Bill Robinson reports from Ship Lane……
Thurrock dropped two vital home points tonight in a game that they dominated for the greater part but on two occasions fell asleep and allowed Maidenhead to score twice making it an uphill struggle to get back into the game.
Maidenhead took the lead in the opening minute, they were quicker out of the blocks and put pressure on the Thurrock defence straight from the start, when the ball was crossed in from the right flank by Ashley Smith it was Kieran Knight who reacted first, he ran through the centre of the penalty area unchallenged as he headed home the opener.
Thurrock came close to pulling the scores level in the third minute when Leon McKenzie got his head to a cross but saw the ball hit the bar and over.
During the opening period of the half Thurrock seemed second best as Maidenhead gained confidence from their early goal. Thurrock pushed hard to try and level the scores just before the break and again it was Leon McKenzie who came close, the ball came inside from Fola Orilonishe and McKenzie turned and shot in one movement but the ball went wide of the post.
With Paul Olima having to be substituted before the break due to an ankle injury Thurrock had a reshuffle there attack for the second period with Matt Paine in midfield and David Bryant up front.
But it was Maidenhead that scored again, this time from a Thurrock corner, the corner was too long and was partially cleared then a longer clearance sent Sam Collins on a run down the left flank, he cut inside and up to the edge of the Thurrock box where he fired in a left footed shot that seemed to catch keeper Joe Woolley by surprise and straight into the goal.
Thurrock needed a break, to somehow get back into the game and thanks to referee Mr Colin Lymer they got one in the 55th minute. David Bryant was weaving his way down the right wing and made his way into the penalty area when defender David Clark was adjudged to have tripped Bryant as he went down, the referee point to the spot where the grateful Leon McKenzie was ready for the spot kick.
McKenzie strode up and blasted the ball into the bottom left hand side of the goal with keeper Chris Tardif going in the other direction.
Just five minutes later Thurrock were awarded another penalty, this time it came from a strike from Matt Bodkin, the ball struck the arm of Jamal Fyfield who was flat out on the ground but because the ball seemed to stick between his arm and body momentarily it seemed a fair penalty.
So again Leon McKenzie stroke up to the spot blasted the ball again to the left, but this time the ball was a little higher and keeper Tardif went in the right direction and pulled off a fine save.
Thurrock players showed great spirit as they continued to pressurise the Maidenhead goal, with the remainder of the half being played out in the Maidenhead half.
On 68 minutes it looked like Leon McKenzie’s game was over as he tried to collect the ball for a throw in, defender Marcus Rose was also trying to get the ball and McKenzie appeared to throw Rose into the side railings, the referee spoke with his linesman before showing McKenzie a yellow card.
A lucky escape for Thurrock because ten minutes later on 78 minutes it was McKenzie who struck home the equaliser. Craig Pope and Matt Bodkin created the move down the right wing before Bodkin put in a low cross that was perfect for Leon McKenzie to hit first time with his right foot straight into the corner of the net.
For the remaining 12 minutes plus the add 5 minutes Thurrock threw everything they had a Maidenhead trying desperately to get the winner and all three points, but it was not to be and both sides had to settle for a point each.