Tonbridge Angels 0-0 Bromley - My players gave me heart, desire and determination, says Steve McKimm

Saturday 29th November 2014

The FA Trophy Third Qualifying Round
Saturday 29th November 2014
Stephen McCartney reports from Longmead Stadium

TONBRIDGE ANGELS manager Steve McKimm hailed his side for showing heart, desire and determination to earn a second bite of the cherry against Bromley.

The two Kent sides must replay at Hayes Lane on Tuesday night to see who will progress through to The FA Trophy First Round in two weeks’ time after Bromley extended their impressive record over their near neighbours.

Tonbridge Angels failed to beat Bromley in six meetings in Conference South football and have only celebrated victory once in their fifteen meetings, including today, since the turn of the century.

Tonbridge Angels went into this game in the bottom seven in the Ryman Premier League, but on the back of four straight wins in all competitions.

McKimm’s men defeated VCD Athletic and Grays Athletic (both 2-0) to reach this stage of the competition, collecting £5,950 in prize money from The Football Association and a further £4,000 was up for grabs in this round.

Bromley were playing their first game in The FA Trophy this season and went into the game sitting in second-place in the Vanarama Conference South table with 30 points from 16 games, six points behind Boreham Wood.

But today’s hard-fought draw ensured it is now 412 minutes since Tonbridge Angels have conceded a goal and another tight affair is expected at Hayes Lane, where six teams have come away with victories in all competitions this season.

McKimm said: “I’ve got to give credit to my players. They’re playing against a strong, experienced Conference South side that are looking for promotion. A team that were top for the majority of last season in Conference South and fell away at the end, got beat in the play-offs and they’ve added quality to their squad.

“Basically I have assembled players from nowhere and they’ve come in and I’d say matched them. I wouldn’t say we were better than them. I will say we matched them all over the park.

“We had a few chances, created a few half openings, but I’ve got to hand it to the troops out there.  To a man they’ve stuck to it, threw their bodies on the line.

“I’m very, very pleased with the performance. I knew they (my players) wouldn’t let me down in terms of effort, quality. We got it down and played, which I want them to do and be patient.

“The bodies they (Bromley) threw on in the end, I won’t say farcical because they’re a good squad and I can’t compete with that but what I can compete with is heart and desire and determination and every player showed me that today.

“It was a good cup tie, enjoyable cup tie to be involved in.”

Bromley boss Mark Goldberg couldn’t hide his disappointment at the final whistle and held an inquest with assistant Neil Smith out on the pitch before saying, “I was a little bit disappointed in the first half performance because I thought we were second to pretty much every ball.

“I thought our distribution was poor.  I thought we allowed too many of their players to have time on the ball in front of our back four to run at us.

“There was a need there not to sit deep but to squeeze up into being more compact in the middle of the park.

“Anyway, first half was a big disappointment but in the second half I felt we stepped it up a gear.  The movement was better, we were more compact. We controlled most of the possession and we probably had the better of what was probably a bit of a scrappy game.

“We had the better of the chances. We hit the crossbar, had a few scrappy ones around their box that we should have really buried.”

Goldberg, whose side remain unbeaten on their travels this season, added: “All in all I’m pleased that we’re still in the competition.”

Tonbridge Angels’ left-winger, Dee Okojie, scooped the man-of-the-match award with an impressive attacking display that gave Bromley right-back Ugo Udoji problems.

Okojie went close to breaking the stalemate inside the opening six minutes when from within the left channel he whipped in a right-footed curler, which went around the diving Craig King and dropped just past the far post.

McKimm said: “Dee’s done very well this season. He’s had a bit of a blip. Seven-eight games ago I pulled him out and gave Flavio (Tavares) a go because it looked like he was tiring because he’s relentless, he keeps going, going and going.

“I thought he was fantastic today. He gave their right-back the run about. Apart from the final product it just didn’t fall for us but he done very well Dee, deserved his man-of-the-match award.”

King, 17, was making his Bromley debut, having joined on a youth loan from League Two side Luton Town.

Goldberg said: “John Still (Luton manager) was absolutely instrumental in helping us out allowing us to have Craig on a loan, on a youth loan.  He did a fabulous job for us today. An inexperienced keeper but grew up like a man today and kept a clean sheet so we’re very grateful to Craig and also grateful to John Still and Luton Town Football Club.”

When asked whether he will play in the replay, Goldberg appears to be bringing back Seb Brown, who was serving a one-match ban today.

He replied: “We would definitely use him again if ever we require him.”

