Bill Robinson reports from Woodside Park…….
For the first time in three seasons Thurrock have made steps towards Wembley, with a remarkable FA Cup win against fellow Blue Square South opposition. What makes the victory more amazing was the comeback from two nil down after only 12 minutes, with no victories in this competition since 2005, the travelling Fleet supporters were only down for a short while until Thurrock regained their composure and began the fight back.
Thurrock this season are a formidable squad and have not lost away from home all season and their fighting spirit shone through as they began to take control of the game.
Bishop opened the scoring in the tenth minute through a penalty when Paul Olima was harshly judged to have handled the ball in the penalty area and Marlon Patterson converted from the spot.
Knocked back on their heels and before the Thurrock defence could regroup the back four of the defence was caught napping and Duane Jackman was put through on goal and made easy work of beating Joe Woolley to make it 2-0.
The game never looked out of reach for Thurrock and they managed to get themselves playing football again and began building attacks that started to put pressure on the Bishop goal, Matt Bodkin having the best chance on 29 minutes when he struck a shot from 22 yards out that keeper Nicky Eyre tipped over the bar.
The game turned for Thurrock on 32 minutes when Thurrock were awarded a penalty, it came when David Bryant was pushed to the ground by Paul Goodacre giving the referee little option as he pointed to the spot, much to the displeasure of the home fans.
Leon McKenzie stepped up to the spot but his kick was saved by the keeper only for McKenzie to blast the rebound into the roof of the net.
The second period started with Thurrock continuing to be in control of the game, still pushing forward looking for more goals.
Fola Orilonishe should have equalised on 52 minutes when he ran into a vacant penalty area and side footed a shot high over the bar from 6 yards.
Orilonishe soon made up for his miss when on 64 minutes his run down the left flank started the move which gave Thurrock their equaliser, he took the ball into the corner before he laid the ball back for Phil Anderson who struck the ball firmly and deep into the far side of the box where Matt Bodkin running in from the left volleyed home the ball from an acute angle.
Just as Bishop had done in the first half Thurrock struck again within a minute, with the Bishop defence still reeling David Bryant broke free and with just the keeper to beat he had no problem in slotting home number three.
The game was now truly a Cup Tie as the tackles became more solid which resulted in three Bishop players being booked as they seemed to be losing their way after giving up a two goal advantage.
Thurrock had to weather a few nervy moments when Bishop managed to get past their back four and on two occasions Bishop should have equalised when first Daniel Green and then Roy Essandoh of FA Cup fame both missed chances. In the end it was Thurrock who held on and go into Mondays draw for the 3rd Qualifying round.