Bromley 2-1 Sutton United - We've got demons to rest in this cup because of the heartbreak and I want to go to Wembley again, says Bromley captain Jack Holland

Saturday 15th December 2018
Bromley 2 – 1 Sutton United
Location Hayes Lane, Bromley, Kent BR2 9EF
Kickoff 15/12/2018 15:00

The Buildbase FA Trophy First Round
Saturday 15 December 2018
Stephen McCartney reports from Hayes Lane

BROMLEY captain Jack Holland says his home-town club have got demons to put to rest in The Buildbase FA Trophy this season.

The Ravens were 19 seconds away from beating Brackley Town at Wembley Stadium in the Final on 20 May 2018 but Roger Johnson’s own-goal gave their Vanarama National League North opponents a heart-breaking equaliser.

Omar Bugiel, who gave the Ravens a nineteenth minute lead, skied the penalty that would have given the Ravens the silverware for the first time and Holland agonisingly struck the right-hand post.

Bromley got their Trophy campaign off to a winning start by beating their bitter rivals Sutton United on a wet, windy and freezing cold December day.

Paul Doswell’s side arrived at Hayes Lane sitting in eighth-place in the Vanarama National League table with 37 points from 23 games but one a run of seven games without a win.

Neil Smith’s Ravens are ten places below them with 24 points and without a win in five games and more alarmingly only three points clear of the relegation zone.

Sutton United were on the front foot during the first half and deservedly took the lead through striker Brandon Thomas-Asante’s stunning 25-yarder into top bins halfway through the first half.

Smith, who lost his voice during the first half and sent out player-coach Alan Dunne to undertake post-match press conference duties, turned the game around with former Ebbsfleet United winger Luke Coulson taking the game by the scruff of the neck in what was a dominant second half from the Ravens, as Coulson made an impressive start on his home debut.

Bromley have relied on set-pieces a lot this season and they scored twice in 176 seconds as strikers Jonathan Hooper and George Porter used their heads to convert two set-pieces from Frankie Raymond and Frankie Sutherland.

“Yes, I think fair result.  I thought first half there wasn’t much in it, other than the difference in a great strike from them but we felt as the game went on and  grew, I felt we were the better side,” said Dunne.

“I thought we created more in the second half, we were better in the second half.  We knew they would tire and I thought Coulson and Mekki in the second half, we wore them down and we ended up scoring two set-plays.

“The early stages (of The FA Trophy) can be a grind and tough but the rewards can be a trip to Wembley and we all had such a great time last year other than the result and we want to do one better this year.”

Smith made four changes to the side that went down to a 2-0 defeat at seventh-placed Gateshead last weekend. Johnson, Jack Barham, Marc-Anthony Okoye and Zavon Hines made way for Jake Goodman, Adam Mekki, Raymond and Porter.

Sutton United started the game on the front foot.  Right-back Dale Bennett’s cross was headed away by Holland and Bennett’s follow-up drive sailed over the crossbar from outside the box after only 27 seconds.

Sutton winger Kieron Cadogan cut in from the right and his cross was cleared by Raymond and the ball was picked up by Sutton left-back Nicky Bailey who slipped the ball into emergency centre-forward Charlie Clough, who scuffed his shot just past the foot of the left-hand post from 16-yards.

“We weren’t expecting Clough to play up there to be honest with you,” admitted Dunne, as Doswell played a centre-half to partner Thomas-Asante.

“They made a couple of changes. Craig Dundas has gone back and we thought (Darren) McQueen might’ve played but they went with Clough, who is more of a centre-half and I felt we dealt with it well,” said Dunne.

“I thought Jake (Goodman) dealt with it well and Jack (Holland) and we dealt with their threat. 

“Look, they were going to have a little bit of early possession but I thought as the game grew on, I felt we were the stronger side.”

Bromley took nearly eight minutes to create their first opening, which failed to trouble Jamie Butler in the Sutton United goal.

Left-back Sam Wood played the ball down the line to Hooper, who swept his crossfield ball over to Mekki, who from a central position hit a speculative right-footed drive sailing over the crossbar from 35-yards.

