Thurrock 1 Harlow Town 1
Emirates FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round
Report by Dom Baker
Manager Mark Stimson made three changes to the team that faced Billericay Town on Monday. Joe Bruce was ruled out after aggravating an injury in the warm up, whilst Craig Hall and Adetayo Osifuwa came into the starting eleven. The injury curse continued leaving Thurrock with just three substitutes.
This Emirates FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round tie saw the Fleet face fellow Bostik Premier League team Harlow Town. The Hawks had picked up only three points from their opening five games. It was easy to tell that these two teams played at the same level as the game was competitive and cagey throughout.
Thurrock started brightly as Craig Hall and Charlie Stimson were able to get onto the ball and bring team mates into play. There was a constant battle in midfield which saw little action in either penalty area. Crosses were slung into the Thurrock area but were well dealt with each time by skipper Richard Halle and George Winn.
The first shot of the game came on 21 minutes after fluid build-up play from the Fleet. Ronnie Winn played a deep free kick quickly to Stimson who held the ball up before laying off to Lewwis Spence whose effort was lashed over. Minutes after and Harlow Town had their first chance. Junior Dadson cut in from the right flank and worked some space onto his left foot before shooting just wide of Tim Brown’s post.
Thurrock looked good in possession but perhaps lacked the final ball or slice of luck. In the 31st minute Winn fired the ball into Craig Hall and neatly teed up Richard Halle who struck a volley from distance which stung the keeper’s hands. Moments later saw Halle involved again, this time in his own half, as he chased an opponent’s loose touch and then won the fifty-fifty, came off worse in the challenge and needed to receive lengthy treatment from the physio.
The game needed a goal, but unfortunately for Thurrock it went Harlow’s way as Thomas Fagg fired the Hawks into the lead a minute before the break. Moments before Fagg had shaved the post with a similar strike and so made no mistake on the second attempt. Neite teed up Fagg on the edge of the box who then buried the ball into the bottom corner.
Thurrock made two changes at the break; a bruised Richard Halle made way for Jordan Clark who filled in at centre back, while Glenn Poole replaced Craig Hall, which allowed Joel Nouble to push further forward.
The hosts looked much sharper after the interval and began winning the individual battles in the tight midfield. Poole was operating on the left of the middle three, which allowed him to cut in and find Spence who skewed his effort just wide of the post.
Thurrock were also busy on the right side as Osifuwa and Nouble were direct hen running at the opposition and were unlucky not to pick out a Thurrock shirt with their crosses. In the 78th minute a loose clearance from a Nouble cross bounced around the Hawks area before falling to Poole who smashed a volley just over the bar.
Harlow made an attacking substitution as goal scorer Fagg made way for Vidal, and they constantly looked to attack Thurrock on the counter. They ventured forward with crosses into the box but Tim Brown dealt with them comfortably.
Nouble was direct on the right wing as he turned into the middle away from his marker to find Spence, who took a touch and then swept the ball in the top corner. As soon as the ball left Spence’s foot you knew that it was going in. It was a fine equaliser and put the Fleet back in the contest.
Moments after the restart Charlie Stimson found himself twenty yards from goal after a long ball forward. The striker turned and found Poole cleverly on the overlap, who then hit the post after a wonderful left foot strike. Harlow were lucky to escape but broke forward in attack immediately. A cross bobbled around in the Thurrock area for substitute Obisanya to pounce on and rifle a shot that clipped the post before bouncing safely away.
Nouble ventured down the right wing again in the dying minutes where he found Joe Christou in the area and his cross was blocked on the goal line. The Hawks chased down their clearance deep into the Thurrock half and came close with the last kick of the game. Syrus Gordon picked up the ball thirty yards from goal and bent the ball onto the crossbar, much to Thurrock’s relief.
Thurrock battled bravely with an injury-ravished squad and will take confidence from this performance into the replay on Tuesday evening.
Thurrock: Tim Brown, Reece Morgan, George Winn, Richard Halle (Jordan Clark 45’), Adetayo Osifuwa, Joe Christou, Joel Nouble, Lewwis Spence, Charlie Stimson, Ronnie Winn, Craig Hall (Glenn Poole 45’)
Scorer – Lewwis Spence (86’)
Harlow Town: Ben McNamara, James Shepherd, Charlie Dickens, James Baker, Stanley Muguo, Fabion Simms, Junior Dadson, Syrus Gorfon, Alex Read (Timothy Obisanya 77’), Tommie Fagg (Xavier Vidal 82’), Nigel Neite.
Scorer – Tommie Fagg (44’)