Bromley 1-1 Wrexham - I'm disappointed we're not beating these sides so it just shows how far this club has come, says Bromley boss Neil Smith

Saturday 28th November 2020
Bromley 1 – 1 Wrexham
Location Hayes Lane, Bromley, Kent BR2 9EF
Kickoff 28/11/2020 15:00

Vanarama National League
Saturday 28 November 2020
Stephen McCartney reports from Hayes Lane

BROMLEY manager Neil Smith says Wrexham stole a couple of points at Hayes Lane after extending his side’s unbeaten run to five games.

The first-half of this Vanarama National League clash at Hayes Lane lasted 88 minutes after Wrexham goalkeeper Rob Lainton required lengthy medical assistance after being knocked out and Bromley deservedly took the lead through striker Michael Cheek’s seventh goal of the season.

Bromley created numerous goalscoring chances during a dominant second half where substitute goalkeeper Christian Dibble put in an outstanding performance to deny Bromley further goals and Dean Keates’ side grabbed an equaliser through striker Adi Yussuf’s fourth goal of the season with 13 minutes remaining.

“It seems to be happening at the moment, we’re creating chances, we’re making them against a team that’s kept four clean-sheets on the spin, a team in form,” said Smith.

“I thought we were totally dominated first half and we created a chance, obviously going a goal up and we had others so to draw one-all, they’ve done a job. They’ve stole a couple of points on us but I can’t fault the boys, they haven’t given up and they kept on going.

“Listen, I’ve always said it, we’ll always create but we’ve got to make sure that we start taking them.

“I’m still pleased where the teams getting and going at the moment. We are playing some good stuff, we are creating but we have got to start taking them now.”

Bromley created an opening after only 93 seconds.

Wrexham centre-half Theo Vassell prayed before the start of the game - and pushed over Cheek on the edge of the centre circle.

Bromley left-back Chris Bush floated in the resulting free-kick towards the far post which was knocked down by right-back Joe Kizzi and striker Joe Alabi teed winger Reeco Hackett-Fairchild, who smashed his left-footed volley harmlessly wide from 25-yards.

Play was first halted for five minutes when one of the assistants pulled a muscle and was replaced by fourth official Aaron Conn.

Bromley’s left-winger Luke Coulson, starting for the suspended Ben Williamson, drifted in field to cut inside before his deflected 35-yard drive went behind for a corner but the first half was a cagey, tight opening against a Wrexham side that have kept four clean sheets during their four-match unbeaten run.

Both teams continued to cancel each other out and play was halted with 22 minutes and 28 seconds on the clock.

Bush clipped a ball over the top of Wrexham centre-half Fiacre Kelleher and Alabi was clearly offside but play continued and an assistant referee only raised his flag after the Bromley striker collided with Lainton on the left-hand side of the penalty area.

Medical staff treated the 31-year-old goalkeeper and referee Paul Marsden advised both sets of players to leave the pitch at 34:00.  An ambulance was called and the keeper was taken to hospital but was able to travel back on the coach with his team-mates.

Both sides returned to the pitch, Bromley (48:33) and Wrexham (51:30) to warn up and substitute goalkeeper Dibble restarted the game with a free-kick with 1:01:31 on the clock.

“Listen, after what happened in the first-half as well, all our thoughts are with him (Lainton),” said Smith.

“We’ve heard the good news that he’s ok and he’s able to go home.

“My problem is the linesmen nowadays  they put the flag up but the referees have to wait for someone to touch the ball to blow it. That incident is always going to happen and I think they’ve (The FA) got to look at that. As soon as the flag’s up and he’s offside, just stop it! It doesn’t matter whether the player gets the ball or not because it could’ve been worse.

“He’s gone to hospital on that decision, hopefully he’s ok.  It’s really strange to have 26 minutes added on to the time.

“I’ve never been involved in anything like that before so the players’ had to get their mind right and make sure they were ready for it – but they did, they recovered really well.

