Thurrock 1 Southend United 1
Report by Dom Baker
THURROCK’S fifth pre-season friendly on Wednesday evening saw them host a Southend United team under the Ship Lane lights. Mark Stimson fielded a 4-3-3 formation with Ronnie Winn, Harry Gerard and Harry Cook leading the attack with flexibility. Southend’s young side were clearly keen to make the most of the opportunity given to them, whilst Thurrock were looking to continue their positive pre-season schedule.
The hosts dominated the early exchanges, winning duels and keeping the ball well. Thurrock looked to attack and move the ball forward at every opportunity. The tight front three allowed the full-backs to provide the width and did so whenever possible. Remi Sutton and Reece Morgan overlapped constantly, usually unmarked, and caused Southend problems. The first real move of the game came from the left when captain Lewwis Spence played Winn down the line who cut back for Harry Gerard, the striker’s shot was blocked in the nick of time.
Whilst the Fleet had the majority of possession Southend still looked dangerous going forward and had their chances on quick counter attacks. Wide men Nico Cotton and Alex Clark looked to get on the ball whenever possible and run at their opponents. The wingers swapped flanks throughout and liked to cut in and drive into the box. Southend’s best chance of the half came through Cotton who cut in from the left before curling an effort just wide.
The deadlock was broken in the 20th minute and it was the hosts that took the lead. A Thurrock corner was headed clear, but only as far as Ronnie Winn who crossed into the crowded penalty area with centre-half Glen Wilson rising the highest to loop a header into the top corner.
After a cagey start to the half both sides began to create chances. The Thurrock goal from Wilson ignited Southend’s young side who looked keen to equalise quickly. Danger man Nico Cotton was put through on goal by Michael Klass but was denied by Mason not once but twice as the keeper smothered both efforts. The away side continued to trouble Thurrock’s defence as Alex Clark fizzed a shot from distance just over in the 26th minute and then, moments later, put the ball on a plate for number 9 Ba whose shot was blocked heroically by George Winn – a goal stopping interception. Mason was called into action again late into the first half as Jack Bridge collected the ball 30 yards from goal before smashing the ball low and hard but was tipped wide by the Fleet Number One. Just two minutes later and Bobby Mason had to replicate the same save to deny Amadou Ba whose effort looked destined for the bottom corner. The last action of the half saw Thurrock’s Spence beat the offside trap, but he lost momentum and was caught by centre back Tom Clifford.
The half-time break gave an opportunity for Stimson to make some changes as Glenn Poole, Josh Olukolu and Ola replaced Lewwis Spence, Harry Gerard and goal scorer Glen Wilson , providing a new spine for the hosts.
Tackles flew in from both sides in the early exchanges of the second period and the referee had to intervene in the otherwise free-flowing game. The first half could have swung either way and each player was fighting to take control of the second. Amongst the scrappy play Thurrock’s Glenn Poole represented a cool and experienced head. The new captain picked up the ball twenty yards from goal and without looking up smashed an effort off the crossbar. The Fleet almost made it two with that effort and should have done in the 60th minute. Harry Cook let the ball run through to Ronnie Winn who beat his man and found himself one-on-one with Southend keeper Nathan Bishop, keeper who raced out quickly to deny him, pulling off a fine stop.
Moments later and the intensity was there for all to see again. Harry Cook clattered into a fifty-fifty challenge and came off worse. A lengthy break in play followed as he received attention from the physio. Mark Stimson made some more changes on seventy minutes bringing on Joel Nouble and Morgan Seaman. Southend made a number of changes of their own just minutes later. The changes made to both sides did affect the rhythm of the game as many players had to get used to the pace of the match and mistakes began creeping in to both side’s passing play.
Southend looked more dangerous going forward with pace out wide but struggled when it came to delivering the final ball or making the correct decision in the Thurrock box. A number of promising attacks broke down for the visitors, but substitute Harry Phillips took his chance for the Shrimpers; teed up by Amadou Ba, he then shifted the ball onto his left foot and dispatched it high into the top right hand corner.
The second half needed a spark and the visitors that supplied it in style. With just three minutes left on the clock it was Southend who were pressing for the winner. Southend sub Norman Wabo was played through on goal but Bobby Mason stayed big to deny him, the rebound then fell to Ba, who was also denied by the in-form keeper. The ball was cleared by the Thurrock defence and moments later the full time whistle blew bringing a dramatic end to a tight affair.