Saturday, May 25, 2024

Football: Late show by Harry gives hopes for Rocks

THIS game at Spa Road followed a similar pattern to the earlier league meeting between the sides at Rookery Hill, in that both games were decided by a single Rocks penalty scored very late in the game reports East Thurrock United.

As in the previous match, Witham provided well organised and hardworking opposition and will be disappointed not to have clung on for a point.

The critical penalty came on 88 minutes after Rocks had made the tactical move of switching Jordan Peart, who had caused the home side problems throughout with his pace and close control down Rocks left flank, over to the right for the closing minutes.

After making a typical burst into the box, Jordan was sent flying by a badly mistimed challenge, and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

Rocks go-to penalty taker Harry Hope kept his cool, and neatly tucked the spot kick past Town keeper Rhys Madden for his ninth goal of the season.

Rocks went into the game with a new face in goal. Anthony Page, who had been a key figure in the success story of Hashtag United over the past three years, looked impressive on debut. Although it would be fair to say he was seldom stretched, Page dealt comfortably and confidently with anything Witham could muster.

Also back in a Rocks shirt was former player Ben Marlow, who has rejoined the club on a short term loan from Isthmian Premier pacesetters Bishops Stortford, to get some competitive action under his belt after missing most of the season to date with a serious knee injury.

Fair to say Ben slotted straight back into Rocks midfield like he’d never been away. His trademark composure in possession, and ability to pick out a decisive pass certainly haven’t deserted him during his three years away. And a bonus for the Rocks and his parent club was that Marlow got through the full 90+ minutes unscathed.

With leading scorer Brian Moses suspended, and Alex Hernandez still suffering from the after effects of the knock which saw him substituted early on in the midweek draw with Felixstowe, Rocks went into the game without a recognised central striker.

Chances were few and far between in the opening half. Rocks were looking threatening in wide positions, but for the most part, balls into the box were being mopped up by the home defence.

Rocks came out buzzing at the start of the second half, and following some skilful play down the left by Peart, his cross was met by Hope, who fired in a cracking goalbound effort only to see it deflected over for a corner.

Marc Harrison’s boys were now holding the upper hand, and had another great chance just past the hour mark as the ball bobbled around a congested six year box following a Johnny Ashman corner, the ball dropped to Jack McQueen who saw his stabbed close range effort scrambled off the line.

Witham were certainly not out of the game, but were unable to muster any serious goal threats.

Then came the late penalty decider, which, shall we say, was pretty well received by the healthy number of travelling Rocks fans.

Rocks now move on to another tough looking away trip as they visit a resurgent Brentwood Town on Tuesday evening.

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