Bill Robinson reports from the Silverlake Stadium….
A club record win saw Thurrock eradicate Eastleigh and remind other play off place contenders that Thurrock are serious about finishing in the top five come end of April.
It would have been difficult for any of the 450 supporters watching this game to predict what was about to happen in front of them.
Early chances fell to Eastleigh when Anthony Riviere broke through and tested Joe Woolley twice before the ball was hacked away.
Again Eastleigh pushed forward and looked dangerous when they had three consecutive corners, the third corner was cleared long and wide on the left, Fola Orilonishe collected the ball and moved into the Eastleigh half, he tried to send the ball diagonally across field and defender Brett Poate stuck out a foot and from some 30 yards out the ball looped high and over the head of the back pedalling keeper Jason Matthews and into the goal for as a contender for bizarre goal of the century.
Eastleigh seemed to lose all comprehension of defending after this first goal and Thurrock took full advantage three minutes later when David Bryant found himself one on one with the keeper and managed to nutmeg him and put Thurrock two up.
For the remainder of the first half Thurrock could do nothing wrong passing and shooting was first class and we were treated to a fantastic Leon McKenzie hatrick all in the space of sixteen minutes.
His first came in the 21st minute when his first shot was parried away only for Leon to strike home with his left foot.
The second came from the penalty spot, he went up with the keeper for a cross from the right, the ball ran loose and keeper Matthews was adjudged to have felled McKenzie.
From the spot kick he sent the keeper the wrong way and Thurrock were now four up.
McKenzie saved his best goal to complete the hatrick, again the Eastleigh defence were found wanting as Thurrock broke from defence into attack down the right. Leon picked up the ball some 20 yards out on the right, turned his marker and lobed the ball over the keeper.
With only seconds remaining in the first half and Eastleigh desperate to hear the whistle Matt Bodkin broke into the box from the left with the keeper advancing his shot was partially saved but with David Bryant following up Bryant had a simple tap in to make it six.
Eastleigh came out for the second period looking to regain some dignity in front of their dismayed fans.
It may have been messy but a goal mouth scramble from an in swinging corner gave Eastleigh a goal, there were plenty of Thurrock defenders in the six yard box but it was Richard Gillespie on 51 minutes that got the vital touch.
Thurrock seemed to have eased off the throttle and allowed Eastleigh to build confidence, but in the 63rd minute a solo run down the right by Matt Bodkin finally killed off any chance of a come back. With Tom Jordon on his tail it did look like little and large but Bodkin’s nibble feet were too good for Jordon and as he cut back into the box his shot wrong footed the keeper and went just inside the near post.
Eastleigh were gifted another consolation goal in the 75th minute when Kenny Clark was wrong footed by Peter Adeniyi, he could only bring him down inside the box giving Adeniyi the opportunity to score from the spot.
Thurrock were still not finished, with less than 60 seconds remaining and the Eastleigh defence in tatters Matt Bodkin found himself in acres of space and with Matthews advancing he side stepped around him and side footed home his second and Thurrock’s eighth.
Thurrock: Joe Woolley, Craig Pope, Lee Flynn (Phil Anderson 85), Rob Swaine, Kenny Clark, Matt Paine, Matt Bodkin, Leon Lalite, David Bryant (Matthew Judge 66), Leon McKenzie (Paul Olima 66), Fola Orilonishe.
Subs Not Used : Andre Foster, Lewis Smith