United handed shock title boost

Bethnal Green United are back in the Middlesex County League title hunt after a shock decision to annul the club's defeat by championship rivals Hayes United

Bethnal Green United are back in the Middlesex County League title hunt after a shock decision to annul the club's defeat last week by championship rivals Hayes United.

Hayes had emerged as overwhelming favourites to lift the Premier Division crown after ending Bethnal Green's nine-match unbeaten run in a controversial 3-2 win that moved the West London outfit six points clear at the top of the table.

But league officials announced this week that the match had been overturned after Hayes were revealed to have played an ineligible player in the clash.

Hayes have 14 days to appeal the decision, but should the club fail to alter the verdict, Bethnal Green will go level on points with the league leaders with eight matches remaining.

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Bethnal Green manager Justin Gardner admits the surprise development could prove decisive in the race for the title.

"It puts us right back in the title hunt and the players are buzzing," he said.

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Gardner has now targeted six wins from the final eight games to ensure his side win promotion, and new signing Jahed Khan looks set to play a key role in the run-in after an impressive cameo on Saturday.

The former Stepney FC striker came off the bench with 20 minutes remaining at Mile End Stadium and United leading Kodak Harrow by a single goal.

Within moments of his introduction, Khan helped put the result beyond doubt, receving the ball and conjuring an outrageous pass with the outside of his boot that arced into the path of fellow substitute Nathan Mulgrave, who fired home with ease.

"He was out of this world," Gardner said of the striker, whose prolific form in the Bangla League earned him the nickname Zola.

United had fallen behind in the opening 10 minutes, but Marlon Campbell levelled with a rasping drive following a run from deep, while Ainsley Gaspar headed the Bethnal Green in front from Leon Ryan's corner 10 minutes after the restart.

Bethnal Green United visit Indian Gymkhana on Saturday (2pm).

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