Bromley took nearly 20 minutes to fashion their first goalscoring attempt.

Striker Moses Ademola swept the ball out to Udoji, who strode down the flank to whip in an inch-perfect cross for striker Jordan Robertson to slice his right-footed volley past the far post.

“Tremendous first time ball in the box but that was about the only time that we got in to that dangerous position and really should have hit the target from there,” admitted Goldberg.

Bromley went close from a set-piece when Louis Dennis’ corner from the right came out to Danny Waldren, who planted his header narrowly over the crossbar from inside the penalty box.

Tonbridge Angels defender, Jerrome Sobers gave away a free-kick on the edge of the D, but Waldren stepped up to stroke his free-kick into the wall and behind for a corner.

But a good move presented with Tonbridge Angels almost breaking the deadlock after linking up well down the right after 32 minutes.

Chris Piper released full-back James Folkes on an overlapping run and his first time cross towards the near post was headed down by striker Tommy Whitnell, but King dived low to his right to make a comfortable save.

McKimm said: “Good overlapping run from James Folkes, great delivery in. Whits’ great movement, just didn’t get the purchase on the header. He done everything right, headed it down into the ground. Sometimes they skid off the surface and go in the back of the net or the keeper misses it or the power is too much for them but it wasn’t to be.  He’s hit the target and that’s all I can ask for.”

Shortly afterwards, Whitnell swung in a corner from the right towards the far post where midfielder Tom Parkinson glanced his header wide.

Tonbridge Angels produced some fine sweeping moves but lacked quality in the final third as Bromley put in a disappointing performance.

Bromley squandered an excellent chance to go into the break with the lead as Ademola was denied his ninth-goal of the season by a fine diving save from Hadler.

Udoji threaded the ball in behind the Tonbridge defence which Ademola latched onto and his right-footed angled drive forced the eighteen-year-old keeper to dive to his left to make a fine block.

Goldberg added: “Yes, it was a good chance. We created two good chances but we just didn’t bury them!”

Both managers were asked their thoughts at half-time.  The crowd just wanted the game to improve.

McKimm said: “I said that was 47 minutes gone, now we’ve got another 50 minutes to go! Keep doing the same thing, keep working hard, keep battling but keep playing football. Don’t panic which we did tend to do in the last fifteen minutes (of the game) because they put us under pressure.  I encourage them to play football when it’s right, in the right areas and I thought they’ve done very well, very, very well.”

Goldberg added: “I had a bit of a go at them because I was disappointed. I felt we were second best and we can’t take any teams for granted, especially rivals like Tonbridge Angels.

“We seem to think that we have some sort of divine right to just turn up and to win a game. I want us to learn a hard lesson today and they (my players) stepped it up second half.

“All in all I’m pleased with the second half performance.”

Bromley squandered a decent chance after only 54 seconds into the second half when Ali Fuseini clipped a free-kick in behind the Tonbridge defence but Ademola steered his shot across the face of goal instead of testing the goalkeeper, whose on loan from League One Gillingham.

Bromley winger Dennis picked the ball up on the halfway line, cut in, exchanged passes with Ademola, but Dennis’ left-footed curler sailed around the near post.

Both sides had a flurry of chances before the hour-mark.

Piper whipped in a speculative right-footed cross-come-shot from 35-yards, which was comfortably caught by King underneath the crossbar.

Bromley were to be denied by the crossbar when the unmarked Dennis unleashed a right-footed curler, which sailed over Hadler’s left shoulder and agonisingly smacked against the top of the crossbar.

Goldberg added: “Nice little move, nice shot, sat back, saw the gap.”

McKimm added: “They’ve hit the bar. The luck was with us today. It goes two inches under it goes in the back of the net!”

A left-wing cross from Dennis was headed out to Fuseini, who hooked his volley towards the bottom corner, but Hadler dived low to his right to make a comfortable save.

The game then turned into a tight affair with neither side giving anything away – but both sides created chances to win it during the final twenty minutes.

Goldberg has the luxury of bringing on attackers Jamie Slabber, Adam Birchall and Damian Scannell in an attempt to win the game outright.

McKimm said: “You just look at the quality that they had off the bench – Slabber, Scannell, Birchall and I’ve got three reserve players!

“I looked at my bench and no disrespect to them, they’re all good young lads that are going to have an opportunity.  You look at the difference, they’ve come on with a bit of quality.”

Goldberg added: “I thought (Jamie) Slabber made a difference when he came on. All the subs made a difference again, we stepped it up a gear.”

