Gardner: Anything but victory against Clapton would have been a failure

PUBLISHED: 09:00 23 September 2011

Justin Gardner

Justin Gardner


Bethnal Green United boss pleased that game is out of the way

Bethnal Green United boss Justin Gardner was pleased with his side’s 2-1 win away at Clapton despite the Greens letting in a sloppy, late goal.

Gardner’s men travelled to their neighbours for the game and the Greens boss admits that his side couldn’t wait to play the match so that they could leave.

“When you go to Clapton, it is very intimidating,” he said.

“You never know what you are going to get from them, but you know they will be 100 per cent committed.

“It is a derby match and is probably their biggest game of the season.”

The Greens controlled the game from the off and should have taken the lead as early as the second minute, when Jay Leader’s header was met by Billy Holland, whose shot crashed against the woodwork.

However, midway through the first half, Bethnal Green took the lead when keeper Pape Diagne’s long clearance was flicked into the path of Holland.

The striker then showed good strength, before he finished coolly past the Clapton keeper.

“We were all over them and they couldn’t handle us,” said Gardner.

“I know that I say this every week, but we should have been six or seven nil up.

“Jay Leader was unplayable in the air and was winning everything that came his way.”

With the score remaining at 1-0 going into the break, it wasn’t until the hour mark that the Greens extended their lead, once again through Holland, when he put away Andy Jones’ cross.

“At 2-0 up, I expected us to close out the game,” added Gardner.

“But with just minutes to play, we let them score from a corner.

“They only had two players in the box, but we let one of them get to the ball and score.

“However, I must say that before that, Pape made a magnificent save.

“It was their first shot on target and was heading for the top corner.

“Pape had no right to get there but he did and that save was as good as scoring another goal.”

Despite being disappointed about letting in the late goal, Gardner revealed that his team were in a no-win situation before the game and all that mattered was getting the three points.

“When we play Clapton, anything but a win is a failure,” he said.

“As a manager it is probably the hardest game of the season to prepare the players for.

“I’m just happy we don’t have to go back there again this season, unless we draw them in a cup.”

The Clapton victory keeps the Greens in third place in the Essex Senior League, and Gardner is surprised with some of the other teams in the top six.

“To be honest, I didn’t expect Barking to be up there,” he said. “This season I expect the top four teams to be us, Southend Manor, Witham Town and Enfield 1893.

“Although having said that, there are up to eight other teams that could be up there.

“As long as we stay in the top three until the new year I will be happy.

“Once we get there, that is when we need to pull away from the rest of the pack.”

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