Thurrock 2 v 0 Romford
Ryman League North
Report by Scott Lanza
THURROCK entertained tenants Romford at Ship Lane on Monday knowing that they had already qualified for the play-offs thanks to a winning performance at Dereham Town on Saturday. But with all-important home advantage still to play for meant that this derby game still had plenty riding on it. The Fleet took only three minutes to open the scoring and then wrapped it up midway through the second half.
The very first Fleet forward move was decisive. Charlie Stimson started the attack with a skilful little flick-on that fell to Mark Onyemah, who in turn cut in from the left wing and crossed the ball to Michael Pindy who stabbed it past Callum Chafer to give Thurrock an early lead. Boro came back instantly with an Ayodeji Olukoga free kick that Connor Wheatley, standing in for regular custodian Bobby Mason, tipped away.
Despite taking an early lead the Fleet did not over-exert themselves and it wasn’t until the 25th minute that they mustered another real chance. David Cowley dinked a delightful ball that caught the Boro defence cold and Pindy ran on to it but could only fire his shot wide of the target.
Thurrock may not have been firing on all cylinders but their defence remained solid with George Winn and Perry Dunn taking it in turns to head away crosses sent over by Olukoga. Boro’s forwards were kept under close guard with the Fleet defenders snuffing out any attacks that Romford were trying to instigate. By the halfway mark the Boro had only a wildly off-target shot from Chinedu McKenzie and two free kicks from Akwasi Marfo, both of which were easily handled by Wheatley, to show for their efforts.
Then all of a sudden the dangerous McKenzie unchained himself from his marker George Winn and for a moment it looked a serious threat as Boro’s top scorer raced towards the penalty area; his shot in the end lacked any real power and was easily saved by Wheatley. The half petered out and the tight marking and lack of space on the pitch meant that clear cut chances were few and far between. Importantly though the Fleet had crafted one real opportunity and had taken it to go in at the break in a leading position.
Ryan Mallett fired a shot wide early in the second half before Ryan Boswell worked his way into the Fleet box but wasn’t able to get past Perry Dunn who dispossessed the Boro player just as he was about to unload. After that the Fleet defence again became Scrooges and prevented Boro creating anything resembling a chance for most of the remainder of the half.
Substitute Solomon Coker delivered a good cross that Onyemah almost got on the end of. However Coker should have doubled the Fleet lead after Onyemah returned the compliment, setting up his team mate who smashed the ball over the bar. However Fleet duly doubled their lead in the 65th minute when a block by James Ishmail fell fortuitously to Onyemah, who buried the ball from close range past Chafer.
The second goal totally deflated Boro and they could have conceded a further goal in the 70th minute when Coker ran onto a through ball, steamed into the Boro box but then hesitated allowing Chafer time to rush off his line and smoother the ball.
Boro were awarded a free kick in the 75th minute, after Adebayo was fouled by Jordan Clark, which earned him a booking. The resulting free kick was cleared and fell to Pindy, who was deep in his own half when he started a great run that saw him sail past Mallett, but then petered out after he knocked the ball too far forward allowing the Boro custodian to come and collect the ball.
Onyemah forced a corner in the closing stages which ended up being punched to safety by Chafer. Just like the first half there were very few real chances but Fleet had been the more dominant of the two sides and while the game could hardly be called a classic, the win moved Thurrock up to third. They will finish in that position if they pick up a further win at relegation-bound Wroxham on Saturday.
Thurrock: Connor Wheatley, Reece Morgan, Remi Sutton, George Winn, Mark Onyemah, Perry Dunn, Michael Pindy, Ronnie Winn (Christy O’Donoghue 77′), Charlie Stimson (Solomon Coker 46′), Jordan Clark (Capt), David Cowley (James Price 84′).
Scorers – Michael Pindy (3′), Mark Onyemah (65′)
Romford: Callum Chafer, Jonathon Adebayo, Akwasi Marfo, James Ishmail (Capt), Danny Cossington, Ryan Mallett, Ayodeji Olukoga, Ryan Boswell, Chinedu McKenzie, Nick Reynolds (Chris Taylor (77′), Greg Akpele (Chris Barry (86′).