Football: Rocks steal all three points as run continues
Date posted: 10-10-2012
Enfield Town 2 v 3 East Thurrock United
EAST Thurrock produced a late smash and grab act to steal three points from under the noses of their hosts, who will forever wonder how they didn’t win this Ryman Premier clash.
The visitors have lost just once in 11 games this season, at Bognor where everyone who saw it said they deserved to get something from the game. On Tuesday in the spartan, art-deco surroundings of the QEII stadium, they deserved very little but got the lot. Such is the fickle and frustrating nature of football, frustration very much being a word on the minds of both managers at the end of the game.
Enfield’s Steve Newing and Rocks’ John Coventry are great friends and dined together before the game. Hopefully the meal was more palatable than what followed for both at the appropriately named Donkey Lane, Newing left as sick as a seaside burro while Coventry was as mad as a mule after being sent to the stands by referee Wes Linden – an official who angered both sets of coaches, players and supporters with a whistle-happy performance where the only thing that was consistent was his inconsistency.
Coventry had sprung something of a surprise, making two amendments to a side that had gone unchanged and unbeaten for four matches. Out went Kris Newby and Kye Ruel in favour of Matt Hall and Sam Collins, but both later returned to have a significant impact on a game that appeared to have gone out of Rocks’ reach.
The game got off to the worst possible start for the visitors, settling into their new formation and finding themselves a goal down after eight minutes when the game’s most eye-catching player, Tyler Campbell, exploited full back Tom Stephen’s momentary positional lapse and he raced through on goal to plant the ball past Richard Wray.
Wray was then to pull off the first of a several stunning saves, going full stretch to tip a thunderous effort past the post – and Hall joined the ranks of defensive heroes with a goalline headed clearance as Enfield dominated the game.
They were doing to Rocks what East Thurrock often do to their opponents, outworking them across the pitch and playing with passion and aggression.
Mr Linden didn’t help either side’s cause, frequently stopping the game for the most minor of infringements and exhibiting a complete lack of knowledge of what physical contact is all about. Judiciously, he didn’t favour either side and just about everyone in the ground was growing equally frustrated with his efforts – and Rocks were particularly aggrieved when three shouts for a penalty were waved away in quick succession, the third looking an absolute cast iron cert!
Enfield went into the break by far the more dominant of the two sides but probably rueing the fact they hadn’t netted a second time.
However, the wait for that wasn’t long, just three minutes from the restart Campbell worked more magic down the flank and the ball was played to Liam Hope who race through to calmly beat Wray. It was almost a case of déjà vu for the keeper – who then repeated his first half heroics with two more superb saves.
With an hour gone, and things looking increasingly bleak, Coventry rolled the dice and threw Newby and Ruel into the fray for Hall and Ross Parmenter.
If the two subs had a point to prove they set about making it, both getting into the game and adding mystique and trickery to an attack that had previously looked predictable and dull. Enfield were starting to beat a retreat and they looked decidedly nervous, losing a previously solid defensive shape which was exploited to the full on 71 minutes by Collins who collected the ball on the left and, with unaccustomed time and space, picked his spot with a curling strike past keeper Noel Imber, who had drifted well out of position.
That fired up Rocks, so much so that skipper Reiss Gilbey launched himself into a reckless challenge in midfield that Mr Linden decide was worthy of a caution – and for once it seemed a correct decision, though Coventry clearly didn’t agree and a caustic comment too many saw him sent from the sidelines.
But by then the diminutive manager had already worked the oracle.
Newby and Ruel, if not exactly dominating the game, were giving Enfield lots more to think about and when the defence dithered again with eight minutes to go, Hakeem Araba, who until then had looked largely ineffectual and shackled by Enfield’s iconic skipper Mark Kirby, somehow forced the ball home from close range in a goalmouth scramble, albeit after three or four ‘miss-Haks’ as his persistence to score finally told.
Enfield were stunned but worse was to follow for the home side with a minute of normal time left when a flowing move resulted in Ruel chipping the ball across goal where it was met by Newby’s diving header, which smashed in just inside the post.
Mr Linden somehow conjured up six minutes of added time but the drama had largely been played out and Rocks held onto their lead to climb to ninth place.
Rarely will they have a more fortuitous victory but in football you have to take what the gods give you and Covo & Co certainly had a few prayers answered on Tuesday.