Brightlingsea Regent take a big step towards promotion after beating the Abbotts

Tom Richardson, winning a header against Thurrock the previous weekend, netted Brightlingsea's third

Tom Richardson, winning a header against Thurrock the previous weekend, netted Brightlingsea's third goal in a 3-0 win at Waltham Abbey on Saturday. Picture: STEVE ARGENT - Credit: Archant

Brightlingsea Regent took a giant stride towards achieving automatic promotion to the Ryman Premier with a convincing 3-0 win at Waltham Abbey on Saturday.

Regent’s 13th win in their last 16 games, combined with favourable results elsewhere, has left James Webster’s men six points clear at the top of Ryman North, with just seven games remaining.

Second-placed Maldon & Tiptree suffered a 3-1 defeat at Cheshunt, while Thurrock, who had begun the day in third spot and had ended Regent’s unbeaten start to 2017 with a 1-0 win at North Road the previous weekend, were surprisingly beaten 1-0 at home by Norwich United.

The R’s still have some tough matches to come, but they are very much in pole position after seeing off Waltham Abbey, with the prolific Aaron Condon and Tom Richardson both on target.

It was Billy Hunt who broke the deadlock, in the 23rd minute, benefiting from keeper Sam Cowler’s big kick to send a looping header into the net.

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The Abbotts were reduced to 10 men by Jack Devaney’s 40th minute dismissal, and the visitors took charge after the break.

Condon doubled the lead with his 24th league goal of the season in the 56th minute. He cut inside two defenders before burying his shot into the corner of the net.

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And Richardson made the game safe with a third in the 72nd minute, to rattle up his 19th league goal of the campaign. Hunt was the creator, beating two defenders to tee up Richardson, who poked into an empty net.

Manager Webster enthused: “The boys rolled their sleeves up today and showed how we can win in a different way.”

Elsewhere, Maldon & Tiptree suffered a blow in their title quest, after conceding three second-half goals at Cheshunt.

Leading scorer Liam Nash (30 goals) had chances to break the deadlock in the first half, before Liam Hope’s 51st minute opener and a brace by Jason Hallett (58 and 72) sealed the Jammers’ fate. Kyle Hammond netted a 90th minute consolation.

Heybridge Swifts were beaten 4-1 at home by Haringey Borough in a bad-tempered clash, Luke Hornsley scoring on his full debut, but Witham Town won 3-1 at Great Wakering Rovers thanks to Nathan Koranteng (32) and a double by Scott Kemp (39 and 48).

Elsewhere, in the National League South, four goals from Chris Dickson allowed Chelmsford City to win 5-1 against Eastbourne Borough. Louie Theophanous scored the Clarets’ final goal on his debut.

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