Monday, March 4, 2024

Hockey: Firsts maintain unbeaten run

By Stephen Abbott

Thurrock 3 vs 3 East London

An 11 O’clock pushback at Palmers College, which some of the Thurrock 1st XI were not massively happy with seen as some players, not naming any names Ahem*Jak Taylor*ahem, were out celebrating their graduation (1st class degree) until the early hours of the morning in London, was the venue and time when Thurrock were to take on league leaders East London in a top of the table, 1st v 2nd, clash of the titans!

However the week had started on a sour note with only 6 1st XI players turning out to training. Not good enough boys if we want to do well in this league. Hopefully a better turn out next week will prove we mean business.

The game started strongly for the away team who came out of the blocks quickly and hit Thurrock by surprise. It wasn’t long before East London broke the deadlock with a simple chip over the keeper after Danny Hik had made the initial save.

They doubled their lead not long after with a run down the left hand side and an unfortunate mix up between the defence and the keeper lead to the ball creeping under Danny Hik’s body. 2-0 down and Thurrock needed a boost.

The captain Steve Abbott had to think quickly and a reshuffle in the middle of the park, putting Declan Millane up front and Andre Rudder back into centre midfield, lead to a shift in dominance.

Thurrock started to find their feet and started to play some nice hockey getting the ball quickly to the forward line where Christian Jenkins was on top form with some lovely first touches and attacking prowess. It wasn’t long before he found himself rounding the keeper and shooting only to be denied by a defensive foot on the line. Flick! who was to step up?Only the captain himself, Steve Abbott who nonchalantly flicked the ball into the top left leaving the away keeper stunned. 2-1 and Thurrock were back in it! Game on!

More Thurrock possession and some great passing lead to a short corner for the home team. After HOURS and HOURS of practising short corner routines until our fingers BLEED, it finally paid off with a magnificent routine. Kyle Taylor dragging out to his first class degree owning twin brother Jak Taylor to stop the ball dead. Tommy Ing coming through to disguise slap to the right post where Declan Millane was perfectly placed to deflect the ball into the bottom left of the backboard. 2-2 and Thurrock were on the ascent!

Half time and the talk was circled around keeping the pressure up and forcing the opposition make the mistakes they were making towards the end of the 1st half.

The second half started, and with the words of the captain and couch still resonating through the ears of the Thurrock team, they pressed hard and kept the intensity up forcing East London to make poor decisions. This lead to another short corner and ignoring the words of the Captain Steve Abbott to slip left and going with the words of the stopper Jak Taylor who instructed him to ‘do whatever’, Tommy Ing decided to cream the ball into the bottom left of the goal giving the away keeper no chance! 3-2 and Thurrock had turned the game on its head.

The rest of the second half was a little more defensive for the home team as East London looked for that vital equaliser. The game got a little messy with bad challenges flying in from all directions which eventually lead to the umpire giving a stern telling off to all players. Thurrock thought they could hold on for the vital 3 points but it wasn’t to be. An odd decision by the umpires lead to a chance for the away side who managed to break down the defence, who had looked like a solid wall for the best part of an hour, and get that all important equaliser. 3-3 and the final whistle was blown.

Thurrock can take many positives from the game today having pretty much dominated the middle part of the game against the only team to have not lost a point all season and get a massive point which keeps them in contention at the top of the league. Most importantly they stay unbeaten with 2 draws and 5 wins from 7 games.

Man of the match went to Nick Stapleton for a solid performance in the middle of the park passing well and making strong tackles. Donkey goes to Kyle Taylor for throwing his toys out the pram when decisions didn’t go his way…no change there!

Onto next week which some of the Thurrock team have been waiting for for a very long time! Thurrock v Southend! Come on you Tees!


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