East Thurrock United 1 v 2 Leiston
EAST Thurrock find themselves looking over their shoulder at the Ryman Premier drop zone after struggling Leiston, under new manager Steve Pitt, inflicted a fourth home defeat of the season on the Rocks reports The Thurrock Enquirer.
The home side’s downfall was a lack-lustre first half which saw them trail by two goals and though they improved after the break they lacked the cutting edge to get back into the game.
After an indifferent opening Rocks might have got themselves onto the front foot but for a good save from Danny Gay who dived to his left to push Jason Hallett’s well struck shot wide of the upright.
However, five minutes later they found themselves a goal down. There seemed little danger when Leiston pumped a ball down the right channel on 12 minutes and speedy Rocks fullback Tom Stephen outpaced the chasing pack and headed back towards his own goalkeeper only to look up and see Sam Mott had left his box and the ball bounced past him into an unguarded net.
The nature of the goal summed up Rocks at the moment. A lack of confidence and cohesion is undermining the ability of individuals and they are also not getting the breaks.
That was typified on 20 minutes when a very, very harsh decision to give a free kick for handball against Kye Ruel resulted in Mott going full stretch to keep out Stuart Boardley’s well struck shot. From the subsequent corner Mott flapped at the ball on his far post and Adam Tann ought to have done better with a close range header that flew over the bar.
Rocks had few significant opportunities, though they showed plenty of endeavour which was typified by a blistering run from Kurt Smith who went past several defenders but was unable to get a decent shot off.
And they came closest to an equaliser with an angled shot from Kye Ruel that flashed past Gay’s far post.
Overall, though, Rocks were struggling to settle into a pattern of play and the lack of unity in their play was typified by numerous incidents of players shouting and bawling at each other after mishaps, most notably when they came close to conceding a second goal when David Head was left unmarked and ought to have done better with a header.
However, a second goal was to come from Rocks disorganised defending. A quick breakaway had been snuffed out by Stephen at the expense of a throw-in which was delivered to the near post and the defence was awol as Craig Parker nipped in at the near post and crashed a volley into into the roof of the net.
The second half saw an improved performance by the home side and they forced Leiston backwards and dominated play, though without ever really looking like getting a goal.
That changed after a double substitution with young midfielder Connor Witherspoon injecting more energy into midfield and Leon McKenzie adding power up top. And it was McKenzie who was to put Rocks back in it on 64 minutes with a powerful header after being picked out by David Bryant’s pinpoint cross.
For a while it looked as if the tide had turned in Rocks’ favour and they pegged the visitors back consistently but were unable to create another clear opportunity.
Several free kicks around the edge of the box went begging and in the closing stages it was Leiston who looked as if they could kill the game with a number of speedy counter attacks as Rocks pushed forward.
But there were to no further goals and it was the visitors who were to celebrate a renaissance in fortune, creeping up the table close to Rocks who will now be wary of being dragging into the scrap around the four relegation positions.