Football: East Thurrock through to semi-final of Essex Senior Cup

East Thurrock United 2-0 Colchester United, Wednesday 4th January 2017, Kick-Off 7:45pm, Rookery Hill, BBC Essex Senior Cup Quarter-Final.

Second-half goals from Sam Higgins and Michael Clark saw Vanarama National League South newcomers East Thurrock United upset Colchester United to reach the Semi-Finals of the BBC Essex Senior Cup for the first ever time.

The Rocks weathered the storm as Football League Two Colchester were denied by the crossbar three times before prolific forward Higgins nodded in an Ade Osifuwa free kick twelve minutes from time. Clark wrapped-up the win seven minutes later.

East Thurrock’s previous Senior Cup best was a quarter-final shoot-out defeat to Aveley in 2004, but John Coventry’s side have now moved within one game of a historic first final. They’re aiming to emulate their 1992 predecessors, who reached the final of the former Essex Senior Trophy, losing out that day to Ford United.

The U’s, who fielded largely their Premier League 2 Under 23s side, enjoyed the better of the first half but they were contained well by a resilient Rocks rearguard. Charley Edge did manage to get an angled shot away, but watched his effort creep wide of the far post. Tariq Issa was the first to strike the goal frame, chipping against the bar following Matthew Briggs’ deep free kick.

The hosts could’ve broken the deadlock moments after the re-start as Higgins’ fierce effort was well blocked by visiting goalkeeper Rhys Williams before Rocks custodian Lukas Lidakevicius did well to keep out Femi Akinwande, who had been played in on goal by Cameron James.

Shortly before the hour mark, Colchester were denied by the crossbar twice in as many minutes. Akinwande’s low, left-flank cross was deflected onto the top of the bar then Louis Dunne poked a shot just too high following another centre from the left. East Thurrock made the most of their fortune as they went on to dominate much of the remainder of the contest.

Lee Burns’ looping header was only grabbed by Williams at the second attempt and former Southend United forward James Walker zipped a low effort just wide. Higgins, with his 13th goal in 14 starts this season, headed Rocks ahead when he got onto the end of Osifuwa’s excellent cross at the back post.

The tie was decided on 85 minutes. Colchester ‘keeper Williams misjudged his attempt to claim a Teddy Nesbitt free kick and, although Tom Wraight saw his shot blocked, Clark was on-hand to fire home the loose ball and send his side into the last four.

East Thurrock United: Lukas Lidakevicius, Ade Osifuwa, Teddy Nesbitt, Michael Clark, Joe Ellul (Lee Burns, 52), Ben Wood, Reece Harris, George Craddock (Ben Marlow, 72), Sam Higgins, James Walker (Harry Honesty, 89), Tom Wraight. Unused Substitutes: Michael Freiter, Joe Gardner.

Colchester United: Rhys Williams, Cameron James, Matthew Briggs, Diaz Wright, Jermaine Grandison, Dexter Peter, George Brown, Tarig Issa (Callum Jones, 85), Femi Akinwande, Charley Edge, Louis Dunne (Aaron Cosgrave, 83). Unused Substitutes: George Phillips, Chris Regis, Osase JJ Ogbodu-Wilson.

Bookings: Colchester: Grandison (64, foul).

Referee: Steve Parmenter (Shoeburyness).

Assistant Referees: Rhys Battye (Grays) and Michael Scott (Stanford-le-Hope).

Attendance: 197.

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