It's good that we showed character in the fightback towards the end and we pulled together like we normally do, says Bromley goalkeeper David Gregory

Wednesday 08th August 2018

BROMLEY goalkeeper David Gregory hailed the character from his team-mates after getting their campaign up and running last night.

Neil Smith’s men opened their Vanarama National League campaign with a 2-1 defeat at AFC Fylde on Saturday and were held to a 2-2 draw by Dover Athletic at Hayes Lane last night.

Left-back Dan Johnson scored his first goal for the club to give the Ravens a lead just two minutes and 36 seconds on the clock, before Dover Athletic equalised through Jamie Allen’s tap-in ten minutes before the break.

Chris Kinnear’s side dominated large chunks of the second half and Kevin Lokko came up from the back to tap-in Jack Connor’s low cross with 18 minutes left.

Smith threw centre half Jack Holland up front as he put big centre-half Marc-Anthony Okoye at the back with 11 minutes remaining and the tactic worked as Bromley grabbed an 89th minute leveller through Frankie Sutherland’s penalty.

“Another tight game,” said Gregory, 23, who lives in Biggin Hill.

“Dover always pose a physical threat.  Two sloppy goals from our part, we’re still trying to nullify them but we showed enough character to get the point in the end.  I think overall it was a fair result.

“It’s always tough against Dover, they always pose a very direct and physical threat and they’re a credit to the league actually. They’re very organised with their way of playing, always pose physical questions each time we play them, which is good.  I’m just pleased we got a point in the end.”

Gregory has conceded four goals in two league games and acknowledges work on the training ground will tighten up things at the back.

“We’ve conceded three or four very similar goals at the start of the season, which is something that we’re trying to work on. We’re getting there in training,” he said.

Gregory scooped the sponsors’ man-of-the-match award – his first for the club – for an outstanding performance.

His save from Mitch Brundle in the 37th minute, diving high to his right to tip the ball onto the top of the crossbar and behind for a corner, was simply world-class.

“I’m just pleased to get a hand on it to be honest.  I know Mitch’s ability, I know Mitch from a while back and he’s got a lovely strike on the ball and I was aware of that and I’m just thankful to get a hand to it,” said Gregory, who was then asked which hand he used.

“It would be what people deem the wrong hand, it’s the top hand.”

Gregory is starting to make a name for himself and Smith has high-hopes for the former Crystal Palace stopper.

“I think he’s going to be the best keeper in the league,” said Smith, who is targeting the play-offs again this season, narrowly missing out by four points (taking goal-difference into account).

“I hope he starts getting selected and up for selection as well in the England C because I think he’s progressed so far since he’s come here this time last season, so to pull of those saves and get man-of-the-match is a full credit to him.”

Gregory was full of praise for Holland, who has good feet when he is deployed as an emergency attacker and still performs at 100% whatever the position the captain plays.

“It’s good that we showed character in the fightback towards the end.  We pulled together like we normally do and I’m just glad to get a point,” said Gregory.

“Jack’s a very versatile player.  I think you could play him anywhere and he’ll give 100%.  He’s a very effective striker when you put him up there, he’s a very effective right-back if you put him there and he’s a fantastic centre half.  All together, he’s a very good player and it’s great to have him in front of me.”

Sutherland kept composed – although goalkeeper Mitch Walker got a hand to the match-saving penalty – 79 days after Bromley’s penalty-shoot-out heartbreak at Wembley Stadium.

“Frankie is a superb penalty talker, he’s always one of the first ones to stick their hand up and take one. I’m just thankful he stuck it away, despite Mitch’s best efforts. He was unlucky, we’re thankful that’s gone in,” said Gregory.

“On a selfish point of view you want Frankie to score, of course, you always want them to score. Last minute, you’re chasing the game, you need the point.  Part of the GK union if we’re 4-0 up and cruising I would like the keeper to save it but state of the game you’re looking for selfish reason to capitalise an opportunity to get points.”

Reflecting on his man-of-the-match award – a sign how Dover Athletic dominated Bromley at Hayes Lane – the goalkeeper said: “First time, pleased with that.  I’m just happy to contribute something to the game and allow the boys to get a point.”

Bromley are in fifteenth-place in the Vanarama National League table and welcome newly-promoted side Harrogate Town to Hayes Lane on Saturday.

“Good to get the first point on the board, we’re off and running, go again Saturday and get three points, just keep the ball trolling and keep the momentum going,” said Gregory.

“I think Harrogate have spent well, they’ll be a good side. They’ll be hungry to achieve this year, just as all club’s.

“It’s the strongest league I’ve ever seen in my experience, it’s the strongest I’ve seen this league. Everyone’s having the bite of the cherry trying to capitalise on certain things.  The signings they’ve done, they will be strong and they’ll be hungry to get three points – as will we.  We’re the same. We’ve brought well, we’ve recruited in the right ways. We just need to capitalise when we can and get points.”

Bromley were written off by many last season and finished in the top nine – the club’s highest finish – and Smith is keen to guide the club to the play-offs this season with a playing budget “in the lowest half of the table.”

“It’s always the target, said Gregory.  “I think it’s a very achievable target with the group of lads that we’ve got.  We can definitely get there.  I’m sure come the end of the year we will be there.”

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Bromley  v  Harrogate Town
Vanarama National League
Saturday 11 August 2018
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Hayes Lane, Bromley, Kent BR2 9EF