Essex Senior League: Sporting Bengal United and Imrul Gazi buzzing about derby match with Tower Hamlets

A Sporting Bengal United player battles with a Takeley opponent (pic: Sadiq Ahmed).

A Sporting Bengal United player battles with a Takeley opponent (pic: Sadiq Ahmed). - Credit: Archant

Two rivals do battle at the Mile End Stadium looking to build on recent encouraging results on their home turf

Sporting Bengal United boss Imrul Gazi can’t wait to pit his wits against local rivals Tower Hamlets in the Essex Senior League this weekend.

The two Mile End Stadium clubs do battle on Saturday after both exited the FA Cup earlier this month.

Bengal have made a strong start to the new campaign, but know Hamlets, who saw Ajay Ashanike return as joint boss this summer to help out Ade Abayomi, will prove tough opposition.

“We are all buzzing about Saturday. It is a big game and they have some new players and a new manager involved,” said Gazi.

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“I know a couple of the people now over there and bringing in Luke With from Barkingside is a positive addition for them.

“We are the home team, but it is a derby, so anything can happen and I am just looking forward to it.

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“I know if I have my strongest starting XI available then we can give anyone a game in this league.

“As things stand we should have a good team out and be more than competitive, so I am confident and can’t wait for it.”

Goals from Codey Cameron and Oscar Mendes earned Bengal a fine 2-0 win away to Southend Manor on Saturday.

On Wednesday night, Gazi’s men backed that result up by beating Sawbridgeworth Town 4-2 at the Mile End Stadium.

Eaia Embalo struck four times for Bengal to build even more momentum ahead of facing Hamlets this weekend.

Ashanike and Abayomi’s men are current second bottom with just two points from their opening three league fixtures, but have not had a bad start to the season.

Hamlets beat Broxbourne Borough in the FA Cup after a replay before losing in the next round to divisional rivals Takeley, who are top.

The Mile End Stadium club only narrowly lost away to Redbridge on the opening day of the campaign and have picked up points at Hackney Wick and at home to Clapton since.

Last Friday Hamlets hosted the Tons and played out a goalless draw in front of a crowd of 468 spectators.

They were also meant to visit Enfield on Monday, but the fixture was postponed and now they will face an in-form Bengal.

Although Gazi’s side conceded two on Wednesday, they were able to keep a clean sheet on Saturday after doing the same at Hackney Wick on August 16.

He added: “Our defence and goalkeeper have been outstanding and Denzel (Kobia) was brilliant last weekend in terms of coming for crosses.

“It makes a big difference when he does that and we are in a good place and have made key additions this summer.

“We added to the good players we had and now have a bit more experience which is helping us a lot.”

One person still at the Mile End Stadium after ending last season strongly is the talented attacker Mendes.

He didn’t score against Sawbridgeworth Town, but you wouldn’t bet against him finding the net this weekend.

Gazi said: “Oscar has picked up right where he left off last season and has three goals in five or six games I think now.

“I am really pleased for him and just said if you get your head down and score 20 plus then you can have a big year.

“He has ambitious of moving up the league and we want to help him do that, so if he can keep on scoring then the future should be bright for him.”

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