Isthmian League South
Stowmarket 2 v 2 East Thurrock United
THIS was a gutsy performance, described by manager Marc Harrison as “a team performance full of heart, desire and energy throughout” from his boys, who had made the midweek hike up to Suffolk with very much a ‘bare bones’ squad.
Four players from Saturday’s squad, Roman Michael-Percil, Darnell Kithambo, Daryl Bryan-Samuels and Amaree Robinson-Jones were ruled out, while key defenders Harry Critchley and Jack Hayes turned out despite not being 100% fit.
Making their first ever visit to Stowmarket’s Greens Meadow, a ground which has gained a reputation of being something of a fortress, the Rocks started really brightly, taking the lead some thirteen minutes in when the ball fell nicely for the in form Harry Hope to send a well struck drive into the far corner, giving keeper James Bradbrook no chance.
Harry Critchley then saw a super strike go a fraction wide of the post as the Rocks threatened a second, but the home side slowly settled, and Tevan Allen and the impressive Bermuda international Reggie Lambe both saw efforts go just off target, before the pair combined for the equaliser as the game moved into first half added time.
Allen sent in a through ball, finding Lambe who controlled it well before curling a shot wide of Montel Joseph to send the sides in all square at the break.
The home side created a couple of decent openings early in the second half, but Rocks were well in the game and regained their lead with just over twenty minutes left on the clock when hard grafting skipper Oli Spooner won the ball just outside the box, and hit a great low strike which beat Bradbrook all ends up.
Stowmarket then brought on forward Dylan Logan, a weekend signing from Maldon & Tiptree, for the closing ten minutes or so, and he marked his first appearance for his new club by stabbing home a cross at the far post to level up the scores on 82 minutes.
Rocks also introduced their own new signing, the returning Jordan Peart, who came on for the closing fifteen minutes. His first outing in a Rocks shirt since the covid curtailed 2020-21 season, followed by subsequent spells at Bowers and at Tilbury.
It says a lot for our display on a difficult night that there was genuine disappointment that we had only picked up the one point.
However, this was an impressive all round team performance, and a big step in the right direction, as we now move on to Saturday and another big game as Hullbridge come to Rookery Hill.