Sutton United 1-2 Bromley - We won't slip up like last year, insists Bromley boss Mark Goldberg
SUTTON UNITED 1-2 BROMLEY
Vanrama Conference South
Tuesday 3rd March 2015
Stephen McCartney reports from Gander Green Lane
BROMLEY manager Mark Goldberg insists his side will not slip up in the title race this year after grabbing a late victory at Sutton United.
Paul Doswell’s side went into this local derby sitting in thirteenth-place in the Vanrama Conference South table after winning ten, drawing ten and losing ten and they deserved their half-time lead through Bedsente Gomis’ strike.
Sutton United squandered chances to kill the game off but Jamie Slabber, 30, came off the bench at half-time and went on to score twice against his old club inside the final nineteen minutes to seal Bromley’s 12th away league win of the season.
The Ravens are now four points clear at the top of the table with 62 points from 30 games with ten league games remaining and there is a firm believe among the faithful that the club will go on and celebrate their first league title since 1961.
Goldberg admitted afterwards that his side were lucky to come away from Gander Green Lane (which will have an artificial pitch installed in the future) with their nineteen league win of the season.
He said: “Well first half was a gritty affair and the wind and the conditions were not conducive to playing the sort of football that we would have liked to have played.
“There’s no doubt there was an advantage to the team kicking with the wind and down the hill and it was very similar to our game against Chelmsford on Saturday.
“I really wanted to just get through that first half hoping we wouldn’t concede.
“The goal came and to be honest we could have been 3-0 down at half-time. I think they created more opportunities than I would have liked.
“I was very disappointed with the first half performance but we went in at half-time and we believed that we got away with it and therefore we’re only one goal down and we have what it takes to be able to come back so I’m very pleased with the way that we did come back.”
Goldberg was thankful to his goalkeeper, Alan Julian, 31 for making a string of fine saves against his former club that kept the Kent club in the game.
Gomis played a sublime through ball in-between Jack Holland and Callum McNaughton to put lone striker Dan Fitchett through on goal after only 190 seconds, but Julian advanced and dived to his left to push the ball around the post.
Goldberg hailed his man-of-the-match, by saying, “Great save! He’s saved us a couple of times. I’ve got to congratulate him because he had a good game today.
“They got in over the top too many times and we were a little bit square. Our centre halves really got sideways on so they can read a ball going over the top. Anyway we got away with it!”
Sutton United should have been 2-0 up inside sixteen minutes.
A mistake from Bromley’s left-back Joe Anderson allowed Fitchett to cut in from the right touchline to play the ball inside to Gomis, whose right-footed shot from the edge of the box was pushed towards safety by Julian, diving to his right.
Bromley’s only clear cut chance of the first half arrived with nineteen minutes on the clock.
Ali Fuseini slipped a free-kick down the right to winger Louis Dennis, who unleashed a right-footed angled drive, which was pushed behind for a corner by Aaron Howe, diving to his left.
Goldberg admitted: “That was about it in that first half!”
Sutton United then dominated the remainder of the first half.
Right-back Kevin Amankwaah launched a long throw into the box which fell at Fitchett, who directed his over-head kick screaming over the crossbar from six-yards.
Sutton left-back Dale Binns and Shaun Cooper linked up well down the left and Cooper’s cross was hit on the volley by Fitchett (after getting in front of his marker) only for the ball to sail harmlessly wide.
Sutton United deserved their 29th minute lead.
Right-winger Ricky Wellard played the ball into Fitchett inside the box, who spun past his marker before drilling a low shot towards goal, which was blocked and the ball rolled to an unmarked Gomis, who turned and rifled his right-footed shot into the roof of the net from 10-yards.
Goldberg said: “We were caught off guard and we were static. Marking up wasn’t tight enough and Gomis got a free shot.
“As I say they could have been 3-0 up!”
Sutton United squandered some decent chances to kill off the league leaders.
