FA Trophy 1st Qualifying Round
East Thurrock United 4 v 0 Hastings
THIS was a consummate display by East Thurrock who dominated their fellow Ryman Premier visitors from the off.
After 12 minutes of almost constant pressure Rocks got the opener they deserved when an intelligent ball from Tom Stephen resulted in a return pass from Sam Higgins and the subsequent cross, though deflected, was met by Kye Ruel who headed home from close range.
A second might have come soon after when Higgins drilled the ball across the face of goal but Reiss Gilbey was just short of getting the vital touch but it did come on the 18th when Ruel clipped the ball across goal from an acute angle and Hakeem Araba rose at the far post to nod in, again from barely a yard out.
Hastings were struggling to cope with Rocks pace and passing, though Lee Carey thought tougheing things up might be answer, upending Steve Sheehan and deservedly getting cautioned.
It took Hastings 25 minutes to have a shot at goal, though Bradley Goldberg’s effort was high, wide and not very handsome. Carey’s effort a minute later from all of 40 yards was even further away from the target.
At the other end, on the half hour, the shooting was more accurate, Hastings keeper Matt Armstrong-Ford doing well to beat out Gilbey’s strike and then Araba’s follow-up.
There was nervy start to the second half by Rocks, as Hastings came out fired up but they rode the early endeavour and were soon back on the front foot, Higgins unleashing a 51st minute screamer from distance that was just over the bar.
The third goal wasn’t long in coming though, a long ball from keeper Richard Wray stretched the visiting defence and was held up by Higgins before laying it into the path of Araba who showed composure at pace to side-foot the ball past Armstrong-Ford.
Hastings could have got a goal back on 67 minutes but Jono Richardson’s low, drilled close range shot was saved by Wray who booted the ball upfield to Higgins again and this time the striker took it on itself, shrugged off a defender and hammered it past Armstrong-Ford.
Hastings had a couple of half chances in the closing stages but Rocks saw out time comfortably to earn a place in the next round and stretch their unbeaten run to six matches.