Bromley 0-1 Charlton Athletic - We've got another week to work on a lot of stuff that we need to work on and we have got to start taking our chances, says Bromley boss Neil Smith

Saturday 27th July 2019
Bromley 0 – 1 Charlton Athletic
Location Hayes Lane, Bromley, Kent BR2 9EF
Kickoff 27/07/2019 12:30

Pre-Season Friendly
Saturday 27 July 2019
Stephen McCartney reports from Hayes Lane

BROMLEY manager Neil Smith says his players’ have another week to work on a lot of stuff ahead of their fifth Vanarama National League campaign which gets underway at newly-promoted Chorley next Saturday.

The Lillywhites created 17 goalscoring chances (11 of which were on target) against Jason Euell’s Charlton Athletic under 23 side, with 20-year-old Australian goalkeeper Ashley Maynard-Brewer putting in an outstanding performance to frustrate Smith’s side during their final warm-up game.

Bromley have played Fulham (0-0), Welling United (3-1), Maidstone United (2-0), Dulwich Hamlet (1-1 before winning 4-3 on penalties), Crystal Palace (1-0) and Dartford (1-3) and go into their League campaign knowing they must take their chances in front of goal.

Despite Bromley’s dominance, Charlton Athletic inevitably completed a smash-and-grab raid, courtesy of an 87th minute penalty from central midfielder James Vennings.

“I was pleased first half.  I thought we did really well, created enough chances,” said Smith.

“Their keeper was outstanding but you do have to take them.  To lose a penalty, we could’ve had a couple at the other end.

“I’m not too fussed. We’ve come off with hopefully no injuries and that’s the main thing for Chorley next week.”

When asked about the positives from today’s game, Smith replied: “Adam Mekki coming back, which is a good sign.  I saw some good things from Michael Cheek, some good things from our wingers, Reeco Hackett-Fairchild, definitely, hitting the post and everything else. He worked hard and I thought the two midfield players were outstanding today, Billy Bingham and Frankie Raymond. There were a lot of plusses today.”

The Lillywhites set the tone of the afternoon when striker George Porter picked the ball up and drove forward through the heart of the pitch before drilling his right-footed shot harmlessly wide from 35-yards after 77 seconds.

Reeco Hackett-Fairchild was keen to impress against his old club and he was slid in by Luke Coulson’s quickly taken free-kick before rolling his left-footed shot into Maynard-Brewer’s hands from 16-yards.

Bromley were inches away from taking a deserved lead in the ninth minute.

After a spell of head tennis down the right, Hackett-Fairchild sped past a couple of Charlton players before cutting in from the right wing and drilling a shot past the diving keeper and against the near post from 30-yards.

“He was outstanding today. I know he’s hit the post but he showed an intent today, he showed an aggression, he’ll be good for us this season,” Smith said of Hackett-Fairchild.

Bromley were enjoying plenty of possession and it took Charlton Athletic 23 minutes to create their first opening as former Barnet keeper Mark Cousins, 32, made his only save of the match.

Wideman Charles Clayton ran at the Bromley defence and space opened up in behind Frankie Raymond to unleash a left-footed drive from 25-yards, which was destined for the bottom right-hand corner, only for Bromley keeper Mark Cousins to dive to his left to push out towards safety.

“I think he’s been outstanding Mark.  He’s not done anything wrong. I think he’s a great acquisition,” said Smith.

“He organises the defence and I thought Mark Anthony-Okoye and Chris Bush were amazing as two centre-halves and they’re showing that, that they only had the one chance in the whole of 45 minutes, where we had five or six.”

Bromley were a threat from set-pieces last season and Raymond floated in the home side’s fourth corner of the game which was met at the far post by centre-half Marc Anthony-Okoye, steering his header over the top of the near post from six-yards.

Maynard-Brewer made a superb double save to frustrate Bromley in the 25th minute.

Hackett-Fairchild cut inside Addicks’ left-back Toby Stevenson and released Cheek within the right channel.  He cut the ball across the face of the penalty area for Raymond to sweep his first time shot, which was blocked low by the keeper, who was tested by Coulson’s first time driven shot from the rebound.

