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Defence is key to United's revival

PUBLISHED: 15:57 09 October 2008 | UPDATED: 13:41 05 October 2010

BETHNAL GREEN UNITED collected a second successive clean sheet for the first time under manager Justin Gardner as the Middlesex County League club cruised to victory over Marsh Rangers at Mile End Stadium on Saturday. Playmaker Kadir Jama scored twice fo

BETHNAL GREEN UNITED collected a second successive clean sheet for the first time under manager Justin Gardner as the Middlesex County League club cruised to victory over Marsh Rangers at Mile End Stadium on Saturday.

Playmaker Kadir Jama scored twice for United in an inspirational display and Leon Ryan played a commanding role in central midfield but Gardner was happy to lavish praise on his defence following a triumph that leaves his team three points behind Premier Division leaders Hayes United.

"Two clean sheets on the spin is a really big achievement for us," Gardner said.

"We've always been a team that tries to outscore opponents but it wasn't working. We were conceding too many goals and a couple of weeks ago I told them that we were going back to basics.

"Too many goals were coming from our mistakes so I just told them to kick the ball out in dangerous situations and don't try to be too clever.

"If someone beats four players and bangs it in the top corner, I don't mind conceding that type of goal - I'll stand there and applaud. But we couldn't keep gifting goals away and to be fair, it's been working for us."

United's newfound resilience has coincided with the return from suspension of goalkeeper Ashley King, who produced a stunning full-stretch save early in the second half when Rangers were threatening to force their way back into the game.

United had earlier surged into a two-goal lead following a double from Jama, who opened the scoring midway through the first half, cutting in from the byline and producing a low cross that eluded a crowd of bodies before sneaking into the far corner.

The United midfielder doubled the lead five minutes before the break when his cross was partially cleared and he smashed the loose ball into the top corner from the edge of the area.

Marsh put up a fight early in the second half but United stood firm and Shane Drew and Alfred Kamara both had chances before Shane Joseph powered home Ryan's cross to seal the result 20 minutes from time.

Bethnal Green face a crucial top-of-the-table clash at Bedfont Sports on Saturday (3pm).

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