Old Bromleians 3-4 Holmesdale - It teaches you a lesson, you cannot switch off, admits Old Bromleians boss Danny Wakeling

Wednesday 12th July 2017
Old Bromleians 3 – 4 Holmesdale
Location The John Cooper Ground, Scrubs Farm, Lower Gravel Road, Bromley, Kent BR2 8LL
Kickoff 12/07/2017 19:30

Pre-Season Friendly
Wednesday 12 July 2017
Stephen McCartney reports from Lower Gravel Road

HOLMESDALE manager Ian Varley says his side were tested by an Old Bromleians side that secured promotion by winning the Andreas Carter Joma Kent County League Division Two West title last season.

Billed as the Battle of Bromley Common with both clubs less than a mile apart, Old Bromleians deservedly raced into a 2-0 lead inside the opening 12 minutes through striker Nick Craft.

Holmesdale grabbed a goal back through winger Charlie Weedon, before the home side slammed on the breaks after former FC Elmstead striker Lewis Gregory hit one in via the underside of the crossbar from 35-yards.

Somehow, Holmesdale, top-six finishers in the Southern Counties East Football League First Division last season, snatched themselves a way back into the game, courtesy of a 30-yard screamer from left wing-back Harry Bugden and former Phoenix Sports striker Tyrus Gordon-Young’s spot-kick.

Holmesdale changed their entire team at the break and their second half side were much better, quicker, faster, hungrier and powerful but they had to settle for one more goal, tucked home by left-winger Emanuel Olwafemi-Dasho.

“It was ok.  It was what we needed,” said Varley, after winning his first pre-season outing.

“We’ve had five training sessions, which have been good, we’ve had good attendance, some good players have come down and you just want to see them play in a game.

“People have got to get back into fitness so it was good to get the first game out of the way.  Some positive aspects and negative aspects but that’s the first game of the season so that was expected.

“The first half hour was always going to be the most difficult one because it’s the first game you’ve played and the first time a lot of them have played together.

“The other team were going to be certainly up for it in the first half.  Yes, the first half didn’t go to plan, of course, some sloppy goals, but there were some good parts of the first half, very little but there were a few positive aspects to take from it.

“I think the first half was always going to be the hardest, we didn’t get going in that first half.”

Old Bromleians manager Danny Wakeling said: “Pleased if I’m honest, very pleased. We ticked our objectives tonight.  We’ve been competitive. I know you don’t like the clichés about fitness and minutes but we gave our lads a scheduled amount of playing time tonight irrespective of how the game was going so that was first and foremost in our plans.

“All the boys, whether they played 45, 75 or one or two that got to 90, they’ve earned it on the training pitch and earned it tonight and we go into the game against Glebe on Saturday, which we know is going to be even harder, but these boys will look forward.”

Wakeling was delighted with his players in the manner that they were the better side for the opening 40 minutes.

“I said at half-time actually 39 and a half minutes it was excellent,” he said.

“I could break it down and explain why. Bottom line the boys have taken collective responsibility and said we just dropped off our level at 2-0.  They were sort of six minutes from half-time, shipped one and it cut the deficit. You work really well, so it’s halved.  To go down the other end and score again and get the two-goal cushion and that’s the killer goal.

“They all took a breather collectively and it’s cost them two goals against quality players. Whatever level you play at, you have to play until the referee tells you you’ve finished, although you must be honest and say the level we play at, least one of those goals wouldn’t have been dispatched with the quality, I think it was the second one, but still it’s about is playing and ticking our boxes.”

Old Bromleians opened the scoring with only three minutes and 46 seconds on the clock, with their first attempt on goal.

Simon Warman played the ball in from the right and Gregory slipped the ball inside to striker Craft, who cut the ball onto his right-foot and keeper Charlie Martin should have done better than diving to his left and getting his hand to the ball but failed to stop the ball roll into the bottom right-hand corner.

“Good goal. He’s been converted into a forward. He’s come into the club last year as a midfielder. He’s been playing in the second team and he’s been given a chance as a forward,” said Wakeling.

“He’s admitted it, he hasn’t played a lot of structured football himself, what the boys call levels etc. He’s a willing learner, gross mindset, hard worker and fit as a fiddle.”

Varley said: “I think it was an error.  Jamie (Rawsthorne) gave the ball away midway through our own half, they broke. Charlie said he should’ve saved it. We shouldn’t have given the ball away in the first place, so a sloppy goal from our part.”

