Phil Kelly celebrates his 100th goal for Brightlingsea as the R’s soar to the top of Ryman North

Phil Kelly,left, who celebrated his 100th goal for Brightlingsesa Regent in Saturday's 3-0 win at Wa

Phil Kelly,left, who celebrated his 100th goal for Brightlingsesa Regent in Saturday's 3-0 win at Ware. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT - Credit: Archant

Brightlingsea Regent hit top spot in the Ryman North on the day that loyal servant Phil Kelly scored his 100th goal for the club.

The R’s have been unstoppable since the turn of the year, and they completed a quickfire league double over Ware to leapfrog local rivals Maldon & Tiptree in the table.

Fresh from a 5-0 thrashing of Ware last Tuesday night, the R’s delivered a strong second-half performance to complete a swift league double with a 3-0 victory at Wodson Park on Saturday.

James Webster’s men struggled to get going in the first period, which ended goalless. Kelly had a shout for a penalty turned down, while Connor Hogan headed over the top with a good chance.

However, Jake Turner settled the nerves by breaking the deadlock within two minutes of the restart, latching onto Tom Richardson’s pass to slot home.

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But it was Kelly’s goal, which doubled Regent’s lead in the 75th minute, which was the main talking point.

Kelly pounced on a defensive mistake to sweep home his 100th goal for the club, a notable achievement. He bagged his first back in October, 2010.

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Ricky Griggs added a late third in the 87th minute, again following a defensive error, to complete the scoring and round off a successful day for the North Road club.

Manager Webster said: “Phil (Kelly) has been loyal to Brightlingsea for six years, which is extremely rare these days in football.”

And R’s coach Angelo Harrop enthused: “That’s a big three points. We’ve gone top and let’s stay there now. We have 10 big games left

Maldon & Tiptree’s surprise 3-2 defeat at mid-table Bury Town has seen Brightlingsea move into top spot, three points clear of the Jammers and with a game in hand over Kevin Horlock’s men.

The R’s are six points clear of third-placed AFC Hornchurch, who powered to a 3-0 win at Heybridge Swifts, and are already effectively guaranteed at least a play-off place – they are a massive 16 points clear of sixth-placed Haringey Borough.

A hat-trick from Leon McKenzie inside the first half-hour saw Hornchurch to victory at Heybridge. McKenzie netted in the fifth, 15th and 24th minutes, the hat-trick goal coming from the penalty spot.

Meanwhile, Witham Town had to be content with a 1-1 draw at Phoenix Sports.

Witham dominated the game, particularly in the second half, but were not rewarded for their superiority until the 88th minute, when substitute Tom Robinson scored a well-deserved equaliser.

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