Bromley 2-1 Notts County - There will be some downs that we have to ride through but we've got a good squad of lads who deserve to be where we are, says top-of-the-table Bromley coach Alan Dunne

Saturday 21st September 2019
Bromley 2 – 1 Notts County
Location Hayes Lane, Bromley, Kent BR2 9EF
Kickoff 21/09/2019 15:00

Vanarama National League
Saturday 21 September 2019
Stephen McCartney reports from Hayes Lane

BROMLEY coach Alan Dunne says beating Notts County is a big win for the club as Neil Smith’s men climbed to the top of the non-league pyramid for the first time in the clubs 127-year history.

The Lillywhites extended their unbeaten run to 14 games after beating a Notts County side that were playing in League Two last season as Neil Ardley’s side went on the list of scalps that Smith has managed to pull off for his home-town club in the top-flight of non-league football.

Shawn McCoulsky (second from right) volleys in the goal that sends Bromley to the top of the non-league pyramid for the first time in their 127-year history.
Photo: Edmund Boyden -

Remember, on 11 September 2001, Bromley were third-from-bottom in the Ryman League Division One (Isthmian League South East Division in today’s money), with just one point from six league games, before coming away from Yeading with a point in a ill-tempered 3-3 draw at The Warren.

However, a crowd of 3,122 flocked through the turnstiles at Hayes Lane to witness one of Bromley’s most memorable victories at their 81-year-old stadium.

Both of Bromley’s goals came from players snapped up on loan.  Alfie Doughty, who is on loan from Championship neighbours Charlton Athletic, smashed in the opening goal after just 82 seconds, before Notts County deservedly equalised through a beautiful curling effort into the top far corner from striker Kyle Wootton, scoring his third goal of the campaign.

Although this game will only be remembered by the three goals and Bromley rising to the summit of the Vanarama National League table for the first time after 196 games at this level, unbeaten now with 26 points from their 12 league outings, the winner was simply excellent.

Lewisham-based striker Shawn McCoulsky, 22, only met his new team-mates yesterday, having signed on a one-month loan deal from League Two side Forest Green Rovers, but he scored a stunning left-footed volley into the left corner of the net from 18-yards, just 692 seconds into his debut.

“Two goals by the two loanee players, brilliant,” said Dunne, who was sent out by Smith for media duties due to the manager suffering with a sore throat.

“We started and got the early goal and sat back a little bit but even then in the first half we had chances to go and win it and go and finish the game off but we didn’t.

“They are, for me, the best side I’ve seen here this season. We watched them during the week and they’ve got a lot of quality and the patterns were hurting us at times in the first half.”

Bromley got off to a dream start, which stunned a Notts County side sitting in thirteenth-place in the table with 14 points and on a three-match unbeaten run.

Bromley centre-half Chris Bush played a long ball out of defence for Reeco Hackett-Fairchild to flick the ball on for Luke Coulson, who sprinted past Richard Brindlay to reach the left-channel. He whipped in a great cross which missed Michael Cheek at the near post but no Notts County player tracked Doughty’s run at the far post and the 19-year-old smashed his left-footed drive into the roof of the net from the edge of the six-yard box.

“We’ve heard about Alfie arriving at the far post, he’s got pace,” said Dunne.

“He’s come in and he’s done really well, a young boy from Charlton, who we’ve watched and kept an eye on.  Look, he’s got that, it was a great goal. It’s something that we’ve worked on in training with that sort of pattern and it worked today.”

Bromley started the game on the front foot and they missed a glorious chance to double their lead with nine minutes and 19 seconds into this massive game.

Coulson touched a corner short to Frankie Raymond, who was standing beside him to his right and Coulson whipped in a deep cross towards the far post where an unmarked Joe Kizzi planted his header over the crossbar from inside the six-yard box, looking up in the sky as he trotted back into his right-back position as he reflected on the glaring miss.

“He’ll be disappointed with that Kizzi,” added Dunne.

“He always seems to be in the right place at the right time. He’s got the knack of arriving in there. It was a difficult one. He got a slight nudge, which might’ve affected his header on goal.”

Notts County centre-half Connell Rawlinson was robbed off the ball inside his defensive third by the returning Cheek, the Bromley striker teed up Hackett-Fairchild, but Notts County managed to get bodies back and after cutting the ball onto his left-foot, the shot was blocked on the line by Rawlinson, as the keeper dived in front of him.

Notts County weathered the Bromley 15 minute storm and enjoyed plenty of possession as Bromley sat back to defend their single goal lead.

“They’re a possession based side with what they’ve got.  Their six (O’Brien) is a very good player and they play a lot and they are a good side.  They’ve come out of the League and they’ve got some good patterns, an experienced coach in Neil Ardley, who we know and at times we struggled to deal with it.”