“You don’t want them to be warming up for the half-an-hour and then they’re tired for the game so you’re giving them a little bit of a breather and then you’ve got to gage it right and then all off a sudden you don’t want them to pull a muscle because they haven’t warmed up enough, so it's very, very strange. Touch wood, we’ve had no injuries today.”

Bromley took a deserved lead with 1:11:25 on the clock.

Wrexham forced their only corner of the game, which was swung in by left-back Jamie Reckford from the right and Bromley cleared their lines and hit Wrexham on the counter-attack.

The ball was played up to Hackett-Fairchild on the right wing and he played the ball inside to Billy Bingham in the middle of the pitch and Bingham drove through the heart of the pitch and once inside the box his driven shot was blocked by Dibble’s legs.

Cheek controlled the ball inside the penalty area and drilled his left-footed shot into the back of the net from 12-yards.

Smith was delighted with the goal that has come straight off the training pitch.

He said:  “For us to hit them on the break, Reeco did great and then Billy hits the target and we’re there to follow up so when you do that and it’s something that we’ve worked on, hitting teams on the break, it’s good to see.”

Bromley squandered an excellent chance to double their lead, following a three-man move.

Kizzi’s ball over the top split open Vassell and was picked up by Cheek down the right-hand side of the box. He put the ball on a plate for Alabi, who lacked composure and lashed his left-footed drive over the crossbar from 16-yards.

“We’ve had other chances, James had one where he’s skied it and he’s got to hit the target,” added Smith.

Wrexham offered very little in an attacking sense and Jay Harris’ free-kick from the half-way line was flicked on by Yussuf on the edge of the box, which was easily gathered by the untroubled Bromley goalkeeper Mark Cousins.

Bromley should have doubled their lead with 1:22:03 on the clock.

Bush clipped the ball upfield towards targetman Alabi and the ball was cleared out to Bingham, who controlled the ball with his chest before cracking a dipping left-footed volley just over the crossbar from 30-yards.

The referee blew his half-time whistle with 1:28:27 on the clock and Bromley deserved to go in with the lead.

When asked his thoughts at the interval, Smith replied: “With all the difficult situation with the goalkeeper being injured and the time and everything else, we had to stay focused, just keep doing your job, don’t make a mistake, don’t switch off, stay concentrated and I thought we did.”

Wrexham’s holding midfielder Harris bundled over Cheek from behind and Coulson stroked his right-footed free-kick over the three-man wall from 28-yards and goalkeeper Dibble beat the ball down before falling on the ball as the Bromley winger tried to find the top near corner from the set-piece just 111 seconds into the second half.

Bromley rampaged at the Wrexham goal and should have had the game wrapped up during a dominant spell of pressure and attempts.

Coulson swung in Bromley’s second corner from the left and Cheek found a pocket of space at the near post to glance his header towards goal, which was cleared off the line and Bush lashed his left-footed drive over the crossbar from 25-yards.

Kory Roberts, who was outstanding at the heart of Bromley’s defence, smashed a bullet header up field which caught out the Wrexham defence to put Alabi through on goal and his left-footed drive towards the near corner was pushed around the post by Dibble, diving to his right in the 50th minute.

“Look, Dibble’s done well. He’s come on, I thought he might’ve been cold, a little bit rusty but he produced the goods for them and that’s why they’ve come away with a draw,” admitted Smith.

Dibble, who was making his first appearance of the season, pulled off a world-class save to frustrate Bromley in the 13th minute.

Coulson’s skill saw him easily glide past four Wrexham players down the left before he put the chance on a plate for Cheek, who drilled a left-footed shot towards the top near corner from eight-yards, only for Dibble to stretch to use his right-hand to push the shot over the crossbar.

“We said it in there, if he is cold and if he is a bit rusty, make sure we put him under pressure and we did but he just kept coming up with an answer,” added Smith.

Cheek and holding midfielder Liam Trotter linked up inside the Wrexham half and Coulson cut inside to curl his shot around the far post.

Coulson delivered a deep cross form within the right channel towards an unmarked Cheek at the far post and his free header bounced into Dibble’s hands for a comfortable save.

