Campbell inspires Bethnal Green to semi-final triumph
Marlon Campbell produced a sensational display to send Bethnal Green United into the Alex Smith Premier Division Cup final
Marlon Campbell produced a sensational display to send Bethnal Green United into the Alex Smith Premier Division Cup final and strengthen the club's pursuit of an unprecedented treble.
United overcame the first-half dismissal of goalscorer Shane Joseph to eliminate semi-final opponents Southall and reach the final of the competition for a second successive season.
Bethnal Green will become the first team ever to retain the trophy if the Middlesex County League club defeat final opponents Willesden Constantine or Hayes United at Yeading's The Warren ground on April 18.
But United boss Justin Gardner admitted his team's glory bid could have been derailed at Southall, but for a towering individual performance from star striker Campbell.
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The former Hitchin forward was forced to play as a lone target man after Joseph saw red for violent conduct, but helped his side make light of their numerical disadvantage.
"The way Marlon played, it looked like they were the ones down to 10 men at times," Gardner said. "He did the work of two people up front - he was winning balls in the air, holding it up, chasing down their defenders. He was like a man possessed."
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Campbell had opened the scoring in the 10th minute with a turn and shot from the edge of the area and United looked to be coasting when Joseph raced clear to double the lead.
But Joseph blotted his copybook midway through the first half when the striker responded to rough treatment from the Southall defenders by swinging an elbow at his opposite number, earning a straight red card.
The dismissal appeared to galvanise Campbell, who saw a stunning solo effort ruled out by a contentious offside decision, and United held firm until a mistake from Ajibola Olatunbosun allowed Southall to reduce the deficit late on.
Yet any hopes of an equaliser were dashed when Marlon Boateng nipped in to seal the outcome eight minutes from time.
Bethnal Green United host Deportivo Galicia at Mile End Stadium on Saturday (2.30pm).