Wednesday, 13 August 2014

East Thurrock United 1 v 0 Canvey Island

Tuesday 12th August 2014
Isthmian League Premier Division
Rookery Hill, Corringham
Admission: £10.00
Programme: £2.00 
Attendance: 280
Match Rating: 3

I decided to head over the Dartford Crossing for this attractive looking local derby in south Essex, between two clubs separated by six miles as the crowd flies along the River Thames.

Rookery Hill is located close to the centre of Corringham, about a quarter of an hour drive east from the Dartford Crossing. Having entered in one corner, stretching towards the half way line are dark green portakabins which blend in surprisingly well with the surroundings. Straddling the half way line is an all-seater stand which has quite an intimate feel but was supporting pillars along the front. On the opposite side a further all-seater stand is located towards the corner flag, whilst towards the other corner flag is a skeleton of a stand. Two small stands covering terrace steps are located either side of one of the goals, whilst behind the other goal is just hard standing. With expectations not particularly high after driving through the bleak, flat landscape of south Essex with oil refineries in view, the ground turned out to be a really pleasant surprise. The stands are neatly and attractively painted in dark green with smart signage scattered liberally around, there is a pleasant symmetry about the facilities, plenty of trees and greenery around the ground give a nice rural feel, which is completed with a church just about visible behind the turnstile. The 28 page programme was quite basic in appearance, with a paper cover and hardly any colour printing inside, but in terms of content, it ticked all the boxes with plenty to digest.

Both teams started the season positively on Saturday, East Thurrock winning 1-0 at home to AFC Hornchurch, whilst Canvey Island won 3-1 at home to Bognor Regis Town. Last season, East Thurrock eventually won their battle to avoid relegation, finishing in 20th place in the 24 team division. Canvey had a very average season, finishing in 13th place. Rookery Hill hasn't been a happy hunting ground for Canvey in recent times, having lost on each of their last three visits.

On a cool, overcast evening, the visitors made the early running, doing all the attacking in the opening ten minutes as they threatened to overrun their hosts. Steadily though, East Thurrock got into the game, finishing the half very strongly, and after creating a number of good chances, they took the lead on the stroke of half time. David Bryant took possession of the ball on the right wing before cutting in and then firing a low powerful shot into the bottom corner. Despite Canvey's strong start, the half time scoreline was a fair reflection of the first half.

Into the second half and the game increasingly became a real feisty battle which occasionally boiled over. Although East Thurrock always looked the stronger and more threatening, it was Canvey Island who came closest to scoring. On 55 minutes, a shot from just outside the area by Anthony Thomas took a deflection and looped up but the ball came back off the crossbar with the keeper beaten. On 78 minutes, the visitors thought they had got back on level terms when Ashley Dumas' long diagonal ball into the box was headed into the net by John Sands, but the goal was ruled out for offside. Their final clear chance to equalise came four minutes from time,  but Jay Curren placed his shot wide of goal from a good central position after the ball was played back to him from the byline. In the end, East Thurrock held on for a win they just about deserved, to claim their fourth derby win on home soil in four seasons.

Video highlights of this match can be found here

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