Wellard floated in a corner from the left but Micky Spillane came up from the back and planted his free header narrowly wide of the right-hand post.
Amankwaah clipped the ball down the right channel but Wellard hooked his right-footed volley from the corner of the penalty area sailing harmlessly wide as Julian advanced off his line.
Binns then danced his way from inside his own half towards the edge of the Bromley penalty area before stroking his right-footed shot from 20-yards, which was saved comfortably low down by Julian, who was regularly jeered by the home fans.
Goldberg replaced Ali Fuseini – who failed to impress against his former club – at the break and brought on Slabber – who certainly did!
He explained: “We needed to make changes. I knew things weren’t working the way things I would have liked. I needed to make a change at half-time.
“Ali wasn’t really on his game and I decided to bring Jamie Slabber on up front and put Danny (Waldren) and Reece (Prestedge) to go back as a pair in midfield.”
Bromley’s first shot on target arrived in the 50th minute when Anderson’s left-footed curling free-kick from 30-yards was comfortably held by Howe.
Kieron Forbes – who is on loan from Vanarama Conference side Forest Green Rovers - almost scored a dream debut goal for Sutton United.
He picked the ball up in midfield and danced just inside the Bromley box and slid his shot just past the foot of the far post – Julian got down low to his right to get a decisive touch to the ball to prevent the ball nestling into the bottom corner.
Bromley were guilty of over-hitting hopeful long balls which frustrated striker Bradley Goldberg, who latched onto Anderson’s blocked shot and curled his shot around the far post from the corner of the box in the 65th minute.
Manager Goldberg pulled off a tactical masterstroke three minutes later by bringing on striker Adam Birchall and playing him in midfield, replacing Reece Prestedge and putting Danny Waldren back in his natural position after starting the versatile player alongside Goldberg.
“I think we just needed something a little bit different to unlock in the middle of the park,” explained Goldberg.
“Reece and Danny were very similar in certain conditions when you’re 1-0 up – you put them in there. When you’re 1-0 down you make changes and Birch is capable of unlocking defences.
“The (turnaround) wasn’t necessarily directly linked to Adam himself but it made a difference in terms of the flow of our game and how we played.”
But Bromley rode their luck again when Wellard twisted and turned inside the crowded penalty box before curling his shot just around the far post.
Bromley, however, accepted a gift from Sutton United keeper Howe in the 71st minute to equalise, courtesy of a goal out of nothing!
Anderson was given acres of space to float a cross in from the left, which Howe should have caught comfortably underneath his crossbar but he inexpiably dropped the ball and poacher Slabber poked the ball into the bottom left-hand corner.
Bromley certainly played their Get Out of Jail Card because they clearly weren’t at their best up until that point.
“Yes, to a certain extent we did,” admitted Goldberg, who praised Slabber.
“He anticipated. He’s a very clever player and his position was excellent and that’s what he used to do against us so many times for Sutton.”
Sutton United missed a sitter five minutes later when Craig Dundas weaved his way down the left to cut into the box before rolling the back to an unmarked Fitchett, who lacked composure and drilled his shot past the left-hand post from 12-yards, leaving his head in his hands in despair.
“They could have punished us there, they should have done,” admitted Goldberg.
That let-off was the kick up the backside that Bromley needed and they finished the game on the front foot.
Anderson hit a speculative long ball out of defence, which forced a mistake from last defender Jamie Collins and Goldberg cracked a right-footed chip from 20-yards, which agonisingly crashed off the crossbar.
The boss said: “I could be critical but I thought that was a good enough effort. It’s just unfortunate that it didn’t go in for him today.
“He had another one after that, side-foot that the keeper pulled off a magnificent save.
“Then right at the end he had an easy, could say a chance to stab it home when Slabber put him in beautifully, but he claims he was worried that it was bobbling and he thought he needed to take a touch. He shouldn’t have done but who knows?”
