Bromley 4-1 Barrow - I want to finish higher than we've ever finished before, says tenth-placed Bromley boss Neil Smith

Thursday 13th April 2017
Bromley 4 – 1 Barrow
Location Hayes Lane, Bromley, Kent BR2 9EF
Kickoff 14/04/2017 15:00

Vanarama National League
Good Friday, 14th April 2017
Stephen McCartney reports from Hayes Lane

BROMLEY manager Neil Smith says he wants his home-town club to finish in the top ten in the Vanarama National League.

Barrow, who were thrashed 5-0 at Hayes Lane last season, arrived in seventh-place with 69 points and they still harboured slender play-off chances as they were only three points adrift of fifth-placed Aldershot Town.

But The Bluebirds lost the pecking rights as Bromley’s Ravens were now playing with freedom after maintaining their National League status after a 2-0 win at in-form York City and last Saturday’s 4-3 home win over Wrexham and climbed up a place into the top ten on 58 points today.

Smith’s tiny squad were stretched to the limit again today as he confirmed that left-back Joe Anderson has left the club.  This season, Smith has lost goalkeeper  Alan Julian, defender  Rob Swaine and froward Adam Cunnington to money-bags Billericay Town of the Ryman Premier League.

Daniel Johnson came in at left-back, a role that winger Ryan Hall took up against Wrexham last weekend, while Lee Minshull, 31, dropped back to partner Jack Holland at the heart of defence and was man-of-the-match.

George Porter, who switched on the right-hand side of midfield, was given space to send his diving header into the back of the net to score his seventh goal of the season to give Bromley an early lead.

Barrow then grabbed an equaliser through Richie Bennett’s penalty, the bustling 26-year-old striker’s 18th goal of the season.

But Bromley took control and former Leyton Orient winger Blair Turgott notched his 15th goal of the season, from the penalty spot.

Bromley striker Tobi Sho-Silva gave his side a commanding 3-1 lead with 35 minutes on the clock as the Good Friday crowd of 1,049 enjoyed Bromley’s good performance.

Sho-Silva notched his 13th goal of the season late on as Bromley toasted the fact of scoring eight goals in their last two games or 10 in their last three and Smith wants to make this Bromley’s highest ever finish in their proud 125-year history.

“Very pleased for the boys. We’ve been working very, very hard over the last few weeks and the rewards are paying off, not that we weren’t working hard,” said Smith, after the club’s 34th win in their National League history.

“But when you’ve got a small squad you have got to make sure that you drill into everybody at any given stage that Lee Minshull came in literally the last minute to play centre back today and looked absolutely brilliant today.  I thought he was absolutely brilliant and he’s an experienced player and the young guys we’ve got in the team as well look up to him and he’s a good example for them.

“Barrow have got a chance of getting in the play-offs and they were going to be a hard team to play against.  They’re going to come here wanting to beat us to give themselves another chance.

“But at the same time, I’ve given my players’ a target that I want to achieve and I want that as much as Barrow wanted to get into the play-offs and we’ve achieved our target today.  I wanted to be in the top 10 by the end of Saturday and I want to stay there now and I think it’s going to be tough but I think it’s achievable.”

Barrow went close to keeping their play-off dream alive when Jordan Williams went close with a left-footed dipping drive from 25-yards, which screamed and dipped narrowly over the crossbar after only 50 seconds.

Bromley opened the scoring with their first of three set-piece goals, timed at eight minutes and 39 seconds.

Turgott delivered an swerving corner from the right with his right foot and Barrow’s defence switched off to leave Porter in space and the 24-year-old buried his diving header into the bottom left-hand corner from 10-yards.

“We’ve been trying to work on a bit of movement in the box. We knew they were very, very big, they’re going to be a physical side. It was just trying to just move them around and George found himself in a bit of space and took it well,” said Smith.

“I think George deserves a goal after the last few performances, he’s battled well. I’m absolutely delighted for him.

“We had a few people out of position for the last few weeks because I’ve got such a slim squad and I think he’s been absolutely brilliant and hopefully he can finish the rest of the season on a high.”

Bromley were to be denied a second with 11 minutes and 40 seconds on the clock when the crossbar saved Barrow.

