Isthmian League North: Maldon & Tiptree 3 v 2 East Thurrock United
A LATE header from defender Danny Nesbitt gave Maldon & Tiptree all three Isthmian North points in an entertaining clash as they hosted East Thurrock United on Saturday afternoon.
The Jammers were looking to get back to winning ways following defeat at home to Grays last time out and handed debuts to recent signings Billy Willis at right back and forward, George Smith.
East Thurrock, meanwhile, were looking to avenge the 4-0 mauling they were subjected to by Maldon back in November.
It was East Thurrock who started the brighter of the teams and barely five minutes had elapsed when they fired the opening salvo as a cross from the right found Harry Critchely free at the back post, but luckily for Maldon, he fired well wide.
Two minutes later and the visitors were in again. Former Jammers striker, Brian Moses beat defender, Michael Finneran to the ball and laid it off to Jordan Peart. But he only succeeded in drawing a good save from Tommy Dixon-Hodge with his right foot and the resulting corner led to nothing.
On 10 minutes though, the early pressure paid off as East Thurrock’s strong start bore fruit. Peart, who was looking lively, beat the offside trap and sprinted away. His cross was turned home for an unfortunate Joe Turpin own goal.
East Thurrock tails were up as they went in search of a second and only a great save from from Dixon-Hodge in the Maldon goal kept the score at 1-0. Jack Hayes had found himself on the edge of the Jammers’ six yard box. He punched a header towards goal, but Dixon-Hodge got down low to his right to keep the ball out.
The Jammers were struggling to impose themselves as an attacking force on the game. On a rare foray forward, Terrell Egbri was brought down on the edge of the penalty area by Sam Carter. It was Harry Phillips who stepped up and hit a stunning freekick that hit the underside of the bar and bounced down on the line. Egbri was there to make sure there was no doubt as to whether it crossed the line as he headed home to bring The Jammers level.
That goal was the first of three in six minutes. Just after half an hour, the visitors were back ahead when the Jammers defensive seas parted for Moses, allowing him to fire home from close range after a game of pinball in the Maldon box.
That lead lasted barely two minutes. A great run down the left and cross from Peter Mokwenye found Phillips who jinked past the oncoming defender and rifled Maldon level for the second time in what was turning into a pulsating first half.
Both sides had chances to go into the break with the lead, firstly with Dixon-Hodge and Billy Willis combining on the goal line to deny Peart and on the stroke of half time, Phillips saw a corner come back off the Thurrock woodwork.
Half time came with a 2-2 scoreline. East Thurrock were probably wondering how they weren’t ahead, but this is a different Maldon side than at the start of the season and they were still well in this game.
The second half began in the same manner as the first, as the visitors came out on the front foot. Moses headed over from close range and a busy Dixon-Hodge saved a Critchley effort from point blank range in the opening five minutes of the half.
The most bizarre moment of the match came on the hour mark when Thurrocks Ben Steward nearly matched Turpin’s earlier somewhat unlucky own goal. Steward headed an Egbri cross onto his own post from three yards out. He didn’t seem to know how he’d done it…….neither did anyone else. But luck was on his side.
As the match wore on, both sides created half chances without ever really testing either goalkeeper with Phillips having a long-range effort blocked on 75 minutes and substitute Harry Hope firing wide for Eat Thurrock on 83 when he was free at the back post.
There was a final twist in the tale on 85 minutes. The Jammers won a corner which was fired over to the far post by Harry Phillips. Danny Nesbitt rose to beat Steward to the ball to powerfully head home for his first Jammers goal. Unlike the visitors twice before them, Maldon made the lead stick to condemn East Thurrock to a fourth straight defeat.
That win lifts The Jammers to 13th in the league ahead of Tuesday night’s league game at home to Wroxham.