FA Trophy 1st Round
East Thurrock United 1 v 1 Aldershot Town
Report by Scott Lanza
EAST Thurrock United will have to do it all over again on Monday evening after a battling display on Saturday saw them hold Aldershot Town to a 1-1 draw. The home encounter pitted the Rocks up against a Vanarama National League outfit who had only won once in their last six league matches. The Shots have once again turned to Gary Waddock, who guided them back into the Football League in 2007/08 and the Shots manager put out a strong team that included experienced players in the shape of former Southend United winger Anthony Straker and Scott Rendall, who has turned out for Peterborough United, Torquay United and Wycombe Wanderers. Added to the mix was a whole wealth of talented academy players now plying their trade in the National League. The best of which was Idris Kanu, the former West Ham United Academy starlet, who showed his potential all afternoon. As to be expected those players all linked up nicely and some of the passing football the Shots played was nice to watch. But the Rocks under the tutelage of John Coventry also had their moments in this pulsating cup tie and certainly gave the Shots something to think about.
Kanu and Rendell linked up very well for Aldershot and the pair of them went about their work trying to prise open the Rocks defence. Joe Ellul and Michael Clark had put in a joint effort to halt an early Kanu attack but it took until the 10th minute before the Shots started unloading when Bernard Mensah let rip from range. Lukas Lidakevicius was called upon not long after, having to rush out and smoother a through ball that Dion Conroy was looking to latch onto.
The Rocks soon started to come out of their shell. A Reece Harris ball over the top just run away from Tom Wraight who had prised himself away from his marker. The Rocks had shown the Shots that they too could cause danger in attack and that was to be proved in the 22nd minute. A nice passing Rocks move ended with James Walker being fouled just outside the Aldershot penalty box. Up stepped Sam Higgins, who fired home a powerful free kick that ricocheted off the Aldershot wall and sailed past Shots keeper Mark Smith. The Vanarama National League outfit soon had to defend a dangerous corner from George Craddow that was headed away by Will Evans.
It didn’t take long for the Shots to draw level though. A low cross into the Rocks box by Kanu was met by Mensah, who turned and smashed it into the bottom left hand corner. Having levelled the rest of the half saw the Shots pepper the Rocks goalmouth with Lidakevicius having to pull off a couple of good saves. But when Reece Harris broke the Aldershot offside trap it looked promising until Smith rushed out and cleared the ball away. Fenelon had the best chance of the half for the visitors, firing off a shot from an acute angle that required a goal line clearance from Clark.
Aldershot opened the second half in dominant fashion and Lidakevicius and his defence immediately had to get down to work. Michael Freiter had to block a Jim Kellermann from the left, Teddy Nesbitt was cutting them out from the right, with Clark again having to work hard to cut out a Kanu shot within the opening stages of the re-start. The Rocks defence stood up to a lot of pressure as their opponents passed the ball nicely around the park.
Lidakevicius showed his goalkeeping prowess when he tipped away a Dion Conroy free kick. The Rocks stopper also parried a Matt McClure effort and then blocked the rebounding shot that came off the foot of Rendell. The Rocks had a few goes at breaking down the high Aldershot rear guard themselves but Higgins and Wraith saw their efforts scrambled away. A Higgins cross did find James Walker in the Shots penalty box but again the opposition defence were able to clear the ball to safety.
The best chance of the half fell to Shots substitute McClure, who had already tested the Rocks keeper soon after coming on. Through on goal he had a golden opportunity to win the game for Aldershot but Lidakevicius made a superb save to deny him.
The Rocks showed plenty of resolve as the game wound down and now have to travel to the EBB Stadium tomorrow night for the replay.
East Thurrock United: Lukas Lidakevicius, Michael Freiter, Teddy Nesbitt, Michael Clark, Joe Ellul, Ben Wood, Reece Harris (Joe Gardner 70), George Craddock (Ben Marlow 81), Sam Higgins, James Walker (Harry Honesty 76), Tom Wraight
Scorer – Sam Higgins (22′)
Aldershot Town: Mark Smith, Anthony Straker, Will Evans, Shamir Fenelon (Matt McClure 70), Scott Rendell (Charlie Walker 81) , Bernard Mensah, Cheye Alexander, Jim Kellermann (Kundai Benyu 66), Dion Conroy, Idris Kanu, Callum Reynolds
Scorer – Bernard Mensah (27′)