Bromley 2-4 Braintree Town - I'm disappointed that we didn't turn up tonight until it was too late and our supporters deserve more than that, says Bromley boss Neil Smith

Tuesday 30th October 2018
Bromley 2 – 4 Braintree Town
Location Hayes Lane, Bromley, Kent BR2 9EF
Kickoff 30/10/2018 19:45

Vanarama National League
Tuesday 30 October 2018
Stephen McCartney reports from Hayes Lane

BROMLEY manager Neil Smith insists he will turn it around after suffering an embarrassing home defeat to part-time strugglers Braintree Town at Hayes Lane.

The Iron claimed their third Vanarama National League win of the season tonight, having won the bottom-of-the-table clash 2-1 at home to Dover Athletic at the weekend to send Andy Hessenthaler’s side to the foot of the table.

Braintree Town caretaker manager Hakan Hayrettin has now won three of his five games in League and Cup since returning to Cressing Road but Bromley put in a poor performance to suffer back-to-back defeats, having lost 2-1 at Boreham Wood at the weekend.

Alarm bells are ringing for full-time Bromley as they have slipped down a couple of places to seventeenth-place with 20 points from 18 games – only five points clear of the relegation zone, which is currently occupied by Maidstone United (15 points), Havant & Waterlooville (14), Braintree Town (13) and Dover Athletic (8).

Bromley hit the crossbar before Braintree Town’s pacey striker Virgil Gomis, 19, who is on loan from Championship club Nottingham Forest, chipped in with his first goal for the club.

Bromley equalised through former Maidstone United striker Joe Quigley, 22, but the Ravens put in an extremely poor first half performance, in fact it was a horror show, a day before Halloween.

Braintree Town striker Reece Grant was able to turn inside the six-yard box before rifling home a deserved second goal for the Essex outfit.

Smith had a face like thunder as he trudged off down the players tunnel to give his under-performing side a few home truths during the interval but Braintree Town claimed the victory through Lyle Della-Verde’s 35-yard screamer into top bins.

Omar Bugiel shrugged off his injury concerns and took the game by the scruff of the neck and curled a low shot into the bottom corner to give Bromley a lifeline, but Grant bundled in his ninth goal of the season to seal Braintree Town the deserved victory.

“One minute you’re up, one minute you’re down,” said Smith, following his side’s second defeat in eight games but it was the manner of defeat that has left the Hayes Lane faithful bitterly upset.

“As good as we were in the first half the other day (at Boreham Wood), that was the worst first half we’ve had today and that’s where we lost the game, we lost the game in the first half. 

“We weren’t good enough, not good enough, it wasn’t good enough and that won’t be accepted!

“We hit the crossbar and I think people thought that was it, we’re gonna just roll them over.  They get their chance, they take it, on the back-foot we equalise and again I think we’re having a little bit of play, not enough.  Every goal we’ve given away in the first half we’ve had possession and that’s not like us, not like us at all.”

Bromley started on the front foot and created a couple of headed chances inside the opening five minutes.

Frankie Raymond swung in the first of six Bromley corners and Paul Rooney came up from the back to guide his header over the crossbar after 119 seconds.

Raymond then swung in a left-footed free-kick into the box and Rooney’s central-defensive partner Jack Holland rose to loop a header onto the top of the crossbar.

“Summed up the day, I think, that summed it up. A looping header where we’ve been scoring those. It hits the crossbar and then you’re looking for something else, it never happened,” admitted Smith.

But Braintree Town were clinical in front of goal and snatched the lead with five minutes and 21 seconds on the clock.

Midfielder Cameron James hit a ball over the top which caught out Bromley left-back Sam Wood and Gomis latched onto the ball at pace and from just outside the corner of the penalty area he chipped the ball over the on-rushing David Gregory and watched the ball drop into the bottom far corner of an open goal.

Smith said: “I think Gregaz is saying he wanted to do more than what he did but he was going outside of his area but I’m one of them.  Once you’ve made your commitment go and take the ball, player, the lot – he just didn’t do it!”

