East Thurrock United 4 v 0 Brentwood Town
TUESDAY’S Ryman Premier derby pitched two sides in need of an uplifting result after weekend disappointments together but though the winning Rocks were delighted to claim three points – and only their third clean sheet of the league season – manager John Coventry acknowledged his team were far from at their best reports The Thurrock Enquirer.
Rocks were quickest out of the traps at a damp Rookery Hill, where the decent, slick surface invited some quick passing play and a fine early move saw Tom wraight set up Mitch Gilbey who elected to shoot rather than slide the ball on to the unmarked Lewis Smith and the deflected shot bobbled just wide.
Gilbey was a livewire throughout the evening and his energy was one of the highpoints as Rocks created half chances for Higgins and Lewis, who both shot wide.
Brentwood’s first chance was a strike at goal for Mitch Hahn but he got under the ball and it flew high over the bar.
A dreadful passage of error-strewn play from both sides followed that was only ended by a great ball from Gilbey on 22 minutes that set Higgins free and his shot was deflected wide. From the corner, a training ground move saw the ball worked to Smith on the edge of the box and though Martyn Guest got both hands to his fierce drive, the keeper could pnly parry it into the side netting.
Almost immediately Rocks gifted Jamie Guy the chance to put his side level but having beaten a static defence’s attempt to play him offside the Brentwood striker shot over the bar.
From the restart another fine Gilbey pass set Higgins free on the left and as he cut in to shoot he slashed at the ball which flew wide – but more significantly the strike produced the injury and moments later he was replaced.
As Rocks reorganised, Brentwood created another chance for an equaliser but Craig Reid fired straight at Lukas Lidakevicius.
It looked as if Smith’s strike would be the difference going into the break but in added time Gilbey wormed his way into the box only to be felled by a reckless challenge and Smith did the rest, slotting home the subsequent penalty.
Brentwood came out fired up for the second half and should have been back in after just 20 seconds as they carved out an opening for Reid with the home defence in static mode but fortunately for the Rocks, Lidakevicious reacted well to make a block save.
Having ridden their luck, Rocks settled and once more the stage belonged to Gilbey as another jinking run on 56 minutes ended with a delightful chipped cross to the far post where Wraight rose highest to head home from close range.
The goal took the sting out of any potential Brentwood recovery and any real tempo went out of the game, though Rocks enjoyed the lion’s share of possession and in patches produced some slick play.
They suffered another injury blow when George Craddock was stretchered off on 67 minutes after taking a blow on his foot but they kept pressing forward and were rewarded with a fourth goal on 84 minutes when Wraight cut in from the right and crashed a superb low shot past Guest and inside the his upright.
The final flourishes in the match belong to Brentwood as Rocks relaxed and they came closest to a goal when a poor Ben Wood back header exposed Lidakevicious to the predatory Reid but though he clipped his shot past the keeper, it came back off the post to sum up a luckless night for the Blues.