Tuesday Night Football
East Thurrock Utd 4 v 4 Bognor Regis
ANOTHER remarkable goals feast saw East Thurrock claw their way back from the dead twice at Rookery Hill on Tuesday evening.
After scoring four times at Leiston on Saturday, including twice dragging back a two goal deficit but in the end losing , John Coventry’s side showed remarkable resilience to come back twice against their visitors from the south coast.
Football purists would drive a coach and horses through some aspects of Rocks’ play but you can’t fault their spirit in bouncing back.
On Tuesday, against a side that love to pass the ball, East Thurrock sometimes found themselves outplayed in the opening half hour, but there was undoubtedly a sense of injustice that they were two goals behind in a game of very limited goalscoring opportunities.
Coventry had reshuffled his pack for the game with changes in personnel and position and for a while it worked well.
In the opening stages they looked the livelier side but as the night wore on, it was Bognor who started to enjoy more possession, though they were largely going sideways rather than forwards.
Ironically, it was from East Thurrock’s first significant chance, on 26 minutes, that Bognor broke to score the opening goal. Sam Higgins, playing in an unusual midfield role behind two front men, showed his predatory instinct to find a gap in a crowded area but his fierce drive was straight at keeper Nick Jordan, who released the ball quickly to spark an attack that ended with Harvey Whyte slinging a deep cross into Elliot Justham’s goalmouth. It ought to have been meat and drink for the keeper but he hesitated and in a second Dan Thompson jumped to head past him.
And Bognor’s second goal, seven minutes later, owed much to more generosity from the home side, who were slack in picking up runners and marking danger areas, allowing White to deliver another curving cross that was met by unmarked sub Ollie Pearce – on for the injured Daryl Wellers – who stooped to head inside Justham’s near post.
But, just as they had done on Saturday, East Thurrock dug deep and Higgins gave notice of intent with shot just wide of the upright. And with six minutes of the half remaining they grabbed a goal back with a goal not dissimilar to Pearce’s from Reiss Gilbey, who arrived at the far post to meet Sam Collins’ excellent ball and head home.
That was a fillip to the home side and with two minutes to go to the break Kye Ruel delivered the comeback, poking the ball home from close range after reacting first to get to a thundering drive from Collins that crashed off an upright across the face of goal.
The second half was much like the first, with Bognor moving laterally more than forwards and Rocks seeking to counter with some thrusting balls down the flanks, with the ever willing L’hereux Menga chasing them down and David Bryant showing touches of errant genius as he bobbed and weaved between the visiting defenders.
Bryant is a livewire character, and not unafraid to get in the thick of the action, particularly when he sprang to respond to a challenge on Menga by keeper Jordan that provoked a fractious goalmouth melee with arms, elbows and verbal insults flying left, right and centre. Ref Ian Fissendon resolved it with just a booking for Jordan.
When all the handbags were put away, the action resumed and Rocks were to take the lead on 71 minutes with a controversial and untidy, though not undeserved, goal which came about after a scramble in the box that saw Gilbey play the ball to Bryant despite being sat on the floor. Bryant slotted it from close range, sparking huge protests from Bognor that he was offside.
However, the goal stood and, for the first time in 340 minutes of football, East Thurrock found themselves with a lead to defend.
They could only do so for 11 minutes and once more they were undone by a set piece, failing to clear a corner despite a couple of opportunities and Whyte pounced to drive a low equaliser through a static, crowded penalty area.
With eight minutes remaining, it looked like a draw was on the cards but just four of them had ticked away when Thompson found the time and space to strike a low shot past Justham.
With weary legs and weary spirits, it looked like another desperately disappointing result for East Thurrock, but they are a side of lionhearts when their backs are against the wall and they dragged up enough energy to throw themselves into several pacey attacks and from one of them, deep into added time, Bryant jinked his way through and calmly slotted the ball home from an acute angle.
The draw was no less than both sides deserved and it would have been unjust if Collins, late, late free kick had dipped under, rather than just over that bar – though no doubt John Coventry and the Rocks fans would have relished another, but more positive 5-4.
That wasn’t to be and now the Rocks boss has the task of finding his way to reinvigorate a defence that, until Saturday, had been among the best in the division.
Now it seems to lack decisiveness and self belief – though you can’t fault the ‘goals for’ column at the other end of the pitch. One point from eight goals does seem a poor return though.
Lewes, one of the highest scoring sides in the division, with an even greater capacity to ship goals, are next up at Rookery Hill on Saturday. What price a nil-nil draw?
Thurrock 0 v 0 Hampton and Richmond
Ware 1 v 0 Tilbury
Thirteen points off the play-offs, the Dockers now look, despite the number of games yet to play, that they will not be competing for a play-off place. The result was a mark of an improved Ware.
Tilbury suffered another disappointing single goal defeat to Ware on Tuesday night in a game that they never got going in.
On a chilly evening, Tilbury went in to this game making a change with Ben Crooks returning to the side in place of unavailable Rob Gillman.
It could have been a great start to the night as after only 19 seconds Tom Wraight crossed for the outstretched Emiel Aiken who hit just wide. Following this Ware pushed hard for a goal and James Marrable in the visitors goal had to be at his best.
The only other serious chance of the half fell to Ware centre half Jon Stevenson who’s shot struck the bar from a 30 yard free kick.
Soon after the break Corran had his effort tipped over by Marrable. Captain Joe Nightingill headed over on 55 as Tilbury pushed hard for the opener. On 70 Ware should have taken the lead when substitute Elliot King hit wide with the goal empty. The same player made up for it 4 minutes later when a cross from the right was headed in unmarked by King.
Tilbury only had one chance late on when substitute Jimmy Cook who had just replaced Aaron Waters fired over.
Ware who are at the wrong end of the table saw the game out to pick up there 6th point in the last 2 games.
Despite the back to back defeats, it sees Tilbury remain in 9th position but falling further behind the play off places. Tilbury welcome Waltham Forest to Chadfields on Saturday.
Tilbury: Marrable, Mead, Daniel, Crooks, Nightingill, Waters (Cook 81), Aiken, Carlile, Mullings (Jacobs 64), Cutler and Wraight (Francis 72)
Subs not used: Edwards and B Webb