Rocks set up play-off final date
EAST Thurrock United will host Bank Holiday Monday’s Ryman Premier play-off final when they will entertain Dulwich Hamlet, after a consummately professional performance against Tonbridge in front of a crowd of 849 at Rookery Hill on Thursday
The Rocks had previously taken part in three Ryman play-off matches without scoring a goal but they put that hoodoo to bed after just eight minutes when Ricki e Hayles popped up in a crowded box to fire the ball past visiting keeper Anthony Di Bernado. It was the central defender’s first goal for the club this season but was a fair reflection of the excellent start made by East Thurrock, who pinned their visitors back from the off.
As the clock ticked on, Angels began to pose a threat and Bradley Woods Garness had a shot blocked by home keeper Lucas Lidakevicius, then Luke Allen blasted over the bar. The best chance of the first half fell to Angels’ top scorer Nathan Elder but the big striker burst into the box, only to fire inches wide of the far post.
It looked as if one goal would separate the sides going into the break but in the second minute of added time the ball broke for Ben Marlow on the edge of the box and though his shot lacked power it foxed Di Bernado who got both hands to it but couldn’t deflect its path into the back of the net.
Tonbridge kept pressing in the second half but lacked a direct threat and Lidakevicius was rarely threatened and though he had to make saves from Elder and Luke Blewden they were always in the comfort zone.
In the closing stages East Thurrock missed a glorious opportunity to add a third when Brandon Scott seemed shocked when slipped the ball by Sam Higgins and he tensed and wasted an unexpected opportunity but the home side were not troubled as they negotiated eight minutes of added time to set up Monday’s meeting with Hamlet, who beat Bognor 1-0 away with a late goal.