East Thurrock made their way into the second round of the Trophy with a controlled display of football played under some very sticky conditions especially in the first half. The Stags had the better of the first half chances but the Rocks’ experience showed throughout.
From the start, the Rocks employed the same game plan as Saturday, pushing up to the half way line as quickly as possible. Inevitably, this allowed the few real chances to fall to the Stags as they came forward and put the home side on the back foot. On ten minutes Dewayne Clarke came through the inside right channel and crossed to the centre, Ken Charlery sold a dummy for Pasa Karabulut to fire in a shot from the left but Rocks’ keeper Mark Hardingam seemed untroubled as the ball passed the left upright.
East Thurrock continued to press without much end product and the Stags’ extra speed on the wings found gave them a few more shooting chances until, on 20 minutes, Charlery was able to open the home defence with a cross to the edge of the six yard box, however, there was nobody present to capitalise.
For the next ten minutes the game became a real end to end battle which East Thurrock finally won and began to press the Stags into their own half from whence they had real difficulty in finding the “out ball” as the Rocks pressed and smothered the game. The pressure was not converted into goals though as their shots were often way off target giving Gavin King very little to do. As with the previous match, Forest defended on the edge of their penalty area and allowed nobody through.
After 35 minutes Forest had their only real scare when The Rocks put a ball in from the left wing and Danny O’Sullivan had to head past his own post before a home attacker could nip in. Then play went up the Rocks’ end and Charlery just headed inches wide from a Clarke cross.
After a first half where Forest had most of the good chances and East Thurrock had a higher percentage of the pressure, weather conditions tamed and the game became one of pressure and counter attack with the Rocks seemingly able to find their men with their passes much easier than Forest did as the Rocks pressured the ball every time a Forest man was in possession.
East Thurrock were then given a dream start to the half when good right wing play got the ball to Vinnie John at the near post who made no mistake putting the ball home from close range. It was not long before referee, Mr Belbin sent off Ian Barnes for what he thought was a two footed tackle. Two yearly eye test coming up soon?
That, in effect put an end to the game for the Stags. With their man over, East Thurrock’s passing became easier and Forest were always chasing the game. The home defence became more assured as the dealt with any ball coming out of the Stags defence.
The Stags did get one or two break aways but these were stopped by a defence which now always had a spare man.