Porter, now in a central position, rolled the ball out to Jordan Higgs, who cut inside from inside the right-hand corner of the box and played the ball inside to Sho-Silva, who from a central position on the edge of the box, turned and cracked a shot towards goal.  Barrow keeper Jonathan Flatt stuck up both hands and flicked a looping shot against the crossbar before grabbing hold of the ball as a couple of Bromley players waited to pounce on the rebound.

“That’s when you think ‘oh the luck’s going to go against us’, because Shane has just run underneath the ball as well so the ball bounced behind him.  You think if that bounces in because Shane deserves a goal as well, don’t be one of those ones when they have that one effort and score and lol and behold along comes the penalty.”

Barrow, kicking down the slope, equalised with 17 minutes and 41 seconds on the clock.

Barrow’s central midfielder Jack Thomas drove into the penalty area and was destined to get a shot away, only for Connor Dymond to bring down his man eight yards from goal.

Sutton man, referee Craig Hicks had no option but to point to the spot and Bennett sent Ross Flitney the wrong way with a clinically taken left-footed penalty.

Smith said: “Look, I don’t know if it was a penalty or not.  He’s gone to ground in the box and there’s always going to be a decision that the referee has to make but it was a bit disappointing because I don’t think they were getting on top for them to warrant a goal and that’s when you think ‘oh, here we go again.”

Bromley showed the character to go up the other end and score with their next attempt – timed at 21 minutes and 11 seconds.

Sho-Silva played in Turgott, who cut into the box down the left before being fouled by Thomas and stepped up to rifle his right-footed penalty over the diving keeper into the left-hand corner of the goal.

Smith said: “Look, we’ve just said to Blair, he’s got to drive into the box a lot more, there’s no point doing it outside, you’ve got to cause problems with the defenders.  It was a penalty and he duly got up and took it. 

“I think his performances for the last couple of games have been absolutely brilliant and I think he deserves a goal on this little run of goals that he’s scored as well.”

Barrow right-back Shaun Beeley delivered a cross into the Bromley box and Higgs’ poor header back opened the door for Bennett.  The Hayes Lane crowd expected their net to bulge but right-back Jordan Wynter nipped in to make a vital block at the near post.

Lindon Meikle’s resulting corner from the left was deep and was headed back towards goal by the towering Moussa Diarra and Bennett nodded the ball over the bar from a couple of yards out from a tight angle.

Bromley clinched the three points as early as 34 minutes and 28 seconds on the clock with another set-piece.

Porter put his head down and took a whack from Bennett’s boot and Turgott whipped in the resulting free-kick from the right. Holland went down on the edge of the box, the ball sailed onto Minshull’s head, who guided the ball back across goal for Sho-Silva to score with a stooping header from a couple of yards.

“Again, a moving player in the box is what you need.  We had the space, Minshull’s has knocked it back and Tobi’s in front of the keeper to put it in,” said Smith.

“A nice easy goal from Tobi but again for a centre forward you’ve got to be in the right places and at the moment he seems to be in the right places and I think that just comes from confidence whereas before he might be standing on the outside waiting to get the ball. He’s actually getting in the box and where the ball might drop down to you and then you put it away, which he did.”

Bromley keeper Flitney made a comfortable catch beside his right-hand post after Meikle cut inside and hit a deflected drive from the edge of the box, before Turgott went close with a whipped free-kick from 26-yards, which narrowly went over the Barrow crossbar.

Smith admitted that he didn’t want a repeat of Wrexham’s near fight back last weekend.

Smith told his players’ at the break: “Don’t do what you did last week, this ain’t over! I don’t want another 4-3!  I don’t care if we don’t score but we ain’t having another 4-3!

“I wanted them to just go and do the same.  I think it was even better for us in the second half because although we didn’t score as many goals but downhill we had the wind behind us and I think we played some lovely little one-touch football out there.”

The second half pleased Smith as his defence kept Barrow at arms-length for large parts.

Wynter hurled a throw into the Barrow box and Shane McLoughlin glanced his header wide.

Bromley called Flatt into making a save in the 62nd minute.

Wynter threw the ball to Porter on the right hand side and he laid the ball inside to Higgs, who hit a first time drive with his right-foot from 25-yards, which Flatt stepped to his right to hold onto the ball low to his right.

