East Thurrock United 1 v 0 Leiston
IF THERE was ever a game that personified the term "Winning ugly" then this was the game as East Thurrock beat Leiston 1-0 at Rookery Hill.
Perhaps "winning ugly does not do justice to the Rocks. It was still a thoroughly professional performance by a team in the play off places.
The Rock received a early scare when good work in the box saw Tom Stephen clear the ball off the line.
A lot of the good work from Leiston was coming down the left from Patrick Brothers. By contrast, The Rocks were very narrow.
These were too evenly matched teams on a tricky surface.
In the 11th minute, the tricky Brothers put in a superb cross that deserved much better.
A strong run in the area by Kye Ruel forced a corner but the corner was wasted.
Chances came for Leiston. In the 24th minute, striker Scott Mitchell set himself up nicely but blasted the ball over the bar.
Rocks seemed to be a bit bereft of ideas as the game got stuck in the mud.
As the game lurched to half time, The Rocks stepped up the pressure. It was entertaining but they did seem to be trying to walk the ball into the net.
The second half began in similar fashion but Sam Higgins was coming into the game more and more. Sure enough, it was that man Higgins who,in the 56th minute, broke free from the Leiston defence and slid the ball into the net.
But Leiston are also pushing for promotion and came back at The Rocks. They drove at the Rocks defence but struggled to unpick a steadfast defence.
It was not a dirty game but plenty of players went into the referee’s book.
The game called for a second Rocks goal. Rocks were now playing a much more expansive game, looking to exploit the holes in Leiston’s midfield.
At the other end, defenders like Tom Stephens were putting in key tackles.
Rocks players looked like the mud was sappinng their energy in what was a very tiring match.
Ross Parmenter and Mitchell Gilbey came on to bring solidity to the midfield. And it worked as the Rocks safely navigated the last ten minutes to earn three very valuable points.
East Thurrock United: Hughes D, Sammons R, Stephen T, Wood B, Goodacre P, Witherspoon C, Ruel K, Symons N, Higgins S, Bryant D, Smith L.
Subs: Parmenter R, Peddie S, Gilbey M, Paxman J, Phillips D.
Leiston: Gay D, Ottley-Gooch L. Broadley S, Cunningham D, Jefford J, Bullard T, Winter T, Heath G, Mitchell S, Parker C, Brothers P
Subs: Kerslake T, Saker B. Rossis A, Francis J, Mayhew J