Keates made his mark on the game when he made a double change in the 67th minute with left-winger Elliott Durrell and midfielder Jordan Davies coming on to put Bromley on the back foot for a 10 minute spell.

Wrexham started getting themselves back into the game and 28 minutes in, left-back Reckford played the ball inside to Davies, who delivered a deep cross towards the far post where striker Kwame Thomas was off balance and steered his header past the near post from a tight angle.

Wrexham’s first real goalscoring chance came with 28:48 on the clock when Cousins was forced into making his first save of the game.

Yussuf played the ball infield from the right-wing into Davies in the centre and he laid the ball off to the unmarked Durrell, who took a touch before stroking his left-footed shot towards the bottom near corner from 12-yards, forcing Cousins to make a good save, diving low to his right.

“I think they had a 10 minute spell when they brought Durrell on and it sort of just freshened them up a little bit,” said Smith.

“I thought we looked a little bit leggy, if I’ve got to be brutally honest – after maybe the travel and then we got ourselves back into it at one-all and we’re going for the win, like we always do.

“Mark Cousins’ has pulled off a great save from Durrell, again, we know he’s a good player. He’s been starting every week, so we knew what he’s got.

“The first time Cousins’ is called upon he’s pulled off a great save. I think the second time he’s picking the ball out from the back of the net.”

Wrexham salvaged a point by grabbing their equaliser with 31 minutes and 12 seconds on the clock, following a set-piece.

Davies floated in a free-kick towards the edge of the Bromley box where centre-half Byron Webster failed to clear his lines and Wrexham winger Paul Rutherford floated the ball back into the box towards the far post where the towering Yussuf buried his header into the top left-hand corner from a couple of yards out, despite Cousins’ efforts to keep a clean-sheet.

“Look, Adi Yussuf was playing for Blackpool at the beginning of the season.  Kwame Thomas, Burton Albion, so we knew they were a handful,” said Smith.

“I thought we done a job on them. I thought we done really, really well. The one time, it’s not a great free-kick but they get the height and you think we should be able to cover it and he comes in between us, two players and he just gets the luck he needed.  I’m really disappointed with the goal.

"It was going to need a clean-sheet for us to get a result today.  I can't fault any of the boys, they've given me everything that they've got but I just think the one time that we've switched off, they got the goal from it."

Yussuff knocked the ball down to Durrell, who swept his shot past the left-hand post as Wrexham threatened to snatch an unlikely win, especially as Cousins showed safe hands as he gathered a dangerous low cross from the right by Yussuff, with Thomas lurking beside him ready to pounce to poke in the winner.

Bromley were to be denied the winner with 37:15 on the clock, courtesy of another smart save from Dibble.

Cousins launched a big right-footed clearance out of his hands straight down the middle of the pitch, which was superbly controlled by substitute Harry Forster, who cut inside before unleashing a low right-footed drive towards the bottom right-hand corner from 25-yards, only for Dibble to dive low to his left to push the ball towards safety.

“He just palmed it away and you’re just hoping someone’s following up.  If you hit the target and you make the keeper work, then fair enough,” came Smith’s reply as another Bromley chance went begging.

Kizzi floated a deep cross from the right which was flicked on by the unmarked Cheek, across the goal and Hackett-Fairchild challenged the flapping keeper at the far post but could only poke his shot just past the foot of the near post from a tight angle from close range.

Wrexham could have snatched the win with 44:49 on the clock when Davies floated in a cross from the left towards the unmarked Rutherford.  However, the ball sailed over the winger’s head and went behind for a Bromley goal-kick.

Wrexham were Bromley’s first opponents on 8 August 2015 as Mark Goldberg’s side claimed a famous 3-1 victory here at Hayes Lane.  Smith was assistant manager.

Bromley SHOULD HAVE BEATEN Wrexham today and it proves how far the club have come when you’re disappointed dropping two points against a club that have a couple of Hollywood stars (Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney) owning the Welsh club.

