East Thurrock United 1, Tooting & Mitcham United 0
THIS was, quite simply, an awful game of football. There was a lack-lustre start to the Ryman Premier clash and it never got any better.
The only consolation was for the home fans, who at least had the late pleasure of celebrating a winning goal but there was little else to remember.
East Thurrock dominated possession but created little for the first 20 minutes, until Sam Higgins fed the ball into the path of Sam Collins, but his weakly hit shot was comfortably saved by Darren Behcet.
Five minutes later another half chance after a penalty area scramble fell the way of Kris Newby but he scuffed his angled shot wide of the post.
Rocks were forced into a change soon after when Greg Cohen was replaced by Kye Ruel after sustaining a back injury. Ruel was quickly involving bursting through and forcing a save from Behcet, but it wasn’t needed as the sub was adjudged offside.
Tooting’s first notable impact on the afternoon was a half hour caution for Charlie Stimson for raising an elbow as he challenged Rocks keeper Richard Wray. Stimson then suffered a blow to the head that meant he had to leave the field, bleeding profusely. He bravely came back with his head heavily bandaged.
Rocks came closest to breaking the first half deadlock with a scrambled that ended with Sam Collins’ fierce goalbound shot deflected for a corner.
Tooting started the second half looking refreshed and Carl Wilson-Denis came close to getting a vital touch to a deep ball across the face of goal.
At the other end Tobi Jinadu went into the book for a late tackle on Ruel as the sub looked to burst through the backline.
A superb first time touch by Higgins then gave Collins a shooting chance but his effort went wide of the upright.
Ryan Sammons then became Rocks’ first player to be booked, though he was mystified by the decision of young ref Alan Dale after appearing to win a tackle cleanly.
Chances remained few and far between, perhaps best summed up when Newby lashed a shot goalwards and it skewed out for a throw in.
There was little tempo at all to the game but it was becoming increasingly fractious as both sets of players seemed frustrated by the lack of quality and Wilson-Denis was cautioned for an off the ball challenge on Newby.
Tooting sub Connor French tried to make an impact, thrashing two shots wide but in truth in both instances he ought to have done better.Tooting then won a succession of corners and Wray was called into action for the first time, tipping a cross away and then saving at his near post from Wilson-Dennis.
Marc Gorbell became another in Mr Dale’s rapidly filling book for a late challenge on Jerome Walker.
The deadlock was finally broken with eight minutes to go when a long through ball found Ruel, who carried it forward and squared for Collins to slide the ball home from close range.
Ruel might have capped his display, the best of a mediocre bunch, with a goal in added time but after great work by Collins he slammed his shot against the bar. Then after a Higgins free kick came back off the post he picked out keeper Behcet from close range.