Okojie was a quiet figure during the second half but he sprung into life in the 69th minute when he twisted and turned a couple of Bromley players down the left and floated over a cross towards the near post.

Alex Teniola’s bullet header from eight-yards was tipped over the crossbar by King’s outstretched hand.

“It’s a great bit of play by Dee, good movement from Alex and he’s hit the target,” said McKimm.

“I can’t ask for players no more than to hit the target. Another day that might’ve flown in the top corner. It didn’t. It took a great save. It was all round good play from width to the middle to the header and the save. Even their keeper, it was a good save from him.”

Goldberg added: “It was a good save by Craig. It was a good height for him but he had to make the save.”

Okojie then played the ball inside to Piper, but his right-footed drive was comfortably caught by King.

Hadler produced a world-class, save of the season, to deny Bromley Joe Anderson scoring with a 30-yard screamer.

The left-back was given space to drill a left-footed shot, which was destined to sail into the top left-hand corner, but Hadler dived high to his right to tip the ball over the crossbar.

Goldberg said: “Their goalkeeper pulled off a couple of good saves didn’t he from Joe Anderson.”

McKimm said: “I’ve managed to get Tom for another month which I thank Gillingham immensely for. 

“I spoke to Mark Patterson and Tom’s come in while Kyle (Merson) has been out and he proved today what a keeper he is.

“At eighteen there was a bit of speculation that maybe he’s not ready for it and all that.  You don’t know until you give him a chance. He’s pulled out two saves today that are absolutely fantastic.

“For an eighteen-year-old to pull out a save like that especially the one into the top corner, I take my hat off to him and I thank Gillingham for loaning him to me.”

Tonbridge linked up well down the left through full-back Jack Parter and Okojie, who whipped in a low centre and Whitnell nipped in front of his marker to drill his first time shot over the crossbar.

Anderson placed a low free-kick towards the corner which forced Hadler to dive to his right to make a comfortable save.

Bromley went close again when all three of their substitutes combined in the final seven minutes, which was the last chance of the game.

Birchall played the ball into inside to Scannell, who floated in a cross for Slabber to glance his header past the far post.

Both sides deserved a second bite of the cherry on Tuesday night.

McKimm said: “All we do is give our all every game and then you’ll see what happens at the end of it and I felt today to a man they can pat themselves on the back because they’ve done a very good job.”

The Tonbridge Angels boss is proud of his side’s defensive work but may not risk Sobers against his former club at Hayes Lane on Tuesday night.

“I’m doubtful if Jerrome will be fit if I’m being honest,” he said.

“Last ten minutes he struggled through it. I was going to make a change and put Nathan (Campbell) back there but Lee Carey’s just come back from injury and he wasn’t 100% but it’s what I’m with at the moment.

“We might have some bodies back on Tuesday but Jerrome might not even play.  I’ve got to manage it because there could be a number of things. We’re waiting for a scan on (his groin) but Jerrome’s a solider and he’ll just go through the pain barrier but sometimes you’ve just got to say we need you for next Saturday, an important league game (at Lewes) as well.  I know cup games are important as well so we’ll wait and see how he recovers the next couple of days.

“You’ve got to build a base on something. If we build a base on clean sheets you can’t ask for no more.  To keep four clean sheets is really, really good.”

Goldberg wants his side to take advantage of being at home for the replay.

He said: “I’m happy that we’re still in the competition and we’re at home and we have another chance to make sure that we go through to the next round.”

Tonbridge Angels: Thomas Hadler, James Folkes, Jack Parter, Nathan Campbell, Jerrome Sobers, Laurence Ball, Chris Piper (Flavio Tavares 77), Tom Parkinson, Alex Teniola, Tommy Whitnell, Dee Okojie.
Subs: Callum McCarthy, Royce Greenidge, Jack Brivio, Lee Carey

Booked: Laurence Ball 48, Jerrome Sobers 61

Bromley: Craig King, Ugo Udoji, Joe Anderson, Ali Fuseini, Rob Swaine, Jack Holland, Pierre Joseph-Dubois, Danny Waldren, Jordan Robertson (Jamie Slabber 63), Moses Ademola (Adam Birchall 70), Louis Dennis (Damian Scannell 70).
Subs: Callum McNaughton, Paul Rodgers

Booked: Rob Swaine 88

Attendance: 547
Referee: Mr Ian Dudley (Mansfield, Nottinghamshire)
Assistants: Mr David Smart (Maidstone) & Mr Simon Finnigan (Maidstone)