Bethnal Green United keep it clean to climb into second
Bethnal Green United recorded a third successive clean sheet to climb to second in the Essex Senior League and extend their unbeaten start to the season
Bethnal Green United recorded a third successive clean sheet to climb to second place in the Essex Senior League and extend their unbeaten start to the season.
The Greens narrowly missed out on a third straight win to open the campaign as Stansted rode their luck to collect a goalless draw at Mile End Stadium.
Bethnal Green midfielder Alfred Kamara hit the post in the first half and United saw two convincing appeals for a penalty waved away by the referee as the home side searched in vain for a winning goal to maintain their 100 per cent record.
But despite watching his side drop their first points of the season, United manager Justin Gardner praised his players for helping the club make an a positive start to the season following their promotion from the Middlesex County League.
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He said: "If you had said to me at the start of the season that we'd have seven points from our first three games, I would've snapped your hand off.
"Stansted are a very good team, but we were more than a match for them and we created the better chances.
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"I'm a bit disappointed we didn't win because it feels like we only did half the job.
"That's the first time in my managerial career that I've been involved in a goalless draw and I expect us to score in every game."
Despite his frustration over his team's failure to find the net, Gardner hailed his team's defensive resilience after the club began the season with three consecutive clean sheets for the first time in their history.
The Greens have traditionally struggled to keep opposing strikeforces at bay, but Gardner has helped his side achieve a new resilience with the aid of UEFA Pro-licensed coach Corey O'Donoghue and former Eton Manor boss Kirk Whitelock, who has joined the club's backroom staff in an advisory role.
"I was a defender so when I took over I made improving the defence my priority," said Gardner. "If we want to challenge at this level, the defence is going to be key."
New signings have also made an impact. With Ainsley Gaspar ruled out on Saturday, Steve Willis, who joined from Tilbury this summer, took the captain's armband against Stansted and produced man-of-the-match display.
The centre-half had to be alert in the opening five minutes when goalkeeper Ashley King produced a reaction save to deny Stansted's John Bricknell from close range and Willis hacked clear.
United were denied an apparent penalty when Amos Foweya was dragged down midway through the half, while Kamara, who had earlier forced Scott Darby into a smart low save, came closest to breaking the deadlock after half an hour with a 25-yard effort that crashed against a post.
Bethnal Green saw another penalty shout overruled when Kamara's 60th-minute shot was handled by a Stansted defender inside the area, and a final chance to take all three points disappeared late on when substitute Shane Joseph ignored unmarked duo Danny Sabroche and Kadir Jame and ended up losing possession.
Bethnal Green United visit Barking on Saturday (3pm).