Bromley 0-1 Barnet - I was really disappointed with everybody tonight, says Bromley boss Neil Smith

Tuesday 04th September 2018
Bromley 0 – 1 Barnet
Location Hayes Lane, Bromley, Kent BR2 9EF
Kickoff 04/09/2018 19:45

Vanarama National League
Tuesday 4 September 2018
Stephen McCartney reports from Hayes Lane

BROMLEY manager Neil Smith admits his players gave Barnet too much respect after crashing to their first home defeat of the season.

Barnet were making their first appearance at Hayes Lane since Bromley beat them 1-0 in the London Charity Cup Semi-Final back in 1957, but John Still’s class of 2018 claimed their fourth win on the bounce courtesy of a headed goal from centre-half Daniel Sweeney, 24, which inflicted Bromley’s first defeat at home since January.

The Bees, who had winger David Tutonda sent-off with four minutes remaining, remain in thirteenth-place in the Vanarama National League table with 14 points on the board from nine games, while Bromley lost their four match unbeaten run and slipped down a couple of places to sixteenth on 10 points.

“Really, really disappointed, I think that’s the worst we’ve played all season and being at home as well,  I was really disappointed, especially after coming back from the result on Saturday but maybe that was a flattered result because that wasn’t the Bromley Football Club or team that I like to put out to represent us to the home supporters,” said Smith, whose side came back from 2-0 down to claim a point at Wrexham and Maidenhead United in their last two away games.

“I thought we started brightly on Saturday, to go two goals down they had that belief.  I didn’t see a belief in them today, maybe it’s catching up on a couple of them, I don’t know.

“I wasn’t too high when we were beating Havant & Waterlooville 4-0, I’m not going to get too low now. We’ve got a lot of work to do, like we always have.”

Barnet set the tone right from the off and Charlee Adams won the ball off George Porter inside the Bromley half and striker Byron Harrison played the ball into Jack Taylor’s feet and he drilled a right-footed shot from 20-yards, which was plucked out of the air by Bromley keeper David Gregory after only 195 seconds into the game.

“They started really brightly, they would do, three wins on the spin,” said Smith.

“Byron Harrison is a good player with Jack Barham, whose having a bit of form at the moment, so we knew that and we knew we just had to start better than what we have done, but it wasn’t to be.”

Barnet right-wing-back Cheye Alexander cut into the Bromley box and the ball was half-cleared out to Adams, whose right-footed drive from 25-yards out sailed over.

Sweeney was given licence to roam forward from defence with the ball at his feet before hitting a right-footed drive from 25-yards, which deflected off Frankie Raymond and was held by Gregory low to his left to prevent the ball nestling into the bottom right-hand corner.

Bromley striker Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe struggled against the physically strong Sweeney during the entire game as Bromley lacked any attacking threat creating only three chances at home.

Smith admitted his side gave Barnet – a club relegated from League Two last season – too much respect.

“I think they did, I think they did.  I think they thought we’re playing Barnet and I totally think we were a yard off them because we were frightened of them, that’s the first time,” said Smith.

“We played Leyton Orient (in August) last year and they’re a bigger club than this and we never showed them any respect then and I think we did (tonight).  By the time we actually got a grip on it, it was too late.”

Barnet deservedly claimed the three points with 20 minutes and 53 seconds on the clock following their first of five corners.

Alexander played a short corner to Wes Fonguck, who played a triangle pass into Barham’s feet inside the box and he cut the ball back for Jack Taylor to float over a deep cross towards the far post. An unmarked Adams headed the ball back across goal and Sweeney was there to nod over the line from inside the six-yard box.

“We’ve gone through it, we know who should’ve had the first header at the far post and we know who should’ve been marking the goalscorer,” said Smith.

“We’ve been pretty tight on set-plays so that wasn’t good and then George (Porter) hits the post at the other end, maybe that will lift us but there was no spark out there!”

Ogedi-Uzokwe broke free from Sweeney’s shackles and won the ball off Jack Taylor and strode forward before cutting onto his right-foot and cracking a dipping drive just over the Barnet crossbar from 25-yards.

Former Phoenix Sports and Greenwich Borough striker Barham was outstanding and his constant running was a thorn in the Bromley defence.

He ran down the left-channel and hung over a cross for Jack Taylor to loop his header into Gregory’s hands.

Bromley went agonisingly close to grabbing an equaliser on the half-hour mark when George Porter cut inside from the right and powered a stunning left-footed drive from 40-yards, which screamed across keeper Mark Cousins and hit the far post.

