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Bromley boss Woodman: Grant Smith the best goalkeeper in the National League


Andy Woodman believes Grant Smith’s performances in recent weeks have shown that Bromley have the best goalkeeper in the National League.

The 29-year-old joined the Ravens in the summer from Yeovil Town on a free transfer after Reice Charles-Cook turned down a new deal at Hayes Lane.

Ex-Lincoln and Boreham Wood stopper Smith has been keeping Chelsea loanee Teddy Sharman-Lowe out of the side and was lauded by his manager after the 2-1 win at Altrincham on Saturday.

Former Crystal Palace and Newcastle United goalkeeper coach Woodman told the South London Press: “There were a few raised eyebrows when Reice didn’t sign. We made him a really fantastic offer and he felt that he was worth more than that, which surprised me.

“I didn’t mess about – I’m not going to be held to ransom by a player.

“I signed Grant Smith and I was delighted to get him across the line. Likewise with Teddy Sharman-Lowe. It was very important for us to have two number ones.

“They have both gone through pre-season and picked up little injuries. Since Teddy picked up his knock, Grant has come in and grabbed the shirt. He has been absolutely sensational. Some of the saves have been match-winners.

“It’s great to have a goalie that is breeding confidence to the rest of the team.

“The goalkeeper coach Brandon Davies should take a lot of credit for the work he has done with both the goalies.

“Grant’s performances have been pushed on by the fact he has a Chelsea goalie waiting to come into the team.

“I’m not saying this as a throwaway line. I actually believe, with the way he’s playing at the moment, that he is the best keeper in the league.

“I have played in goal. He might have played for managers in the past who haven’t given him a pat on the back when he’s made those saves. I know that whenever we have played against him he’s always pulled out unbelievable saves against us – it’s always stuck in my head.

“If you have the trust of the manager, it elevates you a little bit more. We have two fantastic goalies. But at the moment, Grant Smith is by far the best in the league.”

There has been a large turnover of players at Hayes Lane this summer with Woodman seeing Harry Forster, Omar Sowunmi, Kellen Fisher and Cameron Green all leaving the club.

Bromley have replaced their outgoings by signing the likes of Todd Miller, Cole Kpekawa, Sam Woods and Josh Passley.

They have also loaned in Millwall youngster Chin Okoli, Ryan Jones from Bristol Rovers, Luton Town forward Aribim Pepple along with young Arsenal duo Alex Kirk and Kido Taylor-Hart.

“Now we have got strength in depth a little bit,” said Woodman, who signed a new three-year deal in June 2022.

“We shouldn’t underestimate that we have taken a couple of boys from Arsenal – I haven’t seen anyone else in this league sign a player from them.

“I have worked with those two boys when I was at Arsenal. I have no doubt that my relationship with the club was the reason why I have got them, because no other club in the National League would have got these boys.

“It’s exciting. We have a couple of players from the Championship and a couple from the Premier League – we have some good additions.

“My job is to make sure that they don’t feel like that they’re here on loan, but a part of this football club.

“It’s different this season. I have seen a lot of teams struggle with injuries and there is a reason behind that. We’re now playing football for 105 minutes in some games. People might say: ‘That’s only another 15 minutes.’ But that added time twice a week ends up being nearly eight extra games over the course of a season.

“You need to have more players. It needs to be a real squad game now – more than ever.”

Bromley find themselves 13th in the National League after their first seven outings. But Woodman’s side are looking to extend their five-game unbeaten run against 10th-placed Maidenhead United tomorrow.

“Before, with there being two standout teams in Wrexham and Notts County, it was almost a two-team league,” said the Bromley chief. “But this year there are 14 or 15 teams that are very good. And then the ones underneath that are still very good – it will come down to margins.

“The quality is getting better every year. The players are better now. More clubs, certainly not ours, have more finances. York City have signed a player for £100,000 and they’re 23rd in the table.

“It’s a tough league this year. I personally think this is the toughest since I have been at Bromley.”


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