Bromley 2-0 Havant & Waterlooville - We're serious contenders for the title, says Bromley boss Mark Goldberg

Sunday 22nd March 2015

Vanarama Conference South
Saturday 31st January 2015
Stephen McCartney reports from Hayes Lane

BROMLEY manager Mark Goldberg says his side are serious contenders for the Vanarama Conference South title after their comfortable victory over third-placed Havant & Waterlooville at a muddy Hayes Lane.

PUSH: Bromley manager Mark Goldberg guided the club to a third-place finish last season, their highest ever position in Conference South

Today was the biggest weekend of the season as the top eight all locked horns – but Bromley came out as the biggest winners in the title race.

League leaders Boreham Wood suffered a 4-0 home defeat to fifth-placed Basingstoke Town; fourth-placed Whitehawk lost 2-1 at seventh-placed Chelmsford City, while sixth-placed Gosport Borough came from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at home to eighth-placed Ebbsfleet United.

Boreham Wood remain top on 51 points from 27 games, followed by Bromley (49 points from 25 games); Basingstoke Town (45 points from 25 games); Havant & Waterlooville (43 points from 26 games) and Whitehawk (43 points from 27 games).

Bromley grounded out their fifteenth league win of the season as central defender Jack Holland, 22, broke the stalemate with his second goal of the season, before Ali Fuseini stroked home a late second for his fourth goal of the season as Bromley celebrated a vital victory in front of a 945 crowd.

“I was really pleased with the way that we controlled the majority of the game,” said Goldberg afterwards.

“I think we had half-an-hour of the first half where we were passing the ball around and creating good goalscoring opportunities.

“I think we should have had at least two in the first half that we’ve created opportunities what ended up in a one-on-one with the goalkeeper.

“We went in at half-time a little disappointed that we hadn’t taken advantage of the good possession and the dominance but in the second half we showed again that we were believing in ourselves, confident that we could see the game through.

“We knew that we just needed to take one of our chances and fortunately it actually came from a centre half who smashed it in the top right hand corner.

“It gave us that little boost that we needed. 

“I think the substitutes all made a difference today as well. It gave us extra energy, good movement and we finished very strong today, so it was a really good result.”

Moses Ademola, playing wide on the left, went close to grabbing Bromley the lead inside the opening four minutes, when the ball ricochet off him and sailed past the right-hand post from 25-yards.

Anthony Cook, who was making his home debut following his move from Ebbsfleet United, swung in a free-kick from the left and Ademola directed his over-head kick over the bar.

But Ademola, 25, squandered an excellent chance to hand Bromley the lead with a one-on-one situation.

Reece Prestedge played the ball inside to Ademola, who swept the ball onto his right foot, but his shot was blocked by Hawks’ goalkeeper Ryan Young.

Goldberg said: “He really should’ve put it to the other side of the keeper.  It’s surprising, Moses would normally bury it to the bottom left there but it’s one of those things.  Luckily, we went on and won it at the end.”

Bromley continued their dominance in the mud.

Cook swung in a corner from the left, which was punched back to him by Young.  Cook cut in and drilled his shot through a crowd of players but Brian Stock – who finished runners-up in the Championship at Burnley last season - was on the line to clear the ball off the line.

It was a pitch where quality from set-pieces would play a key part and Bromley must reduce the number of games played at Hayes Lane to provide their players a playing surface where they can play their attractive brand of free-flowing football.

Prestedge swung in a corner from the right and Rob Swaine came up from the back and sent his downward header bouncing past the near post from ten-yards.

The Bromley skipper drew a comfortable save from Young just 69 seconds later.

Prestedge floated another corner towards the far post and Swaine rose to plant his header down and the Havant & Waterlooville keeper held the ball at his near post.

Goldberg added: “I was hoping he’d get one back across the goal rather than going for goal, unless he’s really there on the post.

“It’s one of those where we were hoping he could create a little bit more confusion by heading it back across goal and then somebody else putting it in.

“The keeper had to pull off saves, so that’s the main thing.”

But Havant & Waterlooville created their first real chance on the half-hour mark, as the Hawks began to get back into the game.

Perry Ryan flicked the ball to lone striker Ben Wright, who played the ball back inside to Ryan, who hooked his shot over the bar as he got in behind Holland.