Coulson was clattered by his marker on the right but the ball was played inside to Hackett-Fairchild, who from a central position, stroked his left-footed drive, which was charged down and flashed behind for Bromley’s third and final corner.

Notts County created an opening in the 29th minute following their fifth of seven first half corners, although they won two in the second half.

Central midfielder Jim O’Brien, who was forced off late in the game with what was later confirmed a broken left elbbow, needing gas and air from medical professionals as he walked off the pitch, cut the ball back to Kristian Dennis, who smashed a first time left-footed drive sailing over the top of the left-hand post from 18-yards.

Bromley keeper Mark Cousins had to be at his very best in the 33rd minute as he flicked the ball away high to his left as he prevented O’Brien’s corner from the left curling and dipping into the top far corner.

“That was one of their chances that they had. I didn’t think they had too many. They had a lot of possession but they didn’t hurt us in terms of chances at the keeper,” highlighted Dunne.

Notts County’s equaliser was deserved when it came with 34 minutes and 43 seconds on the clock and what a goal it was!

The Magpies linked up well down the left with crisp passing involving centre-half Damien McCrory, left-back Zoomana Bakayogo and left-winger Regan Booty, as Bromley didn’t press their opponents as Kizzi and Okoye stayed in position.

Booty played the ball into striker Wootton, who curled a beautiful right-footed shot around and over the diving Bromley keeper to find the top far corner from 25-yards.

“Their equaliser was a pattern that sort of stretched the back four, stretched the centre-halves and the full-back,” added Dunne.

“It was just a little lapse of concentration. They didn’t get tight enough for the shot but take nothing away, it was a great finish!”

Despite Notts County putting Bromley on the back foot, neither side could create a clear goalscoring chance and there was a sense of disappointment when Bromley went in to the break on level terms, despite being on the same pitch as a massive club like Notts County!

“We needed to get in at half-time and re-group, tweak a few things and I think we were better in the second half,” said Dunne.

“We had to try to change the shape a little bit.  I thought once we scored the goal we sat back a little bit and let them dictate the game.  We had to try to dictate the game, let’s try to grasp the game and that’s by being on the front foot, by getting our two wide men not getting pulled back into the full-back areas as much and try to counter on the mon the break and put our chances away and put the game to bed.”

Bromley created an half-chance inside the first six and a half minutes when Bush clipped a long ball over the top to release Hackett-Fairchild down the left-channel.  He cut into the box but his shot was weak and comfortably gathered by Sam Slocombe at his near post.

Both sides were guilty of giving the ball away on too many occasions as both Bromley and Notts County treated the ball like a hot potato on a warm day and the game lacked quality.

The game sprung to life as Notts County almost scored with 16 minutes and 26 seconds on the clock but Bromley keeper Cousins pulled off a brilliant save.

Winger Boldewijn easily brushed past Billy Bingham as he cut in from the right wing inside the Bromley half and fed the ball into Dennis, who cracked a left-footed drive towards the top left-hand corner from 25-yards, forcing the 32-year-old goalkeeper into diving high to his right to push the ball over the crossbar.

Dunne said: “Dennis is top goalscorer for them (with four goals) at the moment and he’s missed a couple of weeks but that’s what he’s there for Cousins, to make big saves in big games and he has done. He helps our back four when he’s needed to be called upon.”

Despite scoring, left-winger Doughty cut a quiet figure during the second half and Smith replaced him for McCoulsky and it turned out to be a game-changer.

Bromley linked up well down the left with Frankie Raymond, McCoulsky and Raymond before he slipped a short 10-yard pass to put Coulson in behind and he cut inside and teed up Bingham, who hit a first time left-footed drive over the top of the left-hand post from the edge of the D.

Halfway through the half and Booty slipped the ball in behind Bromley’s two centre-halves of Marc-Anthony Okoye and Bush to play in Boldewijn but Cousins rushed off his line to smother the ball before spilling it and gathering it, unopposed at the second attempt.

There’s a saying in football where teams that are successful still win games when they are not firing on all cylinders and this was the case for Bromley today.

The Lillywhites snatched the three points courtesy of McCoulsky scoring his memorable winning goal, which was timed at 27 minutes and 18 seconds on the clock.

Bush launched his second long throw into the Notts County box, the ball was cleared out to Raymond, who put the ball back into the box and was cleared for a second time. 

McCoulsky hooked a stunning left-footed volley, which screamed into the left-hand corner from 18-yards, to send the Hayes Lane faithful into raptures.

McCoulsky joins the long, long, long list of players whom have played for both Dulwich Hamlet and Bromley over the years and what a moment to mark your debut by scoring the winner against Notts County.

Dunne said: “I’m still speechless with it. I couldn’t believe it!

“Obviously we’ve heard off him and Mark Hammond (assistant manager and Academy manager) speaks highly of him from Forest Green. They’ve had him before and known him as a kid but to come on for a debut like that and put one on in the top corner, what a start for the lad!”

