Ryman Div One North
Romford 0 v 2 East Thurrock Utd
EAST Thurrock edged away from the pack at the top of the Ryman One North with their eighth successive victory on a cold Tuesday evening at Mill Field, inflicting only the second defeat of the season on promotion rivals Romford reports The Essex Enquirer.
It wasn’t a victory achieved without some difficulty but in the end no-one could deny the better team won.
The honours were fairly even in the first half but Rocks went through the gears in the second half, with keeper Richard Wray rarely troubled. And the turning point was the introduction of centre forward Hakeem Araba who produced on moment of sublime skill to unlock a tenacious Boro defence and give
Kye Ruel the opportunity to finally beat keeper Adam Rafis who had enjoyed a superb night between the sticks up to that moment.
Romford, missing several key players, had made a bright start and had the ball in the East Thurrock net inside three minutes, but the flag had long been raised for an offside as East Thurrock’s backline moved out as one.
But Rocks were soon on the offensive and Neil Richmond showed great control to take Ryan Sammons’ pass and turn to strike at goal, only being denied by the fingertips of Rafis.
And on 20 minutes the Boro keeper had to be at his best, getting down to push Ruel’s low strike away with the other hand.
However, it looked like Romford would be the side to open the scoring when the ball fell for Abs Seymore but with the goal beckoning he failed to control it and the chance was lost.
The visitors were quickly back on the offensive and Reiss Gilbey was guilty of caution rather than aggression when he tried to place his shot into a gaping net and an outstretched Romford leg was given the chance to clear off the line.
Ruel was a constant thorn in Romford’s side all night and a blatant trip by Matt Toms earned a booking as he stopped another rampaging run by the Rocks wide man.
Despite dominating much of the attacking play Rocks were unable to extract a lead from the first half – and for much of the early stages of the second they were also thwarted by a steadfast defence, well-marshalled by Rafis, who got an early taste of the action when he dived to parry away a Ruel shot at his near post.
And the keeper excelled after 65 minutes when he twice denied Rocks with full stretch saves to keep out headers from Steve Sheehan and Max Cornhill.
It looked like the game could end in stalemate but the introduction of Araba for Richmond, who had worked hard without reward, changed the focal point of Rocks attack and he produced the game’s pivotal moment on 77 minutes when he received the ball on the halfway line with his back to goal. Two defenders shadowed him and little looked on but he twisted and took them out of the game before laying a sublime pass into the patch of Ruel who raced forward. Rafis stood tall and managed to get a hand to Ruel’s shot but not enough to stop it looping and bouncing into the net.
And the game was effectively won three minutes later when Joe Keith, another to impress throughout the evening, whipped in a corner and Cornhill stooped to smash a header into the roof of the net – again despite Rafis getting a hand to the ball.
Boro tried in vain to get back into the match but lacked a cutting edge and in the end Rocks comfortably saw out time for three extremely valuable points.