Then, Wright rolled the ball to former Bromley winger Ben Swallow, who cut in from the right and went close with a left-footed angled drive, which flashed just past the foot of the far post.

Goldberg said: “He was kind of a threat, Ben Swallow, but without really the end product.

“I didn’t see that being as a major threat that particular opportunity. There weren’t too many.

“I was always worried when it was 0-0 and we didn’t take advantage of our opportunities, that they might just nick one.”

Hawks’ midfielder Scott Donnelly cut a corner back to Ryan, who was left in acres of space but drilled his right-footed shot well wide of the far post from 25-yards.

Stock played a fine diagonal pass, which was played in behind Bromley right-back Ugo Udoji and Jonathan Hooper – a product of Cray Wanderers’ Academy – cut the ball back to Donnelly, who curled his right-footed shot across Julian and around the far post at the very end of the first half.

When asked about his thoughts at half-time, Goldberg said: “We’ve had half-an-hour of dominance. The last 15-20 minutes we let it slip.

“I said we’ve got subs who can come on so the next 20 minutes you’ve got to give it everything that you’ve got and we can’t have a dull period in the second half.

“We’ve got to press them high and to be fair we worked hard in the first 20 minutes of the second half, without really creating too much, until the goal came.”

Havant & Waterlooville ventured forward inside the opening three minutes of the first half when Swallow cut in from the right to roll the ball inside to Hooper, who played the ball into Wright’s feet, but his shot landed in the mud and Julian comfortably gathered.

Bromley, now kicking down the slope, livened the game up in the 59th minute when Fuseini picked the ball up in midfield, drove forward before playing the ball to Ben May on his right, the former Ebbsfleet United striker drilling his right-footed shot just past the post.

Goldberg admitted: “I think we dominated.  The wind was against us even though we were kicking downhill. It was quite a strong one.  Normally you’ve got the hill and the wind but this time the wind was against us.

“Our goalkeeper couldn’t really get the ball into the areas that we wanted to get into. We had to keep the ball on the deck more.”

Bromley left-back Joe Anderson swept a deep free-kick towards the far post where Swaine rose to direct his header straight at Young at his near post.

But Bromley kept their title aspirations alive by deservedly breaking the stalemate in the 66th minute.

The home fans roared on their side with a chorus of “Come on Bromley” - and the Ravens delivered.

Cook swung in a corner from the right, Swaine’s downward header from inside the box landed at Holland’s feet, who turned and drilled his right-footed shot into the top right-hand corner from 10-yards.

Goldberg said: “It was coming, wasn’t it?  The corner was created with some really good inter-play, I think between Brad and Ben, which caused the corner.  We had the momentum. It was great timing for Jack to just turn and put it in the top corner.

“He’s scored two great goals this season. I criticised him in the past years because he doesn’t add enough goals to what else he offers as a centre half.  I just think if he could add goals to his game, then he’ll be even more of a threat.”

Swallow went close for Havant & Waterlooville, whipping in a quality cross from the right, which curled around Julian and narrowly past the far corner of the net.

Boss Goldberg had all three of his substitutes on the pitch with Danny Waldren, Louis Dennis and Jamie Slabber - and Havant & Waterlooville failed to create a worthwhile shot on target.

“When Louis came on, Louis and Jamie made a big difference. It wasn’t that they did better than the players we had, it’s just it’s about the squad.

“Ben May worked hard, tirelessly, wore them down and Jamie could come on and do a little bit with clever movement.

“The same with Reece and Danny (in midfield) and the same with Moses and Louis (on the left-flank), who were able to come on with fresh legs and cause havoc.

“The movement was excellent. The way that we finished, I think was very strong.”

Swaine missed another decent chance for Bromley as he met Cook’s free-kick with a towering header, which looped just over the crossbar.

Dennis attacked the left-channel before playing Bradley Goldberg in behind the Hawks’ defence, but his left-footed shot rolled into Young’s hands for a comfortable save.

Young then dived low to his left to save Cook’s deflected angled drive from the right.

The manager said: “I thought we had chance after chance really, didn’t we? I wouldn’t say they were open goals, but we created some really good chances with some good movement.”

