Thurrock 1 Chelmsford City 2
By Dom Baker
Thurrock FC Vs Chelmsford City FC
Match Report – Saturday 22nd July
This friendly was the 4th game on the pre-season schedule for Thurrock as they took on Chelmsford City of the National League South. The opening minutes were very cagey as both teams battled for every 50/50. Pre-season games can often make for a slow, timid affair, but this was far from that. No player shied away from the tackle, there were no fears of getting injured here.
Both sides came flying out of the blocks as both sets of strikers chased every loose ball. Thurrock started sharply, keeping the ball on the floor with neat passing combinations and bossing possession. If you had to guess which side belonged to a higher division, you could have said it was the team in yellow. Thurrock’s confidence with the ball was evident throughout but no more so than when the ball was at the feet of keeper Bobby Mason who always looked to find a yellow shirt. The first chance came just 7 minutes in from a move stemming from Mason who switched the play from right to left, Joe Christou then received the ball 30 yards from goal and threaded a ball through to Dennis Oli whose effort was smothered by the keeper. Every throw-in and free-kick was taken quickly as both teams ensured the tempo wouldn’t fade.
Despite Thurrock’s early dominance it was Chelmsford that struck first in this tie, against the run of play. Speedster Oyenuga was released down the left-hand side before beating his man and finding his team mate Haysman who volleyed home past Mason, nothing the keeper could do about that one. The game was truly end to end at this point just 10 minutes in. Chelmsford City grew more in confidence after grabbing their early goal and were notably more vocal in communication heard by all in the stand. Soon after the first goal the rain turned from shower to torrential as the ball zipped across the surface, it didn’t, however, stop both sets of players from flying in to tackles as if it were a cup game.
Thurrock didn’t seem discouraged by Chelmsford’s goal as Oli looked to put Fleet straight back in it. He spun his man 20 yards from goal before lashing his effort just wide. Captain for the day Lewwis Spence dictated the play from midfield with a composed selection of 1 and 2 touch passing that ensured Thurrock kept their slick passing style. Their pressure paid off when Charlie Stimson latched on to a loose ball in the area before being pulled down before he could get a shot away. It was a penalty to the home side and perhaps if this was a league or cup game it would have been a red card too. Jordan Clark stepped up to the spot on the 20-minute mark and sent the keeper the wrong way who dove to his right and watch the ball nestle in his bottom left-hand corner.
The end to end tempo didn’t show any signs of slowing down after each team got their goal as Chelmsford flashed two, almost identical, crosses across the face of goal in as many minutes without anyone able to get on the end of them. The visitors looked very dangerous on the flanks as both full-backs liked to bomb on and overlap. The weather continued to worsen with thunder and lightning this time, but despite a ridiculous amount of rain throughout the first half the pitch held up well – allowing both teams to play their similarly quick passing style of play. Chelmsford looked to try and grab a goal just before the break as striker Barnard wriggled past two defenders on the right hand side of the box before fizzing his shot just wide of the post. Although Thurrock seemed to have dominated possession, Chelmsford had the better chances in the first half.
Half Time: Thurrock 1 Chelmsford City 1
The second period saw one change for Thurrock as Mark Stimson brought on Harry Cook for Dennis Oli in a like for like swap. Just like in the first, Thurrock started very brightly after the break and looked the most likely to grab the next goal. The confident and crisp passing continued for the Fleet and just 3 minutes into the second half their early pressure almost paid off. Spence’s late burst from midfield was picked out well but the skipper’s powerful effort was deflected just over. Chelmsford were boxed in as Thurrock continued to dominate possession but struggled to create clear cut chances. The visitors had to rely on swift and direct counter attacks to relieve the pressure.
Chelmsford’s pressure came from wide areas once again, right-back Rogers and right-winger Oyengua combining well. The 65th minute spelled another change for Thurrock as Lewwis Spence made way for Harry Gould who occupied the central midfield role. The biggest chance of the half then came a minute later as Oyengua caused problems, the big number 10 held off his man in the box before turning and lashing an effort towards the near post, Mason was equal to it who had to get down quickly with his left hand to tip it out for a corner. Despite all early pressure, Thurrock looked powerless in defending Chelmsford’s quick attacks. Once again Rogers broke down the right-hand side who beat his man and looped a cross to the back post to find an unmarked team mate in Oyengua whose header was too powerful to keep out.
It was 2-1 to the visitors and that break in play allowed them to make 7 changes at once as Daley, Porter, Haines and Barrett all entered the game along with 3 trial players. Minutes later and Thurrock made some more changes of their own as Price, Morgan and Olukolo came on for the last 15 minutes. A big chance came straight away for Olukolo who was through on goal after beating the offside trap cleverly, but with his first touch his shot was skewed wide. Despite a whole host of changes for both sides the intensity was still there, Chelmsford’s pressing caused problems and Morgan was caught on the ball at right back, great combination play by two trialists saw the ball squared across the face for Oyengua to get his second, his effort was heroically cleared off the line by Jordan Clark who kept the score line close. The final 10 minutes showed a difference in fitness as Chelmsford’s attacking substitutes found space time and again creating several good chances. Another looping cross found a Chelmsford head which was cleared off the line again by Clark. In the final moments of the game the visitors looked hungry to grab another to put the game to bed but Mason was in fine form and denied Chelmsford’s number 20 who was put through by 19.
Full-time 2-1 to Chelmsford City. A deserved win for the visitors who were matched all the way to the final stages of the game.
Next match:- Wed 26th July
. Thurrock vs Southend United XI. 19.45 Kick Off. details
Full Fixture list here