FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round
East Thurrock United 7 v 1 Bath City
THE ROCKS were in FA Cup dreamland as they beat Conference South Bath City 7-1 in the 4th Preliminary Round of the FA Cup.
On a lovely autumn day, East Thurrock started off in determined mood as they passed the ball around looking for an opening.
They looked like they were trying to stretch Bath City with wide players and the ball down the channel. It was significant, that early on, Sam Higgins looked in very determined mood.
But soon enough, the Conference South side soon got into their stride. Bath forced a number of corners in the 10th minute that showed what they could do.
The early battle in midfield was being won by Bath and you just thought that they would win a war of attrition.
In the 21st minute, Rocks’ Sam Higgins latched onto a great ball from the left, got into the area but his shot failed to find the target.
The Rocks players felt that the referee had not given them the benefit of a couple of decisions and were becoming a little bit tetchy.
In the 24th minute, the formidable Bath midfielder, Chas Hemmings unleashed a shot from thirty yards that went wide.
The pocket-sized Dan Ball was giving the Rocks defence problems and he nearly nipped in on a through ball before keeper David Hughes punched the ball away.
The opening goal came in the 32nd minute when Dan Ball found space in the area and skidded the ball under The Rocks keeper.
It was now all a matter of how the Rookery Hill team would react as Bath were a team that had only lost one of their last nine games.
The lead did not last for long as a minute later, Sam Higgins also found space in the area, his shot was fumbled by the keeper who could not keep hold of the ball and it went in.
The Rocks could have made it 2-1 after a break but Mitchell Gilbey just could not get his shot in.
East Thurrock took the lead in the 38th minute when Lewis Smith turned the Bath defence inside out before firing home from close range.
The second half could not have started any better for The Rocks as they were awarded a penalty in the 47th minute. The referee was just yards away when Lewis Smith was nudged in the back. Sam Higgins made no mistake.
Bath now needed to find a "Plan B" and fast. However, in the 56th minute, it was 4-1. Lewis Smith hit a free kick from just outside the area and Ross Parmenter bundled home the re-bound.
This then became a game in which Bath continued to get the ball but with no hope, no plan and a defence that was an utter shambles not helped by a keeper whose confidence had totally subsided.
Sam Higgins grabbed his hat-trick in what can only be described as apologetic manner when, believe it or not, the Bath defender scuffed the ball into Higgin’s path and he in turn scuffed it past the keeper and in.
Lewis Smith added a sixth and the cherry on top was produced by David Bryant with a delightful chip over the keeper to make it 7-1 as Bath must have wished they could have had the proverbial early one.
So, East Thurrock go into the draw for the first round of the FA Cup as they did in 2011 when they drew Macclesfield.
This was all about planning, preparation and purpose. Much of this was due to the backroom staff making journeys down to the west country and across to South London to see Bath play.
It was down to team spirit and ethic with important touches such as the Saturday morning breakfast at a local country club.
This was all down to a great fee lgood family club, who deserve all the success that comes their way.
East Thurrock Utd: Hughes D, Witherspoon C (Symons N 78), Stephen T (Samons R 75), Peddie S, Wood B, Goodacre P, Bryant D, Parmenter R, Higgins S, Smith L, Gilbey M
Subs not used: Harris R, Paxman J, Anderson T, Burton L
Bath City: Mellor J, Simpson S, Ball D, Keary P, Gallinagh A, Adelsbury B, Watkins A, Kington A (Artus 71), Pratt D (Patten 81), McCootie N (Stearn 59), Hemmings C.
Subs not used: Allen C, Rollo J