Bromley are a well-organised outfit and Notts County didn’t look like breaching a defence well marshalled by Okoye and Bush.

“We’ve had it a few times this season and teams do, they go for it, they overload and they throw numbers forward and we had to deal with that,” said Dunne.

“We kept our shape well and saw the game out and even still we had chances with that we were disciplined, we were disciplined and a very good side.”

Notts County created one chance in the final six minutes when Boldewijn released McCrory, who got in behind Kizzi down the left channel and his deep cross wasn’t hooked away by Hackett-Fairchild at the far post. 

Notts County right-back Richard Brindley, who attacked more in the first half than he did in the second half against his former club, played the ball in from the right by-line but Bush was there at the near post to clear the ball away.

Referee Lloyd Wood played nine minutes and two seconds of stoppage time but the bigger they are the harder they fall as Bromley pulled off a famous win.

Then leaders Woking were held to a 1-1 draw at second-from-bottom side Chorley today, so Bromley leapfrogged over them from second to first place and with FC Halifax Town now in second-place after their 4-2 home win over Barnet, Bromley play third-placed Woking at Hayes Lane on Tuesday, which is an even bigger game than this one today.

Bromley are sitting at the top of the Vanarama National League table with 26 points from 12 games, a point clear of FC Halifax Town and Woking.

Dunne said: “A big win for us.  I’ve just heard the good news, amazing!

“I’ve said to the boys in there, we’re 12 games in, we’re a quarter of the season in. We’ve hit our target for the 12 games, top.  Look, we’ll take that at the moment. We are the in-form team. We haven’t been beaten.

“There’s a lot of games left but we’ve got another block of 12 games now to try to hit our target again and then another block of 12 games to hit our target and the remaining 10 games we can work on that side.

“Fourteen unbeaten, two loses in 23 (league and cup) games so almost half a season and only two loses. That’s Manchester City form for us.”

Notts County’s visit was always going to get the fans through the turnstiles but Dunne calls for similar numbers on Tuesday night against Woking.

“They were talking about this being the biggest one of the season and Woking is obviously going to be the biggest one of the season on Tuesday,” said Dunne.

“We’re going to enjoy this today and tomorrow and we’re going to come in on Monday and go again with Woking, who are a good side, who have got quality.

“We have to dust ourselves down, learn from today and be prepped for a big game on Tuesday, which is going to be another top-of-the-league game.

“The crowd was fantastic, amazing, amazing for the club. That sort of support you can see at times it does help you and it does generate a lot of energy and it keeps the boys going and it’s been evident of late with the late goals and us hanging in there together to see a game out.”

Bromley beating a club like Notts County will make the rest of the National League stand up and take notice that this could be Bromley’s greatest ever season.

This game felt like a Cup game for Bromley’s faithful that were supporting the club during its struggling seasons in the Isthmian League.

“We want them (our players) to believe that you are the best and it can be done and we’re here on merit and we’re there from hard work and that’s a given and every game must start with that hard work.

“The belief is starting to come but there’s a difference between, we’re not getting carried away. There’s still a lot of work to do, still a lot of points to pick up and a lot of hard graft.

“There will be some downs that we have to ride through but we’ve got a good squad of lads who deserve to be where they are.”

As Bromley chairman Robin Stanton-Gleaves said recently on the club’s online podcast, “It’s really easy to get to the top.  It’s even harder staying at the top and that’s the job you’ve got now. I think the hard work starts now!”

Easy getting to the top? It’s only taken 127 years!

Bromley: Mark Cousins, Joe Kizzi, Sam Wood, Frankie Raymond, Chris Bush, Marc-Anthony Okoye, Luke Coulson (Michael Klass 69), Billy Bingham, Michael Cheek (Adrian Clifton 87), Reeco Hackett-Fairchild, Alfie Doughty (Shawn McCoulsky 61).
Subs: Jack Holland, Josh Rees

Goals: Alfie Doughty 2, Shawn McCoulsky 73

Booked: Chris Bush 43

Notts County: Sam Slocombe, Richard Brindley, Zoomana Bakayogo (Pierce Bird 82), Mitch Rose, Damien McCrory, Connell Rawlinson, Regan Booty, Jim O’Brien (Sam Osborne 90), Kristian Dennis (Wes Thomas 69), Kyle Wootton, Enzio Boldewijn.
Subs: Declan Dunn, Jake Kean

Goal: Kyle Wootton 35

Attendance: 3,122 (403 away)
Referee: Mr Lloyd Wood (Dagenham, Essex)
Assistants: Mr David Hutton (Basildon, Essex) & Mr Gary Jerden (Wickford, Essex)
Fourth Official: Mr Simon Finnigan (Maidstone)