“There the ones that we have to start taking,” said Smith, who will need to work on his strikers finishing during training this week.

“We have got to start taking the chances but we are creating now.  We’ve got another week to work on a lot of stuff that we need to work on.

“I thought some of the patterns of play in the first half were outstanding but we do have to take those chances!”

Porter then laid the ball off to Coulson, whose first time left-footed angled drive was comfortably picked up the rolling shot whilst down on his knees exactly 60 seconds later after his double save.

Raymond and Billy Bingham were bossing the middle of the park in an excellent partnership and Raymond poked the ball into the impressive Hackett-Fairchild, who sped down the right and went on a 35-yard run before cutting inside and stroking his low shot straight at the busy Charlton Athletic keeper.

Charlton Athletic linked up well down the right with Vennings releasing their Trialist striker down the right and Abraham Odah got involved before the ball was cut back by their number nine and Okoye calmly played the ball out at the near post.

Bromley created their final first half chance in the 39th minute when left-back Sam Wood was given space to roam forward some 30-yards before he clipped the ball up to Cheek inside the box.  The former Ebbsfleet United striker used his chest to bring the ball down and turned centre-half Sam Keefe before dinking his shot towards goal from 15-yards, which was superbly saved by a diving Maynard-Brewer.

Speaking about Cheek, Smith said: “He’s doing brilliant. He’s getting better and better. He’s growing and I think how we want to play and how Ebbsfleet might’ve played are not too alike, so we’re trying to find him in areas where they might just launch balls up, we’re trying to find him in space.

“I thought he done well to bring it down in that tight area and get a shot off was outstanding.  The keeper was brilliant again!”

When asked his thoughts at the break, Smith said: “Really pleased but it was one of them where we say to them you have to take your chances or they can go a goal up, which is how they got the winner.

“I think they had two other chances other than that and they’ve scored from a penalty.”

Maynard-Brewer pulled off save of the season with four minutes and 33 seconds on the clock.

Wood threw the ball to Porter, who was within the left-channel and rolled the ball towards the by-line for Wood to wrap his left-foot around the ball to whip in a superb first time cross towards the near post.  Coulson found a pocket of space to guide his header towards the top near corner from six-yards, only for the outstanding Maynard-Brewer to dive high to his right and use his wrong hand (the right one as his left was nearer to the flight of the ball) to push the ball over the crossbar.

Smith said: “Great save!  How he’s (the keeper) got up to the top?! Look, you’ve got to give credit to the keeper there.  I think he’s been outstanding. He’s one to definitely look at for future reference.

“He was outstanding! Sometimes you have to go fair play to the goalkeeper. I’m hoping Mark Cousins will do that this season. He’s going to be under the cosh sometimes, I just hope he can deliver.”

Raymond fed the ball into Coulson down the left and he floated in a cross towards the far post and Bush came up from the back to glance his header across goal and past the far post.

Wood clipped the ball over the top of the Charlton Athletic defence to put Porter through, who cut inside Keefe to lash his curling shot over the top of the far post from 15-yards.

Just past the hour-mark, Coulson released Porter down the left and his left-footed shot was saved by Maynard-Brewer, low to his left.

Hackett-Fairchild had a couple of bites of the cherry inside the final third before keeping his composure to play a short pass inside to Coulson, who cut the ball onto his right-boot and drilling a shot towards goal, which was held by Maynard-Brewer in his midriff.

Charlton Athletic went close to grabbing the lead in the 66th minute when Odah and Clayton linked up in the final third and set up a chance for left-back Stevenson from 18-yards, which was charged down and dropped just past the foot of the far post.

Fourth official Ross Mortimer used his electronic substitutes board as both sides made 11 substitutions between them between minute 62 and minute 82 and this inevitably slowed the game down.

Bromley captain Jack Holland came on and a poor crossfield pass was intercepted by right-winger Wilberforce Ocran, who strode forward before hitting his right-footed drive flashing just past the left-hand post from 25-yards out.

