Bromley 1-2 Cheltenham Town - I think everyone will see we gave it our all tonight. I suppose I could say we pressed self-destruct, admits Bromley boss Mark Goldberg

Tuesday 13th October 2015
Bromley 1 – 2 Cheltenham Town
Location Hayes Lane, Bromley, Kent BR2 9EF
Kickoff 13/10/2015 19:45

Vanarama National League
Tuesday 13th October 2015
Stephen McCartney reports from Hayes Lane

BROMLEY manager Mark Goldberg says his side gave it their all against fellow highflyers Cheltenham Town.

A crowd of 1,621 witnessed a high-quality Vanarama National League clash between fourth-placed Bromley and second-placed Cheltenham Town, who were playing League Two football last season before fishing second-from-bottom and suffering relegation alongside Tranmere Rovers.

Bromley, who started with nine players that helped them win the Vanarama Conference South title in April, were by far the better side during the opening 20 minutes and created three glorious chances.

But Cheltenham Town’s goalkeeper, Dillon Phillips, 20, on loan from Championship side Charlton Athletic, put in an outstanding performance to frustrate a Bromley side that went into the game scoring 36 goals in their 16 league outings.

Bromley lost central defender Rob Swaine (hamstring) and winger Pierre Joseph-Dubois (ankle ligaments) early in the second half and boss Goldberg admitted he didn’t have the ammunition on the bench to hurt Cheltenham Town.

Both of Cheltenham Town’s goals were scored by substitutes as Billy Waters steered in the first goal of the game with 77 minutes on the clock, which was deserved on Gary Johnson’s side dominant second half performance.

But Bromley equalised through Anthony Cook’s clinical penalty in the 89th minute before Cheltenham Town broke Bromley’s hearts with Asa Hall scoring his first goal for the club at the death.

“I think the first half performance was excellent and really should’ve come in at least 1-0 up.  We had three excellent chances, chances probably that in recent weeks we’ve been putting them away,” said Goldberg after his side’s sixth National League defeat of the season, their second at home.

“I was really proud of the lads at half-time. I thought we commanded the overall possession and they had one or two chances of their own but I think we were in control of the first half.

“Second half it was important we continued the same momentum. I thought we sat back a little bit and I’ve got to be honest, we tired.  I was looking on the bench and I think for the first time the recent injury crisis has caught up on us.

“I looked to see what we had on the bench. We really could’ve done with a little bit more impetus in the middle of the park. Unfortunately we’ve got some really big players who aren’t yet available to us. We were forced to make a substitution for Pierre, who’s got another injury.

“We did get ourselves back in the game. They scored. We got ourselves back into the game and you’d like to think that still a draw would’ve been a fair result but we cleared it twice and it fell very nicely for them and apparently it got a bit of a deflection or a toe poke, whatever.

“It’s so gutting to concede so late on, having really deserved a draw, but we’ll take a lot of heart for it today because that’s the best team pretty much we’re going to play against. They’re definitely in the top three and we competed extremely well, with a lot of players missing.”

The Hayes Lane faithful went into the game having seen their side thrash Barrow 5-0 on Saturday, but Louis Dennis was suffering from a high temperate so he was replaced by Joseph-Dubois.

Bromley were gifted their first chance of the game after only 228 seconds.

A poor back-pass from Harry Pell was latched onto by Moses Emmanuel, who burst forward at pace and his right-footed shot was blocked by Phillips’ legs and the ball looped agonisingly over the crossbar.

“I think their keeper did extremely well,” said Goldberg.

“These are chances that in the recent weeks we’ve been taking them, but all credit to Moses, he kept working hard and it was just unfortunate for him.”

Cook whipped in a teasing cross from the right channel, which deflected off Aaron Downes, which was caught by Phillips, before Cheltenham Town hit Bromley on the counter attack with striker Danny Wright heading the ball into Chris Kettings’ hands.

Emmanuel played in Joseph-Dubois but Phillips moved swiftly off his line to bravely smother the ball at the Frenchman’s feet.