Sutton United produced a slick one-touch move in the final third with Cadogan, Craig Eastmond and Kenny Davis linking up well but Josh Taylor failed to finish of the move, flashing his right-footed drive just past the foot of the right-hand post from 25-yards.

Sutton United deservedly took the lead with 21 minutes and 45 seconds on the clock, courtesy of Thomas-Asante’s third goal of the season.

Bailey slipped the ball into Thomas-Asante’s feet and he was given time and space by Holland to turn before drilling a beautiful right-footed drive past the diving keeper into the top right-hand corner from 25-yards.

“I don’t think the keeper could’ve done a lot for it,” admitted Dunne.

“We dropped off a little bit and allowed him to turn but as far as a strike, I thought hitting it from there, I don’t think many keepers would’ve saved it. It was a great strike!”

Sutton United were first to second balls during a dominant first half performance from Doswell’s men.

Bromley came close to grabbing an equaliser in the 29th minute, following a set-piece, orchestrated by Sutherland and Raymond on the right.

Raymond’s left-footed delivery was of high quality and sailed into the corridor of uncertainty and was met by Hooper, who steered his header across the keeper and past the far post from 10-yards.

“It was a bit unlucky,” said Dunne.

“You see the difference in our deliveries today from Frankie (Raymond).  We have missed him (during his suspension). He puts a great ball in the box. It’s a big threat of ours at the moment.”

Bromley were flat in open-play but they did have another header inside the Sutton penalty area on the stroke of half-time.

Raymond cut back a corner to Mekki, who whipped in a first time cross towards the far post but Goodman’s downward header was blocked at the near post.

Mekki, Raymond and Hooper linked up down the left and Raymond slipped the ball through to Mekki, who got past Sutton’s substitute centre-half Dean Beckwith but the angle was too tight and the Bromley winger drilled his shot over the top of the near post.

“Mekki’s still getting back to full fitness. He can get a bit sharper but he was causing a big threat,” said Dunne.

“Mekki knows the game and Coulson, they find areas and pockets that sometimes it’s hard to coach and they just pick up in those areas and I thought he offered us something today Mekki. It was seeing him at his old self.”

Something had to change at the break, otherwise Bromley would have been on the end of a First Round exit after their roadshow mainly in the North East in this competition last season - and the answer was Coulson, who took the game by the scruff of the neck and improved Bromley’s performance.

“Neil’s lost his voice so it was difficult but we had a chat and we said stick to it, keep doing the things, get the ball down the side and turning them and we knew they would tire.  Can we get Coulson on the ball more? Can we stretch them in behind,” said Dunne.

Raymond played a low pass out to Wood, who whipped in a first time cross from the left with his left-foot, which flashed past the sliding Hooper in the seventh minute of the second half.

It was a sign of things to come as Bromley carried on knocking on the door in terrible conditions.

Sutherland moved away from Raymond for a free-kick out wide on the right by the half-way-line and watched the ball sail over his shoulder and drop at Goodman’s feet eight-yards from goal but whilst under pressure he swept his shot across the keeper and past the far post.

Coulson drove at the Sutton defence with a run through the heart of the pitch and played the ball out to Porter, who curled a first time shot around the foot of the far post from the edge of the penalty area.

“Second half we created a lot more chances and we looked a lot more positive on the ball and a lot more belief on the ball and I think Coulson coming in can offer that,” said Dunne.

Bromley deservedly equalised with 14 minutes and 47 seconds on the clock, courtesy of Hooper’s first goal for his home-town club following his loan move from Sky Bet League Two side Grimsby Town.

Porter cut inside and his 30-yarder took a deflection which dropped just over the crossbar and Bromley scored from their third of five corners.

Raymond swung in the perfect corner from the right and Hooper flicked his header across goal into the far corner.

“It’s something that we’ve worked on throughout the week. We knew with Frankie coming back in our set-pieces would be good,” explained the former Millwall stalwart.

“With the keeper, we knew they’d be vulnerability there so JJ went in the right place for the corner and fair credit to him to get his home goal debut goal.”

When asked what the 25-year-old striker can bring to the party, Dunne replied: “He’s got power, pace, his aggressive, he’s got height and he wins his headers. We need to get more goals out of him, that’s why it was a good start for him today and that will give him more confidence and he offers something different - and he lives local.”

