Football: Back to earth for The Rocks as they earn draw

Ryman Premier

East Thurrock United 1 v 1 Leatherhead

THIS WAS always going to be the case of FA Cup hangover and so it proved but only nearly as East Thurrock salvaged a draw against Leatherhead.

A last minute goal deservedly earned some reward for East Thurrock from Tuesday’s Ryman Premier League encounter but after dominating much of the game they will regard this as two points lost, though in the context of the match manager John Coventry was satisfied to get something from the game.

Following the excitement and hype of Saturday’s FA Cup First Round match at Hartlepool Coventry had predicted his side would find it difficult to raise their game for the meeting with fellow mid-table Leatherhead and so it proved.

A crowd of 131, less than the Rocks took north for the 300 mile trek to Hartlepool, on cold, rainy evening, meant a lack-lustre atmosphere at Rookery Hill and Rock made a lethargic start to the night and found themselves a goal down after just 11 minutes when Dean Pooley rose unchallenged to meet a corner with a powerful header.

The goal work Rocks from their slumbers and from that point on they dominated play – only to be thwarted several times by visiting keeper Louis Wells.

Lewis Smith and Sam Higgins were the focal points for most East Thurrock attacks and Higgins brought the first of a number of good saves from the keeper with a low shot that he pushed past the post.

Leatherhead rarely threatened, but on one occasion the home defence went awol again and were lucky not to be punished when Matt Smart fired wide.

The half ended with Rocks pushing forward and Wells was again the hero with a fine save to keep out Mitchell Gilbey’s fierce drive.

The second half proved one way traffic, with home keeper David Hughes a virtual spectator, while his counterpart was prominent, making one fine save to deny Smith.

On 69 minutes Smith was set free by a fine pass from the industrious Gilbey but tried an audacious clipped shot from an acute angle that was saved by Wells, though a return pass to the onrushing Gilbey was surely the better option.

More chances came and went for the Rocks and it seemed that they would come up short, particularly when sub Ryan Cooper produced a dramatic goal-saving header off the line to heep out Smith’s long range effort that lobbed the keeper.

However, a late goal was to arrive when both Rocks replacements Reece Harris and Joe Paxamn were involved in a fine passing move that ended with Higgins bursting through the middle and he drilled his shot under the body of Wells.

There was still enough added time for both Higgins and Smith to lash shots wide of either upright but in the end a point was all Rocks could muster, though in the circumstances Coventry said he was pleased with the result and the way his side had dominated the game.

“It was always going to be difficult and, to be honest, if you’d said before the game that we would get a point I would probably have settled for that so I can’t complain, even if we did enough in the game to have won it. The performance tonight was probably as important as the result and I can’t fault the work-rate and commitment of the side after that predictably slow start,” said the Rocks boss.

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