Thurrock 3 - 0 Bishop's Stortford
By Dom Baker
In the penultimate game of the pre-season schedule, Thurrock faced Bishop’s Stortford of the Southern League Premier Division. With just over a week until the first game of the season preparation is almost complete and player fitness is reaching its peak – and Thurrock look ready.
Dennis Oli was back in the side having missed the friendly against Southend United 6 days ago. Mark Stimson fielded a strong side in a 4-3-3 formation with Ronnie Win and Charlie Stimson joining Oli.
Thurrock started brightly pressing their opposition constantly to win the ball back. The first chance came just 3 minutes in when Reece Morgan overlapped on the right and cut back for captain Lewwis Spence, he looked up for Dennis Oli but the cross was inches away from connecting. Thurrock, as they like to do, dominated possession and looked to keep the ball on the floor from the off. Joel Nouble, playing on the right of the middle 3, got on the ball often in the early exchanges as he looked to go forward with every pass. Despite this, the first clear-cut chance fell to the visitors. Bishop’s Stortford’s winger D. Foxley raced down the left wing before finding striker Akinyemi who had the goal at his mercy but couldn’t connect. Bobby Mason smothered the scuffed shot and looked to get a counter-attack started quickly.
The tempo of the first-half was so quick that the referee had to intervene to stop free-kicks being taken too quickly. It may have been a friendly but the referee was finding it hard to keep control with the match’s pace.
The quickness of Bishop’s Stortford’s attacks came from their long balls targeted towards strikers Akinyemi and Owusu – Thurrock handled these well as the back four battled to win headers. Defence turned to attack on the 20-minute mark when Reece Morgan overlapped Nouble on the right flank before crossing to Remi Sutton on the left-hand side, whose shot was narrowly tipped over by the opposition keeper. The ball went from Right-Back to Left-Back and the Fleet were unlucky not to be 1-0 up – proof of their attacking intent.
Thurrock kept surging forward in search of the game’s opening goal. Oli was released with a neat through ball and held off his opponent before finding Charlie Stimson with a clever back heel but his shot was blocked. The confidence was clearly flowing. Minutes later Dennis Oli beat the offside trap with a looping ball from Reece Morgan, the keeper was stuck in two minds and found himself isolated, Oli took one look and smashed a volley over the Goal Keeper. Thurrock were 1-0 up with 30 minutes gone thanks to an effort worth the entrance fee alone, Oli’s chip could be an early contender for goal of the season.
THURROCK 1-0 BISHOP’S STORTFORD
DENNIS OLI (31)
Straight from kick-off Bishop’s Stortford looked to equalise as midfielder Z. Guerfi shot from the centre-circle, a surprised Bobby Mason palmed the ball to safety – a fine effort. The resulting corner was headed away but only as far as M. Hughes whose volley was also denied by Mason. Minutes later and Mason was on-hand to quash the threat again. Winger C. Owusu was put through on goal but denied by Mason who was quick off his line to slide in and clear. Having been pinned back by the home side Bishop’s Stortford had 3 chances inside 10 minutes. The game was truly end-to-end now.
It was Thurrock’s turn to attack just before the half-time break as Oli’s run down the left channel was picked out. The number 11 picked out Ronnie Winn who showed great awareness in turning and laying off Glenn Poole, the midfielder curled the ball home first-time from 20-yards.
THURROCK 2-0 BISHOP’S STORTFORD
GLENN POOLE (42)
Poole’s goal was the last notable action of a brilliant first-half for Thurrock.
The half time break allowed for the home side to make a change. Goal-scorer Glenn Poole made way for Jamie Price who would sit deep in central midfield. It was evident that the goal right before the half-time break affected the visitors as the game visibly slowed. Bishop’s Stortford looked long for their trio of attackers but with little prevail, Thurrock were winning first and second balls and looked very comfortable.
The 50 minute-mark sparked another change as Joel Nouble, who had received physio treatment in the first-half, made way for Harry Gerard. The midfielder was involved in the action straight away, within just 5 minutes of coming on Gerard was played in on the right flank before cutting the ball back for Charlie Stimson who swept the ball home to the keeper’s right. A very well worked goal.
THURROCK 3-0 BISHOP’S STORTFORD
CHARLIE STIMSON (59)
The game was well and truly over, the Fleet were cruising to victory. The visitors made a change in reaction to the goal as C. Ekipeta was replaced by J.Westcott. Westcott linked up well with Casey who overlapped on the right channel and whipped in a dangerous cross, it was cleared by Joe Bruce bravely. The visitors had another attempt to find a target in the box but that was collected easily by Mason. The keeper then made way for a substitute keeper who would see out the final 25 minutes. Striker Craig Hall also replaced Charlie Stimson.
Hall was causing problems immediately with clever and consistent runs in behind, Spence and Price looked to find him frequently but it didn’t quite click. Instead, it was Bishop’s Stortford who would have the next chance. Owusu and Akinyemi linked up again on the right-hand side as the latter shot first time which crashed off the crossbar with the keeper beaten. Thurrock cleared the danger and, as always, looked to attack straight away, a real asset of their play. Reece Morgan raced down the touchline and crossed for Ronnie Winn on the edge of the box, he let the ball run for Spence whose strike went just past the post. A great move that illustrated the confidence in this squad.
With 78 minutes gone goal-scorer, Dennis Oli made way for Harry Cook who partnered Craig Hall in a new look attack. The substitutes for Thurrock were buzzing around the pitch and impressing. Jamie Price, in particular, looked very comfortable in midfield having made the recent step up to senior football. As the game continued Thurrock looked more and more in control as the visitors appeared a well-beaten team. It is a credit to the attitude of the Fleet that at 3-0 up in the 85th minute of a pre-season game both full-backs were still bombing forward and providing the width in attacks.
The last chance of the game came to Craig Hall whose speculative effort from distance was narrowly over, the striker almost continued the theme of brilliant goals. A late corner collected by the Thurrock stopper signalled the end of the game.
THURROCK 3-0 BISHOP’S STORTFORD
Thurrock were deserved winners with a score line to prove it, not only did they attack dangerously and throughout but they were hardly troubled at the back. 3 fantastic goals and a clean sheet is a brilliant reward for a dominating display. Thurrock are looking excellent going into their first league game on the 12th.