Slabber played the ball into Bradley Goldberg, who powered his right-footed drive screaming narrowly over the crossbar from 30-yards as the game entered the final ten minutes.

Bromley wrapped up the deserved victory in the 89th minute when Cook’s corner was cleared back to him, the talented winger wriggled his way in from the right and Fuseini ran away to celebrate behind the goal after his low drive flashed across Young to nestle inside the bottom far corner from sixteen-yards.

“I think it might have gone through Brad’s legs, which maybe put the keeper off but we were happy with that second goal,” admitted the manager.

Bromley almost made it three at the death when Dennis’ low centre from the left was slid towards the bottom far corner by Goldberg, but the ball rolled agonisingly past the foot of the far post.

The striker collected the Conference South Golden Boot last season before moving to League Two side Dagenham & Redbridge, but has returned home following a loan spell in the Vanarama Conference with Bristol Rovers.

The manager added: “We nearly had another one late on, it just went inches past but there you go.  We deserved the victory in the end, didn’t we?

Groundstaff now face a challenge to get Hayes Lane playable for Tuesday’s game against second-bottom Farnborough, where a win will put Bromley at the summit with fourteen league games remaining.

“We don’t like to rely on other results but when you win and other results go for you as well, it makes it even sweeter,” said manager Goldberg.

The Hayes Lane faithful appreciate that Goldberg has assembled their best ever squad since Bromley won the Isthmian League (now Ryman Premier League) title back in 1961.

“It puts us just short of exactly where we want to be,” admitted Goldberg.

“We need to average at least two points a game. We’re just short of that. I know we can push on from here.

“I think if we can win against Farnborough we’re back to two points a game so that’s our aim for Tuesday night.”

Bromley thanked co-chairmen Ashley and Derek Reading for their backing, although goalkeeper Seb Brown has gone out on loan to rivals Whitehawk.

He insists strikers Adam Birchall and Jordan Robertson are still very much in his plans despite being dropped from the squad today.

“I think the reinforcements of our new goalkeeper, Alan Julian, Ben May, Cookie (Anthony Cook) and Brad(ley Goldberg) make us serious contenders, for the title.

“I didn’t believe it last year. I’m not saying we’ll win it. I’m saying we’re serious contenders.

“Seb’s gone on loan to Whitehawk for a month and we’ll see how it goes from there. 

“We’ve had quite a small squad and now we’ve got an opportunity to have 20 players rather than 18 and we think that might make a difference getting over the line or not.

“I managed to persuade our board that if I can keep 20 players, bearing in mind that one of them (Sam Long) is injured for the season, it’s actually 19.

“I don’t think that’s an unreasonable request to where we are in the league so both Adam and Jordan have been invited to stay with us and fight for their places.”

Goldberg praised groundsman Ian Jordan and his groundstaff for getting the game on today and hopes they can pull out all the stops to get Tuesday night’s must-win game on.

He said: “He’s done a good job. It was difficult conditions. He’s done a good job to get it on and now Tuesday he’s got to get it on again but I think it’s going to be dry the next couple of days, hopefully, according to the weather forecast.

“We’ve got to keep our feet firmly on the ground because we’ve won nothing yet – but we are serious contenders!”

Bromley: Alan Julian, Ugo Udoji, Joe Anderson, Ali Fuseini, Rob Swaine, Jack Holland, Moses Ademola (Louis Dennis 70), Reece Prestedge (Danny Waldren 64), Ben May (Jamie Slabber 74), Bradley Goldberg, Anthony Cook.
Subs: Callum McNaughton, Paul Rodgers

Goals: Jack Holland 66, Ali Fuseini 89

Booked: Reece Prestedge 22

Havant & Waterlooville: Ryan Young, Dan Strugnell, Daniel Blanchett, Brian Stock, Brian Dutton, Edward Harris, Ben Swallow (Josh Huggins 82), Scott Donnelly, Ben Wright (Shamir Mullings 90), Jonathan Hooper, Perry Ryan (Bradley Bubb 82).
Subs: Warren Cummings, Alan Connell

Attendance: 945
Referee: Mr Sam Purkiss (Highbury, London N5)
Assistants: Mr Daniel Richardson (Enfield, Middlesex) & Mr Christopher Bodell (Broxbourne, Hertfordshire)

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