United pay the Price
Bethnal Green United's bid to become the first team to retain the Alec Smith Premier Division Cup has ended in rancour and recrimination
Bethnal Green United's bid to become the first team to retain the Alec Smith Premier Division Cup ended in rancour and recrimination on Saturday following a controversial 2-1 extra-time defeat by Hayes United in the final of the competition.
Both sides were reduced to 10 men in a fractious encounter at Yeading FC's The Warren Ground, which also saw both sets of supporters separated by stewards after Bethnal Green boss Justin Gardner became the target of abuse by Hayes fans.
The United manager was also involved in a confrontation with Hayes striker Sam Kanani, who was later sent-off for dissent as the fiery contest threatened to boil over.
Even the conclusion of the match was not without controversy. Hayes were awarded a penalty five minutes from the end of extra-time when Bethnal Green defender Ajibola Olatunbosun, who had been a commanding presence at centre-half, appeared to win the ball cleanly.
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When United midfielder Alfred Kamara failed to convert a late chance, Bethnal Green's dreams of an historic triumph had been extinguished, but manager Gardner placed the blame squarely on referee David Price.
Gardner said: "It was probably the worst refereeing performance in history - even the officials from the Middlesex FA couldn't defend his performance. The penalty at the end should never have been given."
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There was little indication that Hayes would go on to lift the trophy during the first hour of the match as Bethnal Green dominated possession.
Twice in the first half, United had the ball in the back of the net, yet referee Price ruled out both efforts.
Campbell finally broke the deadlock 10 minutes after the restart, turning on the edge of the box before firing into the bottom corner.
But United's superiority faded when Kadir Jama saw red following an off-the-ball incident, and Hayes levelled in the 70th minute through Andre Costa.
Hayes forward Kanani was later dismissed as both sides finished normal time with 10 men. Chances were at a premium in extra-time and the match appeared to be heading to a penalty shootout until referee Price awarded the controversial spot-kick that handed Hayes victory.
Bethnal Green will bid to bounce back from the final defeat by securing the point needed to ensure promotion at Southall on Saturday (4pm).