Bill Robinson reports from Ship Lane…..
Thurrock Manager Hakan Hayrettin masterminded a magnificent victory here today, his team outplayed the newly crowned Blue Square South Champions Newport County for the majority of the game and inflicted County with only there second league defeat of the season.
It may prove to be the spark that reignites Thurrock’s challenge for promotion after having slipped out of the play off zone with some below par performances in recent weeks.
The game started with Thurrock more on their heels, trying to build attacking moves rather than the frantic high speed moves that we have seen of late. It was Paul Olima who had the opening chance of the game when he connected well from Fola Orilonishe’s cross but his header was too high.
Thurrock were just getting up to speed when Newport opened the scoring, it came from the second of two corners as the ball came across Newport skipper Gary Warren ran forward into the six yard box and was unchallenged as he headed home from close range on 19 minutes.
Thurrock kept their shape and remained positive and on 28 minutes they scored a brilliant equalising goal. The move started with Lee Flynn playing a great ball into Leon McKenzie he laid the ball back to David Bryant who had time to look up pick his spot and score with a 20 yard shot straight into the top corner.
As the half was drawing to a close Fola Orilonishe and Lee Flynn both went close to putting the home side in front.
The second half saw Thurrock pushing forward looking for a winner and creating plenty of chances. David Bryant nearly bagged his second on 55 minutes when he was on the end of a cross from Leon McKenzie, his header was saved by the keeper at the foot of the post.
On 58 minutes Newport appealed for a penalty when Sam Foley was pulled to the ground by Kenny Clark, the referee awarded a free kick inches outside the box and Clark received a yellow card. The free kick was taken by Danny Rose but with the kick being only 18yards out he could not get the ball up and over the wall and then down and ball went over the bar.
Kenny Clark was next to go close to scoring in the 68th minute, it started with Fola Orilonishe making a break down the left flank, he was being challenged by Jamie Collins as the keeper came out and his shot was deflected wide for a corner. From the corner the ball was partially cleared by the Newport defence but only as far as Matt Bodkin he fired the ball back into the box and as Kenny Clark raced towards the far post his header was just the wrong side of the post.
Finally Thurrock got the goal that proved to be the winner, the ball was passed out wide to the left by Matt Bodkin where Leon McKenzie had room to take on and beat his marker and from just inside the penalty box he fired home a splendid right footed shot beating the keeper at the far post.
With twenty minutes still on the clock Thurrock managed to control the game and Newport never looked like snatching an equalizer, the referee played an additional 5 minutes just to test the nerves of the Thurrock supporters but finally the whistle went and hopes for a play of position again began to look possible.
Next Up at Ship Lane on Tuesday 23rd Maidenhead United
Thurrock: Joe Woolley, Craig Pope, Lee Flynn, Phil Anderson, Kenny Clark, Leon Lalite (Matt Paine 80), Matt Bodkin, Fola Orilonishe, David Bryant, Paul Olima, Leon McKenzie (Reiss Gilbey 87) Subs not used: Matt Judge, Jamie Doyle, Lewis Smith