Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Chances cost East Thurrock dear

Bognor Regis 1 v 0 East Thurrock United

EAST Thurrock’s first trip to Bognor for more than 20 years ended in disappointment thanks to a moment of defensive frailty and several missed chances.

Most observers, including Bognor boss Darin Kilpartrick, thought a draw would have been a fair result but football can be a cruel mistress and you sometimes don’t get what you deserve.

And luck didn’t really play a part in the turning point of the match, Bognor’s goal five minutes into the second half, when the visitors’ static defending allowed a Kane Wills’ corner to drop in the six yard box and in the scramble that ensured Ben Johnson forced the ball home. The defending was just poor.

It was a dramatic start to the second half and East Thurrock, who traditionally go better in the second stanza than the first, found themselves with a together than expected task. They stuck to their guns and created chances to at least draw level, though they were also indebted to a fantastic save from Jamie Riley that kept them in it.

The match started tentatively and there was an early anxious moment for East Thurrock when Mu Maan burst into the box and tumbled, referee Jim Paterson blowing immediately, but not for the penalty Bognor wanted, but to give a free kick against Maan for diving – and he also picked up a yellow card. It was an early marker from the referee who had an excellent game throughout, ably assisted by his linesmen.

There was another early scare when Maan headed over after getting on the end of James Crane’s cross.
East Thurrock’s prolific marksman Sam Higgins has yet to get on the scoresheet this season and a slight drop in confidence might explain why he didn’t do better when breaking clear but he delayed a shot until the angle was narrow and keeper Craig Stoner and defender Ben Andrews kept out his effort.

At the other end Lewis Stockford fired across the face of Riley’s goal but East Thurrock were gradually getting up a head of steam and came close the breaking the deadlock on 21 minutes when Kris Newby controlled the ball in the box and lashed a shot that crashed against the bar. Stoner’s fingertips may just have made the difference between it going in or up and over but his touch was one of the few things the officials missed and a goal-kick was awarded rather than the corner that should have been.

The visitors had another great chance soon after when Kye Ruel snapped through a tackle and bore down on goal. He had better options with Matt Hall and Newby screaming for the ball but he tried to curl a ball around Stoner and the keeper had the easiest of saves to make in the end.

On the half hour Higgins then got another good opportunity but again was unable to find a way past Stoner and at the other end there was relief for East Thurrock when Johnson’s cross whizzed across the face of goal with neither Stockford or Maan able to get the vital touch. Terry Dodd then went close when defender Simon Peddie’s misjudgement allowed him to get in behind him but the Bognor player’s lob went just over the bar.

Having survived that, and another scare when Wills fired just wide, East Thurrock’s game plan after going in on level terms would have been to make their fitness tell in the second but best laid plans can go awry and they did with Johnson’s goal five minutes after the restart.

The goal took the wind out of East Thurrock for a while and they struggled to find fluidity, being grateful for Riley’s full stretch save to tip James Crane’s thunderous drive past the post.

However, gradually they began to push their hosts back and they started to look threatening. Joe Keith was the architect of a fine chance for Higgins but once again the striker was a fraction off the pace and that allowed Ben Andrews to make a great block.

It was the last touch for Keith, who was replaced by Tom Stephen, while Hall was switched for Ross Parmenter to make his East Thurrock debut.

The momentum was now with East Thurrock and they came close to an equaliser when Higgins drifted in a superb cross from the left that was met on the volley by Newby. His miss-struck effort was aiming for the corner flag rather than the goal but took a deflection of a Bognor defender and came back of the inside of the post, somehow curving back across the face of goal and away to safety.

Higgins then got his best chance of the day, working his own opportunity to shoot with a fine turn in the box but his strike was off target.

The pressure was maintained on Bognor with East Thurrock throwing on their third sub, Lewis Bentley, up front and Spencer Harrison ought to have done better when he got on the end of a cross but he headed straight at Stoner.

The goalmouth drama continued right into injury time as the visitors won a succession of corners and there was one last chance for East Thurrock to gain a point but Jon Marzetti blocked Steve Sheehan’s shot on the line.

So a frustrating afternoon for East Thurrock ended in disappointment, with Bognor boss Kilpartrick a relieved man as he acknowledged when saying: “East Thurrock were worthy of a draw because of the chances they had.”


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