Holmesdale were playing like they had turned up to Lower Gravel Road as strangers as their performance for the first 40 minutes was very poor indeed.

Adam O’Neill delivered a deep corner from the left and George Bartlett came up from the back to send his free-header wide, before they doubled their lead with only 11 minutes and 49 seconds on the clock.

Bartlett floated in a deep free-kick from the right on the half-way line and Holmesdale midfielder Leonard Tare produced a poor back header which sailed towards his own goal and Craft’s looping header sailed across the keeper and dropped into the bottom far corner.

“He’s shown that he can actually poach. He didn’t believe he had those instincts,” revealed Old Broms’ manager Wakeling.

“He’s played a bit further up for us. He just looks natural in and around the penalty area. Not many players at any levels would’ve scored that sort of goal, It's instinctive. He just knew where the goalkeeper was. He knew to make the right connection of the football and he deserved it. It was a great run, good header, good finish.”

Varley added: “I’m not too concerned with the second one because we really haven’t got to the stage of looking at defending free-kicks and how to set-up.

“The reason it happened was we weren’t set. We were too high. First header, haven’t got a clean connection but it’s a great header though, it’s a great finish, but I’m not that too concerned with that one because once we set up our defending free-kicks, we’ll be fine.  It’s pointless me going through set-pieces in pre-season when people aren’t going to be here so we did a basic defending corners and attacking corners tonight.”

When asked how he was feeling at being 2-0 down to a club that are two levels lower, Varley replied: “I’m not a fan of pre-season because there’s no edge to it. If it was first game of the season, I’ll be going crazy, 2-0 down. It wasn’t great but we needed to see the players play because they’ve trained, disappointing, but we needed to see it.”

Gregory slid in to poke his shot past the left-hand post after Holmesdale failed to clear their lines following another Bartlett deep free-kick from the right.

Old Bromleians squandered further chances to embarrass Holmesdale further, Warman sending his header over the crossbar after some head tennis inside the penalty area following Lexx Lucas’ corner from the left.

It took sorry Holmesdale 33 minutes to register their first attempt on goal as good link-up play down the left involving Weedon, Tare and Adrian Brown resulted in Weedon hooking his shot across goal and harmlessly wide of the target from 20-yards.

Wakeling said: “I think that was the first alarm bells, 2-0 up, we put in a lot of work into the first 30 odd minutes and probably from that moment onwards some of the boys dropped off an inch or two, not a yard but an inch or two and their creative players and their talented players were able to find a bit more room and show what they’re all about. It took over half an hour to get a shot away but the last 12 minutes, they did get a couple away.”

But Holmesdale gave themselves a lifeline by pulling a goal back with 36 minutes and 23 seconds on the clock.

Bugden reached the channel to whip in a cross into the six-yard box where Gordon-Young rose with goalkeeper Nick Greenwood, who palmed the ball towards Weedon, who brought the ball under control before placing his left-footed shot nicely into the bottom left-hand corner from 12-yards.

Wakeling said: “A bit disappointed, we got done by the flight of the ball down the right-hand side.

“The boys are saying they got outnumbered but they’re only being outnumbered because they lost the flight of the ball. The Holmesdale players read that fact and got in behind them and then penetrated.

“Holmesdale were playing like a 5-3-2 with wing-backs and that’s where the overload was coming from.

“It wasn’t a great cross and the goalkeeper should’ve been stronger, flapped it down. It can happen in pre-season but even disappointing was the third phase where there’s two yellow shirts in and around the box, five blues.  We’ve looked at each other and thought one of us is going to get their first and quality player comes on to the ball first and puts it in the back of the net.”

Varley said: “Good finish from Charlie. It was only our first real chance we created. Charlie was here last year. He’s had a good few sessions. He took it on his chest well and stuck it in the corner, it’s a good finish.”

However, Old Bromleians reacted brilliantly to that set-back by scoring their third goal just 52 seconds later.

Gregory turned to crack a stunning right-footed drive which screamed above Martin’s head to hit the underside of the crossbar from 35-yards before bouncing down over the line.

Wakeling offered a dig at FC Elmstead manager Fabio Rossi when speaking about their former striker.

He said: “I’m pleased for him, still a bit raw, still to be worked on. He’s probably had a few wasted years. He’s been at a few good clubs, he’s always been in the periphery whether that’s down to him or down to managers not used to him being young and developing, not sure, but he’s going to get a chance here.