Bromley produced a good move down the right to grab an equaliser with 17 minutes and 40 seconds on the clock.

George Porter played the ball inside to John Goodard, whose diagonal pass along the deck put Porter in behind Braintree left-back Ricky Gabriel. His low deflected cross found Quigley at the far post and he swept his right-footed shot across the keeper into the bottom far corner from 10-yards.

“I thought Joe played well tonight, he took his goal well. He had another chance in the second half but I thought as a starting debut I think he showed his desire and his commitment a bit more than some of the other players in that team tonight,” admitted Smith.

“I’ve got a team out of 11, probably five of them can hold their heads up and say they’re actually putting in the same sort of desire.  I think there were three or four players that were well off it, I’m not going to name them.”

Bromley played the ball from right-to-left as Richard Brindley played the ball inside to Quigley and Frankie Sutherland and Frankie Raymond moved the ball out to Wood on the left and he strode forward before flashing a left-footed angled drive flashing across the keeper and just past the far post from 35-yards.

Braintree Town created an opening through Della-Verde’s free-kick from the left which was met by Joseph Ellul’s header at the far post, which was comfortably caught by Gregory.

But it quickly went downhill for Bromley as Braintree Town took the lead with 28 minutes and 39 seconds on the clock.

In an attempt to run out of the Bromley half with the ball, wideman Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe lost the ball in midfield and Justin Amaluzor released right-back Jonathan Muleba on the overlap and his low cross fell to Grant’s feet inside the six-yard box, who turned and lifted his shot over Gregory into the roof of the net.

“The guy’s overlapped from 20-yards but it’s because Junior’s lost possession in the middle of the pitch and leaves us open,” said Smith.

“He overlaps and then he comes inside and we all go to follow the ball, he turns and just lifts it over Gregaz.

“It was all the possession beforehand that gave them the opportunity.”

Bromley’s defending during the first half was poor.  A big free-kick from visiting keeper Ashlee Jones dropped in the Bromley box and Ellul hooked the ball towards goal, which Gregory comfortably collected.

Bromley’s final chance of the first half came on the stroke of half-time.

Raymond swept in a free-kick and Holland met the delivery with a downward header and goalkeeper Jones kicked the ball away as Porter was sliding inside the six-yard box in an attempt to poke the ball home.

This wasn’t the Bromley that upset the big clubs in the National League last season, finishing in the top nine on a club record number of points and reached The FA Trophy Final before suffering a heart-breaking penalty-shoot-out defeat at Wembley Stadium.

Smith agreed:  “Not good enough! We said it to them and I’ll say it to anyone who wants to know, there were probably five players that probably started as well I know they can, there were five players that obviously didn’t!

“We can’t afford to go to any game, any team and only turn up with five players that are actually putting in a performance that I think they’re worthy off!”

When asked what he said at the break, Smith revealed: “There was a lot of shouting, just play with a bit of pride!

“They looked like they’ve been defeated before we’ve even started. That wasn’t a Bromley team, that wasn’t the first half we put in against the Boreham Wood’s, who are right up there and why with a team that’s below us we’re going in there any different than what we do with a top team, so I’m really disappointed with them.”

Smith revealed his reasons for taking off Rooney and bringing on Marc-Anthony Okoye, who partnered Holland at the heart of Bromley’s defence during the second half and made a difference as Gomis’ runs were very few and far between.

“That was tactical. I didn’t think either Jack (Holland) or Rooney won a ball in the air in the first half.  I brought Marc-Anthony (Okoye) on and I think he did.  I thought he done exceptionally well,” said Smith.

Any slim chance of Bromley getting anything from this game completely vanished when Braintree Town scored their third goal just 190 seconds into the second half.

Ogedi-Uzokwe had a poor night, struggling to do anything positive for 54 minutes and he lost possession to Della-Verde, who cut in, easily shrugged past Sutherland, before drilling a 35-yard left-footed drive which screamed past the diving Gregory into the top left-hand corner.

