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Reggie Lambe: that moment is No 1 on my list

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Reggie Lambe celebrates his extra-time winner for Braintree Town against Worthing in the Vanarama National League South play-off final on Monday (Photograph courtesy of the Colchester Gazette)

Reggie Lambe has described his dramatic extra-time winner that clinched promotion for Braintree Town in the Vanarama National League South play-off final against Worthing on Monday as the pinnacle of his career.

With the teams deadlocked at 3-3, the Bermuda midfielder entered the fray at Sussex Transport Community Stadium as a 95th minute substitute and grabbed the winner in the 108th minute with a spectacular diving header to secure Braintree’s promotion to the National League for the first time since 2019.

“That moment is No 1 on my list, just the way that it was set up for me to come on and score the winner,” Lambe told The Royal Gazette.

“We played the ball forward and I thought my team-mate could play me in first time because I was in so much space, but when he took it down the line and ran past the defender and put the cross in, I just thought if this comes over the defender’s head this is a goal.

Reggie Lambe, right, celebrates with his team-mates following Braintree Town’s dramatic 4-3 extra-time win over Worthing in the Vanarama National League South play-off final on Monday (Photograph supplied)

“It came over the defender’s head and I thought about doing a bicycle kick but then I just got my head on to it. I made a good connection and watched it go past the keeper and I thought, ‘yeah, this is my moment, let me enjoy it’, and ran and celebrated with our fans.

“The atmosphere was amazing. The fans were behind us the whole season and did not disappoint in the final.”

Braintree squandered the lead twice in the seven-goal thriller before Lambe made his way on to the pitch.

“It was a roller-coaster of a game, especially being on the bench for most of it,” the 33-year-old said.

“I believe in that sort of game the manager [Angelo Harrop] has to be very precise in the subs that he makes, but I knew when I did come on that I would have to change the game to give us a bit of calmness going forward.”

Reggie Lambe, left, celebrates with his team-mates (Photograph supplied)

Lambe, who scored two goals in 42 appearances in all competitions for the Essex club this season, is delighted to see his side achieve their primary objective for the season.

“Throughout the season the whole squad has been committed to achieving promotion,” he added.

“We stuck to the task and, although it had to be through the play-off and six hours of game time, we managed to get over the line and achieve what we set out to achieve.”

Braintree edged hosts Weston-super-Mare 1-0 to secure their spot in the end of season promotion play-off.

They also squeaked past Bath City 1-0 in extra time in the play-off qualifier in front of their own fans at Rare Breed Meat Co Stadium to advance to the semi-final, where they prevailed 3-2 in extra time away to neighbours Chelmsford City at the Melbourne Athletics Stadium to secure their spot in the final.

Reggie Lambe, left, has described his extra-time winner for Braintree Town in the Vanarama National League South play-off final against Worthing as the pinnacle moment of his career. (Photograph supplied)

Like Lambe, Town manager Harrop has also described his team’s recent success as a crowning achievement of his career.

“For me this is the biggest moment of my footballing career, gaining promotion for such a great club with everyone connected both on and off the field working so hard as they have done all season, and I'm so grateful,” Harrop told The Colchester Gazette.

“To achieve this with three extra-time wins in our promotion finals is incredible and again it shows the strength of characters we have in the squad and how they work constantly for one another and never give up even when we go behind, as we did in the second half in this game.”

As for Lambe’s game-winning heroics, Harrop added: “It's typical of all my players in that they never give up and they will fight to the bitter end.

“What a fantastic game of football it was particularly for any neutrals watching and even when we went behind early in the second half I knew we would never give up.

"We knew too we had to be constantly on the front foot and it would be a really hard game coming here because they [Worthing] are a very good side.“

Lambe, who joined Braintree from Isthmian League North Division side AFC Sudbury last summer, and his fellow team-mates will now look to retain their status playing in the National League, the fifth tier in English football.

The experienced player, who has also had stints with Ipswich Town, Mansfield Town, Carlisle United, Cambridge Town and Toronto FC, is one of two Bermudians on Harrop’s roster which also includes fellow national team midfielder Willie Clemons.

Clemons, 29, has been sidelined by injury since February, which required surgery to repair an anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, but is finally back on his feet and looking forward to showcasing his talents in the National League next season.

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Published May 09, 2024 at 8:00 am (Updated May 10, 2024 at 8:42 am)

Reggie Lambe: that moment is No 1 on my list

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