“He’s going to play as a forward, he’s going to get plenty of games. We’re going to have to put up with his errant ways at times where he sorts of beats his head at times and gets himself down and we’ll work on that. We’ll give him plenty of game time and opportunities to get his head up and run at players and flourishing and enjoying his football.  I’m sure he’ll score 20 plus goals for our club this year.”

Varley added: “Good finish, but no one near the ball again, no one pressing the ball. We gave a sloppy throw in away, no one was within 5-10 yards of him, a great finish but another avoidable one!”

It should have been 4-1 when Craft’s low centre from the right was swept towards the bottom near corner by Gregory, only for Martin to pull off a vital save, smothering the ball around the post.

At this point, Holmesdale appeared to be dead and buried but a crazy 116 seconds got Varley’s men out of jail.

Jamie Rawsthorne – who played on the left of a three man defence – clipped the ball forward and Bugden cracked an angled volley from 30-yards, which screamed over the keeper and nestled into the far corner.

“I only caught the end of it, I was walking to brief the second half team but a great goal from Harry, good finish, great finish, great goal,” came Varley’s response.

Wakeling added: “Cracker, it’s a cracker, yes it’s quality! A great goal, great finish in fairness, probably could’ve got another couple during that hot spell as well and probably could’ve put us to bed.”

Old Bromeians shot themselves in the foot when David McDonnell’s rash challenge inside the box to bring down Weedon resulted in referee Leo Mansell pointing to the spot.

Gordon-Young drove his right-footed penalty just left of centre as Greenwood dived to the left as Holmesdale grabbed an undeserved, flattering equaliser, 22 seconds into injury time.

Varley said: “Charlie played well. Charlie was one of the plus points of the first half, did well, scored a goal, obviously wins us a penalty and when Tyrus is stepping up for a pen, no need to worry really, it’s a good finish.”

Wakeling added: “That six minutes period has ultimately, in terms of the result, cost them a win, which isn’t important in pre-season.

“The good thing is they know they’ve got to work harder, all of them have said they’ve got to work harder. We’ve got to have that mentality.   I thought we were going to go in at half-time up but that’s what pre-season is all about, it’s about playing against superior opposition. It teaches you a lesson, you cannot switch off.”

It was the only piece of action from Gordon-Young and Wakeling added: “He’s always been a good player. He was scoring goals when he was knocking about in these leagues for Charlton Athletic Community. He’s a good player.  Hopefully for them he does the whole season and enjoys it and sticks around and scores goals. He can easily get 25 goals in that league.”

Holmesdale changed their entire 11 at the break, while Old Bromleians gave all five of their subs a chance to shine, with four players coming back on during the final 15 minutes.

“My thoughts at half-time was I was getting the second half team ready so Lee Roots did the debrief of the first half team,” said Varley.

“What I said to them at half-time, they had less players than us so they were going to be more tired so I told them to be more aggressive, get up the pitch, just go and put in a shift.  I don’t think we were aggressive enough in the first half.  We were too laboured, too stand-off-ish. I just wanted to be more aggressive in the second half, which I think we got.”

Wakeling added: “We pointed out a couple of flaws and they took ownership of that six minutes. None of them tried to hide or toss it off. They took ownership so although it hurts, it’s very pleasing to see their reaction.”

O’Neill laid the ball off to substitute Joe Allen, who sliced his first time shot past the left-hand post from 30-yards.

Combative central midfielder Kazim Bishop kick-started Holmesdale into life by winning his midfield battle and will be a player that Varley will be looking to sign as he will dominate his opponent.

Bishop drilled a low right-footed shot from 30-yards, which flashed just past the foot of the right-hand post after 55 minutes.

Varley said: “First time we’ve seen Kazim. He’s brother plays for Grays so he’s come down pre-season, he’s looked good in the training session. He’s a big, strong lad.  I think he did really well second half. He broke up play really well, he could’ve been a little bit neater in terms of in possession. He was certainly one of the plus points in the second half.”

Wakeling added: “They were definitely more bullish. We use the term direct, I don’t mean long, they were clinical when they were playing it into areas, far more athletic and stronger and a lot more purpose about them.”

Matt Woodcock’s long throw from the right was palmed away by Greenwood’s right-hand and the ball landed on to Victor Sodeinde’s foot but the Dalers striker hooked his volley over the bar.

Holmesdale scored the final goal of the game 16 minutes and 31 seconds into the second half.