Bromley were cursing their bad luck when the foot of the left-hand post saved Cheltenham Town after 16 explosive minutes of attacking flair from the Kent side.

Reece Prestedge and Joe Anderson linked up well further down the pitch and Emmanuel played the ball into Joseph-Dubois’s feet.

The right-winger’s right-footed drive from 20-yards slipped past Phillips but bounced off the foot of the left-hand post and Jack Holland’s follow-up shot sailed over the crossbar.

Goldberg provided an update on Joseph-Dubois’ injury too.

He said: “Pierre always gets himself in those dangerous positions. He played as if he’s been playing every week in, week out, but it just didn’t work for him.

“Pierre looks like he’s done some ankle ligaments.  I thought he did extremely well today as well, so disappointing.”

Prestedge played the ball over the top of the Cheltenham Town defence to find Emmanuel completely unmarked inside the box but the 13-goal striker sliced his first time shot past the right-hand post.

Joseph-Dubois then laid the ball into Emmanuel’s path but his low flicked shot from a tight angle was turned around his near post by the busy Phillips.

Goldberg added: “Again, that’s the story of the first half. We didn’t make the pressure count in the first half, which we should’ve done.

“You’ve got to keep digging and believe that if we keep going that way one’s going to come.  You always know in the back of your mind you know they can get one breakaway and score.”

However, Cheltenham Town weathered the early 20 minute Bromley storm and finished the rest of the first half the better side.

Kyle Storer played a low pass inside to Pell, who cracked his right-footed drive into Kettings’ midriff from 35-yards, which was a comfortable catch for the on-loan goalkeeper from Crystal Palace.

Bromley swiftly gave the ball away to Cheltenham Town and just 22 seconds later striker Amari Morgan-Smith flashed his left-footed drive past the far post from 30-yards.

A cross-field run with the ball from Wright saw him cut into the Bromley penalty area before slipping the ball into George McLennan’s path but Ugo Udoji made a penalty box tackle and the ball came out to Pell, who drilled his 25-yarder wide.

Bromley keeper Kettings was called into making a finger-tip save following Cheltenham’s first corner after 29 minutes.

Jack Munns’ swung in a corner from the left towards the far post where Downes came up from the back to plant his towering header towards goal, which was tipped over by the goalkeeper.

Goldberg was full of praise for Kettings, saying, “He’s done very well for us. They did test us; I can’t say they didn’t test us, but the majority of the first half we dominated.”

A big kick down the middle by Cheltenham keeper Phillips was destined to bounce out of play as Swaine tried to shepherd the ball out of play, but Wright stole the ball off him, skipped past him to cut along the by-line and cut the ball back to Morgan-Smith, who sliced his shot across the face of the goalmouth when well placed at the near post.

Swaine opened the gate for McLennan on the left hand side of the Bromley penalty area, but Kettings came to the Ravens rescue by making the save with his legs.

Bromley were certainly off the boil and Morgan-Smith got in behind Swaine and once again Kettings made a smart save with his legs, but it remained goal-less at the break.

Bromley proved during the opening 20 minutes that they can play some excellent attacking football that leaves their rivals on the ropes – all it needed was a goal or two.

Goldberg said: “I said my only danger was I tell you how well you’ve done and we go out with the wrong attitude so let’s just make sure we keep it going, but I was really pleased with them in the first half.”

Cheltenham Town started the second half on the front foot and they were to be denied inside the opening inside four minutes.

Pell played the ball into Wright, who cut inside from the right hand side and laid the ball inside to Munns, who cracked a rasping right-footed drive from 20-yards, which screamed over Kettings’ left-shoulder and bounced down off the underside of the crossbar and the Ravens survived.

Goldberg admitted: “I think we got a bit fortunate at times but we rode our luck and we also had chances.”

Bromley were to be denied too, this time by a world-class save from Phillips.

Defender-turned-striker Holland clearly used his hand above his head to knock the ball down - but referee David Rock allowed play to continue.

