Boss Gardner hails Bethnal Green's fighting spirit

Bethnal Green United manager Justin Gardner hailed his sides battling spirit after he saw them recover from a late Basildon equaliser to score a dramatic winner in injury time

Bethnal Green United manager Justin Gardner hailed his sides battling spirit after he saw them recover from a late Basildon equaliser to score a dramatic winner in injury time.

Defender Marvin Abegunde turned from villain to hero in thespace of two minutes at the Mile End Stadium on Saturday, giving the ball away to set up the opposition, before scoring the winner with seconds remaining.

The win keeps United in second, three points behind leaders Burnham Ramblers.

"We battle to the end and that, along with our fitness is why we score late goals," Gardner said.

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"I knew a draw was no good to us and I was devastated when they equalized, so it was a real relief when we scored that winner.

"We have scored in the last few minutes on a number of occasions and it is a great feeling when it happens."

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United took a 28th minute lead when a Darryl Wilson cross was finished by Anton Stephenson, whose deft touch with the outside of his left boot, looped over the goalkeeper.

Martyn Guest equalized for Basildon in the 58th minute, before Abegunde played in Stephenson who finished well with the outside of his left foot with 15 minutes remaining.

With 10 minutes left goalkeeper Ashley King had to be in top form to keep out a stunning 35-yard drive, but with minutes remaining Basildon were level.

Abegunde gave the ball away in a key position trying to play a one-two with captain Aynsley Gaspar and Basildon took full advantage as the leagues' top scorer, Wes Bocking, powered home a strike with two minutes left.

The Greens however had other ideas as a Kadir Jama (pictured left) was flicked into the net by Abegunde to seal a dramatic victory.

"We should have won by more, but we made hard work of it," Gardner said.

"Every week is going to be massive, but I have a very talented squad and I have great belief in them.

"Ashley King was fantastic in goal and pulled off some fantastic saves in the first half.

"We played against a typical Essex team that have quick forwards and play long ball, who are strong on set pieces and coped with them well."

United face another team from that region, when they face Barking at Mayesbrook Park, in what the boss knows will be a tough match for his side.

"There is no margin for error and it will be a very tough game," Garnder said.

"Their assistant manager is a friend of mine and they will not give us an easy ride."

Gardner will once again be without the services of Joe Gallimore who has just had keyhole surgery on his knee, he will however, have Jason Fox in the squad.

Bethnal Green reserves were beaten 4-2 by Hayes Gate in the Middlesex County Premier Division. The defeat against the promotion-chasing outfit leaves United in sixth place.

The under-18s were thrashed 6-1 by Brentford CST in their worst ever defeat, but stay in third in the Eastern Junior Alliance League.

The under-17s missed out on a place in the Peter Coote's Cup Final after Bealonians won their match 2-1, while the Sunday team won 4-1 against rivals Poplar in the Inner London Football League, thanks to a hat-trick from first team boss Gardner.

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