East Thurrock United 1, Bedford Town 1
THESE two sides will have to meet for a third cup tie this season after a hard-fought, even draw at Rookery Hill.
Rocks had just shaded an earlier FA Cup tie 1-0 but had to come from behind this time reports the Thurrock Enquirer.
There was an even tempo to the start with both sides feeling each other out, with the first serious strike at goal being a shot from Reiss Gilbey on seven minutes that keeper Ian Brown dealt with comfortably.
Gilbey then combined with Kye Ruel, who shot high and wide.
Bedford’s first effort of note was a tenth minute shot from Gavin Hoyte.
Tempers frayed between team-mates when Bedford’s Josh Beeck and James Faulkner squared up to each other off the ball after a couple of misplaced passes in midfield.
Defensive hesitancy then almost let in Ruel but Rocks were unable to make the most of a half chance but a speedy counter save the Eagles create a chance of their own, Faulkner guiding the ball just past the upright.
Beeck then joined the attack and on 23 minutes had the game’s best chance to date when he got on the end of a ball in the book but, unmarked, he headed wide.
However, the Eagles were to take the lead on 26 minutes with a well-worked move that ended with the ball laid into the path of Gareth Price who produced an accomplished low drive across the outstretched Richard Wray.
There was a moment of anxiety in the visiting defence a couple of minutes later when Kris Newby delivered a looping ball in the box that Ollie Thorne did exceptionally well to clear from under his own bar under pressure from Ruel and he cracked his head against the upright as he lost his balance.
Fortunately, after treatment, he was able to carry on and was soon back-pedalling as Ruel burst through the middle but with Sam Higgins screaming for the ball, he elected for a switch pass and the ball rolled harmlessly to a very grateful Brown.
A quick counter saw Bedford back on the attack and Faulkner ought to have done better but scooped a shot over the bar.
After a spell of Rocks pressure that came to nothing, Bedford’s Drew Roberts then did the same thing after bursting through on the left just before the half time whistle.
The second half started with a surging run from Rocks’ Newby, but he blazed a shot wide of the post rather than going across the face of goal where team-mates were waiting for any rebound.
At the other end a similar chance fell to Faulkner but he was also profligate, rolling a tame shot at Wray.
The equaliser came on 52 minutes when Greg Cohen unleashed a superb long pass from deep into his own half that set Higgins free and the striker showed all his finishing prowess to lob the ball over the onrushing Brown.
Moments later it was almost two for the in-form Higgins when he outpaced Thorne but this time his rising shot lifted over the bar.
Bedford came close to restoring their lead on 77 minutes when Gavin Hoyte headed goalwards from a corner only to see the diminutive Tom Stephen jump on the goalline to head clear.
Bedford thought they should have had a penalty when Wray thumped into him as they both chased a loose ball on the edge of the box but ref Peter Georgiou waved away their claims.
There was a late chance for Rocks when Ruel burst through but he shot straight at Brown who got down to gather comfortably.
However, that was as close as anyone was to come in the closing moments and both sides will be in action at the Eyrie to resolve the issue on Tuesday.