East Thurrock United 3 v 0 Maidstone United
EAST Thurrock progressed in relative comfort against Maidstone who couldn’t replicate their FA Trophy giantkilling against Margate last week as John Coventry’s side stifled their attacking spearhead and ran the show from midfield.
Both sides showed intent from the off, with Maidstone enjoying their best period in the match in the opening exchanges, hitting the inside of Richard Wray’s post from a goalmouth scramble, though the assistant ref’s flag was raised for offside.
Rocks responded with a quick break and Kye Ruel blazed over from close range, and then Sam Higgins was through on goal, only for re Stuart Pawley to pull play back for a free kick again Maidstone’s Alex Flisher, who was probably glad of the yellow card he received rather than the ref playing advantage. However, it was to have repercussions later in the game.
Further East Thurrock pressure saw Hakeem Araba take a tumble in the box but nothing was given. Soon after the same player hesitated rather than shooting when a chance opened up and then Tom Stephen’s shot was blocked.
The home side’s pressure finally told on 23 minutes when Ruel’s goal-bound header was blocked by the hand of Sam Bewick, who was cautioned. Higgins smashed home the spot kick.
The lead should have been doubled a couple of minutes later when Reiss Gilbey was put through but with just the onrushing keeper Charlie Mitten to beat the Rocks captain hoisted his effort way over the bar.
However, on 35 minutes the diminutive midfielder did hit the net, prodding home from close range after Ruel had slipped in Higgins to deliver a low ball across face of goal.
The second half was became a dogged midfield battle, with Maidstone being reduced to ten men after 67 minutes when Flisher appeared to be fouled but Mr Pawley waved play on. Flisher was outraged and his protests cost him a second yellow.
A game that had become dour became even more of a stalemate after that and though with seven minutes to go Newby could have put paid to any home anxiety but fired wide when well-placed. However, with two minutes to go he did so, picking his way through the visiting defence and clipping the ball past Mitten.
There was still time for Kye Ruel to head over from close range and at the other end, as the game entered added time Ade Olorunda headed over from little more than a yard out when he seemed certain to give Stones a consolation.