Anderson slipped the ball into Emmanuel’s path, who cut inside from the left and powered a stunning right-footed curler, which was destined for the top right-hand corner, but the diving Phillips used a strong right hand to palm the ball over the bar.

Goldberg swiftly added: “Great save, great effort.”

Bromley’s last chance saw midfielder Ali Fuseini hook his right-footed volley past the left-hand post from 22-yards after Cheltenham cleared Cook’s corner from the right.

Bromley without Swaine spells disaster as the influential captain is one of the reasons behind the club’s run of nine wins from their last ten league and cup games.

“I think with Swainey it’s precautionary,” revealed Goldberg.

“His hamstring was tight so it was important that he didn’t get any twinge, which would’ve meant then he’d be out for a few weeks.  I think we just about saved him from further injury by bringing him off.”

With Joseph-Dubois leaving Hayes Lane on crutches, Emmanuel was put wide on the right with substitute Bradley Goldberg partnering Holland up front and this killed off Bromley’s attacking threat, which allowed Cheltenham Town to dominate the rest of the game.

Goldberg added: “It’s just concerning because I could see that we were tiring in the middle of the park and to have a Lee Minshull or a Max Porter to come on, even an Alex Wall or a Ben May, those are the sort of options that I think could’ve made a massive difference. 

“We brought Brad on but I think he was really fighting a losing battle on his own, where we needed strength in the middle of the park.”

A slick Cheltenham move including Rob Dickie, Wright, Pell and Morgan-Smith resulted in Wright hooking his left-footed volley screaming just past the left-hand post from 20-yards just on the hour mark.

McLennan progressed down the left and his low centre was swept towards goal by Wright from eight-yards, the ball taking a deflection as it whistled over.

Dickie played the ball down the line to release Wright down the left channel and he played the ball inside to Pell, but he shot into the ground and Kettings made a routine catch.

Munns scuffed his right-footed shot past the left-hand post from 25-yards after running at a tiring Bromley defence.

Goldberg, who guided the club to their first title in 54 years with the Conference South crown in April, said: “I think we sat back and we tired a little bit and we invited pressure on ourselves, which was a little bit disappointing, but I knew at that stage a bit of impetus from the bench would’ve made a difference but I really didn’t have the ammunition tonight.

“I think we’re just unfortunate.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m absolutely delighted with the size of the squad that I’ve got, it’s just a rather unfortunate time that we’ve got a suspension and three or four key injuries.”

And as the game entered into the final 20 minutes, Bromley continued to hang on.

Munns was stopped in his tracks by Udoji down the channel and the Bromley right-back swept his clearance straight at Barthram, who flashed his right-footed drive just past the foot of the left-hand post from 25-yards.

McLennan then played the ball into substitute Waters, who drilled his left-footed angled drive straight into Kettings’ hands from 25-yards.

Therefore it was inevitable when Cheltenham Town made their pressure count, by scoring the first goal of the game with 32 minutes and 16 seconds on the clock.

Pell played the ball to Storer, who unleashed a right-footed piledriver towards goal from 30-yards, which forced Kettings to dive high to his right to palm the ball away. 

But Waters scored his fifth goal of the season when he pounced on the ball and steered his shot into the back of the net from 8-yards, which was a deserved lead on the balance of the second half.

“Yes, it seemed to come from rebounds and second balls and we did warn them this is how they score their goals, but we will look at that again,” said Goldberg.

“Could we put our bodies on the line more? We did in the first half. We were good in the first half in terms of getting back into shape and making blocks and winning second balls.

“But it’s been a good run for us and I really believe that there’s certain players I would’ve had the added benefit as ammunition today, which weren’t available.”

Munns skipped past a couple of Bromley defenders and once inside the penalty area he drilled his left-footed shot over the crossbar from 12-yards.

Wright then cut inside and laid the ball into Hall, whose right-footed drive flashed just wide of the foot of the left-hand post from 22-yards.

But Bromley gave themselves a lifeline with an equaliser from the penalty spot, timed at 43 minutes and 1 second.

