THURROCK II 1 – 2 BRENTWOOD IV
This fixture last season was the title decider between the two best teams in Division 6SE. This time around, with both teams closer to the bottom than the top of Division 5SE, the result was just as important, but for very different reasons. After an initial Brentwood attack, the Thurrock defence of Gary Ginsburgh, Chris Smith and Mike Hewing were hardly troubled. The tees midfield simply did not allow the visitors to string two passes together, let alone mount an attack. The 2s were nothing short of magnificent, summed up by the fourth goal when Ginsburgh found Mike Hewing free on the right.
Turning defence into attack, man of the match Hewing powered forward over the half way line before spotting Michael Murray in front of the keeper. A 40 yard pass straight to Murray’s stick still left last season’s top scorer with plenty to do, but with one touch the ball found it’s way past the stranded goalie and nestled in the bottom corner. An early contender for goal of the season, and just one of four for Murray. New boy Liam O’Keefe introduced himself to club chairman Jackie Milne with a superb hattrick and an industrious performance in the midfield.
The 2s go into the top half of Division 5SE with 10 points, and on Saturday visit fifth placed Southend.
SAFFRON WALDEN VI 6 – 3 THURROCK III
Due to unavailability of several players, a very much weakened Thurrock team began this Division 8SE game and were behind after only 10 minutes when centre-back Dave Leeks was unable to cut out a speedy attack and the ball just evaded a diving Declan Salmon to enter the net. Thurrock fought back and an attack by Ricky Smith down the right produced a pass for Liam Birch to play a one-two with Jimmy Venus before shooting inches wide.
Thurrock continued to dominate the play and eventually were rewarded when Birch dribbled through the defence before passing for Michael Fleming to level the score. Saffron Walden started the second half strongly and soon went into the lead from a short corner. This stimulated the home side and they attacked and added two more goals in quick succession to make it 4-1. Thurrock however were not prepared to concede without a fight and Dave Everett made a strong run on the left before playing to Birch who smashed the ball into the D for Josh Brady to get his first Thurrock goal.
Unfortunately Thurrock relaxed and allowed Saffron Walden back into the game for their fifth goal from a short corner. With five minutes to go, a quickly taken free-hit inside the Thurrock 25 yard line produced a sixth goal. With the final whistle looming, Thurrock were awarded a free-hit which was taken by Fleming and passed to Jimmy Venus who went around the defender to give Thurrock a richly deserved third goal.
Next week Thurrock play local rivals Upminster at Gloucester Park, Basildon 3 pm start.
BRENTWOOD III 2 – 4 THURROCK II
Still on a high from their win last week, Thurrock were looking to keep on the winning road at a late kick off in Brentwood. From the whistle Thurrock were on the attack and showed how well the team has bonded over the last few weeks. Quick passing between Charlotte Adnams and Katie Lawrence up the left and Karen Lucking and Debra Blamey up the right created shape and attacking opportunities for the team. With crosses coming in like bullets, it would not be long before forwards Nicole Brown and Sue Clive would add a notch on the backboard of the goal. Brentwood attacked in numbers, which called for some tough defending from Liz Gray, Leah Purser and Sally Willett. This created space for Thurrock to lead an attack in reply, and with so much room to play in meant a goal was on its way.
The goals came with two things, speed and quality. By half time Thurrock were four up but knew this game was not over yet.
The second half saw Brentwood had a new lease of life. Not only did their team seem more determined to get something from the match, but also their sideline supporters seemed to give them belief. Thurrock had to battle hard to try to keep Brentwood at bay but the home team managed to gain two goals back which put added pressure on Thurrock to see this game out.
Fantastic support on the sideline for Thurrock gave them the team spirit they needed to see the game to the end and the score remained at 4-2 thanks to some truly classy saves from keeper Kelly Bentley. Goalscorers – Karen Lucking, Charlotte Adnams, Nicole Brown and Sue Clive.
Next game against Phoenix, 2pm at Palmers.