Ryman Div One North
Tilbury 1 v 2 Brightlingsea Regent
Report by Scott Lanza
THE Ryman League North Division is so tight this season that Tilbury are still in the promotion pack despite losing to second-placed Brightlingsea Regent at Chadfields on Saturday. The Dockers have three games coming up against promotion candidates and on this showing could still find themselves in the promotion mix as we come into the Christmas period. Regent, who had lost to the Dockers in October, had a second trip to the borough of Thurrock within seven days and having beaten Thurrock last weekend, made it a happy return by leaving Chadfields with all three points. The R’s beat Aveley 4-1 at Mill Field in October which means the Thurrock region has offered them rich pickings so far this season.
It was the Dockers who started the game in attack mode and Lewis Francis immediately went to work, going on tantalising runs that tested the Brightlingsea defence. He won a couple of early corners, one of which was headed marginally wide by Joe Nightingill. Francis was selling dummies and then using his pace to manoeuvre past the R’s defence. One such move saw him turn Ricky Griggs inside-out, before racing to the byline and sending over a lovely cross to Neil Richmond who hit a powerful shot towards the bottom left hand corner needing Ollie Bowles to use his prowess to tip away.
Eventually the R’s came into the game using quick pass and move football. They had their own trickster in the shape of Robbie Rees whose diagonal runs meant he was always involved in any R’s attack. He latched onto a through-ball in the eighteenth minute and held off the challenge of three Dockers defenders before laying off to Harry McDonald. The move was ended when McDonald dragged his shot wide. However the R’s took the lead in the 24th minute through Rees. The ball was being passed around the Dockers box and then they upped the gears as Phil Kelly passed to Jake Turner who held the ball up before laying off to Rees. The much-travelled striker had managed to find himself in space and when the ball came to him he turned and slotted it under Lee Butcher to give his side the lead. Tilbury up until then had created more chances but the goal woke the visitors up and their next attack almost bore fruit as a long ball from Turner had to be turned away for a corner by Dockers captain Simon Peddie.
It didn’t take Tilbury long to draw level however. Jack Barnum, who could end up being a very astute signing for the Dockers, was the target man and everything the Dockers did up front had Barnum involved in some way. The goal came after he darted down the right flank and drilled in a cross aimed at the far post that Warren Joseph headed away for a corner. Hewitt’s resulting corner flew into the six yard box and was nodded past Bowles by Nightingill.
The R’s almost re-took the lead three minutes later when Aaron Condon’s corner floated dangerously near the Tilbury goal and required Butcher to palm away. A sizzling free-kick from Turner also required Butcher to be at his best to tip away. Tilbury however ended the half in the ascendency as Barnum’s pace and movement meant that the R’s at times had to man-mark him. This allowed other Dockers players to get into good positions with Francis sending over some lovely crosses but Russell Malton and Connor Witherspoon stood firm in the centre of the R’s defence and worked hard to snuff any Tilbury attacks.
Toch Singh placed a free-kick into the R’s box in the opening moments of the second period that Turner headed away and in the next moment the R’s were launching a counter-attack. McDonald took possession of the loose ball and darted towards the Dockers goal and won a corner for his side in the process. The corner was cleared and next moment Barham was in the R’s box, bearing down on goal until a last-ditch tackle from Malton, who took the ball right off Barnum’s foot just as he was about to crack off a shot.
It looked like it was only going to be a matter of time before someone scored and unfortunately for the Dockers it was the R’s who re-took the lead in the 50th minute. It looked like a Brightlingsea passing move that had seen the ball worked into the Dockers box had come to an end after Turner’s lay off was cleared. However Malton had other ideas as he picked up the loose ball and drilled a delightful shot that looked like it was going to hit the net the moment it left his boot. Butcher dived in vein as the ball sailed over him and crashed into the top corner.
The Dockers immediately re-grouped and a Barnum header forced Bowles to pull off an acrobatic save as he had to leap high to his right to parry the ball to safety. Bowles also became a further nemesis to Barnum when the Dockers forward raced onto a through-ball and made a solid connection, however the R’s keeper dived to his right and blocked the effort. The Dockers also had to weather a few testing moments themselves with one solid tackle from Peddie on Phil Kelly having the R’s fans calling out for a card from the referee. They soon got their wish as Barhum received a yellow card for a foul on Matt Cripes, who then returned the foul on Barnum moments later and also ended up in the referee’s book. In total six yellows were dished out; it wasn’t so much a dirty game but a competitive one.
Butcher had to parry a Condon drive midway through the half but it was the Dockers who raised their game as the clock wound down. Hewitt had a number of crosses that tested both Bowles and his defence with one corner being cleared off the goal-line by Cripps. The best chance to equalise came in the eighty-seventh minute when Barnum met Hewitt’s corner with a powerful header that was unfortunately just inches too high.
In the end the game was won by a superb goal but Dockers fans can take solace in the fact that they certainly remained in the game right until the final whistle; which shows that on their day they are more than capable of giving their promotion rivals a hard game. However with their next three games against teams in the play-off positions, means that they will also need to take points off them, as well as putting in good performances if they want to maintain their promotion challenge.
The result sees Tilbury in eighth place just two points off a very packed play offs.
They return to league action on Tuesday night at home versus Cheshunt.
Tilbury: Lee Butcher, Conor Mead, Kurt Smith, Simon Peddie, Joe Nightingill, Lewis Jaggs, Lewis Francis (Toby Aromolaran 78), Toch Singh (Danny Norton 78), Jack Barnum, Neil Richmond (Tony Martin 71), Reece Hewitt
Scorer – Joe Nightingill (33′)
Brightlingsea Regent: Ollie Bowles, Ricky Griggs, Russell Malton, Connor Witherspoon, Warren Joseph, Matt Cripps, Harry McDonald, Jake Turner, Robbie Rees (Rob Harvey 90), Phil Kelly (Kieron Baker 90), Aaron Condon (George Doyle 71)
Scorers – Robbie Rees (24′), Russell Malton (50′)