Late escape for Bethnal Green
PUBLISHED: 11:45 11 September 2008 | UPDATED: 13:36 05 October 2010
By Jonathan Clegg SHANE BAPTISTE grabbed a late leveller for Bethnal Green United on Saturday but the club s home struggles continued as they were held to a draw by Hayes United. Baptiste climbed above the Hayes defence to head Ricky Field s cross into
By Jonathan Clegg
SHANE BAPTISTE grabbed a late leveller for Bethnal Green United on Saturday but the club's home struggles continued as they were held to a draw by Hayes United.
Baptiste climbed above the Hayes defence to head Ricky Field's cross into the far corner with 10 minutes remaining at Mile End Stadium, salvaging a deserved point for his side.
But the title hopefuls have yet to win at their new ground in three matches this season and United boss Justin Gardner admits that they are still waiting to hit top form at home.
"It's definitely taking us a bit of time to get used to the new ground," said Gardner, whose team moved to the stadium from Meath Gardens this summer.
"We're in a position now where we have got the best stadium in the league and most the of the teams we're up against have never played on a pitch like that before.
"So for them it's like playing the FA Cup final, and they automatically raise their game.
"But I think Saturday was a big improvement. Obviously everyone wants to win and it's disappointing that we didn't, but I wasn't disappointed by the performance.
"We changed our formation because the pitch is so big and it did help us play football. We had three in midfield and we kept possession better.
"Once the players get familiar with the new formation, we'll really see the improvement."
Gardner introduced David Annobil to strengthen his team in the centre of midfield, while Ibrahim Konate and Shane Drew were instructed to push forward in their wing-back roles.
The change saw United open the match in positive fashion but it was Hayes who had the first real chance and Ragan Bailey had to be quick off his line to make a superb save inside the opening 10 minutes.
Ricky Field also saw a great chance go begging when he was sent through but hesitated before shooting and was quickly dispossessed.
Both sides failed to make the breakthrough before half-time and United playmaker Kadir Jama spurned a chance shortly after the restart, but Hayes did go ahead midway through the second half when a long cross following a corner was stabbed home.
Ainsley Gaspar was twice denied by the Hayes keeper as United dominated the closing exchanges, but they were spared a second home defeat 10 minutes from time when Baptiste (pictured) headed in to ensure a draw.