East Thurrock 1 vs Lewes 0
The last time we played East Thurrock we left with two players in an ambulance – this time we arrived with half the team bus needing a good doctor.
Driver Clive’s playlist of dubious 90s pop standards was rapidly drowned out by hacking coughs, window-shattering sneezes and chattering teeth. Those of us who got on the bus in clean health shot each other the kind of nervous glances you saw from the engineers in Chernobyl.
Aside from the afflicted, we were also missing the injured. Jordy Mongoy’s hamstring needs at least another week of Xavier’s healing hands, Kayne Diedrick-Roberts’ ankle injury restricted him to the bench, and Martyn Box has a row of stitches where the back of his scalp used to be after a nasty training accident on Monday.
That meant more enforced changes for the Rooks, who started with a new forward pairing: Dayshonne Golding and Peter Gregory. Medical student Charlie Coppola had at least been reading the thigh injury textbooks this week, allowing him to retake his place behind the front two.
The game started evenly, with both teams prodding and poking at one another without doing any serious damage. Gregory and Golding looked a threat, but largely out wide, where they found themselves drifting to escape the attentions of East Thurrock’s industrial-sized centre-backs. Charlie Coppola, meanwhile, was tripped, whacked and hacked every time he threatened to break into a dangerous position. The referee issued more last warnings than a parent of a tantrum-throwing toddler in Tesco’s.
Our best chance of the half fell to Dayshonne Golding, who cut inside and slammed a fierce shot at the back of the legs of a covering defender. The thighs have it, the thighs have it…
That was quickly followed by the only goal of the game on 35 minutes. Alex Malins probably regrets trying to win a harmless header on the halfway line, and as that flick darted in the direction of our right-back, Tom Day probably regrets wearing his nan’s Hush Puppies instead of screw-in studs, slipping just at the wrong moment. The East Thurrock forwards still took a while to decide if they were going to gawp into the gob of this gift horse before Gilbey finally slotted the ball past a despairing Nathan Stroomberg-Clarke.
A stunning Stroomberg-Clarke save got us to half-time with only one goal to recoup, but the Rooks frittered away the few chances they created in the second period to draw level.
Michael Onovwigun had the best of them, breaking into the Thurrock box after the neatest of interchanges down the right-hand flank. With a ball practically begging to be thwacked goalwards, Big Mike instead decided to show a charitable streak, cutting the ball back to Dayshonne Golding. The ball wasn’t great, truth be told, and Dayshonne lofted the ball over the bar after having to lean back into the shot.
The final flurry saw substitute Stefan Ilic win a free-kick in a promising position on the right edge of Thurrock’s box. One can only assume a kid behind the goal had given Leon Redwood some lip during the preceding 90 minutes, as his free-kick arrowed straight towards a crowd of tracksuited youngsters instead of the waiting Rooks in the box.
The sickly Rooks could perhaps feel a little hard done by not to have taken a point, but as Ross Standen conceded in the post-match video (sadly scuppered by a couple of technical anomalies), we didn’t test the opposition goalkeeper enough, despite plenty of endeavour.
Time to lick our wounds and stock up on Lemsips before Cray come to town next week.
Lewes: Stroomberg-Clarke, Day, Redwood, Dome-Bemwin (Adeyemo, 62), Chappell ©, Malins, Golding (Ilic, 82), Hammond, Gregory, Coppola, Onovwigun
Subs not used: Bloor, T Freeman, Diedrick-Roberts