Metropolitan Police 0 v 3 East Thurrock United
IT might be Easter but it seemed like Christmas for East Thurrock United at Imber Court where the hosts’ calamitous defending gifted them three goals, though the end margin was a fair reflection of the dominance of the Ryman Premier promotion-chasers.
Had they been a little more clinical in front of goal the margin of victory would have been higher, with Police having just two significant chances in the whole match.
The visitors put the pressure on right from the start and the intensity of their play was rewarded after just three minutes when Kye Ruel chased down what looked a hopeless cause as a throughball was overhit but Police keeper Oliver Payne remained glued to his six yard box as his defenders dallied, allowing Ruel to get prime position to strike at goal. His effort was blocked by Pain, who snapped out of his inertia, but the ball rebounded wide to Ryan Sammons, whose goalwards effort was undoubtedly a cross but it drifted over Pain into the net.
Soon after Rocks might have added a second that would have been more of their own making when Tom Wraight supplied a superb pass across the face of goal into the path of Sam Higgins who low shot struck the foot of the post.
Police attacks were rare and through one effort a shot was drilled wide, Rocks keeper Lukas Lidakevicius was largely untroubled..
In contrast Pain was living on his nerves and more problems led to another Rocks goal on 22 minutes when the keeper and his defence once more left a ball to each other and it bobbled on the edge of the box towards Wraight. He had a huge amount to do and while the cause of the goal was undoubtedly Police’s dilatory defending, the way he turned with his back to goal and curled a shot into the top corner was the mark of a class player who raced away to celebrated his 17th league goal of the season.
As the half drew to a conclusion, Rocks increased in confidence and produced bursts of exhilarating, passing football which stretched Policed on a number of occasions and it was something of a surprise that Rocks didn’t stretch the lead before the break.
And they came out at the start of the second half in even more upbeat mode, with Wraight clipping a gilt-edged chance just wide of the upright and the Ruel glancing a header just past the post when any sort of firm connection would have surely resulted in a third goal.
If there was any surprise, it was that a third Rocks goal didn’t come until the 77th minute and once more it was a gift, though credit must be given to Rocks determination to chase everything down.
Throughout the afternoon Pain had been keen to roll the ball out to his defenders rather than kick against a fierce wind that blew across the pitch and he often got the ball back as Police sought to keep position. However, it was a trick they tried once to often when Pain dallied on a pass back in the six yard box and Ben Marlow harried him into a miss-kick and poked the ball home from close range for his first goal for the Rocks, becoming the 18th player in the squad to net this season.
Police actually enjoyed brief purple patch as Rocks seemed to ease off with the game won and Charlie Collins had the chance of a late consolation but he blazed a volleyed high, wide and not very handsome to sum up a day that Police will quickly forget but one that breathed new life into the Ryman title race as second-placed Rocks made up ground on leaders Hampton who suffered a defeat not so very far away in their derby with Kingstonian.