Porter notched his sixth goal of the season to win the game for Bromley following their next chance, a Sutherland free-kick.

Sutherland’s delivery was of a high quality and he put it on a plate for Porter, who steered his header into the bottom left-hand corner from 12-yards.

Dunne said: “Georgie pops up at the right space. He’s always in and around the goal. I’m pleased for him to get his goal because I thought he was outstanding today. He worked really hard in and out of possession for the team and he deserves his goal and another assist from Frankie Sutherland.”

England reached the World Cup Semi-Finals during the summer by utilising dead-ball situations and if it’s good enough for Gareth Southgate’s side it’s good enough for the Ravens.

Dunne said:  “I stress everyday the importance of for and against set-pieces.  Football’s becoming that way now.  Defending them, we’ve conceded a couple of late and we’ve scored quite a few this year.  I think it’s a big threat of ours and you can see from the deliveries that we put in we will get goals from them.”

Porter played the ball inside to Coulson, who played the ball into Hooper, who took a touch and dug the ball out from under his feet before scuffing his shot past the right-hand post from 25-yards.

A mistake from Sutton central midfielder Kenny Davis let in Coulson, but his attempted chip from 35-yards was easily gathered by Butler, moving to his left.

“I wouldn’t say it was a chip but he tried to do a little one with the goalkeeper off his line but he’s got a lot of ability Coulson.  He’s a clever player and we’re lucky to have him, we really, really are. I’ve watched him a few times and I think he can cause problems,” said Dunne.

Coulson was making Bromley tick and he played the ball into substitute striker Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe, who played the ball back to Coulson, who rolled the ball over to Richard Brindley, who ran onto the ball and had time and space to drill his shot past the foot of the near post from 30-yards.

Bromley called visiting keeper Butler into making a fine diving save inside the final nine minutes.

Ogedi-Uzokwe used his chest to bring a long ball down and Porter played the ball inside from the left flank to Sutherland, who drilled a right-footed shot towards goal from 35-yards, forcing Butler to dive to his right to tip around the post for a corner.

Dunne added: “We tell them to shoot, try to shoot.  The keeper didn’t have much to do in the first half. We wanted them to have as many shots as they can.”

Sutton United created a couple of late chances to snatch a replay. 

Goodman’s back header wasn’t dealt with by David Gregory in goal and substitute striker Darren McQueen squandered the chance as his weak low shot, which was destined to roll over the line but Goodman got back to clear the ball away.

Keeper Butler launched one final ball up field, which was cleared out to Craig Eastmond, who cracked his right-footed half-volley screaming just past the right-hand post from 25-yards.

Bromley face a make-or-break festive period when only wins will do as they bid to climb away from the relegation dog-fight.

Third-from-bottom Maidenhead United (21 points from 23 games) are the visitors to Hayes Lane next Saturday, 22 December, before Bromley travel to Gander Green Lane to play Sutton United on Boxing Day, 26 December.  Bromley then travel to the side immediately below them in the table, Havant & Waterlooville (Saturday 29 December), before hosting Sutton United at Hayes Lane live on BT Sport on Tuesday 1 January (19:45).

“Maidenhead, it’s a chance for them to catch us or for us to move away from them,” said Dunne.

“It’s more important than today for me. Massive game to put points on the board and points we need. It’s a huge game for us and we know that leading up to the week but I think a win today will breed confidence into the side. Some of our patterns and passing today will give us confidence going into the Maidenhead game.

“We know what Sutton are about and they’ve got a squad they can change it and mix it up so look we’ve got three games (against them). It’s 1-0 to us in the first one!”

Centre-half Holland, 26, was delighted that his side progressed through to the Second Round in his 281st game for the club.

“It always seems to be a massive game whenever we play Sutton. It’s a bit of a rivalry. We know their boys well, they know us well, yes it’s a massive rivalry, let’s just say we all know each other well,” said Holland.

“But we know what it’s going to be like every time we cross that white line with them, it’s a battle and it was!

“They scored a good goal first half, which I take the blame for. I don’t think I was close enough to him but what a great strike either way!”

