Canvey Island 2 v 1 East Thurrock United
AN added time goal decided this Ryman Premier derby that saw both sides hold periods of dominance but neither was able to establish a commanding position until Rob Bartley’s late, late strike reports The Thurrock Enquirer.
Rocks will rue only taking one goal from a first half that they dominated, with Canvey coming much more into the game in the second half.
East Thurrock started the better of the two sides, with Jason Hallett looking as though he would have a free run on goal as early as the fourth minute.
However, the ex-Canvey striker was unable to add to his impressive goalscoring record against his former side as the ball became trapped underneath his feet.
Leon McKenzie also had a decent chance as Rocks sprang the home backline but the ball ran away from him and American keeper JM Kulnig raced out to clear the danger.
Canvey were forced into a change on 20 minutes when one time Rocks player Ashley Dumas was replaced by Louis Baucutt. Dumas picked up an injury after a heavy challenge with the former Southend United man coming on in his place.
Rocks won a succession of set pieces but were unable to force a clear opening from any of them. The action was fiercely contested and the impressive Matt Game became the first of a number of players cautioned when he brought Hallett down as the striker burst through on the left flank.
And it was from a ball from the left that Rocks were to take the lead on 37 minutes, recent Rocks recruit Jack Hopkins being set free and he coolly drew the keeper and slotted the ball to his right and into the side netting, were it squeezed through hole but the goal was confirmed by alert ref Paul Howard.
Canvey responded well to going a goal down, and three minutes later hit the woodwork through on-loan Dover Athletic forward Moses Ademola. A corner from Sheldon Sellears was flicked across goal to Ademola, but his well struck close range angled effort hit the post and bounced clear. The hosts retained possession and crossed the ball back into the area, but Michael Alaile’s header went wide of the target.
In the closing stages of the half Hopkins was cautioned for a reckless foot-up tackle which on another day might even have seen him see red but Mr Howard assessed the situation with leniency. He was to add a second Rocks name to his book just before the break when Kye Ruel was cautioned for another illegal challenge.
Rocks continued to have the better of the play on the resumption and they nearly doubled their advantage immediately in the second half when a loose pass in midfield gifted possession to McKenzie who advanced towards goal but slammed his shot wide.
Having survived this early scare Canvey started to push for an equaliser, with both Rio Bryan-Edwards and Tony Stokes having headers go over the crossbar.
The Gulls picked up another defensive injury on 63 minutes when Rio Bryan-Edwards limped off with Nick Humphrey his replacement.
Rocks should have had a penalty when Hallett found space in the box. He took time to set himself and was clipped from behind as he was about the shoot and
Canvey tried to scramble back. If that was something of a turning point, the game was stood on its head on 66 minutes. Hallett had a great chance to put the visitors two goals up when he rounded Kulnig, he was only able to shoot into the side netting. This miss proved costly as Kulnig struck the goalkick ball down the right wing which Ademola collected and used his pace to race clear and delivered an excellent low cross which Jay Curran raced onto to score from a close range central position.
The goal put Canvey on top of proceedings, and on 75 minutes Mike Jones had a header deflected over the crossbar by Steve Sheehan. Ademola had stood up a perfect cross at the back post for Jones to attack, but Sheehan – another former-Canvey player and now East Thurrock’s captain – got his knee to the ball to prevent the goal.
Both sides made changes as the match approached its final five minutes, with Spencer Bellotti replacing Sheldon Sellears for Canvey and Nathan Livings coming on for his debut in place of Hallett for East Thurrock.
It seemed as if the honours would be shared, which would have been a fair reflection on the game but there was to be a deciding moment as the clock ticked into the 91st minute. Ryan Sammons fouled Jay Curran just outside the area on the left wing and Tony Stokes delivered an excellent ball which Spencer Bellotti controlled but was unable to force the ball over the line. However, defender Bartley was on hand to smash the ball into the roof of the net.
The visitors nearly equalised in the 93rd minute when a free kick found the head of Sheehan, but he was only able to direct his unmarked effort wide of the target.