East Thurrock 1 v 1 Carshalton Athletic

ROBINS goalkeeper Craig Ross saved his side with a string of fine saves in an enthralling FA Cup tie at Rookery Hill.

Perhaps his finest was deep in stoppage time when he tipped a Neil Richmond header over the bar, denying Rocks the winning goal most people would say they deserved after dominating much of the game.

Both sides are flying high in their respective divisions, but it was Ryman One North East Thurrock who set the pace, with some free-flowing football, pushing their visitors back from the start.

The tone was set in the third minute when Ross got down to smother a strike from Kye Ruel and more East Thurrock pressure saw a shot from the energetic Reiss Gilbey ricochet across the face of goal, just out of the reach of Ruel.

On 20 minutes Ross reacted quickly to claw away a chip shot from Richmond, who regathered the ball and was frustrated to see his second effort loop over the bar.

More incisive play from Rocks resulted in a flick from Richmond, which Ross tipped away to safety. Kris Newby then flashed a shot across the face of goal before Carshalton mounted their first serious threat on 35 minutes when Byron Harrison burst through but fired straight at grateful Rocks keeper Richard Wray.

Having taken so long to test the home stopper Carshalton went one better two minutes later when Anthony Josephh reacted quickly in a goalmouth scramble and prodded the ball past Wray for the opener.

It was rough justice on the home side, but they refused to lie down and continued to press the Robins onto the back-foot in the second half.

Two half decent shouts for a penalty, for a push on Richmond and a handball summed up their frustration in the 56th minute, culminating in Gilbey curling a strike just over the bar.

Carshalton came close to extending their lead when a teasing run from the pacey Chris Henry was scrambled away at the near post for a corner.

A well-worked Rocks move involving Ruel and Richmond ended with a shot from the latter which again brought the best from Ross, who was again tested when battering away a thumping shot from Cornhill.

Rocks finally got the goal they deserved on 78 minutes when a long ball from Wray stretched the home defence and Newby raced onto the end of it to lash home a superb dipping volley that even the outstretched Ross couldn’t save.

That set up an exciting finish, with Rocks getting the ball past Ross again with eight minutes left but David Ray was in the right place to head clear and then, with the issue pushed right to the brink Ross made his final save to deny Richmond and send everyone to War Memorial Sports ground on Tuesday.

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