Thurrock 1 - 1 Southend United XI
By Dom Baker
Thurrock’s 5th pre-season friendly saw the Fleet host a Southend XI under the lights. Mark Stimson fielded a 4-3-3 formation with Ronnie Winn, Harry Gerard and Harry Cook leading the attack with flexibility. Southend's young side were clearly keen to make the most of the opportunity given to them whilst Thurrock were looking to continue their positive pre-season schedule.
The hosts dominated the early exchanges, winning duels and keeping the ball well, Thurrock looked to attack and move the ball forward at every opportunity. The tight front three allowed the full-backs to provide the width and did so whenever possible. Remi Sutton and Reece Morgan overlapped constantly, usually unmarked, and caused Southend problems. The first real move of the game came from the left when captain Lewwis Spence played Winn down the line who cut back for Harry Gerard, the striker’s shot was blocked in the nick of time.
Whilst the Fleet had the majority of possession Southend still looked dangerous going forward and had their chances on quick counter attacks. Wide men Nico Cotton and Alex Clark looked to get on the ball whenever possible and run at their opponents. The wingers swapped flanks throughout and liked to cut in and drive into the box. Southend’s best chance of the half came through Cotton who cut in from the left before curling an effort just wide.
The deadlock was broken in the 20th minute and it was the hosts that took the lead. A Thurrock corner was headed clear but only as far as Ronnie Winn who crossed into the crowded penalty area before centre-half Glen Wilson rose the highest and looped a header into the top corner.
GOAL 1-0 Thurrock Glen Wilson
After a cagey start to the half both sides began to create chances. The Thurrock goal from Wilson ignited Southend’s young side who looked keen to equalise quickly. Danger man Nico Cotton was put through on goal by Michael Klass but was denied by Mason not once but twice as the keeper smothered both efforts. The away side continued to trouble Thurrock’s defence as Alex Clark fizzed a shot from distance just over in the 26th minute and then, moments later, put the ball on a plate for number 9 Ba whose shot was blocked heroically by George Winn – a goal stopping interception. Mason was called into action again late into the first half as Jack Bridge collected the ball 30 yards from goal before smashing the ball low and hard, tipped wide from the Fleet no.1. Just 2 minutes later and Bobby Mason had to replicate the same save to deny Amadou Ba this time his effort looked destined for the bottom corner. The last action of the half saw Thurrock’s Spence beat the offside trap but he lost momentum and was caught by centre back Tom Clifford who ensured the lead was slim going in to half-time.
HALF TIME THURROCK 1-0 SOUTHEND XI
The half-time break gave an opportunity for Stimson to make some changes as Glenn Poole, Josh Olukolu and Ola replaced Lewwis Spence, Harry Gerard and goal scorer Glen Wilson – a new spine for the hosts.
Tackles flew in from both sides in the early exchanges of the second period and the referee had to intervene in the otherwise free-flowing game. The first half could have swung either way and each player was fighting to take control of the second. Amongst the scrappy play Thurrock’s Glenn Poole represented a cool and experienced head. The new captain picked up the ball 20 yards from goal and without looking up smashed an effort off the crossbar. The Fleet almost made it two there but should have done in the 60th minute. Harry Cook let the ball run through to Ronnie Winn who beat his man and found himself 1 on 1 with the keeper who raced out quickly to deny him – a fine stop from Nathan Bishop.
Moments later and the intensity was there for all to see again. Harry Cook clattered into a 50/50 challenge and came off worse. A lengthy break in play followed as he received attention from the physio. Mark Stimson made some more changes here on the 70-minute mark bringing on Joel Nouble, Morgan Seaman and Zak. Southend made a number of changes of their own just minutes after. The changes made to both sides did affect the rhythm of the game as many players had to get used to the pace of the match. Mistakes began creeping in to both side’s passing play.
Southend looked more dangerous going forward with pace out wide but struggled when it came to delivering the final ball or making the correct decision in the Thurrock box. A number of promising attacks broke down for the visitors, but substitute Harry Phillips took his chance for the Shrimpers. The number 11 was teed up by Amadou Ba before shifting it onto his left foot and dispatching the ball high into the top right hand corner.
GOAL 1-1 HARRY PHILLIPS
The second half needed a spark but it was the visitors that supplied it in style. With just 3 minutes left on the clock it was Southend who should have found a winner. Southend sub Norman Wabo was played through on goal but Bobby Mason stayed big to deny him, the rebound then fell to Ba who was also denied by the in-form keeper. The ball was cleared by the Thurrock defence and moments later the full time whistle blew. A dramatic end to a tight affair.
FULL TIME THURROCK 1-1 SOUTHEND XI
After a strong and confident start from the hosts they were lucky not to be beaten. Keeper Bobby Mason was the hero of the night denying 2 if not 3 clear chances to score. Another tough test for the Fleet as they continue to prepare for the season ahead which kicks off Saturday 12th August.