Torquay United are at the summit with 22 points from nine games, while the National League play-off places are occupied by Sutton United (20 points from 10 games), Woking (17 points from 10 games), Wrexham (17 points from 10 games), Wealdstone (17 points from 11 games), Maidenhead United (17 points from 11 games) and Notts County (16 points from nine games).

Bromley remain in eighth-place with 16 points from their 10 league outings and make the trip to newly-promoted side King’s Lynn Town on Tuesday night.

Ian Culverhouse’s side are in fourteenth-place in the table with 13 points on the board from 10 games and lost 6-1 at League One side Portsmouth in The FA Cup Second Round today.

“We go again,” said Smith.  “I’ve just said to the boys, out of the last four games before today we’ve had two points a game, eight points. We now go to King’s Lynn and if we win there we’re still on the two points ratio and that’s what we’ve got to do.

“It will be a tough game against a team that like to pass it around and we’ve got to make sure that we’re on it.”

Clubs in the London Borough’s have been placed in Tier Two by the UK Government, while all Kent clubs have been placed in Tier Three and fans at those clubs will not be allowed to attend games.

Bromley welcome Stockport County to Hayes Lane next Saturday, followed by bottom-of-the-table side Yeovil Town three days later, a side that sent Bromley crashing out of The FA Cup in the First Round.

“We’ll find out in the week whether we can do it and it will be just great to have the supporters’ here,” said Smith.

“They are so important to us and I think if we had them for the last few home games we don’t lose or draw.  They are like an extra person for us and they get behind us and it will be great to have whatever the number is, to come back in to get behind this great club.”

On his side’s points tally, Smith believes his side should be higher up in the league table.

“I would probably wanted a couple more, if I’ve got to be brutally honest, nearer that 20 point mark but from where we are and with everything that is going on, I’d take that at the moment – but I know we’re better than that.

“We’ve had no fans and having injuries and suspensions and we’ve had three sending offs already and I don’t think we’re a dirty side.  I think we’re a fair side. If teams want to get stuck in, we can match that.

“We’ve had injuries already, movement in the team and we missed Ben Williamson today, of course we do but fair play to Coulson coming back, so that’s another plus.

“We’re getting there, we’re getting there. We’re still a team in progression and we just have to make sure we start hitting the road and coming away with points more often.”

Reflecting on how far Bromley have come since promotion and showing they can perform better than the big boys in the National League, Smith still wants to guide his home-town club to League Two.

“When I walked through this club there might’ve been 200 or 300 supporters here and then we’ve got the average up to 2,000.

“You’ve got a chairman (Robin Stanton-Gleaves) that just wants to make sure that this club is always progressing. It wants to go places and it wants to be in the League.

“We’ve just competed against a Wrexham side who are massive in terms of the size of the club, all the investment that’s going into it from now on with the Hollywood boys going in and we’re competing.

“I’m disappointed we’re not beating these sides so it just shows you how far the club has come.  I love being here. I want to get this club as close to the League as I can and get them in to the play-offs and the dream will be League football.”

Bromley: Mark Cousins, Joe Kizzi, Chris Bush, Billy Bingham, Kory Roberts, Byron Webster, Luke Coulson, Liam Trotter, Michael Cheek, James Alabi (Harry Forster 69), Reeco Hackett-Fairchild.
Subs: Jack Holland, Frankie Raymond, Tom Purrington, Nassim L’Ghoul

Goal: Michael Cheek 45

Booked: Billy Bingham 70

Wrexham: Rob Lainton (Christian Dibble 45), James Horsfield, Jamie Reckford, Jay Harris (Jordan Davies 67), Theo Vassell, Fiacre Kelleher, Paul Rutherford, Luke Young, Adi Yussuf, Kwame Thomas, Anthony Jeffrey (Elliott Durrell 67).
Subs: Reece Hall-Johnson, Jake Bickerstaff

Goal: Adi Yussuf 77

Booked: Luke Young 45, Jamie Reckford 48

Attendance: 0
Referee: Mr Paul Marsden
Assistants: Mr Darin Geary & Mr Ayrton Hursey
Fourth Official: Mr Aaron Conn