Vanarama National League South
East Thurrock United 1 v 2 Hemel Hempstead
TWO goals early in the second half earned Hemel the Vanarama National South victory their overall performance deserved and a fifth home defeat if the season leaves Rocks mired in the relegation zone with little that was positive to come out of a game where they occasionally promised much but in the end went down rather tamely.
The Tudors went in at half time behind to Sam Higgins’ 33rd minute penalty but they had dominated the first half. Scott Shulton had given notice of his side’s intent early in the piece, striking the crossbar with a shot from outside the box.
Struggling East Thurrock showed plenty of bright possession across the middle of the park but lacked a cutting edge until ref Steven Hughes ruled Ismail Yakubu had hauled Steve Sheehan down in the box when a corner was floated in and Higgins put the penalty away with a low strike that brushed the fingertips of Laurie Walker.
Hemel were quick out of the dressing room at half time and their eagerness to get on with the game caught Rocks napping with a break down the right that saw Sinclair cut inside and score within four minutes and two minutes later more slack defensive play saw him come in from the other side – with the same result!
The ease with which a disjointed defence was torn open was symptomatic of the reason why Rocks are deep in trouble.
Not that they showed a lot at the other end where talisman striker Higgins looks a spent force at the moment, though support play for him is in short supply too. Other than the penalty Higgins’ sole effort on goal was 40 yard shot that drifted high and wide.
In the last 20 minutes East Thurrock were finally stung from their lethargy and pushed Hemel back, but the impressive Darren Ward and Yakubu marshalled the visiting defence well.
One glorious chance came the way of Rocks’ most energetic player, Danny Harris, but his close range volley was instinctively saved by Walker.
Two shots from Josh McLeod-Urquhart brought routine saves from Walker but Rocks never really showed the urgency or skill required to get back into the game and few could argue with the result.