Thursday, September 29, 2022

Derby day victory for the Rocks

Ryman Premier

East Thurrock United 4 v 1 Aveley

FOR the second time in three days Rocks recorded a comfortable Ryman Premier victory and, had it not been for the second half excellence of Aveley keeper David McCartney the margin in this one-sided derby might have been bigger reports the Thurrock Enquirer.

In fairness to already relegated Aveley, their first half performance was creditable and they even took the lead, but in the second half it was one-way traffic and Rocks reserve keeper Jamie Riley, who came on to replace the injured Richard Wray just before the break, had absolutely nothing to do.

In a match played out in continuous drizzle both sides took time to settle, though Aveley did have an early chance when a ball was played into the box quickly and Alfred Kamara reacted to flick it goalwards only for Wray to block.

Millers’ skipper Sam Holloway became the first of a number of players to be cautioned by Mr Bakalarz, in a game that didn’t contain one single bad challenge, for an infringement on Sam Higgins.

He was less than impressed with the caution, but that was nothing to the fury vented after the ref’s next decision, which played a part in the opening goal on 22 minutes. Aveley hoofed a simple ball down the middle and there looked little danger, even though Wary had advanced out of his goal when he perhaps should have stayed put as Spencer Harrison appeared to have the ball covered. Buit he was denied from making a header by a blatant shove which knocked him backwards into the advancing Wray, whio still managed to clear the ball. With everyone expecting a whistle that never came Jack Stevenson showed his awareness with a clever lob over Wray into the back of the net. It was a cool finish that proved a red hot protest from Rocks, with Harrison getting cautioned for his comments.

However, the centre-back, who only recently joined Rocks from Aveley, got his ‘revenge’ with an equalising goal against his former club just seven minutes later, meeting a well-flighted corner from Greg Cohen with a thumping header.

There was little other incident in the half other than the injury to Wray, which came when he fell awkwardly after punching the ball clear. He was stretchered off with a twisted knee firmly braced, though he was later able to hobble about and the injury may not be as bad as first feared.

It did allow the introduction of Riley, who would otherwise have made his 50th appearance on the bench without being used.

The second half began the same way as the first, with controversy centred around the referee who awarded a penalty for a tackle on Ruel who was about to follow up with a shot after McCartney had parried a shot by Higgins. It seemed a very poor decision, and if it was a foul then the offence surely warranted a red card for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity as Ruel had the net at his mercy, but no card was forthcoming.

What did follow was a thumping drive from the penalty spot by Higgins that laid to rest a spot kick miss in a recent home game. It also took his league tally to 24 goals and he remains in the race for the golden boot, something clearly in his sights as he wasted no opportunity in the time that remained to get a shot in on goal.

However, he was unable to do so and Rocks got their other goals from more unlikely sources.

Having not scored for a while until Saturday’s opener against Horsham, Ruel quickly followed up with his 11th of the season on 57 minutes with a smart finish as the ball ricoheted around the box after good work on the flank by Cohen and an unselfish knock into the danger zone by Higgins.

That goal wasn’t exactly a surprise but the scorer of the fourth was, Ben Wood forcing the ball home for his first of the season when getting on the end of Kris Newby’s corner, won by more hard work on the flank from Cohen.

After that Rocks laid virtual siege on McCartney’s goal but some desperate defending, a number of fine saves and, in truth, some rushed finishing kept the score down.

But Rocks were well satisfied at the end, having scored nine over the holiday and mathematically secured their Ryman Premier safety.

Aveley, on the other hand, have to regroup in the Ryman One North and new manager Justin Gardner looks to have much to do in the summer to assemble a squad capable of challenging for an immediate return to the Ryman top flight.

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