MALDON and Tiptree grabbed the bragging rights with a thumping 6-2 friendly win over Heybridge Swifts at the Aspen-Waite Arena, writes JON LONGMAN.

The Swifts had stepped in to give neighbours a helping hand by hosting a friendly Blackwater derby after the Jammers' friendly plan was cancelled.

Maldon, still in shock after missing out on certain promotion because of the pandemic, were 19 points clear at the top of the table and heading for a bright future in the Isthmian Premier.

Swifts secretary Steve Crisp said: “We were happy to give Maldon a game because we would not be giving many secrets away as we won’t be playing them until Boxing Day in a league game.

“But I am not sure that I will want to read a report on this game.”

Crisp's opposite number at the Jammers, Roger Stapleton, was delighted by the visitors' performance and thanked the Swifts.

Stapleton said: “We were due to play Hertford Town in a friendly but that match was called off because we will be playing there in the FA Cup on September 12.

“Swifts were due to play Saffron Walden Town but they pulled out and we agreed with the Swifts to meet them in a friendly, although I see that Saffron Walden arranged another game with Enfield Borough.

“We will be announcing our signings for the coming season, probably on Thursday. And, yes, we will continue our arrangements with Colchester United in the coming season.

“We go to Brightlingsea on Tuesday night and will be playing Hastings United at home next Saturday. We visited them last season so we look forward to welcoming the Sussex side to Park Drive.”

There was a secretive air around the Jammers dugout as they were keen to protect the identity of the players on trial.

Jammers manager Wayne Brown said: “The goalkeeper is Ben McNamara and the number six is Martyn Stokes but all the others are definitely trialists.”

And on the evidence of this trial, Brown could sign the entire squad on duty because they look set to continue where their predecessors left off before the lockdown.

It was an entertaining afternoon for Jammers fans and neutral spectators but sheers agony for the home supporters who were advised to arrive early as Covid-19 regulations limited the ground capacity to 200.

In the event only 167 turned out on a cold and damp afternoon, though that was a good size for a pre-season friendly.

Covid-19 regulations will allow this figure to be increased to 400 for this Saturday’s friendly against Ware but it is likely to be well short of that.

However, Swifts chairman Gary White is optimistic that in the long term the club may be attract more fans to sample what is on offer locally because of the Covid-19 restrictions.

He said: “I hope that fans of London’s Premier League clubs may try watching non-league football and be surprised by the high standard of entertainment on offer.”

The handful of Ground Hoppers and neutral spectators were treated to eight goals so it was a good afternoon’s entertainment for £5 or just £3 for seniors — a far cry from likes of Tottenham Hotspur who are now asking fans to renew £1,200 for their season tickets purely to enter a ballot for each match in the hope of winning a ticket or getting a refund.

But it was a painful afternoon for one former Spurs player, new Swifts manager Stuart Nethercott, whose pre-season plans received a severe jolt.

Nethercott had been feeling upbeat after Swifts beat Isthmian Premier side Bishop's Stortford and National League South neighbours Braintree Town in successive games.

He was feeling even cheerier when Swifts striker Jack Adlington-Pile lobbed the ball over McNamara for the opening goal in the tenth minute.

But the Jammers were level just three minutes later and they led 3-1 at the break as the trialists went on a goal-scoring spree, including an excellent low shot from an imposing mystery striker who appeared to stand at least 6ft 6in in his stocking feet.

Swifts diverted the one-way traffic for a brief moment in the second half when left-back Chris Gregan hoodwinked the Jammers defender on the edge of the box, delivered a perfect low cross and Adlington-Pile smacked the ball past McNamara to give the Swifts fans a brief moment of respite.

But the Jammers were soon on the offensive again and Swifts substitute goalkeeper Luca Collins, who shared the duties with Anthony Page, was beaten twice more.

So it is back to the drawing board for the Swifts coaching team while the Jammers go to Brightlingsea tomorrow hoping for another goal feast.