Gardner delighted as Bethnal Green book their place in last 16
Greens extend winning run to 11 games in FA Vase victory
Bethnal Green United boss Justin Gardner was the happiest man in Tower Hamlets after his side booked their place in the last 16 of the FA Vase following victory at Old Woodstock Town on Saturday.
The Greens travelled to Oxfordshire looking to extend their winning run and thanks to second-half strikes from Anton Stephenson and Paul Burnett, returned home with 11 consecutive victories and a place in the fifth round under their belts.
“It’s an amazing achievement for the club,” said Gardner.
“It was a very, very good weekend for us all.
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“We are into the last 16 of a competition that started with 600 clubs.
“Did I think that we would get this far? No, but that was because we are such a poor team in terms of finances compared to a lot of the other clubs in the competition.
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“However, I have always believed in my players and I knew that if we clicked, then anything was possible.
“To have 11 straight wins to our name is absolutely incredible.”
Gardner’s men came under severe pressure in the first half, as Old Woodstock looked to take advantage of their sloping pitch, but Bethnal Green’s defence held firm, to the delight of their boss.
“Two months ago we would have lost that game,” he said.
“For the first 30 minutes they absolutely battered us as they were playing downhill.
“We couldn’t get the ball out of our half, but I have to say that our back four were simply outstanding, they protected our keeper superbly.
“Jason Fox was out of this world and along with our skipper Ainsley Gaspar, put his body on the line for us.
“I was just hoping that we could get to half-time 0-0, as I knew that in the second half and playing downhill they wouldn’t be able to cope with us.”
Gardner’s hope came true as the Greens managed to keep the game goalless at the break, before enjoying the majority of possession and territory after the interval.
“We controlled the second half and created lots of chances,” said the Bethnal Green chief.
“We completely dominated them and it was only a matter of time before we scored.
“Anton headed home a corner and then just 10 minutes later, after brilliant interplay, Paul chipped their keeper to wrap up the tie.”
Bethnal Green’s reward for winning the game is a fifth-round tie against either Wisbech Town of Cambridgeshire and Newcastle’s Dunston UTS.
“Obviously we would prefer to go to Wisbech rather than Newcastle, but we are just happy to have reached this stage,” said Gardner.
“The players seem to really love playing away from home at the moment and the team spirit in the camp is strong.
“The fifth round will be a special day for the club and credit must go to the strength in depth that my squad has shown to get us this far.
“I am confident that we can go all the way to the final, if the draw is kind.”
The Greens have a well-earned weekend off this Saturday, despite the club’s best attempts to organise a fixture.
“We have tried to re-arrange a league game, but no-one wants to play us at the moment,” added Gardner.
“I think that alone is a real compliment to the way that we are playing at the moment.”