With Thanks to the Enquirer
EAST Thurrock United pulled out a superb team performance to avenge a recent home defeat at the hands of Thamesmead elevate themselves into the top five of the Ryman One North.
Both sides made light work of a heavy pitch to put on an entertaining encounter that grew to a pulsating and enthralling climax.
The game took time to get going with the first real chance not coming until the 12th minute when Thamesmead’s rampaging fullback Raphael Momodu charged forward and lashed a thumping half volley across the face of Richard Wray’s goal.
East Thurrock, driven forward by a superb midfield shift from Max Cornhill – who overcame and early knock, began to take control of the game and an inch perfect through ball from Reiss Gilbey set Kye Ruel free, He took the ball in his stride and looked odds on to clip the ball past Thamesmead’s young keeper Sam Mott but his effort lacked conviction – about the only time his confidence failed him in a superb man-of-the-match performance – and the keeper clawed the ball away.
His palms were then warmed by a thumping drive from distance from Ryan Sammons and Hakeem Araba headed wide when well placed.
Cornhill flashed a shot wide but the tide of pressure eventually told on 39 minutes when Araba slipped his marker and chased a ball to the extremity of the box. Mott raced from his line and dived to try and push the ball out of the path of the big striker but only succeeded in tripping him. Kris Newby stepped up to take the spot kick and Mott, gaining an advantage by standing well off his line, parried his weakly struck shot but the ball rolled back into the path of Newby who showed composure and slotted the ball home at the second attempt. It was the young stopper’s fourth penalty save of the season, though the assistant referee indicated later that he would have flagged for a retake had not Newby followed up.
It was a lead that Rocks deserved but Thamesmead came out firing on all cylinders after the break and almost drew level straight after the restart, winning a corner which saw Callum McGeehan rise unchallenged but his header was poor.
It was Rocks who were to get the next goal, ten minutes into the half, when Araba produce a scintillating, defence splitting pass and Newby didn’t have to break stride as he calmly rolled the ball past Mott.
Thamesmead hit back four minutes later with a stooping Richard Avery near post header from a corner.
Thamesmead continued to press, without ever really creating a clear cut chance though the increasing tension as time ticked down generated an exciting atmosphere that belied the crowd of just 71.
Rocks also threatened on the counter and probably should have had a penalty when Gilbey was hacked down from behind but their strength came from their workrate, with everyone contributing their best, including subs Stanley Muguo, Conor Mead and Neil Richmond as Rocks boss John Coventry switched his formation to counter Thamesmead’s own realignments in an intriguing battle between himself and Mead manager Keith McMahon, two of the league’s more astute coaches.
The closing minutes were very tense, with the home side opting for a more direct approach, spearheaded by new signing from Leyton Bohner-Sol Patterson, but the centre forward couldn’t find a way past a home defence superbly marshalled by Ben Wood and Rocks own recent recruit Simon Peddie, while the energy and attitude of the visitors was summed up by veteran Steve Harrison who covered just about every inch of the midfield, closing down and snapping at the heels of his opponents.
“I was delighted with this performance, it shows the guts in the team. There was a time when we might not have held on under such pressure but everyone dug in and it was an immense team effort. They were a little more direct than I thought they might be and what I pleased about is that we held on under that sort of pressure,” said Coventry.