“As soon as it left his foot, we’re standing behind it and we just thought that’s going in and it just seemed right at the end, it just faded the other way,” agonised Smith.

“We were scratching and hoping something to happen today, rather than having something to work on.”

Barnet also hit the post in the 39th minute when Fonguck and Tutonda linked up down the left and Fonguck drilled a low right-footed angled drive from 25-yards which slid off the artificial turf and bounced off the foot of the near post.

Smith said: “After us hitting the post and we think we’re on top for a little bit, we might get be able to get our way back in, they went and put us on the back foot again and that’s what these so-called ex League club’s can do. They can let you have that little bit of shining light and they close the door on you and put you under pressure.”

Gregory launched a big right-footed free-kick up field and Porter’s flick header from the edge of the Barnet box was comfortably gathered by the Barnet keeper on the stroke of half-time.

Smith explained why he substituted right-wing-back Tobi Adebayo-Rowling for Jordan Higgs just three minutes before the interval.

“I just changed the formation. I thought their wing-backs were dominating ours, especially on the left-hand side so I brought on Jordan Higgs just to go four-four, just to get their wing-backs back and I think it worked all off a sudden they couldn’t get forward.”

Smith was clearly unhappy with his players during the half-time interval and wanted improvement.

“We’re 1-0 down and we haven’t even started!

“This isn’t what we’ve been doing all season. I wouldn’t say we’ve been great but we’ve been building up and getting better and better. We looked like we went back to square one today so just go out there and raise it another 10-15-20% and you’re going to be a hell of a lot better than what we’ve been in the first half!”

Barnet left-back Elliot Johnson swept forward a first time pass forward and Jake Goodman’s header back to Gregory was grabbed by Gregory, just before a pressing Barham could pounce on the very edge of the penalty area after just 90 seconds into the second half.

Barnet went close following their third corner, which was swung in by Elliot Johnson and Adams headed just past the post.

Alexander was given time and space from 40-yards out on the right flank to almost catch Gregory out, who back-peddled and pushed the ball over his crossbar and behind for another corner.

“I think Gregaz lost it in the lights – he’s just said that – he then managed to get his hand down and correct it so it was a great reaction,” said Smith.

Smith brought on wingers Bobby-Joe Taylor and Adam Mekki but Barnet were dominant in defence and Bromley lacked the cutting edge.

Fonguck released Tutonda down the left and his first time cross sailed over Gregory’s head to pick out Barham at the far post but the striker hooked his shot just wide from a great position.

Bromley squandered a glorious chance to grab an equaliser with 61 minutes on the clock.

The Ravens built patiently from the back with Frankie Raymond playing the ball along the carpet to Sam Wood and the left-wing-back cut the ball inside to Raymond, who floated in a cross which was poorly cleared out to John Goddard, who hit his right-footed half-volley straight into Cousins’ hands from 16-yards, preventing the ball nestling into the bottom left-hand corner.

Smith said: “Straight at him! I think it was actually to his right and the keeper was already going to his right. If he mis-hit it, it’s one of those, if you miss-hit it, you’ve got half a chance.  I think he’s hit it too well and it went straight into the keeper’s arms.

“You’re just looking that might’ve been the moment, that might’ve been the moment to see us through but it was not to be.”

VAR hasn’t been introduced in the National League just yet but it appeared that Barnet had scored a second goal just 29 seconds after Bromley’s best chance.

Cousins launched the ball forward and Barham cracked a shot that crashed off the underside of the crossbar and appeared to have bounced down over the line.

“I wouldn’t like to say (if it crossed the line). It hit the crossbar and was going down, someone literally walked across so I couldn’t see so if the ref had given it, you wouldn’t have been surprised if he hadn’t given it.”

Smith revealed that Barham was training with the club at the end of last season but Bromley were blown out of the water by Barnet’s financial muscle.

“We know Jack, we knew what sort of player he was because he came here and trained with us at the end of last season and he was interested in coming here but obviously we couldn’t match, we can’t compete with Barnet,” said Smith.

“He was outstanding, I thought he was the man-of-the-match. He was outstanding.  He never gave up and that’s what I was looking for from a hungry centre forward.”

Marc-Anthony Okoye lost the ball as he couldn’t dig the ball out from underneath his feet and Barnet broke down the middle before Adams fed a hungry Barham who cut inside and drove his right-footed shot over the top of the far post from 25-yards.

Raymond played the ball out to Okoye, who was starting to edge forward on the right, and he slid the ball underneath Goddard’s legs but Ogedi-Uzoke slid his shot harmlessly wide of the target from inside the Barnet box.

Goodman lost the ball to Harrison inside the Bromley half and Barham’s left-footed effort was caught by the busy Gregory, low to his left.