Smith said:  “Before that he barged Junior off the ball, took the ball forward. Suthers came in from the side, he just got that yard in front of him and unleashed a great strike that Gregaz had no chance with but we had possession again.

“I still thought we can get a result out of it, I really did.  I thought every time we went forward we looked like we caused them problems with Omar on the pitch. Likewise it was so open every time they went through they looked like they were going to score.”

Former Braintree Town man Okoye put one on Gomis early on to show the Braintree loan striker who was boss and Bromley upped the tempo as soon as Bugiel came on for Ogedi-Uzokwe, who like Rooney is on loan from Colchester United.

“I said to Omar just go on and do what you can do and just do what you did on Saturday,” revealed Smith.

“I didn’t start him because he said his hamstrings and groin were a bit tight but they didn’t look tight to me when he went out there when he was running around he looked unbelievable, he looked like a racehorse and when he got his chance, he took it unbelievably so I’ve got to question how stiff and how bad his groins were.”

Braintree keeper Jones was called into action in the 56th minute, plucking the ball out of the air high to his right to prevent Raymond curling his left-footed free-kick into top bins from 25-yards.

Smith said:  “I think it was a bit too close to him. I think if he puts it into the other corner but I thought Frankie Raymond was exceptional today again.  I think he was brilliant since the start of the season. I thought he had another great performance.”

Bromley gave themselves a lifeline when Bugiel scored his fifth goal of the season, timed at 11 minutes and 59 seconds on the clock.

Holland hit a long diagonal ball out of defence, which Bugiel flicked on.  The quiet John Goddard hooked the ball back to Bugiel and with two orange shirted defenders in front of him, he curled his right-footed shot around the unsighted goalkeeper to place the ball into the bottom far corner from 25-yards.

“When he came on, he played very well Omar. He done what I know he can do.  I thought him and Quigley caused a lot of problems,” added Smith.

This was the sign for Bromley to up their tempo and dominate proceedings and Braintree Town couldn’t get out and were on the ropes for a while.

Everyone expected Sutherland to whip in a free-kick from the left but he rose his left arm and played a short free-kick on the outside to Goddard, who whipped in a cross into the penalty area for Quigley to send his downward header past the left-hand post.

Bugiel was excellent and latched onto a loose ball on the edge of the penalty area, cut inside and drilled a shot high over the top of the far post from 20-yards after Holland hit another long ball out of defence.

Sutherland hit a right-footed volley, which deflected past the left-hand post from 25-yards, as Bromley cranked up the pressure kicking towards their favourite end.

The ineffective Goddard was replaced by Adam Mekki for the final 21 minutes and the left-winger swept a first time shot straight at Jones after the excellent Bugiel knocked the ball down for him on the corner of the penalty area.

“It was all about just hitting the target – it didn’t happen. I think we had another one after that as well. Frankie Sutherland had a smash at it and it looked like it was going in but they threw bodies in the way, exactly what you’d expect.”

It was only a matter of time that dominant Bromley were going to score a deserved equaliser – but Braintree Town held on.

Bugiel showed desire to burst through the heart of the Braintree defence straight down the middle of the pitch with the ball before playing it out to Mekki, whose cross was cleared out to Raymond, who turned and hit a speculative left-footed drive past the right-hand post from 35-yards.

Braintree Town issued a warning inside the final 10 minutes when Della-Verde played in substitute winger Christie Pattison, who whipped in a great cross into the Bromley box but substitute striker Jake Cass sent his free-header past the left-hand post from 10-yards.

Smith added:  “We saw that, he came in between Marc and Jack and he just guided it away and you just think here’s our chance.  I still believed, we had time to go and get the equaliser but as I say, it wasn’t to be.”

Braintree Town claimed the victory by scoring their fourth goal of the night, the goal coming with 38 minutes and 27 seconds on the clock.

Pattison floated in a deep cross into the box with his right foot and Grant nipped in to bundle a first time shot past Gregory to find the bottom left-hand corner.

“We’ve been keeping an eye on Reece Grant, I think he played well tonight and caused a lot of problems with pace.  That’s what happens, he had a couple of chances and he’s taken them,” added Smith.