Striker Dale Taylor was played in behind McDonnell and Jack Baines and he reached the right by-line before cutting a quality low cross towards the far post where Olwafemi-Dasho showed enough desire to nip in front of right-back Steve Devereux to sweep the winner into the bottom left-hand corner from four-yards.

Varley said: “Good goal, really good goal, good wide play from Dale. A very good ball in the box.  We asked Emanuel to play out wide on the left, he’s more of a central midfielder. He did very well to come in on the back post and a composed finish, a really pleasing goal that one.”

Wakeling said: “I thought we handled it relatively well, losing the second half 1-0.

“He’s put a left-back on the floor, gone to ground too quickly so our whole back four at that point, were screaming for a free-kick and a foul. That was a weakness, looking for a favour. He was stronger than our lad, whipped in a cross in to that corridor of uncertainty, done both centre halves and the right-back didn’t get around and deal with it either, cashed in, in the far post area.”

Old Bromleians will need to work on their finishing as three chances were lashed over before Holmesdale went close to increasing their lead inside the final 10 minutes when Justiano Junior threaded the ball to Victor Sodeinde, who dinked his looping shot just the post from eight-yards.

“Victor is one of the Maidstone Academy boys whose come in for the last few sessions,” revealed Varley, who is keen to get young players from the Vanarama National League club to get them first team experience at Oakley Road.

“He’s got to get used to senior football. It was his first experience of it. I thought he did well. He was up against a couple of strong centre halves, he’s got great movement, very quick, he did well.  He was unlucky not to score on a couple of occasions.”

Old Bromleians squandered two late chances open their new campaign with a creditable draw.

Devereux whipped in a cross from the right wing towards the far post where unmarked striker Craft glanced his header wide.

Holding midfielder Lexx Lucas had a great game and he returned to action to put Craft through on goal.  The striker let the ball run across his body before drilling his right-footed shot which crashed against the top of the right-hand post from outside the box.

Wakeling said: “We put Lexx back on, took Adam O’Neill off the top of the diamond and probably went a little bit direct.  We were looking a bit tired. We put a fresher player up front when Lewis came back on and we were looking to get Nick and Lewis down the flanks.”

Varley said: “We were much more in control second half. We didn’t give much away.  They’ve got some good players though, that’s why we came here last year.  It’s run properly, they’re a couple of league’s lower than us but sometimes when you go to those teams you go to teams that aren’t run properly and it’s a walkover.  We came here last year, Danny runs it properly, he’s got some good players, some good experienced players seem to come here and it was a good test for us, so it was a perfect first outing.”

Varley revealed he will cut his squad ahead of Saturday’s trip to Southern Counites East Football League Premier Division side Bearsted.

He said: “We’ll take less players on Saturday, we’ll probably take around 16-18. We went there last year as well, nice place, it will be a nice pitch.   I know Kevin Stevens at Bearsted so he’ll give us a nice test so we’re looking forward to it.”

Plenty of positives for the Kent County League hosts as they prepare for life in the Division One West this coming season, while Varley has plenty of work to do.

“I’m pleased with their attitude to accept change, play two different systems and show we can play on the floor. If we have to go direct too we can do it with a purpose,” said Wakeling.

Old Bromleians: Nick Greenwood, Jake Garlick (Steve Devereux 46), Chris Round, Lexx Lucas (Jack Baines 46), George Bartlett (Covenant Nwosdhi-Johnson 46), David McDonnell (Jamie Treadgold 77), Jamie Treadgold (Joe Allen 46, Simon Warman 83)), Simon Warman (Lewis Gregory 78), Nick Craft, Adam O’Neill (Lexx Lucas 75), Lewis Gregory (Steve Brady 46).

Goals: Nick Craft 4, 12, Lewis Gregory 38

Holmesdale: Charlie Martin (Jamie Williams 46), Oscar Hall (Jordan Eels 46), Harry Bugden (Matt Woodcock 46), Jamie Rawsthorne (Mark Axell 46), Jacob Skelly (Courtney Bryan-Isaacs 46), Stephen Sage (Adriano Lawson 46), Adrian Brown (Justiano Junior 46), Aaron Smith (Kazim Bishop 46), Tyrus Gordon-Young (Victor Sodeinde 46), Leonard Tare (Dale Taylor 46), Charlie Weedon (Emanuel Olwafemi-Dasho 46).

Goals: Charlie Weedon 37, Harry Bugden 44, Tyrus Gordon-Young 45 (penalty), Emanuel Olwafemi-Dasho 62

Attendance: 22
Referee: Mr Leo Mansell (Hayes)

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