Smith, who has already tied Higgs to a contract for next season, said: “I’ve known Jordan Higgs since he was 15 when he came into the Academy and I was the manager of the Academy and we always said there was something special about him.  I still think he can develop and he can still get better but what a find for Bromley Football Club.”

The game died before it sprung into life for the final 15 minutes.

McLoughlin trapped the ball magnificently down the left channel before playing a reverse pass into Turgott, who cut the ball onto his right foot before drilling his shot towards goal from 16-yards, which Flatt pulled off a great save, high to his right to push behind for a corner.

“All we just said to the players’ is to shoot and believe you’re going to score,” said Smith.

“I think weeks ago they’re having an extra touch, it had to be perfect. Now we’re hitting shots. Last week we scored from a couple of deflections and I think now they’ve got that belief. If you don’t shoot, you’re not going to ever score.  If you have a shot, one may just go in.”

Disappointing Barrow could have made it a nervy end to the game had they scored in the 77th minute.

Williams whipped in a deep free-kick from the right towards the far post where an unmarked Diarra looped his header over Flitney’s head, but the 32-year-old goalkeeper did well to dive to his left to push the ball onto his post.

“A great save from Ross,” said Smith.

“He wasn’t called upon much today, he hasn’t been called upon much for the last few games to be fair as in shots but when he was called upon today he pushed a ball on the post and kept us in the game.   He kept us in the game to go and get the other goal.”

Bromley certainly made it a Good Friday.  Boreham Wood, who started the game in tenth-place went down to a 3-1 home defeat to fourth-placed Dagenham & Redbridge and the Ravens added a fourth goal, timed at 39 minutes and 59 seconds into the half, to leapfrog over the club that they pipped to the Conference South title in April 2015 – Bromley’s first league title in 54 years!

Turgott released McLoughlin through on goal and the on-loan from Ipswich Town striker stroked his right-footed shot across the keeper trying to find the bottom far corner.  Keeper Flatt dived to his left to make a fine save but Sho-Silva tucked home the rebound into the empty net from 10-yards.

“I know it sounds ridiculous but it’s something that we’ve worked on,” said Smith.

“A little through ball, don’t just watch your mate go and have a shot, go and expect the keeper to go and save it and you’re there for the second ball and Tobi’s done it!”

After losing 2-1 at Dagenham & Redbridge – despite an impressive performance – on 21 February, Smith’s men failed to score in six of their next seven games but are scoring goals for fun now.

Smith said: “We’ve scored 10 in three games but we’ve been working on it. We’ve been working on the forward play for a little bit.  We lost Adam Cunnington, Tobi then got an injury and we’ve had other people coming in, Brandon Hanlan (on loan from Charlton Athletic) and then Tobi’s come back from fitness but to get him fit we’ve had to train him while his player.

“It’s been difficult but I think the rewards are starting to come through.”

Bromley travel to bogey-side Eastleigh on Easter Monday. The Spitfires are having a poor season in fourteenth-place.  Bromley then host Guiseley next Saturday, a side in the bottom eight fighting for their lives to stay up before the Ravens complete their second season with a trip to eighth-placed Gateshead.

Little old Bromley in tenth-place is something that everyone should be proud off.

“I don’t think realistically at Christmas people were giving us a chance to finish in tenth,” said Smith.

“Oh, we’ll stay up’, I’ve heard that a lot!  A couple of weeks ago people said to me ‘are we going to stay up?’ I think you said it and I said I believed we would stay up but people were concerned.  I can understand that but I couldn’t believe it and I think the last few weeks, even when we lost to Lincoln, when we lost to Chester and even when we lost at Solihull, I believed in the players’ that I had and their belief in each other is showing through.

“We haven’t cracked it. We’ve got a long way to go. We’ve got three games. I want to win every home game but now I want to win every away game.”

Bromley finished in fourteenth-place on their debut season on 60 points and Smith wants to smash that record in style.

Smith said: “I want more than 60 points. I want to finish higher than we’ve ever finished before.

“I want to put a marker down. Someone told me we won 17 games last season. We’ve won 17 games this season and I want to beat that as well so I’m giving the boys’ targets. I don’t want the boys to finish and just think we’ve done it.  I want to finish higher as last year because I thought last year was tough, this year was tougher.”

When asked his plans for next season, Smith explained why Anderson has missed the last two games.

