Gardner: Southend Manor defeat was the worst I have seen us play
Bethnal Green boss furious with his players
Bethnal Green United boss Justin Gardner slammed his players following their last-minute defeat at the hands of Southend Manor on Saturday.
The Greens knew they were in for a tough 90 minutes when they welcomed the league leaders to Mile End Stadium, with Gardner revealing before the match that the game would show him whether his side were ready for a title challenge.
And on reflection of Saturday’s game, Gardner knows his side have much work to do.
Southend Manor took the lead with just 15 minutes played and doubled their advantage after the break.
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However, on the hour mark, Billy Holland grabbed a goal back for the Greens, before Anton Stephenson, on his return from injury, grabbed an equaliser.
However, in the second minute of injury time, Southend Manor scored a third and decisive goal to take all three points.
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“It was really heartbreaking to concede a sloppy goal that late in the game and throw away a valuable point,” said Gardner.
“To be honest, we deserved nothing from the game and it was the worst performance that I have seen since I have been the manager at the club.
“We only had one, maybe two players that turned up on the day and you can’t win any game of football like that, let alone against the side that is top of the league.”
Struggling to find any positives from the game, Gardner revealed the result and performance stayed with him long after the final whistle.
“To be honest, taking nothing away from Southend Manor, I expected them to be a lot better than what they were,” he said.
“To play so badly and still be drawing 2-2 with the team at the top of the league, I was just waiting for the game to finish.
“But then we make a defensive mistake for their last goal.
“It was so bad and so gutting that it ruined my whole weekend.
“The only positive I can find from the game is that we came back twice and had some players returning from injury, like Anton Stephenson.
“Minutes after coming on he scored to get us back on level terms, but then he aggravated his injury and had to go off, which was another big blow.”
This weekend, the Greens make the trip to Takeley, who currently sit two places above Gardner’s side in the Essex Senior League.
“In the past, Takeley has been quite a happy hunting ground for us and we have done well there,” said Gardner.
“They have really improved this season as their recent results have shown, and it will be another tough game away from home.
“There are no easy games in this league and we must turn up on Saturday or we will lose again.
“Our away form has been superb this season, and we will look to continue that this weekend and get our season back on track after what I hope was a blip against Southend Manor.”