Bromley also won the home game 2-1 thanks to a last-gasp winner, completed the double over their bitter rivals, courtesy of Slabber’s seventh goal for the club in the final three minutes.
With the well-behaved travelling fans urging their side on from the corner, Moses Ademola swung in the ball from the left, which flashed across the face of goal and Slabber slid the ball into the bottom right-hand corner from close range.
“I mean fabulous! Look, we grounded it out. I know you could say we were lucky today but that shows some determination and steal to get back in and create the chances that we did in the end. We created more chances than them in the second half, certainly.”
Both teams created five shots on target each, but three of Bromley’s five came in the final nineteen minutes.
Howe made amends for his earlier howler by pulling off a brilliant save to frustrate Goldberg after Ademola knocked down a deep cross from substitute Paul Rodgers.
Goldberg cracked a first time side-footed shot towards the near corner from eight-yards, which Howe kept out.
Bromley received another slice of luck at the death when Sutton United skipper Collins got the ball out from underneath his feet inside a crowded box to slide his right-footed shot just past the foot of the left-hand post.
Exactly a year ago, Sutton United defeated Bromley 4-2 at Hayes Lane at the start of what has been described as Miserable March. Bromley lost the title to Eastleigh, having to settle for a personal best of third-place behind Sutton United.
Bromley have defeated Ebbsfleet United (1-0); Chelmsford City (2-1) and now Sutton United all away from home in their last three games.
“We’re determined to keep going and believe this year we certainly don’t slip up because we lose our – how can I put it? That I’m not prepared to believe that we could allow ourselves to slip in the way that we did last year. We’ve certainly got more confidence in the squad this year.”
Goldberg, who was without central defender Rob Swaine, wingers Anthony Cook, Pierre Joseph-Dubois and target-man Ben May tonight, continued: “I was going to say that (home game last season) was the start of our demise wasn’t it and it was similar - we had players’ out - and we showed a little bit more grit and determination this year.
“Maybe the players that I have available to me, even though I had two Academy boys on the bench, the players’ I had available are possibly more of a stronger quality in terms of character. We’ve got a little bit more character in the side – and strength!”
The Ravens have won 12, drawn 3 and lost one on the road in the Vanarama Conference South this season but have suffered five home defeats at Hayes Lane.
Next up are ninth-placed Ebbsfleet United, who are ten points adrift of the play-offs.
“That’s a massive game at home on Saturday, isn’t it?” said Goldberg.
“They’re all so important to us, three points is critical, that we get three points.
“We’ll go into the game with confidence but obviously our pitch is a bit of a leveller for both teams and we just have to learn how to play on the pitch better than we have been.
“It’s good away form at the moment. We just have to get our home form right and we stand a chance, don’t we?”
Sutton United: Aaron Howe, Kevin Amankwaah, Dale Binns, Micky Spillane, Shaun Cooper, Jamie Collins, Ricky Wellard (Shaquille Hippolyte-Patrick 79), Kieron Forbes, Craig Dundas, Bedsente Gomis (Jamie White 73) Dan Fitchett.
Subs: Kervant Serbonij, Callum Hart, Wayne Shaw
Goal: Bedsente Gomis 29
Booked: Bedsente Gomis 10
Bromley: Alan Julian, Ugo Udoji, Joe Anderson, Ali Fuseini (Jamie Slabber 46), Callum McNaughton Jack Holland, Moses Ademola, Reece Prestedge (Adam Birchall 68), Danny Waldren, Bradley Goldberg, Louis Dennis (Paul Rodgers 37).
Subs: Matthew Bennett, Billy Carter
Goals: Jamie Slabber 71, 87
Booked: Jamie Slabber 48, Joe Anderson 83
Referee: Mr Ashvin Degnarain (Luton, Bedfordshire)
Assistants: Mr David Spain (Westfield, East Sussex) & Mr Lee Dyson (Gravesend)