East Thurrock 2 v 1 Bury Town
EAST Thurrock emerged from a high tempo Ryman League One clash at Rookery Hill on Tuesday to bury the memory of a humiliating 5-2 defeat earlier in the season in Suffolk reports the Thurrock Enquirer.
In an entertaining rehearsal for next Wednesday’s Ryman League Alan Boon Cup final the visitors found home keeper Richard Wray (pictured) in top form as he pulled off a succession of outstanding saves in the first half.
Both sides had started in positive fashion with the ball whizzing around the pitch at a fast pace. However, it took a while for the first chance to come, Sam Higgins drawing a comfortable save from Marcus Garnham after 12 minutes.
At the other end Wray was called into serious action for the first time when he punched away a shot the impressive Kieran Leabon.
Rocks suffered a blow when centre back Marc Gorbell limped out of the action after a collision with Lee Reed. He was replaced by debutant Spencer Harrison, signed from neighbours Aveley less than 24 hours earlier as cover – a fortuitous move by Rocks boss John Coventry.
Harrison looked hesitant as he slotted in with his new teammates but after a shaky beginning grew into the game and enjoyed an excellent second half.
Just after the half hour Wray produced the first of a string of excellent saves, diving full length to one-handedly push John Sands’ well-placed header past the post.
Rocks were unlucky not to snatch the lead just before the interval when Tom Bullard clearly handled to deny
Sam Higgins a tap-in. It would have been a penalty and a certain red card had the officials spotted it, but they were unsighted.
At the other end Wray then pulled off a remarkable triple save in a goalmouth scramble.
Wray produced another superb stop from John Kennedy soon after the break and the game then swung the home side’s way as both Bury centre-backs suffered in the space of nine minutes.
There was no escaping a red card for Roscoe Hipperson when he pulled back Matt Hall when the home midfielder had a clear run at goal.
Higgins thumped in the resultant penalty, his 19th league goal of the season, to give Rocks a 59th-minute lead.
Nine minutes later Marcus Granham pulled off a good save to keep out Kris Newby’s fierce, deflected free kick but the rebound came back off Bullard’s shins for an own goal and the hosts led 2-0.
Kye Ruel became another injury worry as he limped off close to the end of a game that was becoming increasingly fractious, with his replacement Harry Cook and full back Ryan Sammons being cautioned alongside three Bury players.
Bury pulled one back in the 90th minute when a Higgins shot was blocked and rebounded so far downfield that Sam Reed was able to burst clear and fire a rocket past Wray. Rocks then had to suffer four anxious minutes of added time before the points were in the bag.
Bury lacked grace in defeat, with some petulant comments, including labelling the hard-working Rocks ‘a pub team’ and a welter of complaints against ref Constantine Hatzidakis.
Both opinions seemed out of place, Rocks are certainly hard-working and industrious but they also possess flair and skill, qualities that were not just confined to Bury, who certainly are an attractive side to watch, if not to listen to.
For his part Mr Hatzidakis did well in most neutral people’s viewpoint and as someone who works in the heartland of London’s gang culture, combating bad behaviour and crime in a bid to help young people, his clarity of purpose and thought process is hardly likely to be changed by some petulant posturing from some sulking soccer players and a moaning manager.
All in all though, it certainly sets up next week’s cup final when both sides may feel they have a point to prove.