28th March 2005
Division One East
|Peter Pitts reports from Rookery Hill
|East Thurrock United
Leaders get all the luck!
LEAGUE LEADERS East Thurrock defeated Sittingbourne by 3-0 on New years day and on that occasion the Rocks were well worth their win.
This time the Rocks victory was more due to Lady luck than anything else as the referee Mr Smith was amazingly generous in allowing Lee Burns to stay on the pitch after the Rocks man pulled Bradley Spice back after just seven minutes when he was clearly the last man, Spice would certainly have gone on to at least test the keeper.
A dubious free kick led to the Rocks first goal and then luck stayed with them on 65 minutes when their second goal, the goal that made the slope just too hard to climb for the Brickies, looked to be way off side.
Sittingbourne started brightly and Spice tested Mark Hardingham after just three minutes but Hardingham easily gathered.
Then came the incident where Spice was away from Burns in a central position before Burns pulled him back.
Spice took the free kick himself and the ball smashed against the left hand post before bouncing away to safety.
The Rocks had their early moments too and and Vinnie John's header was bundled away.
Back at the other end and Hardingham punched the ball off Spice's head following a corner, then the Rocks had a period of ascendancy before the ball was given away to Jon Neal in the Rocks area but he was only able to poke the ball straight to Hardingham.
East Thurrock have a strong defence and Jon Neal and Bradley Spice were having a tough time especially as the Brickies midfield was struggling to supply any sort of service to them, Lee Browning, who had a good game on Saturday was floating about with little apparent purpose so it was left to Neal and Spice to chase shadows for much of the match.
Despite this the Rocks were also having little joy at this stage in front of goal and Kevin Fewell easily gathered a 35th minute shot by Gary Dixon.
Danny Harris had a shot for the Rocks scooped away for a corner on 41 minutes and at the other end Kieran Marsh found Spice who raced away but spoiled it all with his final ball which although meant for the unmarked Neal was to close to Hardingham.
It looked as though the Brickies would go into half time with the match balanced but approaching first half injury time Adam Douglas was harshly judged to have committed a foul. From the kick the ball found Harris who crossed to the far post and Paul Linger was on hand to fire past Fewell.
The Rocks had the first shot of the second half when John rifled the ball across the goal then on 52 minutes Neal had a shot which was easily gathered by Hardingham, and then Hardingham plucked a header from Marsh.
On 66 minutes an Adam Douglas header went astray and the ball was flighted forward to the unmarked John and he deftly lobbed Fewell for goal number two.
At last Browning had a run at the Rocks defence but unfortunately he elected to shoot when Jack Tanner was unmarked to his left and the shot went wide.
On 70 minutes Fewell failed to hold a Rocks corner and the ball fell invitingly to Gary Dixon lurking at the far post but luckily for the Brickies from just three yards out Dixon blasted the ball over the bar.
Steve Lovell then decided to have a look at goalkeeper Lee Friend and so substituted Kevin Fewell. Friend's first touch of the ball showed that he was suffering from nerves and his goal kick was somewhat weak.
However, he did well five minutes later when he palmed a speculative cross over the bar.
then from the corner he made an excellent instinctive save from a header.
A minute later the Rocks won another corner which found John who fired goalwards and the ball bounced off Friend into the goal and the Rocks were three up.
The Rocks were now dominant and on 87 minutes Friend was stranded in no mans land but Danny Hazleden's cross missed everyone, then a flurry of goalmouth activity led to Friend blocking the ball which went back to Hazleden but Hazleden blasted over.
The Rocks had the ball in the net again in injury time but this time the referee spotted the offside and disallowed the "goal".
The other Southern League results didn't go Sittingbourne's way, especially as Great Wakering Rovers were victorious over Barking & East Ham United and although the Brickies are 9 points clear of the relegation zone, this Saturday's game against Great Wakering could be crucial.
Sittingbourne: Fewell (Friend 73), Coyle, Hill, Ainsworth, Campbell, Hodge (Tanner 57), Douglas, Marsh, Neal, Spice, Browning,