Report by Mike Jones
For the neutral this had everything: East Thurrock’s biggest crowd for a very long time, (848) ,saw goals aplenty, sendings off , penalty misses and lots of goal mouth entertainment. It was a tale of two missed penalties and opportunities not taken
At the beginning of the match both sets of supporters knew that glory lay ahead for the winner as the prize was promotion to the Ryman Premier League. The trophy sat on the sidelines ready to accept the yellow of East Thurrock or the blue of Aveley.
To be honest, this match could have gone either way. Nerves played their part as neither showed any interest in scoring for the first half hour. On 25 minutes a serious head injury to East Thurrock’s Kris Newby meant he was unconscious for at least 5 minutes and was taken by ambulance to hospital. Shortly after that in the 34th minute Petrit Elbi pounced on a defensive error and Aveley were 1-0 up. Three minutes later they should have been further ahead when Neil Richmond skimmed the bar.
Half time then and manager John Coventry must have said the right things because within 10 minutes of the restart, East Thurrock were level after Steve Harrison netted home. Not for long though as in the 61st minute Martin Tuohy put the Rocks 2-1 in front.
Then the first penalty. Up stepped Martin Tuohy to face James Marrable and the goalkeeper chose the right way and made an excellent save.
76 minutes and Aveley’s Sean Thomas puts his team one step nearer the champagne. Straight after the goal though Ray Powell swung a punch which landed on Sean Thomas and referee Moffat had no hesitation with the red card. To add insult to injury in the 84th minute Petrit Elbi added his second and Aveley’s third . East Thurrock had only to draw this game and when a complete moment of madness by goalkeeper James Marrable meant he missed a high ball and then slammed the Aveley attacker to the ground. Yellow card number two for him and penalty number two for East Thurrock .
The official started putting the yellow ribbon on the cup. Up stepped Max Cornhill to try his luck but the Aveley defender made a superb save to keep the ball out. And that was it. Aveley tasted champagne and East Thurrock now face Concord in the playoffs again . Jubilant Rod Stringer was speechless after the game . Congratulations to him and his team and to the losers perhaps they can join Aveley after the play offs .