Controversial penalty robs Rocks of points

Report by the Thurrock Enquirer

DESPITE the best efforts of two dozen hard-working footballers, the after-match discussion on Monday’s Ryman Premier derby centred on referee Ian Fissendon who awarded the Gulls a controversial, match-winning penalty on 76 minutes.

It is was the third match in succession that Ryman Premier newcomers East Thurrock have been thwarted by disputed spot-kicks and they will hope the balance of good fortune swings in their favour soon.
This was a match of few chances, with the visiting Rocks possibly edging the first half and Canvey the second, but only the stoutest of home fans could argue with conviction that a fair result would not have been a draw.

However, when Kye Ruel bumped into the back of a canny John Easterford as he tried to recover an over-hit corner, Mr Fissendon chose the moment to award a penalty. Possibly buckling under pressure from home fans who had berated him early for denying them a handball shout he pointed to the spot, but it was the most marginal of decisions, with visiting players believing Easterford had cynically ‘bought’ the spot kick by astutely falling to the ground, while there was good case for arguing the point of contact was outside the box anyway.

No matter, Mr Fissendon, a young man with an ego to boost, jumped to the conclusion that he was the man of the moment and he awarded the spot-kick. The gloating of several Canvey players should have given him a clue as to why his decision was questionable but Rob King wasn’t going to look the gift horse in the mouth and once again keeper Richard Wray saw a controversial spot-kick smashed past him.

Canvey boss John Batch felt his side deserved all the points, for showing more attacking commitment, and if it had been a boxing match he might have had a second half point, but football owes a lot to Lady Fortune and yet again she deserted the Rocks.

East Thurrock had made a bright start to the match and the early chances went their way. Neil Richmond had
shown early promise by nipping in to intercept a back pass but when he chipped the ball across the face of goal no-one had followed up to benefit.

Former Gull Greg Cohen was singled out for a few tough tackles, with ex Rock Steve Sheehan among those who delivered a crunching ‘welcome back to Canvey’ delivery as he was felled. On that occasion Cohen picked himself up to deliver a cross that was met by Stanley Muguo at the far post and he should have done better with a header that went high and wide.

Canvey were not without attacking intent and Jason Hallett flashed a cross in front of goal, but no-one followed up and a quick counter-attack ended with Richmond’s shot being comfortably saved by James Russell.
Easterford was then booked for one of a number of cynical fouls on Cohen, though home spirits were lifted by an enterprising lob from Matt Game who spotted Wray off his line and was unlucky to see his effort drift just over the bar.

The half ended with another cynical challenge from a Gull, with Andrew West seeing yellow for felling Tom Stephen.

The second half saw Canvey raise their tempo and they pressed Rocks onto the back-foot. Early claims for a handball in the box were vociferous but waved away by Mr Fissendon but his later decision was perhaps influenced by the shouts and barracking he got from the home crowd.

Chances were still at a premium but a great run by Jay Curran down the left flank was only thwarted by a fine save at his near post by Wray. Rocks’ forward forays were limited but one Reiss Gilbey surge set up a shooting chance for Mike Ramkin, though his effort was under-hit and Russell gathered easily.

With the clock ticking down a draw looked on the cards until Canvey won a corner in the 75th minute. One of their subs ran onto the pitch and gathered the ball for a quick restart but they dallied on delivery, sparing the blushes of Mr Fissendon and his linesman who surely should have punished the illegal incursion.
However, when the cross was finally delivered it was over-hit and drifting away from danger until Easterford’s theatricals were bought hook, line and sinker by the gullible ref and King stepped in for the winner.

Rocks, who in truth had rarely looked likely to break the deadlock, huffed and puffed their way through the closing stages and didn’t look like getting on level terms. Canvey will say with a degree of justification that they always posed the most danger and had the more potent attack, but Rocks would counter that they didn’t deserve the injustice that came their way for a third time on the trot.

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