Gardner laments keeper injuries as Greens lose unbeaten away record
Bethnal Green beaten 2-0 at Hullbridge Sports
Bethnal Green boss Justin Gardner was left frustrated after watching his side lose their unbeaten away record with a defeat at Hullbridge Sports.
The Greens made the trip east hoping to keep their unbeaten Essex Senior League record intact, but disaster struck during the team warm-up, when keeper Pape Diagne was injured.
Luckily, Gardner had brought a reserve keeper with him, so Riccardo Mazzon was called up to start between the sticks.
However, just half an hour into the game, Mazzon injured his thigh.
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“When Riccardo went down holding his leg, I didn’t know what to do,” said Gardner.
“I couldn’t take him off as we didn’t have another keeper on the bench.
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“He received treatment on the pitch for 10 minutes and then bravely carried on.
“But he couldn’t run or move, and he couldn’t take any of the goal kicks.
“We effectively played 60 minutes without a keeper.”
The game remained goalless throughout the first half, but Hullbridge finally broke the deadlock with less than 15 minutes to play, when a striker lobbed the helpless Mazzon.
The home side then made sure of the points in the penultimate minute of normal time, when the stranded Mazzon could not reach a loose ball and the home striker slotted home.
“Make no mistake, if we had a keeper that was fit, the game would have finished 0-0,” said Gardner.
“There was nothing that Riccardo could have done for either of the goals as he couldn’t move.
“Unfortunately, luck just wasn’t on our side when it came to injuries on Saturday.
“That’s football and that’s something that we have to deal with.”
Gardner revealed that he was more disappointed with how his strikers played in the game, and admitted that some of his players looked tired towards the latter stages of the match, when both goals were conceded.
“To be honest, I was not pleased with our strikers,” he said.
“We created five or six clear-cut chances, but we didn’t take a single one, which just isn’t good enough.
“With some of them, it was harder to score than miss.
“It’s the strikers’ job to score goals, but they didn’t do it on Saturday.
“Some of the squad did look a little leggy too, but that’s no excuse.
“My players should be able to play three games in a week, no problem.”
This weekend, the Greens return to their Mile End home, to face local rivals London APSA.
And Gardner is expecting another tough game, despite APSA having 10 less points than his side.
“It is a local derby, so form goes out of the window,” he said.
“We did the double on them last season, but that means nothing now.
“I just want to get a win, that is my main focus.”