National League than Raymond’s magical left wand?

“I’d say in every division! I watch Premier League and I watch how free-kicks are hitting the first man or they’re not getting over the wall or corners that hit the first man. You can rely on Frankie putting it on exactly where you want it every time and rarely does he let me down.

“They practice a lot him and Coulson. It’s not by accident that they do what they do. They’re very good on delivery and especially in this division, they’re very important.  Outstanding the boy.”

Barnet learnt their lesson as Bromley won themselves another free-kick but this time all of Barnet’s outfield players were lined up outside their penalty-area.  Raymond swung in the free-kick and Kizzi glanced his header towards the bottom corner from 18-yards, forcing Loach to make a low save on the hour-mark.

Bromley sat back on their slender lead and invited Barnet onto them but resilient defending kept them at bay.  Barnet lacked ideas what to do with the ball despite having all of the possession, while Bromley were always a threat on the break with the highly-rated Coulson.

“I thought we defended brilliantly once we nullified the fact that they just wanted to hit diags to Alfie Pavey, it was what are they going to do next but I thought every time we won the ball and hit a couple of passes we could’ve broke and put the game to bed,” said Smith.

It was too comfortable for Bromley, as Barnet didn’t threaten Huddart’s goal until the final 10 minutes.

Holding midfielder Harry Taylor’s clever backheel released substitute right-winger Ephron Mason-Clark, who unleashed an angled drive, that bounced off Bush and sailed past the far post for a corner, which was wasted as a short-corner saw Tutonda smash his shot into the side netting from a tight angle.

Bromley almost grabbed a third goal with six minutes remaining, following their final corner of the game.

Raymond swung in a corner from the right and Bush’s text-book header, planted down into the ground from 12-yards, only to watch the ball loop over the Barnet crossbar.

“He probably got too much of a good contact on it. He actually headed it too far down and then it bounces over. A little scuff, a little glance and it goes in the back of the net but he got too much of a purchase on it believe it or not. It showed that we wanted to kill the game off.”

Barnet’s final opening came inside the final five minutes but it fell to the wrong man.

Substitute Simeon Akinola got down the left and in behind Kizzi to whip in a cross but Vilhete jumped up at the far post and guided his header over the crossbar.

Barnet fans made their way to the exits, as the only sides to come away from here with wins in eight games have been Dover Athletic and Bromley.

FC Halifax Town – who were held to a goalless draw at home by second-from-bottom side Chorley tonight – are holding onto top spot with 32 points from 16 games and they come to Hayes Lane on Saturday 26 October.

Bromley remain in second-place but have closed the gap and are level on 32 points, meaning only 20 points are required to maintain their top-flight status!

Yeovil Town (31 points),  Barrow (28), Woking (26); Torquay United (25) and Solihull Moors (24) are currently in the play-offs with Bromley.

Bromley travel to on Saturday, while Barnet slip down to ninth-place, a place below Notts County (24).

“To come to Barnet, Darren Currie’s a very good friend of mine as well, he’s a very good coach and he’s got a great club here.  To come here, a result was what we needed, whatever that result was. To get the win is absolutely amazing and that just shows the character of these boys,” said Smith.

“We had a couple of losses, been kicked in the whatever’s and they just proved what they want to do for each other and this club.

“Look, to be anywhere near the top would be amazing. We’ve set the goal that we’d like to be in and around the play-offs and if we end the season in and around the play-offs or in the play-offs, it will be amazing!

“There’s a long, long way to go. Everybody wants to beat us. We lost two games on the trot and they thought they won the Cup Final!

“We’re a big team now, apparently, that everyone wants to beat, that’s what everybody’s saying, we’re a big team that everybody wants to beat.

“Well, we’ve got to show character in ourselves and say well ok, we’ll come up against anything and I thought the boys, away from home against a very good side in Barnet who won 4-0 the other day (at AFC Fylde on 1 October), so you know they’ve got goals in them.

“That’s a great result (here tonight) and we go to Solihull now, who are one of the favourites to get promotion but we’re expecting another big, tough game.”

Bromley then return to Hayes Lane to play seventeenth-placed Aldershot Town in The FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round on Saturday 19 October (15:00).

“We’re at home.  I know Jerry Dolke (ex-chairman, now director of football) said please, please just be at home and after that it doesn’t really matter, they’re going to be tough games so Aldershot we know.  Danny Searle is a very good manager as well.  On their day they can beat anybody like we can so we’d love to have a Cup run but at the same time we want to stay where we are in this division and continue this through the rest of it.”

I’m getting the impression, going by the grounds that Bromley are going to and coming home with three points in the bag, that Bromley are serious title contenders – but Smith is playing it all down.

“I think it’s too early to say that! I think you’ve got Halifax up there. I think the big teams will start coming through from now onwards, your Yeovil’s, who should be up there and people like that.

“While we’re in and around it we’re going to enjoy it because this time last year everyone was feeling a little bit miserable and a little bit down but at least our supporters are going home with a smile on their face tonight and I want to give them as many smiles on their faces after games as I can.”

Barnet: Scott Loach, Cheye Alexander, David Tutonda, Ricardo Santos, Callum Reynolds, Dan Sweeney (Charlee Adams 58), Mauro Vilhete, Harry Taylor, Alfie Pavey, Josh Walker (Simeon Akinola 73), Wesley Fonguck (Ephron Mason-Clark 60).
Subs: Medy Elito, Aymen Azaze

Goal: Josh Walker 10

Booked: Harry Taylor 25, Dan Sweeney 56

Bromley: Ryan Huddart, Joe Kizzi, Sam Wood, Frankie Raymond, Chris Bush, Jack Holland, Alfie Doughty (Michael Klass 46), Billy Bingham, Michael Cheek (Adrian Clifton 86), Luke Coulson, Reeco Hackett-Fairchild.
Subs: Adam Mekki, Alan Dunne, Josh Rees

Goals: Chris Bush 25, Joe Kizzi 57

Attendance: 1,083 (171 away)
Referee: Mr Adrian Quelch (Christchurch, Dorset)
Assistants: Mr Jeff Aldous (Shefford, Bedfordshire) & Mr Hugh Gilroy (Chiswick, London W4)
Fourth Official:  Mr Ryan Dix (Milton Keynes, Bedfordshire)