Vanarama League South
East Thurrock United 1 Concord Rangers 1
Report by Scott Lanza
EAST Thurrock United are the undisputed Vanarama South draw specialists after they picked up their twelfth draw of the campaign at the Future Fuel Stadium yesterday. Ben Marlow brought them back on level terms in the second half after they had gone in at the break trailing 1-0 to relegation-threatened Concord Rangers. The visitors had produced little in the first half until a free kick from the right was headed home by Cameron Norman.
Up until then it had been all East Thurrock and they almost took the lead with their opening attack when Lee Burns found space to rifle off a dipping shot that Bailey Vose had to cut out. Joe Gardner also wasted no time in tearing into the visitors and one incredible run saw him take on several players, but his progress was halted just inside the penalty box by James White. Vose had to be at his best to deny Sam Higgins and then the Beach Boys rode their luck when a Gardner cross was almost turned into his own net by Cameron Norman.
It had been a most positive start from the Rocks and they didn’t let off for the remainder of the half. The hosts saw Joe Ellul send a towering header only inches over the cross bar. The same player also went close with another header and Higgins won a corner in the 40th minute when his burst of pace into the box resulted in Jay Dowie knocking the ball away. The resulting corner was met by the head of Gardner but he wasn’t able to direct it goal ward.
Lukas Lidakevicius had spent the entire of the half a mere spectator and only twice had to come and claim high balls near the Rocks goal. It was therefore a travesty that Lidakevicius was picking the ball out of the net right on the stroke of half time. A rather innocuous challenge on Lyle Delle-Verde resulted in the referee awarding a free kick by the right touchline. James White’s free kick was well taken and Norman opened the scoring with a powerful header that beat the Rocks keeper. It was totally against the run of play and had in fact been the only chance the Beach Boys had mustered in the opening period.
The Rocks almost got back on level terms in the opening stages of the second half when a Reece Harris shot struck the post. However Concord Rangers showed a bit more attacking flair than they did in the first half and they themselves almost doubled the lead in the 50th minute; a counter attack ended up with former Rocks player Sam Collins blazing a fierce shot only inches over the cross bar.
The Rocks however were back on level terms in the 58th minute. Tom Wraight crossed to Gardner who knocked it on to Ben Marlow, who ended the move with a superb shot that flew past McCarthy.
Concord Rangers however started to mount more attacks as the half went on and Ellul had to stick out a leg to deflect a Jordan Chiedozie shot. It harboured in a good spell for the Beach Boys as Chiedozie forced Lidakevicius to dive high to his right to tip away a fierce volley. Lyle Delle-Verde was also getting himself into dangerous positions and one of his crosses was met by Tony Stokes whose volley wasn’t too far from hitting the net.
The Rocks however went back on the attack with Higgins carving out a chance after exchanging passes with Gardner. The ball was laid off nicely for the Rocks hitman and he struck a powerful shot that Vose palmed away. White and Norman also had to block efforts from Burns and Higgins as the Rocks went out to claim all the points.
Concord Rangers had other ideas of course and Ben Wyatt had to use all of his defensive acumen to tackle Chiedozie who was bearing down on goal after being played in by Sam Collins. And had Michael Clark not hooked away a ball that was working its way to an unmarked Chiedozie, then it is likely that the Rocks may have fallen behind in the 79th minute. Ade Osifuwa also showed some quality defensive work to tackle Steve Cawley just as he was about to let rip.
The local derby was now simpering nicely as it came into the final ten minutes. Both sides had chances to win it, with Ellul again just placing a header the wrong side of the upright, while a deft little flick from Lee Burns fell nicely for Higgins, who hit a low shot towards the bottom left hand corner that Vose tipped behind for a corner. Concord Rangers, who had scored right in the closing seconds of the first half, almost did so again as the game came to its conclusion. Chiedozie chased down a through ball and knocked it across the box to Cawley. However Lidakevicius showed fast reflexes to get down and claim the ball from Cawley’s feet.
It had been a tight local derby, a slow burner that came to life as the game progressed and in the end both teams, who had shared a point in the Boxing Day fixture at Thames Road, probably deserved a point each in this New Years Day encounter. East Thurrock host Colchester United in the Essex Senior Cup on Wednesday evening before travelling to Dartford on Saturday.
East Thurrock United: Lukas Lidakevicius, Ade Osifuwa, Tom Wraight, Michael Clark, Joe Ellul, Lee Burns, Reece Harris, Ben Marlow, Sam Higgins, James Walker (Harry Honesty 79), Joe Gardner (Michael Freiter 86)
Scorer – Ben Marlow (58′)
Concord Rangers: Bailey Vose, Rob Girdlestone, Ben Wyatt, Jay Dowie, Cameron Norman, Sam Collins, Tony Stokes, James White, Jordan Chiedozie, Steve Cawley, Lyle Delle-Verde
Scorer – Cameron Norman (45′)