Bromley kept plugging away but the damage was already done.

Right-back Brindley delivered a deep cross for Quigley to head past the near post from inside the six-yard box and Braintree captain Ellul headed Bugiel’s header off the line after Raymond swung in Bromley’s fifth corner of the night.

Braintree Town came away from Hayes Lane with a 5-0 win on their last visit on 28 February 2017 and seem to be a bogey side for the Ravens and to lose two home games in that fashion is unacceptable.

“I was disappointed on Saturday because I don’t believe we should’ve lost to a team like Boreham Wood away from home,” said Smith.

“I’m disappointed that we didn’t even turn up tonight until it was too late and our supporters deserve more than that.

“They’re our bogey side, they’re a very big bogey side of ours and I hope to turn that around.  I don’t know, do Braintree try to win more against Bromley on any given occasion? I don’t know but we’ll turn it around!”

Bromley are at home for their next three games.  Ninth-placed Hartlepool United visit on Saturday; Bostik South East Division side Faversham Town arrive in the Kent Senior Cup Second Round on Tuesday 6 November, before Bromley play League One side Peterborough United in The FA Cup First Round on Saturday 10 November (15:00) in an all-ticket game.

“Home truths (will be told to my players at training) on Thursday, they’ll have a day off (tomorrow) and see what we’ve got and we go again,” said Smith.

“We’ve been through a difficult spell before, we’ve gone through a difficult one, again we’ve got to come out of it.  We’ll come out of it exactly how we came out of the last one, hard work, hard work and everything that we’ve been doing. We’ve not changed anything. We’ve lost one game in six (before tonight) so we’ll go back to that formula.

“They’re a big club Hartlepool. They’ve had a little bit of a resurgence. It’s going to be difficult, the boys are going to have to lift themselves. They’ve got to start from fresh. Just give the supporters 100%!  If we play like we do against Boreham Wood, you don’t like losing but you take it.  Tonight, I don’t take that!

“We knew it was going to be difficult this year. There’s some massive clubs in there with massive amounts of money – I haven’t!

“I’ve had to change the squad, I’ve had to change it again. I’ll have to keep on doing it.

“We’ll keep on fighting! We’re a together club. The support has been immense, as long as we keep on getting that week-in-week-out, we’ll be doing our best to stay in this division.

“Keep backing us, I’ve said it before, it was a tough season. At the beginning of the season they stayed with us.  I just need them to stay with us.

“Maybe players are looking at The FA Cup and taking their eye off this. They can’t afford to. I hope they’re not because they might be surprised come the game itself. You’ve got to earn the right to play and whatever happens before counts for nothing, it’s now!”

Bromley: David Gregory, Richard Brindley, Sam Wood, Frankie Sutherland, Paul Rooney (Marc-Anthony Okoye 46), Jack Holland, Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe (Omar Bugiel 54), Frankie Raymond, Joe Quigley, John Goddard (Adam Mekki 69), George Porter.
Subs: Kyle De Silva, Jake Goodman

Goals: Joe Quigley 18, Omar Bugiel 58

Booked: Frankie Sutherland 72

Braintree Town: Ashlee Jones, Jonathan Muleba, Ricky Gabriel, Mohammed Sagaf, Joseph Ellul, Kodi Lyons-Forster, Justin Amaluzor (Christie Pattison 62), Cameron James (Henry Ochieng 83), Virgil Gomis (Jake Cass 77), Lyle Della-Verde, Reece Grant.
Subs: Patrick Webber, Luke Allen

Goals: Virgil Gomis 6, Reece Grant 29, 84, Lyle Della-Verde 48

Booked:  Justin Amaluzor 59, Cameron James 64, Ricky Gabriel 72, Henry Ochieng 90, Reece Grant 90

Attendance: 1,008
Referee: Mr Gary Parsons (Lymington, Hampshire)
Assistants: Mr Marcus Carmichael (Basingstoke, Hampshire) & Mr Dan Bonneywell (Herne Bay)
Fourth Official: Mr Peter Cruise (Rochester)