Bill Robinson reports from Ship Lane….
With such high expectations at the beginning of March this year, Thurrock’s ambitions of securing a play off position finally ended in a whimper, against struggling Basingstoke, a team that have only won once in their last ten attempts gave hope that Thurrock would be able to maintain an outside chance of still qualifying with a win.
The game never moved out of second gear for all of the ninety minutes, both sides seemingly over concerned as to not to concede a goal.
Once again it was Thurrock that had the greater possession and created more opportunities to test the visitors defence and did actually have the ball in the Basingstoke net on 21 minutes, Leon McKenzie fed a ball through the back four which found Matt Bodkin running across the eighteen yard box but in an offside position as he flicked the ball the over keeper, Ross Kitteridge.
Thurrock did have to reshuffle the team after Reiss Gilbey retired injured on 26 minutes and then again when Lee Flynn went off on the half hour.
From the restart Basingstoke had perhaps their best chance to snatch a goal, it came when left winger Jide Ogunbote was found in space 20 yards out running towards keeper Joe Woolley but Joe made a fine save diving to his right and pushing the ball away for a corner.
But Thurrock remained composed and got their rhythm back and on 51 minutes created a chance for Leon McKenzie, a lob from Paul Olima found McKenzie inside the penalty box but the ball would not fall to Leon’s feet quickly enough and that gave time for keeper Kitteridge to challenge and forced Leon to knee the ball just wide of the post.
On the hour Thurrock produced one of the best moves of the day involving Craig Pope, Leon Lalite, David Bryant and Leon McKenzie, all one touch passes over on the left flank, the move only came to an end when Leon McKenzie was brought down Sean Hankin. From the resulting free kick Matt Bodkin drove in a low drive but straight into the arms of Kitteridge.
Despite Thurrock’s continued pressure they failed to get the vital goal that would have kept them in with a play off chance, but its been a fantastic season considering that they should have been relegated last year, so know perhaps with just three games remaining the team can relax and start to play the exciting football we saw at the early part of the season.