Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Football: Battling Rocks grab point at Dripping Pan

Ryman Premier

Lewes 1 v 1 East Thurrock United

YOU’VE heard of a game of two halves – this was a game of three thirds.

For the bulk of two of them Lewes were in the driving seat and could – and should – have been well beyond the reach of East Thurrock.

That they weren’t came down to lack of quality finishing and some hard work by the Rocks’ backline and new keeper

Elliot Justham and they were rewarded for their efforts by a complete reversal of fortunes in the games closing stages when Rocks dominated and ended on the front foot with Lewes holding on.

And but for what looked a poor decision by an assistant referee to rule out a late ‘goal’ all the points might have been on the bus going back to Essex.

If that had happened it would have been something of a football travesty as Lewes certainly deserved something from the game.

The visitors, who had debutants in Justham and wide midfielder Dean Mason, started brightly but the fizz soon bubbled away and Lewes began to take charge.

There were of flurries from Rocks, but their hosts the Rooks looked the more likelier to round off an attack with a goal and it finally happened on 26 minutes, though it came with a touch of fortune.

A decent move ended with a ball into the box but the attack looked to have ended with Callum Dunne’s header that hit a Rocks defender. A moment of hesitancy followed and the ball bobbled about and the quickest to react was Ben Godrey who rattled it past Elliot.

There were several other chances for Lewes before the break, the best was a shot from distance from Godrey that flew wide of the upright and Justham also did well to dive and push a free-kick from Simon Wormull past the post.

The opening 20 minutes of the second half saw Lewes at their best. They frequently carved open the visiting side with Wormull, celebrating his 34th birthday, the provider of much of the attacking play with incisive balls.

However, a mixture last gasp defending, some blocked tackles and some wayward finishing – both Chris Breach and Nathan Crabb had glorious opportunities but failed to hit the target with the goal gaping – kept the Rocks in it.

There was a sense that the game might turn as Lewes got nervous in the closing stages. Rooks keeper Kieron Thorp began to have some serious work to attend to and he did well to save from Sam Collins and the introduction of Rocks subs Kurt Smith and Liam Burgess on 74 minutes gave momentum to the turning nature of the game.

Smith was to play a part in the equalising goal just three minutes after his introduction, battling to win the ball in the box and sliding an angled pass in front of Kris Newby who drove an angled shot beyond Thorp.

From then on it was virtual one-way traffic with Lewes’s defenders having to come up with the brave blocks and desperate tackles. Rocks also showed their fallibility in front of an open goal, with Hakeem Araba glancing a header wide when it seemed he must score and Spencer Harrison somehow picked out the prostrate body of Thorp when it seemed impossible not to find the back of the net from close range.

And it looked as if Rocks had nicked it when Kye Ruel burst through on the edge of the six yard box in stoppage time. His shot was at goal but was wayward and instead turned into an excellent pass for Newby who appeared to race from a position behind Ruel to sidefoot it home from close range. Clearly he was isolated when he scored but that was enough to prompt an appeal for offside from the home men and they were relieved to see the linesman back their call with a raised flag.

It was a decision symptomatic of a number of controversial decisions throughout the afternoon by a team of officials who were far from up to the job – though their only consistency was to confound both sets of players with their unpredictable decisions.

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