East Men's League division three south east

COLCHESTER closed the gap on league leaders Chelmsford II to three points after seeing off Maldon, at a freezing Garrison.

Goals from Eli Hazleman, Connor Scoynes and Ben Parker gave the second-placed team a vital win, heading into the festive break.

Colchester captain Simon Pearson-Burton said: "We were very happy to notch up another three points and pretty happy that we managed to get out and play.

"By midday, the pitch was playing like the velvet of a snooker table.

"Maldon had a fair number of chances but we were uncharacteristically off target, creating quite a number of chances.

"We managed to miss at least three empty goals!"

Eli Hazelman gave Colchester the lead just before half-time following a frenetic first half where both teams were guilty of squandering a number of chances.

The hosts started the second half brightly and Scoynes' well-taken goal made it 2-0, before Maldon responded with a well-worked short corner routine to reduce the deficit.

With the game on a knife-edge, Dan Woodvine played a sensational ball up to Parker who after showing some of his usual flair, took it on his reverse and scored a wonder goal from the top left hand side of the D.

It was possibly one of the finest goals Colchester have scored, this season and seemed to have settled the encounter.

But when Craig Handford deflected a Maldon shot right in front of the keeper and slotted it through his legs, the visitors had a glimmer of hope.

However, Colchester were able to see out the remaining few tense minutes to claim victory.

There were a number of worthy candidates for the Colchester man of the match award but Woodvine took the honours.

Pearson-Burton added: "He created two goals with glorious pinpoint accurate passes from the halfway into the Maldon D."

Colchester are now not back in action until the New Year when they travel to play leaders Chelmsford in a top-of-the-table clash, on January 6.