Bromley are a side that tend to up their tempo and performances shooting towards their favourite end (the car park, north terrace) during second half of home games.

Holland said:  “We was in there at half-time and we believed in our play, believed in the players that we had and it’s proved today and we can out and matched them for aggressiveness and we got in behind them and scored the goals.

“I think first half we just done enough, it wasn’t what we can do and should be doing but second half, as we’ve proved a few times, we come out stronger and we came out fitter.  I believe we can beat any team but I think we need to find it in the first half, now.

“Our set-pieces have been massive this year, massive. We score from set-pieces pretty much exclusively, they’re massive! 

“We’ve got two people like Frankie Raymond and Frankie Sutherland who can literally put it on a six-pence.  We should be scoring more from their balls that they’re putting in.

“JJ’s come in and he’s an amazing player and he’s got his head on one. I thought he thoroughly deserves it for his work-rate as well as George.

“As anyone knows Porter, he’s done so much hard work over the course of the year, I’m glad he’s getting his goals now. He’s scored two in three now so I’m glad he’s starting to find the net. That was a great goal from him, a great ball from the boy and he was there at the right time, which he’s going to be start doing now.”

Reflecting on Bromley’s heart-breaking day out at Wembley Stadium, Holland replied: “We spoke about it in the week. The ones that were here we’ve got demons to rest in this cup because of the heartbreak.  I want to go there again and I know everyone else does, even the boys that have come in and haven’t been there it’s a massive apple because we’ve proved that we can be there and it’s games like today it shows the heart of the team and hopefully we can kick on from here.

“Honestly, I don’t think about it (the penalty miss and defeat), I can honestly say I don’t, because it’s gone now. It (playing at Wembley) was good at the time and you reflect over it on your off season for good or for bad. It’s this season now. I couldn’t care less what we’ve done last year and I’m ready to go again!

“We’ve tasted the journey but the league is our priority. There is no other priority than the league but the cup is something nice for us, nice for the club and nice for the fans.  I know the fans love it and if we can do something special for them again It would mean the world to us as a squad to give them something to cheer about.”

When asked who he wants in the Second Round – Brackley Town beat Hayes & Yeading United 4-2 – Holland replied: “I couldn’t care! I just care that were through! Whoever gets put in front of us, I believe we have a chance, I seriously believe.  I think we proved that today with Sutton.  They’re a hard team to beat and we’ve pulled it out. I’m ready, I think I’m ready for whoever comes up against us.”

When asked if he had a message for the Bromley faithful, Holland said: “It was unbelievable support. Although it was a cold, windy rainy day, it was freezing for us, god knows how you feel but I think you were in fine voice and I’m so happy we could give you something, especially with a little rivalry game we can give you something to cheer about and hopefully warmed you up a little bit.”

With Bromley claiming the local bragging rights and £6,000 in prize money from The Football Association, the same outcome is expected when Maidenhead United visit for a must-win game next weekend.

Bromley: David Gregory, Richard Brindley, Sam Wood, Frankie Sutherland, Jake Goodman, Jack Holland, Luke Coulson (Roger Johnson 90), Frankie Raymond, Jonathan Hooper (Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe 77), George Porter, Adam Mekki (Joe Quigley 86).
Subs: Marc-Anthony Okoye, John Goddard

Goals: Jonathan Hooper 60, George Porter 62

Booked: David Gregory 11

Sutton United: Jamie Butler, Dale Bennett, Nicky Bailey, Kenny Davis, Bradley Pearce (Dean Beckwith 37), Jamie Collins, Craig Eastmond, Josh Taylor (Harry Beautyman 74), Brandon Thomas-Asante, Charlie Clough, Kieron Cadogan (Darren McQueen 67).
Subs: Seb Brown, Jude Mason

Goal: Brandon Thomas-Asante 22

Booked: Dale Bennett 33, Josh Taylor 54, Craig Eastmond 90

Attendance: 776
Referee: Mr Samuel Allison (Trowbridge, Wiltshire)
Assistants: Mr Darin Geary (Norwich, Norfolk) & Mr Aaron Farmer (Colchester, Essex)
Fourth Official: Mr Elliott Kaye (Loughton, Essex)