Tilbury 1,

Waltham Forest 0

NON-LEAGUE: PAUL Vaughan, the Tilbury manager, was left with a bitter-sweet feeling after seeing his side beat Waltham Forest on Saturday.

The hard-fought win was Dockers first since mid-January, after Daniel Francis inspired a superb second half display.

It was the Dominican capped striker who scored the game’s only goal and his 16th of the season, but the talisman was forced off with an injury midway through the second half. That could mean a three-week absence for Francis, during a period where Dockers have six fixtures.

But Vaughan was pleased with his side’s excellent second-half display against Forest and is optimistic after a tricky few weeks for the club.

The first half was disappointing though. Tilbury lost full-back Jimmy Cook to injury and despite going closest when Emiel Aiken struck the bar in the 37th minute, the home side created little else. Forest looked slightly more threatening and created a number of good opportunities.

The visitor’s skipper Adrian Clifton was impressive in the centre of the park. He kept Forest ticking over but it was Manu Dagher who posed the biggest threat down the wing. He went close two minutes before half-time, evading numerous challenges before firing over.

But it was youngster Jack Leachman to whom the best chance fell. His low effort, poked goal-ward after a clever ball had got him in behind the defence, trickled just wide of James Marrable’s goal on the half-hour mark.

In the second half, Dockers were the better side. Jack Carlile was instrumental in the middle and it was the midfielder who teed up former-Forest striker Francis to lash a right footed effort past Cain Davies and give the home side a 54th minute lead.

Tilbury captain Joe Nightingill squandered the best chance to double his side’s lead, spooning the ball over the bar from six-yards.

Late in the game, Francis was forced to withdraw from the game as Forest battled in vain for an equaliser which never looked particularly likely.

But Vaughan was grateful for the three points and thinks the play-offs are still within reach. He said: “We did good things in the second half against a team who are all about working hard.

“If we can [improve form and] then come back into it, we might be able to put some pressure on the teams above. “We’ve got to build on this, get a bit of momentum and see if we can pick up a couple of results.

“It was a poor game today, but the 4-2-3-1 formation gave Danny Francis license to play. It was good to have him back but he’s picked up another serious injury. “It’s a shame, he’s a catalyst for us. He’s an excellent player, excellent to have around the club and I feel sorry for the lad. He was fully fit and right and he showed that.”

Vaughan added that after a turbulent period behind the scenes, which saw defender Paul King and former skipper Gary Henty depart the club, things are starting to look up.

“We’ve only got a small squad after we had a wield of the axe and a few problems behind the scenes, but we don’t look too bad.

“We put a young side out there and we’re trying to rebuild and appease everybody, but the future looks bright. We’ve got to grind out results and see where that takes us.”

For all the borough's non league football see Friday's Gazette