Saturday, April 1, 2023

Football: Late late show keeps Rocks rolling on

Harrow Borough 2 v 3 East Thurrock United

EAST Thurrock United completed their third away Ryman Premier win of the season and thoroughly deserved to take all the points, but their fragility when defending a lead once again saw their supporters nervously holding their breath through the game’s final few minutes.

The visitors were dominant through the game’s opening stages and there was little surprise when they opened their account after five minutes, though Harrow were convinced there was an offside in the build-up that saw Liam Burgess slip the ball through to Sam Collins who lashed an angled strike past Elvijs Putnins.

Scoring goals has been a massive problem for Harrow in recent weeks and to concede so early might have broken their spirit but to their credit they bounced back well and a number of attacks found Rocks on the back-foot, with keeper Elliot Justham grateful on a number of occasions as the ball was guided straight at him, though he had to stretch to tip a shot from Simeon Akinola over the bar.

Akinola was something of a livewire up front, teasing and testing the backline and provoking a defensive tackle from Simon Peddie that saw the Rocks centre-back booked.

At this point East Thurrock’s attacks were sporadic, though Burgess went close with an acrobatic flick. Most of the goalmouth action was at the other end though and it came as no surprise just after the half hour when Harrow eventually equalised after Spencer Harrison gave away possession Frankie Merrifield pounced at the end of a swift counter to force the ball home.

It proved to be a kick up the backside for Rocks who immediately upped the tempo and began to take control again. They were able to exert a spell of sustained pressure and though there were shouts for another offside claim, Burgess raced through the backline and slipped the ball to Kris Newby who skipped round Putnins and slid the ball home.

Rocks had to make an adjustment at half time, when Harrison was unable to continue because of a groin injury, forcing manager John Coventry to shuffle his resources with Newby dropping back into a full back role and Ryan Sammons filling Harrison’s centreback roll. Debutant James Lawson came on and was to have an impressive spell on the right flank.

And he played a part in what proved to be the decisive goal, heading Reiss Gilbey’s 63rd minute well flighted corner against the underside of the crossbar. The ball bounced down and out but was scrambled back into the danger area and Hakem Araba smashed it home from very close range.

East Thurrock then enjoyed a period of dominance but couldn’t add a fourth goal and as the clock ticked down a nervousness began to show itself and when Akinola smashed home a goal with 14 minutes left, another capitulation from a winning position looked on the cards.

However, despite some lapses of concentration when they gave the ball away unnecessarily Rocks managed to hold out for the win.


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