BRIGHTLINGSEA REGENT manager James Webster hailed his side’s defensive solidity in their 1-0 victory at home to Ryman League division north leaders MALDON AND TIPTREE.
Tom Richardson’s headed goal settled a tight, tense contest and took the second-placed hosts to within three points of the Jammers.
They also have two games in hand on their Essex rivals.
Webster was delighted with the victory – and admitted a hard-earned clean sheet was the icing on the cake.
“It was a big result for us,” said the Regent boss.
“We knew it was going to be a tight game and there was a fair chance one goal would win it.
“Luckily, we were the ones who got it and I thought it was a good, solid and disciplined performance from the boys.
“We limited them to a few half-chances and were very good defensively.
“That was the biggest plus for me.
“I was pleased with the performance and it was very similar to the way we played at Thurrock (when Regent won 1-0 on November 19).
“We’ve got players in our team who can score goals and we play free-flowing football, but sometimes our matches can be like basketball games.
“We’re too open and it’s something we’ve been working on in training – to be more solid.
“Overall, I thought we controlled large parts of the game. We had the better chances and deserved to win, in my opinion.”
Regent are still unbeaten this calendar year and have now put themselves in a strong position, breathing down Maldon’s necks.
However, Webster is keeping his feet firmly rooted to the ground – and insists the number one priority is still a play-off spot, rather than the championship.
“This result makes it interesting, but our aim is still just to finish in the play-offs,” he said.
“We’re over the moon to be second and we’ll keep trying our hardest to stay in the top five.
“That was our aim at the start of the season and nothing has changed.
“We’ve just got to keep it going, take it one game at a time and see where it takes us.
“We’ve got a good group of players and you could see what it meant to them.
“They’ve worked really hard to get into this position.
“Now we’ve got to see it out and turn up to every game with the right mentality, rather than dropping silly points.
“We’ve got to dig in and work harder than the other team we play – and hopefully if we do that we’ll will more games than we lose.”
Regent’s goal came in the 74th minute and was a near-post, flicked header from Richardson, from Josh Gould’s throw.
Maldon keeper Daniel Wilks also made great saves from Richardson and Harry McDonald, while Regent stopper Sam Cowler did brilliantly to deny Maldon substitute Rhys Henry and Femi Akinwande.
Elsewhere in Saturday’s matches, HEYBRIDGE SWIFTS had a superb 3-0 victory at home to Thamesmead Town.
Reece Grant gave them a first-half lead.
Adam Adeoye Yuseff made it two from the penalty spot, before Grant added his second on 63 minutes.
Ryan Imbert popped up with a leveller for WITHAM TOWN as Adam Flint’s men drew 1-1 at home to Soham Town Rangers.