Dominant Barnet missed a glorious chance to kill off Bromley inside the final 15 minutes when Alexander’s corner from the right was met by Robson’s planted header, which only just flashed past the post.

Bromley were given a lifeline when Barnet winger Tutonda was sent-off for a second yellow card in the 86th minute after sending Porter to the deck following a foul.

“I don’t know why he did what he did in the first half, let alone what he did in the second half. He was always walking a tightrope and he didn’t give the ref any decision other than to send him off,” said Smith.

“Then you’re thinking is this the moment you’re thinking we can get at them but we didn’t create anything to go and score a goal.”

Smith sent up centre-half Roger Johnson as Bromley threw the kitchen sink at Barnet for the rest of the game but there was to be no salvage act like the one at Maidenhead United at the weekend when Bromley snatched two injury-time goals to claim a point.

For the first time in the game Bromley upped their desire levels and their play became desperate but Barnet held out.

Barnet almost caught Bromley on the break when striker Harrison skipped past four Bromley defenders and his low right-footed drive was comfortably saved by Gregory.

Roger Johnson had a couple of late chances but he headed comfortably wide after meeting balls into the Barnet box from keeper Gregory and Higgs.

“This is what I have to throw on.  Obviously Omar Bugiel has gone on international duty (with Lebanon) so I’ve lost him. I’ve got all of my attacking players on the pitch and I’m still hoping a centre-half can do something. That’s where we’re at at the moment, very disappointing but we crack on,” said Smith.

“Omar misses tonight and Saturday. It’s a great honour for the club as well to have an international. I think he’s looking to get to the Asia Cup but I think you can see we missed him tonight.”

Bromley travel to fifth-from-bottom side Aldershot Town on Saturday, a side that have picked up seven points so far this season.

“With Gary Waddock (Aldershot manager) a bit like John Still (Barnet manager), you know they can turn it around any time.  They’ve both got experience and I just have to have a better performance.  I can take a defeat if I think we’ve been 100% but we looked off it today and there were too many players who didn’t turn up.

“Against Aldershot we won’t be able to do that, whatever run they’re on, it goes out of the window. It’s about us and I’m disappointed and I haven’t said that a lot about the squad’s and the teams that we’ve had playing here but I was really disappointed with everybody tonight.

“I want a response, I want an absolute response because I think the supporters deserved it. There was a good crowd here tonight and up until tonight we’ve been giving them absolutely everything. I think that’s our first home defeat in 16 games and I think that’s a hell of an achievement and I have to now start another run because these supporters deserve that.

“I think we’re better than where we are at the moment but the table won’t lie.

“I’d rather be in this league than any other league apart from being in the League itself but every game is difficult and the players have got to play to their maximum and I think today they were too many players that probably it’s caught up with them a little bit.

“No, it’s not a relegation dog-fight yet, it’s a dog-fight because everyone’s in the same boat. There’s teams worse off than us at the moment and we just have to make sure we put a run together.”

Smith had this message for the Hayes Lane faithful ahead of the visit of Salford City on Saturday 15 September (15:00).

“We just have to stick together. We can’t thank the supporters enough and I’ve said it before sometimes when it’s not going great that’s when you need the support. It’s easy to support a team when you’re winning and everything’s going well. When the players and the club really need the support and myself as manager is when it’s not going well.”

Bromley: David Gregory, Tobi Adebayo-Rowling (Jordan Higgs 42), Sam Wood, Jake Goodman, Roger Johnson, Marc-Anthony Okoye, John Goddard (Adam Mekki 69), Frankie Raymond, Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe, Frankie Sutherland (Bobby-Joe Taylor 55), George Porter.
Subs: Dan Johnson, Reece Meekums

Booked: Frankie Raymond 36

Barnet: Mark Cousins, Cheye Alexander, Elliot Johnson, Charlee Adams, Daniel Sweeney, Craig Robson, David Tutonda, Wes Fonguck (Joe Payne 90), Byron Harrison, Jack Barham (Josh Walker 90), Jack Taylor.
Subs: Dan Sparks, Aymen Azaze, Ephron Mason-Clark

Goal:  Daniel Sweeney 21

Booked: David Tutonda 16, Jack Barham 34, Josh Walker 90

Sent Off: David Tutonda 86

Attendance: 1,568 (305 away)
Referee: Mr Carl Brook (St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex)
Assistants: Mr Dan Bonneywell (Herne Bay) & Mr Darren Knox (Henlow, Bedfordshire)
Fourth Official: Mr Lee Dyson (West Malling)