Bromley had two new front men in the shape of Adrian Clifton and Korrey Henry and the two physically well-built pair linked up inside the final 10 minutes, only for Henry to cut the ball onto his left-boot and hitting his shot straight at substitute goalkeeper Nathan Harness, who stuck out his left leg to make the save.

Adam Mekki returned from his six-month injury lay-off to play for the final 13 minutes and after Wood chipped the ball forward, Clifton slipped in the former Tranmere Rovers winger, but he couldn’t flick the ball past Harness.

“Brilliant! He’s been working hard.  We wanted to tick some boxes and he’s ticked them and he actually showed some nice touches.  I think Clifton put him through and it just ran away from him but massive plus having someone like Mekki knocking on the door again,” said Smith.

Inevitably, Charlton Athletic attacked one last time and their trialist substitute striker wearing the number 18 shirt cut into the box and was pushed by last defender Bush inside the box and referee Paul Howard pointed to the spot.

Vennings stepped up and sent Cousins the wrong way with his right-footed penalty, which nestled nicely into the right-hand corner, as Charlton Athletic completed a smash-and-grab raid by snatching the victory with 41 minutes and 40 seconds on the clock.

“I think it was a penalty, he pushes him in the back. It’s a penalty, some they go in, some they don’t,” said Smith.

“I thought our back four up until then had kept them out.  It took a penalty to beat us.”

There was still time for Bromley to miss one more chance when Clifton cut the ball to left-winger Ollie Tanner, whose left-footed angled drive was held by Harness at his near post.

With pre-season now completed, Smith now prepares to take his side to Vanarama National League North champions Chorley next Saturday.

“I’ve just said to them, pre-season is finished now, the start of the season is from today,” said Smith.

“Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday is all about Chorley and that’s what all of pre-season has been.

“Mekki comes back, which is a big bonus. We haven’t got any injuries. Jordan Higgs will be fully fit for next week and we obviously missed him today and we go into a very tough season.  We’ve done really well up until today. I’m hoping the boys are ready to go to war next Saturday!

“We weren’t too high when we beat Palace here last week and we’re not getting too low that we’ve just lost to Charlton. These guys are in and around their first team so our players showed an energy and a determination.”

When asked if he knows his starting 11 for the opening day of the National League season, Smith replied: “I do give or take one or two. They’ve got a week to impress, it’s up to them but I thought the football you saw today, I thought we were outstanding and we played some absolutely delightful football, so much improved from last year but at the same time we’re creating, but you have to go and finish.”

Smith, meanwhile, revealed he has been given an increased budget but it remains under a million pounds.

“It’s gone up a bit but it’s had to, we’ve got to compete. It’s nowhere near the teams with million pound budgets. I’m not there. We’re competitive in and around what we’re competing against. It ain’t up there. Money doesn’t win you the league, the players do, so hopefully if you put a good combination together, a good team spirit, that should get you over the line.”

Bromley: Mark Cousins, Joe Kizzi, Sam Wood, Frankie Raymond, Marc-Anthony Okoye (Jack Holland 68), Chris Bush, Luke Coulson (Adam Mekki 77), Billy Bingham, Michael Cheek (Adrian Clifton 70), George Porter (Korrey Henry 70), Reeco Hackett-Fairchild (Ollie Tanner 77).
Subs: Billy Craske, Briggs Ojemen

Charlton Athletic: Ashley Maynard-Brewer (Nathan Harness 76), Johl Powell, Toby Stevenson, Taylor Maloney (Trialist 71), Sam Keefe (Luca Vega 82), Jay Mingi, Junior Quitirna (Wilberforce Ocran 70), James Vennings, Trialist (Trialist 77), Abraham Odah, Charles Clayton (Kareem Isiaka 75).
Sub: Eddy Allsopp

Goal: James Vennings 87 (penalty)

Attendance: 606
Referee: Mr Paul Howard (Bermondsey, London SE16)
Assistants: Mr Michael Begley (Eailing, London W5) & Mr Scott Williams (Hackey, London)
Fourth Official:  Mr Ross Mortimer (Sidcup)

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