Vanarama National League South
East Thurrock United 2 v 4 Chelmsford City
AFTER successive wins East Thurrock were brought back down to earth with a disappointing display against Vanarama National South promotion-chasing Chelmsford on Saturday.
It was an instantly forgettable performance for home fans from the shot-shy Rocks but Clarets supporters will long remember the day as City striker Scott Fenwick may well have pulled off a piece of footballing history, scoring three penalties in a second successive match.
And to add to his day of triumph as Chelmsford continued their bid for promotion, Fenwick also scored the opening goal, which came after three minutes when Rocks keeper Lukas Lidakevicius was outjumped by the striker after he injudiciously left his line to deal with a cross from Jonny Giles and a neat header looped the ball over him.
Clarets had chances to increase their lead, with Lidakevicius partially making amends with one save to deny Bagasan Graham before a superb ball from James White set up Rocks’ equaliser from top scorer Sam Higgins on 22 minutes. In a style reminiscent of his two goals at Truro the week before Higgins he stayed on his feet after initially being thwarted by Sam Beasant to scramble the ball home for his 25th league goal of the campaign.
East Thurrock have repeatedly been vulnerable in the closing stages of the first half throughout the season, and once more they conceded thanks to a lack of concentration. With three minutes of the half remaining referee Robert Massey-Ellis adjudged Shaun Batt, who made 25 appearances for Rocks in 2006-7, had been fouled in the area, though some thought the decision was for a handball. Whatever the reason, Michael Clark was booked and Fenwick rolled the ball comfortable in as Lidakevicius dived the wrong way.
Fenwick could have extended City’s lead five minutes into the second half after rounding Lidakevicius, but the striker was unable to poke home under fierce pressure from Simon Peddie
However, on 57 minutes, moments after Chelmsford had hit the post in a goalmouth scramble when Michael Spillane went easily to ground after there was contact with Ryan Samms, who looked aghast at the decision. Though Lidakevious went the right way this time, Fenwick’s spot-kick found the mark.
The third penalty was awarded on 68 minute, Batt going to the floor again after a challenge from Lee Burns and though the East Thurrock defender appeared to have no complaints, spectators close by were infuriated with what they perceived as a dive.
Whatever the merits of the penalty decision, Fenwick again made no mistake, echoing his performance in Chelmsford’s previous match when he netted three times from the spot against Whitehawk.
East Thurrock, who were better in the second half, did grab a goal back when sub Lewis Smith jinked his way through the defence and guided the ball home. It sparked hopes of a Rocks revival but in honesty Clarets had little problem in closing out the game.
The result leaves East Thurrock in 13th place on 50 points with just five games left.
They return to league action on Tuesday at home against Dartford.