Thursday, June 13, 2024

Football: Rocks slide into relegation zone

Lowestoft Town 3 v 0 East Thurrock United

EAST Thurrock left Crown Meadow in the Ryman Premier relegation zone for the first time this season and with a deep sense of injustice and frustration reports The Thurrock Enquirer.

East Thurock had approached the match in positive fashion and tried to get men forward at every opportunity, but the game is not just about numbers, it’s about cohesion and at the moment there is little of that in the play of John Coventry’s side. There’s no lack of effort, but the link-up play is poor and throughout the game they failed to produce a cutting edge to their possession – and all too often gave the ball away cheaply, exposing themselves to Lowestoft’s swift counter-attacking style of play.
However, Rocks were generally able to cope at the back and neither side created any chances of real note until Mr Potkins’ 27th minute aberration.

After that some of the heart seemed to slip away from Rocks, as if they felt the odds were stacked against them, and Lowestoft gradually began to step up the pace. That culminated in the opening goal on 40 minutes when another lame attack from the visitors fizzled out and keeper Ashlee Jones instigated a quick counter with a ball to the right. Just one pass then put full back Ryan Sammons in trouble as Robert Eagle bore down on him with the ball and Smith raced wide down the flank. With two men to deal with Sammons held his position rather than close down Eagle who had the time then to deliver a superb angled cross into the heart of the box where Jake Reed raced in to swoop and send a powerful header past keeper David Hughes. It was a delightful, well constructed goal but Smith should not have been there to play his part.

The goal, at such a vital time in the game, clearly lifted Lowestoft and they carried on their momentum with a bright start to the second half, culminating in a second goal just five minutes after the resumption. This time there could be no complaints from the visitors who were cut apart down the right by interplay from Jack Ainsley and Curtley Williams, who then delivered the ball to Manny Osei on the edge of the box. He still had work to do but quick feet and a little shuffle worked enough space for a spot and he arrowed it between the dive of Hughes and the post.

With Rocks floundering it nearly became three for Lowestoft, as Dan Gleeson drilled an effort in from distance and that was diverted into the net past flat-footed Hughes by Sam Gaughran but he was adjudged to have been offside.

At that point, and for the next ten minutes, it looked as if the Rocks might roll over as they lost any semblance of fluency and showed little fight, with several arguments breaking out between players. However, a double change which saw the introduction of Steve Sheehan and Leon McKenzie sparked them back into life and they began to push their hosts back.

The worst instance came in the closing stages when a short spell of sustained pressure saw Rocks win a couple of corners and from the second the ball flew around the box, twice being cleared at close range before Jones fell to the ground with a scream as he was challenged by McKenzie. The ref, quite rightly, didn’t blow as it was a fair challenge but with the keeper flapping and rolling about on the floor he then blew to allow the keeper to get treatment – just as Rocks fired the ball into the net.

It’s a shame for the Crown Meadow faithful that nominations for the Oscars have closed as Jones – and one or two of his teammates – should certainly be eligible in the best made up injury of the year category! Still, for the fourth season in succession the home fans will have the prospect of a play-off place to look forward to rather than a Hollywood red carpet as their team do have a ruthless, cynical edge to their game that could well propel them to success.

And that ruthless edge to the game manifested itself with a third goal in added time as Erkan Okay slid a perfectly weighted ball in for sub Michael Frew to latch onto and he showed great composure to drill home his shot and complete a miserable evening for the visitors. The margin of victory probably flattered Lowestoft but they were certainly the better team on the night – and certainly the most ‘professional.’

If East Thurrock got anything positive from the game it was a brief cameo at the end from influential midfielder Stuart Thurgood who is recovering from glandular fever. His influence in the heart of midfield will be needed in closing weeks of the season as his side are now firmly enmeshed in the relegation dogfight. They will need more than just his return though, somehow, from somewhere, manager John Coventry has to find a way to get goals and the cutting edge.

They are now 11 consecutive games without a win and have just three goals from open play in their last six matches. In most of those games Rocks have had their fair share of the game with plenty of effort and but they lack the ability to convert possession into goals. With a small squad and a tight budget at his disposal it will be no mean feat if Rocks can break this run of disappointing results – and things don’t get any easier with the visit of promotion-chasing derby rivals Hornchurch to Rookery Hill on Saturday, followed by top three sides Maidstone and Dulwich to play in the days soon after.


  1. That reporter seems almost as bitter as me when Grays lose! The derby match against us is going to be a right barrel of laughs by the looks of it!


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