East Thurrock 0 v 1 Kingstonian
WELL marshalled and driven by skipper Gary McDonald, Kingstonian did just enough to put paid to struggling East Thurrock thanks to Sam Clayton’s second half goal.
There was little between the two sides, but Rocks rarely threatened to take the win, though it was a much improved performance than their last outing.
Rocks conceded an early free kick but survived it and the subsequent corner, and then were grateful when Bobby Traynor’s angled shot flashed past an upright.
Rocks weathered the early storm and began to play the ball about, with Ks’ Bashru Alimi cautioned for a flying foot-up challenge on Ben Wood, who had been pushed into a midfield role as Rocks boss John Coventry reshuffled his formation after Tuesday’s 5-0 drubbing at Margate.
The home side’s first real chance was a header from James Smith on 18 minutes that drifted over the bar.
The match developed into a midfield battle with few clear chances, though Jamie Byatt went close with a 27th minute header that bounced just wide of the upright. Then Traynor was just inches away from a cross into a crowded six yard box with keeper Richard Wray getting down instinctively to gather the loose ball.
At the other end David Knight drove a rise shot from a free kick just over the bar.
Kingstonian almost broke the deadlock two minutes before half time when the ball flew about the six yard box like a pinball, coming back off the bar only for Traynor to blaze over from close range.
The midfield battle continued after the break with Rocks Tom Stephen cautioned for a clattering tackle before the deadlock was broken on 62 minutes when Sam Clayton found space on the edge of the box and drilled a low shot goalwards. Wray got a hand to the ball, but not enough to prevent it dribbling into the net.
Rocks were trying hard, but rarely testing keeper Rob Tolfrey, though David Knight did warm his palms with a long range drive.
Rocks made three changes in quick succession, with Kye Ruel, Matthew Hall and Ryan Sammons entering the fray for Tom Stephen, Reiss Gilbey and Greg Cohen making way.
Tempers became a little frayed in the closing stages, with Rocks’ Kris Newby and Ks’ Simon Huckle cautioned after a clash of handbags.
The visitors might have made the win more emphatic at the death but sub Stuart Duff fired across the face of goal.