“We tried to keep him for next season. We couldn’t agree terms so Joe’s decided that he’s not going to play for Bromley Football Club anymore,” he said.

“It is very sad, it is very sad. He’s one of the (Conference South) champions. He'll always be a champion. I respect him. I think he could’ve played but he’s chosen and decided not to for his personal reasons, which I understand but he’s been an absolutely brilliant player for this club. He’s missed probably five games in that and training sessions, five in total on both for the last three and a half-four years that he’s been here.

“But if people don’t want to be here for whatever reason, we can’t agree terms or whatever, then I’ve got to use players who do want to be here and I thought DJ (Johnson) came in and done a job and I respect players who do just want to be here for the right reasons.”

Smith has been delighted with McLaughlin’s performances whilst on loan from Championship giant Ipswich Town.

“He’s a totally different player to Brandon Hanlan but do you know what, as a young man he’s given his all for this football club, which for a loan signing, we’ve spoken to Ipswich about him, he’s absolutely delighted he’s at the club because they can see his work ethic. It is different. He is getting smashed by  bigger men and he’s growing up and I think he was as good as anyone else out there today.

“We’ve got a brilliant relationship with Ipswich. Mick McCarthy is absolutely delighted with us and wants to help us out. We’re building a relationship and I think everybody who’s come down here has come away being a better player.  That’s great for me but now can the club get something back from them? We’ll definitely sit down and have a chat.

“He was recommended to me by a Stephen Hunt, the ex-Palace, Brentford, Reading player and he was spot on what he said.”

Smith MUST keep hold of his captain, central defender and West Wickham based Holland.

“We’re speaking to a few of them and hopefully within the next few days we’ll make some announcements,” said Smith, when asked about keeping players at the club.

“Blimey, I’m looking at that now and I’m thinking I’ll have to give them all a contract.”

Bromley being in the top ten of the top-flight of non-league football has been a team effort.  Credit goes to chairman Jerry Dolke, who has brought this sleeping giant off from the floor, his current board, Smith, his management team and players.

“It’s a pleasure as a coach when all our coaches and I mean Mark Hammond working on the forward play, Glyn Shimell working with the keepers, Alan Dunne working on the free-kicks and as a manager I organise the team and get it to play as best as they can and it worked today.”

Eastleigh thrashed Bromley 5-0 at Hayes Lane on 29 August and knocked them out of The FA Cup in the Fourth Qualifying Round last season. It’s time that Bromley put this small club with no history in their place on Monday afternoon.

“I’m going to Eastleigh with no pressure other than what I’m putting on the boys in respect I want to finish in the top 10,” said Smith.  

“I want to finish above Eastleigh who had the biggest budget in the league this season. Barrow, massive budget, we’ve beat them. Wrexham, bigger budget, bigger club than us, beat them. York came down from the League had a bigger budget than us, beat them. 

“Yourself, people who work at the club, the directors, the chairman, supporters and not least the players. I think whatever we achieve now, I think everyone can be proud.”

Bromley: Ross Flitney, Jordan Wynter, Daniel Johnson, Connor Dymond, Lee Minshull, Jack Holland, Blair Turgott, Jordan Higgs, Tobi Sho-Silva, Shane McLoughlin (Bradley Goldberg 90), George Porter (Alan Dunne 71).
Subs: Ryan Hall, Shabaz Omofe, James Daly

Goals: George Porter 9, Blair Turgott 22 (penalty), Tobi Sho-Silva 35, 85

Booked: Connor Dymond 17, Lee Minshull 19, Alan Dunne 80

Barrow: Jonathan Platt, Shaun Beeley, Nick Anderton, Jack Thomas, Danny Livesey, Moussa Diarra, Lindon Meikle (Akil Wright 75), Alex-Ray Harvey, Richie Bennett (Inih Effiong 58), Jordan Williams, Liam Hughes (Ross Hannah 58).
Subs: Dan Rowe, Matt Platt

Goal: Richie Bennett 18 (penalty)

Booked: Richie Bennett 45, Jack Thomas 50

Attendance: 1,049
Referee: Mr Craig Hicks (Sutton, Surrey)
Assistants: Mr Robert Evans (Northampton, Northamptonshire) & Mr Daniel Simpson (West Drayton, Middlesex)
Fourth Official: Mr Robert Claussen (Stratford, London E20)

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