VCD Athletic 1 v 3 East Thurrock United
THE scoreline from Tuesday’s Ryman Premier clash belies the story of the match, a truer representation would have seen the visitors win by several more goals.
That they didn’t was down to a lack of composure in front of goal and some heroics from home keeper Tom Hadler, who picked up the man of the match award. The three points that Rocks picked up proved more precious though, and lifted the visitors to sixth in the table, while Vickers languish second from bottom and facing the real threat of relegation.
Rocks were forced into changes, the most notable being the appearance in goal of Lewis Lockyer in place of illness stricken Lukas Lidakevicious, who had started all but one of East Thurrock’s matches this season. Bizarrely, with Rocks fans wishing Lockyer, who has been playing in the Essex Senior League with Sporting Bengal United, well and commenting on another ‘youngster’ coming through the ranks, the reality is, at 23, he is older than Rocks’ Lithuanian regular stopper who is 22!
Also missing was defender Ashley Miller but neither change seemed problematic as Rocks settled quickly to their task and pushed their hosts back from the off.
A succession of chances followed. From a fine early run down the left flank Tom Wraight ripped a great cross in front of Hadler’s goal but non-one could get a touch and moments later Sam Higgins burst through to lash the ball into the side netting. Lewis Smith then flashed another great cross in front of goal, Hadler got down well to save Higgins’ low free kick and Smith shot wide before the pressure finally told on the half hour when Wraight was picked out by Higgins’ superlative cross and he headed home from close range.
Though Rocks continued to press they were grateful for a double save from Lockyer to deny Nigel Nelta and then the follow-up but by and large they remained in the ascendancy and it was something of a mystery that they only led by one goal at the break, though Hadler played his part with great saves to deny Higgins and Ade Yusuff.
The pressure continued in the second half and Rocks were finally rewarded with a second goal when Higgins moved inside from the edge of the box and unleashed a low drive that gave Hadler no chance.
To their credit VCD kept going and, as the fog began to roll across the pitch, lifted some of the gloom with a goal smashed home from close range by Donovan Simmonds on 72 minutes.
And thoughts of a comeback were ended nine minutes later when Wraight turned on the edge of the box and produced a spectacular, looping shot that beat Hadler all ends up to deliver the midfielder’s tenth league goal of the season.
Rocks saw out time comfortably and though they know they will face tougher tests as the season draws to its conclusion, if they can produce this level of dominance they will be in a real shout of challenging for promotion by its conclusion.