Cook cut into the penalty area at pace on the right hand side and was sent flying to the ground by McLennan’s tackle and referee Mr Rock pointed to the spot.

It first appeared that Emmanuel would step up to take the penalty, but Cook took responsibility and drilled his right-footed penalty into the bottom left-hand corner, despite Phillips going the right way.

Goldberg added: “Cookie’s taken the last two, I think, and scored so that’s fine. That’s the way it works.  I really did think we grinded it out.”

With Hayes Lane still celebrating Cook’s fourth goal of the season and a well-deserved point, Cheltenham Town went up the other end to win it with 44 minutes and 59 seconds on the clock.

Munns worked the chance down the left, cutting the ball inside and Bromley failed to clear their lines and the ball fell at Hall’s feet, who lashed his left-footed shot into the top left hand corner from eight-yards.

Goldberg said: “We made a slight change, it seemed to have worked and then I suppose I could say we pressed the self-destruct but it was one of those opportunist goals.  It fell for them, didn’t fall for us and they got the goal.”

The feeling among the long-serving Hayes Lane faithful is that this is the best Bromley team in their entire 123 year history.

When that was put to the club’s current manager, Goldberg replied: “Well, we’re in the highest league in our history and we’re competing at the highest level with these teams.  We’ve got a very good squad and it’s just very unfortunate that quite a few players and the suspension at the same time but that’s not going to happen week in, week out, so all in all I’m delighted with that squad that we’ve got.

“I think we’ll maintain our confidence. I think today was a gage of where we are and really although I’m really devastated that we didn’t get a point because I do think in the end we deserved a point, we will take some heart that we competed right until the end with a depleted squad.”

Bromley have slipped down to fifth-place on 29 points from 17 games after this defeat and travel to slap-bang-in-the-middle Aldershot Town on Saturday.

Goldberg said: “Lee Minshull’s suspended so he’s back on Saturday, which is great for us. Max Porter? I can’t say.  I think he’s still a couple of weeks away.  Ben May’s still probably three to four weeks away and Alex Wall probably still three weeks away, four weeks away.

“We had a couple of dead legs tonight, a few more injuries than we’ve even said.  Louis Dennis was ill and unavailable due to a high temperature so hopefully we’ll have Louis back for Saturday.”

Goldberg had this message to the home fans in the higher-than-normal-midweek crowd.

“That’s a fabulous turn out tonight for a Tuesday night, but it’s a little disappointing that we didn’t give them more to cheer. 

“I think everyone will see we gave it our all tonight and everyone will be a little bit disappointed that we didn’t get a draw.

“I think it’s a fabulous show at the moment but we want to stay in the mix.  We want to stay amongst the top six and see what happens.”

Bromley: Chris Kettings, Ugo Udoji (Aaron Tumwa 86), Joe Anderson, Ali Fuseini, Rob Swaine (Sean Francis 54), Ben Chorley, Pierre Joseph-Dubois (Bradley Goldberg 59), Reece Prestedge, Moses Emmanuel, Jack Holland, Anthony Cook.
Subs: Alan Julian, Paul Rodgers

Goal: Anthony Cook 89 (penalty)

Booked:  Reece Prestedge 70

Cheltenham Town: Dillon Phillips, Jack Barthram (Lee Vaughan 79), George McLennan, Kyle Storer, Aaron Downes, Daniel Parslow, Rob Dickie, Harry Pell (Asa Hall 79), Danny Wright, Amari Morgan-Smith (Billy Waters 65), Jack Munns.
Subs: Rhys Lovett, James Rowe

Goals: Billy Waters 77, Asa Hall 90

Booked: Harry Pell 45

Attendance: 1,621
Referee: Mr David Rock (Hertford, Hertfordshire)
Assistants: M Carl Pearse (Colchester, Essex) & Mr James Whittaker (Junior) (Harlow, Essex)
Fourth Official: Mr George Warren (Bromsgrove, Worcestershire)