Watch Phil Kelly’s wonder goal as Brightlingsea Regent near promotion

Billy Hunt, who executed a superb 35-yard lob for Brightlingsea Regent's opening goal in tonight's w

Billy Hunt, who executed a superb 35-yard lob for Brightlingsea Regent's opening goal in tonight's win at Witham. - Credit: Archant

Brightlingsea Regent could wrap up promotion to the Ryman Premier this weekend, following Saturday’s 2-1 home win over AFC Hornchurch.

A bumper crowd of 330 at North Road witnessed Regent’s 16th win from their last 19 games, thanks to goals from Billy Hunt and Phil Kelly. James Webster’s men therefore remain nine points clear at the top, following second-placed Maldon & Tiptree’s 3-0 home win over Wroxham.

If the R’s win at home to Romford this Saturday, and the Jammers fail to beat visiting Dereham, then the Ryman North title and automatic promotion will be secured, with three fixtures still to play. Alternatively, if the R’s draw and the Jammers lose, then the title will also be won.

A defensive mix-up enabled Hunt to bag a 15th minute opener. Alex Bentley’s attempted clearance struck team-mate John Easterford, and the ball broke kindly for Hunt to ram home.

Kelly doubled the lead with a wonderful goal in the 59th minute. Picking the ball up on the right, he beat Elliot Styles before finding the target with a thunderous shot from an acute angle.

Leon McKenzie headed home an injury-time consolation goal for Hornchurch, whose own automatic promotion hopes were extinguished by this result.

However, home keeper Sam Cowler did have to pull off a fine save at the death, from Martin Tuohy, to protect the three points.

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Over at Park Drive, Maldon & Tiptree eased to victory over Wroxham. Leading scorer Liam Nash broke the deadlock with a terrific 25-yarder in the 19th minute, before Adam Mills doubled the lead on 43 minutes, steering home after Sam Newson’s initial shot had been cleared by a defender. Newson netted a late third on 85 minutes.

Elsewhere in Ryman North, Heybridge Swifts slithered to a 1-0 defeat at Waltham Abbey, undone by Darelle Russell’s winner on the hour mark. The Swifts are now five points clear of the drop zone.

Witham Town were beaten 2-1 at Ware. Lee White headed the hosts into a 51st minute lead, only for Ryan Charles to equalise from a long-range free-kick. Ware secured victory via a close-range effort from Evandro Delgado.

Meanwhile, Chelmsford City are up to third in National League South after a 2-0 win at Hampton & Richmond thanks to goals from Kane Haysman and Louie Theophanous.

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