Vanarama National League South
Torquay United 2 v 0 East Thurrock United
Report courtesy of Thurrock Independent
EAST Thurrock’s preparations for this Vanarama National League South clash at Torquay were disrupted by holiday traffic that saw them trapped on the M5 and only arriving at Plainmoor 30 minutes before the scheduled kick-off, with referee Richard Gardner insisting on a 3pm start.
There was an early scare for Rocks when Lee Burns slipped in the third minute, allowing Brett Williams the opportunity to dispossess him and bear down on goal but Jack Giddens saved well and Ryan Scott completed the escape by scrambling the ball away.
Rocks were struggling to make an impact but eventaully forced a period of presssure when Harry Lee’s long throws and Paul Konchesky’s corners forced Torquay into some hurried defending.
However, other than a cracking shot from debutant and AFC Wimbledon loanee Alfie Egan which Torquay keeper Shaun MacDonald countered, the Gulls always looked capable of causing Rocks problems and eventually opened the scoring two minutes before half time – though it was a goal that came gift-wrapped from Scott.
There seemed little danger as Giddens came out to collect a ball but inexplicably Scott turned it into the path of Rory Keating who slid it into an empty net from 15 yards.
Rocks’ second half team talk probably didn’t include them conceding a goal six minutes into the second half when Keating headed home from from a left-wing cross, but that’s what happened and the goal put the Gulls into the comfort zone.
They controlled much of the second half which passed largely without incident, though Rocks did have the odd moment, perhaps most notably when Danilo Osei-Dodomo’s effort clipped the bar.
But the two sides – not surprisingly given Torquay’s full time status – look to have a gulf between them.
It’s hard to be critical of a side who have to compete on a such an uneven financial playing field, but Rocks’ performance was perhaps summed up with a last minute bid for a consolation when sub Ashley Miller hit a free kick, high, wide and aimless – though a few seconds later he did force a fine save from MacDonald , only for ‘normal service’ to resume when Paul Konchesky clipped the ensuing corner straight out of play onto the top of the net.
It encapsulated the quandary for Rocks. Fleetingly they can threaten but they are spending far too much time on the back foot.
Torquay will be eyeing an immediate return to the top flight of non-League, while Rocks – anchored to the bottom and now on a run of nine successive defeats going back to last season, have a mountain to climb.
However, their season will not be decided by games against Torquay and table-topping Woking, but games against the ‘mid-table’ brigade – which makes Tuesday’s home game with Eastbourne Borough all important as manager John Coventry seeks to stop the run of defeats.