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Mulgrave boosts United's title challenge

PUBLISHED: 17:08 03 December 2008 | UPDATED: 13:51 05 October 2010

Bethnal Green United threw the Middlesex County League title race wide open after Nathan Mulgrave fired home a last-minute free-kick to stun Premier Division leaders Park View

BETHNAL GREEN UNITED threw the Middlesex County League title race wide open after Nathan Mulgrave fired home a last-minute free-kick to stun Premier Division leaders Park View on Saturday.

In a dramatic encounter at Mile End Stadium, United substitute Mulgrave sparked wild celebrations as he curled a right-foot shot into the top corner to seal a come-from-behind victory that extended the club's winning streak to 10 straight matches.

The outcome saw Bethnal Green close to within five points of Park View, who fell to only their second defeat of the season and face being severely reprimanded by the London Football Association for the farcical scenes that greeted the final whistle.

Three Park View players were sent off after the match had finished as the league leaders surrounded the referee to protest about key decisions. The trio now face season-long suspensions.

But the distasteful conclusion could not overshadow a stunning triumph for United, who had trailed Park View by as many as 12 points following their defeat by the table toppers in September.

"It's the proudest day of my managerial career," said United boss Justin Gardner. "That result could be a turning point in the season. If we had lost, we would've been well adrift in the title race, but winning has put us right back in it."

Despite taking control in the early stages of the contest, Bethnal Green had appeared on course for a massive set-back to their title hopes when they trailed at half-time.

Long-range shots from Danny Sabroche and Jamie Barry were all United had to show for an encouraging first-half display and five minutes before the break, Park View took the lead with only their second chance of note as Francis Williams fired home.

Bethnal Green continued to exert pressure after the interval, but opportunities remained scarce until Gardner changed the course of the match with a double substitution, replacing Sabroche and Tony Field with Mulgrave and Shane Joseph.

Within minutes, Alfred Kamara picked out Mulgrave in space and the substitute's cross was headed home by full-back Phabian Baker.

In an end-to-end finish, both sides had chances to snatch a winner, but with time running out Leon Ryan was upended as he burst into the area and the subsequent free-kick was curled home by dead-ball specialist Mulgrave.

"It's hard to single out anyone after a match like that because the whole team were fantastic," said Gardner. "Park View are probably the fittest side in the league and to come through like that in the closing stages shows a lot of spirit and character."

Bethnal Green United travel to Hanworth Villa in Anagram Records Trophy on Saturday (3pm).

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