By Paul Tandy
Tilbury travelled over the river and across into Kent to face Thamesmead Town in the League on saturday.
A late fitness test for key influential defender Rickie Hayles proved unsuccessful, Hayles with a badly sprained ankle pulled out just prior to kick-off which compounded further concerns for Tilbury Boss Graham Chester ahead of this fixture. Glen Golby ruled out with a pulled muscle, also Joe Keith named on the team sheet but carrying an injury, Paul Shave out due to suspension along with goal scoring midfielder Ben Bradbury also suspended for the game.
Thamesmead kicked off in the bright winter sunshine, currently in 2nd place in the league and looking to catch run- a-way league leaders Lowerstoft Town.
The Docker’s first to show their intent. Bradley Barnes collected the ball down the left hand-side, before laying the ball in to the path of Joel Barnett whose effort was dealt with by the Mead’s keeper Steve Northwood.
The Mead attacked in the 10th minute, Rikki Cable swept down the Tilbury right, Cable almost to the by-line swung the ball across goal into the path of Andy Constable and from 8 yards out mistimed his effort and launched the ball widely over the bar.
Some good build up play by the Dockers, Bradley Barnes threaded the ball from the middle of the park to the feet of Christian Wheeler, Wheeler turned sharply to feed the ball to the feet of Joel Barnett, Barnett dropped his shoulder from 22 yards out but saw his effort go just wide of the post.
Midway through the first period and The Dockers looked dangerous with every attack. Donny Barnard this time the supplier with a beautifully weighted pass over the shoulder of Joel Barnett, who times his run to perfection, Barnett headed off towards goal however, Ex-Docker Junior Barker made a fine sweeping challenge to put the industrious Tilbury striker off course as the ball was cleared for a throw-in.
The Dockers continued to push the Mead defence, Joe Keith does well to keep possession 20 yards from goal and shoots, the ball taking a deflection which spun the ball high in the air towards goal, The Mead’s keeper Steve Northwood does well to claw the ball away to safety.
The Mead with another blazing miss, this time Mead’s No 2 only yards from goal hits wildly at the ball only to see his shot go well wide of the post!
Tilbury back on the goal trail, this time Daniel Smith the supplier as he sends Nathan Gordon in on goal, the shot with not much pace is well meet by Northwood as he scoops the ball up safety.
Thamesmead come close to taking the lead, the ball sent through into a packed Tilbury box, the ball rebounds out to the feet of Rikki Cable who connects well, but the shot is equaled only by the quick reactions of Tilbury’s keeper Andy Hall – Hall to his right makes a spectacular save to keep the score level.
Into the second period and the Mead’s already boggy pitch looking cut up, and will need willing legs from both sides as tiredness sets in.
The Mead straight into action, and a volley of effort’s from the home side within the opening three minutes, the first saw Bakers effort from a set piece cleared off the line by Donny Barnard, shortly followed by Andy Hall with another fine stop, using his body to clear a fierce effort from Scot Mulholland.
Another blow for the Dockers as Joe Keith limps off the pitch and is replaced by Lee Hodges.
The Dockers regain their composer from being under immense pressure in the opening few minute – and set off towards the Meads goal, Barnett with a delightful chip into the path of Chris Taylor whose effort is dealt with efficiently by Steve Northwood in the Thamesmead goal.
Thamesmead once more bear down on the Dockers goal and come close to open the scoring – Only the woodwork saving the Dockers as the ball is driven over Hall and rebounds off the crossbar!
Thamesmead continue to pile on the pressure, it’s as if the hosts could smell a goal, as the Dockers looked ragged and were pulled all over the park. Rikki Cable once again broke free passed the tired legs of Manlee Brown, Brown playing as a make shift defender looked rooted to the spot as Cable managed to grind his way into the Dockers box before hitting a fierce effort on goal, Hall managing to absorb the shot into pit of his stomach and did well to keep hold of the ball.
The Tilbury men continue to battle bravely in the mud, Chris Taylor this time kept the ball out of the net with a sliding effort across his goal line to keep out another attempt by Cable.
73rd minute and Thamesmead take a well deserved lead. Cable once again collecting the ball and ran at the Dockers defence, turning the willing Tilbury men inside out as the big bustling striker retained possession, before eventually smashing the ball into the net from 10 yards out. 1-0 to Thamesmead Town.
The Dockers made their second substitute, Chris Stowe on for Nathan Gordon.
The Dockers come close to leveling the score in the 84th minute. A corner whipped in by Joel Barnett is cleared by a Mead head, but only to the edge of the penalty area where Lee Hodges lay in wait, Hodges struck the ball cleanly, but was left with his head in his hand as the ball struck the crossbar and out for a goal kick.
Match official Mr. Lugg allowing 4 minutes injury time but not enough for the Dockers to pull level.
A brave display by the Tilbury men on Saturday which saw the Dockers battle hard for the entire duration of the game. Equally a good win for The Mead, purely based on their second half performance thoroughly deserved the 3 points plus keeps their vision of a play off spot alive come the end of the season.
Man of the Match
Andy Hall – Kept the Dockers in the Game.
Thamesmead Town : Steve Northwood, Marcus Perona, Danny Moore, Junior Baker, James Campbell, Lew Tozer (Capt), Scot Mulholland, James Brown, Andy Constable, Rikki Cable, Lea Dawson, Substitutes, Calum Mageehan, Gabriel Momodw, Raphael Momodw, Joe Bailey, Rob Carter.
Tilbury : Andy Hall, Danny Smith, Joe Keith, Manlee Brown, Donny Barnard, Chris Taylor, Jamie Wallace (Capt), Christian Wheeler, Joel Barnett, Nathan Gordon, Bradley Barnes, Substitutes, Chris Stowe, Lee Hodges, Andy Gibbs.
Referee: Mr N. Lugg
1st Assistant: Mr A.Bakalarz
2nd Assistant: Mr M. Choi