Monday, September 26, 2022

Football: Rocks hit for five against Met Police (again)

Metropolitan Police 5 v 0 East Thurrock United

LIGHTNING struck twice at Imber Court where the hosts repeated their five goal win at Rookery Hill and became the first side to beat Rocks twice this season.

Bizarrely, Saturday’s match was a repeat of last December’s meeting, with East Thurrock dominating possession and chances – yet finding themselves on the end of a hammering.

There was little to suggest what might happen in the first half. Rocks got off to a flier and an early opportunity saw Lewis Smith run at the heart of the home defence but he spurned a couple of chances to pull the trigger and the chance was lost.

At the other end , following a free kick Jay Lovett played the ball into the danger area and Rob Bartley’s instinctive header flew over the bar.

Rocks were largely in the ascendency though and Mitchell Gilbey and Ryan Sammons combined well to win a corner, from which Smith’s goalbound header as comfortably saved by Stuart Searle.

The game’s first decisive twist came on ten minutes when a simple ball into the box saw Police’s Jake Reid and Rocks’ Paul Goodacre tussle to get on the end of it. Goodacre looked favourite to deal with the problem but somehow Reid got goalside of him with the ball and the big defender’s lunge into his back gave ref Jim Patterson no option but to award a spot-kick, which Charlie Collins drilled home convincingly.

After that Rocks took control of the game and spent the best part of the next 35 minutes pushing Police backwards.

Gilbey struck a fine shot against the crossbar and then Searle went full stretch to tip Smith’s curling free kick round the upright. From a corner Sam Higgins pushed the ball against a post and the rebound was somehow blocked on the line and then a third effort scrambled over the bar by Searle.

Rocks won a multitude of corners, one of them a fine curling effort from Smith looking destined to go straight in until Nikki Ahamed headed it off the line.

Police were rarely seen as an attacking force, though Rocks keeper David Hughes did well keep out Collins’ free kick that curled round the wall and seemed destined to slip inside an upright until the keeper’s dive pushed it away.

The last significant chance of the half came when Higgins got on the end of a long ball and rounded the onrushing Searle, who did well to avoid clattering him, and by the time Rocks’ top scorer had regained control defenders had got back to block his angled shot.

It also proved to be Higgins’ final contribution as he was unable to restart the second half because of a groin injury – an problem h=that could well now keep him out for the rest of the season!

His replacement was Kye Ruel who made an impact with his pace and angled runs and it seemed only a matter of time before Rocks would gain parity. They came close when Cornhill and Gilbey combined and Searle was called upon to make a diving save from Gilbey’s close range prod goalwards. From the following corner Searle was able to save comfortably from Simon Peddie.

The momentum was all with the Rocks but on 54 minutes they conceded a confidence-shattering second goal when Smith ran deep into his own half to get the ball then needlessly gave it away to Reid who showed great composure to fire a low angled shot from the edge of the box that sneaked just inside the upright.

For a brief moment Rocks were rocking and they were grateful to Hughes for a fine save to deny Reid a second goal with an angled shot but momentum swung back Rocks’ way and a comeback seemed possible as first Gilbey shot wide, then Ruel flashed a shot across the face of goal.

A goal at that point would have had echoes of recent Rocks’ revivals from difficult positions but when the game’s third goal came, it was another for Met Police when, almost out of nothing, the ball broke kindly in the box for Collins and he picked his spot with an angled shot past Hughes.

Even then Rocks didn’t give up and Searle had to be at his best to make a fine double save, keeping out Goodacre’s header then Cornhill’s thumping follow-up volley. Searle then did well to keep out another Ruel effort after he was set free by sub Nicky Symons’ brilliant through ball.

With Rocks throwing everything forward it was always in the script that they might get caught out and it nearly happened when Reid was through but he was thwarted by a fine save from Hughes. However, when the ensuing corner was delivered Jay Lovett found himself unmarked at the far post and headed home the simplest of goals on 82 minutes.

And a day to forget for Rocks, and one that has effectively drawn an end to their hopes of a play-off place, was completed two minutes from time when Joe Turner produced a fine strike from the edge of the box to complete a remarkable second nap hand of the season for the Police.


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