Thurrock 1 Harlow Town 0 (Bostik League Premier)
Monday 1st January
Report by Dom Baker
This Bostik Premier League tie saw The Fleet kick off for the first time in 2018 as they hosted Harlow Town. The visitors started the game 22nd in the table while Thurrock were 18th, separated by just 5 points.
Early pressure came from the hosts as Thurrock got forward on the left through Remi Sutton. The fullback cut back for Ronnie Winn whose shot caused a scramble in the penalty area. First Ogunrinde’s strike was blocked before it fell to Jordan Clark who couldn’t keep his volley down.
Harlow Town answered with a chance of their own. Toby Ajala latched onto a long ball forward and centred for Ibe who couldn’t connect. Any sort of touch would have opened the scoring.
The early exchanges were scrappy but energetic, there were no signs of New Year’s Eve hangovers. Thurrock were trying to keep the ball on the floor through Lewwis Spence and Joe Christou and were at their most dangerous when they got the ball wide.
On the 22nd minute mark Harlow carved out the game’s first clear cut chance. Midfielder Simms set Junior Dadson through on goal with a first-time pass. The left winger couldn’t convert though and saw his shot well saved by Ben McNamara.
Moments later Harlow went close again. Junior Dadson worked the ball from left to middle finding Alex Read on the edge of the area. The striker struck the ball fiercely but curled it just past the post. Thurrock were lucky not to be behind.
With half an hour gone Thurrock became the team to squander a chance. Ronnie Winn’s corner was whipped in with pace towards the back post but Perry Dunn’s header somehow didn’t find the net. The game was truly end to end but somehow goalless.
Lewwis Spence went close just minutes later when he danced through two challenges before firing into the keeper’s arms. The first substitution came on the 39th minute through injury. Jordan Clark was forced to come off with a knock allowing Joel Brown-Bampoe to replace him.
In an action packed first half it was Thurrock who struck first. Joe Christou caused problems from a set piece again as his corner found Curtis Ujah who rose the highest. His header smashed the post but came back out to the centre half, his rebound was poked into the net.
Minutes into the second period Thurrock had a golden opportunity to increase the lead. Joe Christou clipped the ball forward for Joel Nouble to chase. The forward got it out of his feet but couldn’t lift the ball high enough over keeper David Hughes.
Remi Sutton got forward from left back to create another great chance again for Thurrock. The defender linked up well with Spence and drifted into the box. His left footed strike beat the goalkeeper but crashed off the bar, so unlucky.
Harlow reacted to the pressure through two substitutions, Tommie Fagg and James Shepherd entered the game. But Thurrock went close again through skipper Spence. He won a free kick 25 yards from goal and almost capitalised from it. His strike was clipped over the wall but whistled narrowly passed the post.
The first booking of the game went to Harlow defender Ibrahima Sonko for a late lunge on Ronnie Winn on the left wing. The resulting free kick was whipped in at pace towards the front post but cleared for a corner.
Thurrock were working hard to protect their lead by staying organised in defence and compact in midfield, Joel Nouble was the outlet in attack. Harlow were pushing for an equaliser and made their third sub with 15 minutes left to play. Ex-Thurrock striker Leon Antoine came on in attack.
Joe Christou went in to the referee’s book with 10 minutes left for what looked like a superb sliding tackle. Tommie Fagg lined up the free kick on the edge but saw his effort blocked by a flying Curtis Ujah. Thurrock got forward immediately with Ronnie Winn as an outlet, he danced past his man but saw his shot deflected and well stopped by Hughes.
Thurrock entered the final minutes of the game with lead to protect and were doing so bravely. I lost count of the number of headers and clearances that were won. It did, however, make for a nervy finish at Ship Lane. Substitute Claudio Ribeirio Goncalves replaced Ogunrinde as we entered stoppage time.
Thurrock were weathering the late storm as they had all game. The organisation in defence was there for all to see, Harlow just couldn’t break down the back 4. Ben McNamara collected a low cross bravely in the dying seconds to seal the win.
It wasn’t the prettiest win, nor the most convincing, but was all the more special as circumstances meant players were out of position and young players were given important jobs to do. The senior squad members also stepped up to the plate and gave everything to ensure the team pulled together and got three important points to move up to 15th.
Thurrock: Ben McNamara, Jordan Clark (Joel Brown-Bampoe 39’), Remi Sutton, Perry Dunn, Curtis Ujah, Joe Christou, Michael Pindy, Lewwis Spence, Joel Nouble, Ronnie Winn, Timothy Ogunrinde (Claudio Ribeirio Goncalves 87’).
Scorer – Curtis Ujah (41’)
Harlow Town: David Hughes, Jared Small, Jeya Siva, James Baker, Ibrahima Sonko, Fabion Simms, Toby Ajala (James Shepherd 61’), Syrus Gordon, Alex Read (Tommy Fagg 59’), Kezie Ibe (Leon Antoine 75’), Junior Dadson.