Justin Gardner lays into his Bethnal Green United team after Bowers & Pitsea loss

Bethnal Green United manager Justin Gardner has launched a stinging attack on his players after the club suffered a first defeat of the season at Bowers & Pitsea

Bowers & Pitsea 2-0 Bethnal Green United

Essex Senior League

Bethnal Green United manager Justin Gardner has launched a stinging attack on his players after the club suffered a first defeat of the season at Bowers & Pitsea.

The Greens saw their unbeaten record in the Essex Senior League come to an end at the Len Salmon Stadium as first-half goals from Jamie Salmon and Michael Hart helped Bowers to a surprise victory.

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The outcome sparked a furious reaction from United boss Gardner, who questioned his team's "pride, commitment and hunger" and warned that several first-team regulars will be dropped for this weekend's FA Vase second qualifying match at Old Woodstock Town.

"It's not about the defeat, it's about the performance, which was absolutely shocking. There was no heart, commitment or spirit and that is not acceptable," Gardner said.

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"I don't mind losing - there's no shame in that as long as we put our hearts into it. But I will not accept losing games through a lack of effort.

"There are a few players who I have stayed loyal to since we were promoted, but they've shown me they're not up to this level.

"We're playing the biggest match of the club's history on Sunday and there are five or six players who will be out of the team and watching from the sidelines after that performance."

Gardner was forced to make six changes to his starting line-up, with Alfred Kamara and striker Marlon Campbell sidelined through injury, while Kadir Jama, Marlon Boateng and Shane Joseph were suspended.

Full-back Emis Ceesay was also absent, but Gardner accepted no excuses for a performance that ranks as the worst of his managerial reign.

"There are no excuses - the players I put in were good enough in terms of quality, but their attitude was completely wrong," Gardner said.

"The minimum I ask from my players is to show me pride, commitment and hunger, but I didn't see it and I won't stand for it.

I put my heart into this club and the least I expect in return is the same level of commitment from the players who pull on the shirt. What I saw on Saturday is insulting."

Goalkeeper Ashley King, who conceded the sixth-minute from which Salmon gave Bowers the lead, was the only player to emerge with any credit from the defeat.

Hart doubled the lead six minutes before half-time after lashing home a routine clearance and Bowers could have stretched the winning margin but for King's fine display.

There was positive news for the club's Under-18 side, who drew their opening Eastern Junior Alliance match 2-2 with Norsemen.

Bethnal Green United visit Old Woodstock Town in the FA Vase on Sunday (3pm). For travel details, see www.bethnalgreenunitedfc.co.uk.

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