Hat-trick hero James Hubbard, aka‘the Beast’, rips Brightlingsea Regent apart as bottom side Woodbridge Town roar their way to a famous victory

Roaring his side to victory: James Hubbard celebrates his first goal on Saturday

Roaring his side to victory: James Hubbard celebrates his first goal on Saturday - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

James Hubbard’s superb hat-trick inspired Thurlow Nunn Premier Division basement side Woodbridge Town to a fully-deserved 4-2 win over promotion hopefuls Brightlingsea Regent on Saturday.

From the off, Hubbard was in determined fashion and he took a signed match-ball back home with him after a phenomenal display blew away everyone at Notcutts Park.

In truth, giant striker Hubbard, aptly nicknamed ‘the beast’, could’ve celebrated a double hat-trick – he hit the woodwork on three separate occasions – in an excellent team performance from the Woodpeckers, who upset all the odds to secure three points against a side who could be in Ryman North next season. The harsh reality for Woodbridge though is that, despite this result, they could still be playing Thurlow Nunn First Division football next season.

Not that you would’ve guessed which side was gunning for promotion and which side was fighting for survival on this evidence.

Seemingly galvanised under the management of Lee Elliston, Woodbridge have been knocking on the door of results recently and undoubtedly turned in their best result and best performance of the season on Saturday.

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Straight from kick-off they attacked a Brightlingsea side who still looked shocked from their midweek draw against struggling FC Clacton.

Woodbridge should’ve been two goals to the good after just 13 minutes, with Hubbard unable to provide a finishing touch in one instance and cracking the post from distance in another after good work from Lee Pleasance and Tom Deller.

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It wasn’t long before the gangly striker, who will have surely been a dominant figure in the nightmares of all Brightlingsea defenders in the early hours of Sunday morning, found the net though as he poked home Jack Newman’s cross after 20 minutes.

Four minutes later, and the same player nearly shook the whole of Suffolk with an audacious effort on the bounce from 25 yards that is probably still leaving the Notcutts Park ground rocking.

‘Oh my god’ was one shout from the crowd as ‘the beast’ unleashed an outrageous effort that crashed against the post with Bedingfield rooted to the spot.

Two minutes later and Woodbridge were celebrating a second goal as another cross by Newman, aimed towards Hubbard, was calamitously turned into his own net by Jake Holman. It was one of those goals that you’d see on ‘Own Goals and Gaffs’ and summed up a very disappointing day for the visitors, whose half could’ve got even worse but for a superb saving header from captain Warren Joseph, to deny Hubbard, a certain tap-in at the back post.

The similarly outstanding Sam Mead also cracked the bar with a 40-yard free-kick in a half that could’ve finished 5-0 to the hosts.

‘Gordon Bennett’ cried a Regent supporter as they saw their side crumble against a team that was perceived to be the division’s ‘whipping boys’.

And when Regent did give themselves hope, these were then immediately crushed. Holman grabbed the Essex-side a lifeline as he flicked home shortly after the interval only for Hubbard to reassert Woodbridge’s commanding lead with a header that seemed to take an age to hit the net.

Regent then gradually began to show why they are challenging for the title with Ricky Griggs in particular catching the eye. The flamboyant winger dazzled past numerous Woodbridge bodies before eventually setting up Terry Rymer to easily tap home in the 67th minute as a comeback looked on the cards.

For the first time in the game, Woodbridge looked rattled, but these fears were soon erased as the unplayable Hubbard put the result beyond doubt with a clinical fourth goal after an inch-perfect pass from Deller.

Moments after hitting another post via the legs of Bedingfield, Hubbard ran clear to finish expertly and seal a fully-deserved win for the Woodpeckers, who will look to continue their great escape exploits with wins over fellow strugglers FC Clacton and Thetford Town in the next week.

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