LONG-SERVING Kevin Coyle was the hero as FC CLACTON got their year up and running with a much-needed 1-0 victory against Long Melford.

The Seasiders had not scored or notched a point since Boxing Day, heading into Saturday's Thurlow Nunn League premier division contest at the Rush Green Bowl.

However, they put an end to both unwanted records with an outrageous goal from Coyle - his 100th in Clacton colours.

He netted from inside his own half with an incredible effort and a goal worthy of winning any game.

He then went from hero to villain after being sent off in the second half but it was not enough to ruin a special day for Clacton and especially for coach Tom Austin, who was in charge following Tuesday's departure of manager Kieron Shelley and assistant Mike Wallace.

Afterwards Coyle said on Twitter: "It was the best goal I've ever scored and made all the others look like tap-ins!

"I was glad it was the winner and so happy we got the win we've needed for so long."

Elsewhere, second-placed COGGESHALL TOWN were held to a 0-0 draw at home to Kirkley and Pakefield while BRANTHAM ATHLETIC, still hunting for a top-four finish, crashed to a 4-0 defeat at Godmanchester Rovers.

The Imps were three-down at the end of a frustrating first half.

It was also a disappointing day for STANWAY ROVERS, who went down 2-1 at Gorleston.

Jordan Blackwell's first-half goal put them ahead but the hosts turned the match on its head after the break.

WIVENHOE TOWN had no match on Saturday and neither did first division side BRAINTREE TOWN RESERVES.

Elsewhere in division one, it was a depressing afternoon for north Essex sides.

HOLLAND FC and LITTLE OAKLEY suffered 4-0 defeats, at Debenham LC and Norwich CBS respectively.

HALSTEAD TOWN were held to a 0-0 draw at home to Downham Town.

Brantham's reserves went down 4-1 at Leiston Reserves, in their Suffolk Senior Cup quarter-final.