Thurrock 1 - 0 Colchester United U-23
By Dom Baker
In the last friendly of a busy pre-season schedule Thurrock faced a Colchester United XI at Ship Lane. Thurrock fielded a strong team with Captain Richard Halle back in the side in the heart of defence.
The first chance came just 2 minutes in as Joe Bruce slipped in possession just 20 yards from the Thurrock goal, Colchester’s Courtney Senior pounced on the loose ball before rounding Bobby Mason. The winger went down under Mason’s attempt to win the ball and a penalty was awarded. Mason made up for this by diving low to his left and tipping the ball to safety – a fine save to keep the game level.
The resulting corner was headed clear but only as far as Harry Ashcroft who struck a volley cleanly but straight into the arms of Mason. It was now Thurrock’s turn to attack and they could have scored from their first chance when a Joe Christou corner was whipped in dangerously. There was a scramble in the Colchester penalty area but Spence couldn’t connect.
The strike force of Gerard, Stimson and Oli proved dangerous in the Fleet’s recent 3-0 win against Bishop’s Stortford and they looked sharp once again. The forwards linked up well with neat, interlinking touches. Oli scooped the ball over Colchester’s centre-backs to Gerard who was denied by the onrushing keeper who was forced to punch clear.
Thurrock’s first clear cut chance came on the 15-minute mark when a long throw from Remi Sutton was flicked on by Stimson into the path of Spence who was denied by Lurasik. Minutes later and the Thurrock forwards were connecting well again, Dennis Oli held the ball up well before Gerard played in Christou who overlapped. His shot was well saved by the Colchester keeper who denied the hosts again.
The visitor’s chances came largely from counter-attacks as they looked to overload in attack but Thurrock defended well in numbers. Thurrock caused problems from another set piece 25 minutes in as Richard Halle rose the highest but saw his header fly just wide of the post. The hosts kept the pressure on and just moments later Oli broke the deadlock.
Thurrock’s number 10 was played through down the right wing and struck a half volley from the edge of the box across the keeper.
THURROCK 1–0 COLCHESTER UNITED
DENNIS OLI (30)
Colchester came into the game more after going a goal behind but their young squad was often out-muscled by Thurrock who quashed their quick attacks. Winger Courtney Senior looked the most dangerous who liked to beat a man and cut in from the right flank.
THURROCK 1-0 COLCHESTER UNITED
The second half saw many changes for Mark Stimson’s men as Thurrock made 9 changes. Captain Halle and striker Harry Gerard remained while Glenn Poole, James Goode, Harry Cook, Craig Hall, Ola and Morgan Seaman came on along with 2 unnamed reserve players.
Strikers Craig Hall and Harry Cook linked up well early in the second half as Hall flicked the ball neatly into Cook’s path before seeing his shot well blocked. The opening exchanges of the half were cagey as many of the players were getting used to the quick pace of the game having just come on. Many of Thurrock’s substitutes were playing for a spot in the first team whilst the Colchester squad were doing the same. This created a very competitive second half.
Colchester were looking for an equaliser and stepped up their intensity as the match went on. Their pressure came from wide areas but many of them were well dealt with by Halle and substitute centre half Ola. The visitor’s best chance came from the flank as left-back Ryan Clampin overlapped and crossed for striker Phipps who couldn’t connect.
With just 15 minutes to go Colchester made a triple change as they looked to get an equaliser. The visitors were upping the pressure on Thurrock’s defence who did well to clear every time, striker Craig Hall was a useful outlet who won headers and held up play.
The last chance of the game fell to United who could have levelled with minutes to go. Louis Dunne’s volley was blocked and rebounded to Mckeown who found himself 1-on-1 with Thurrock’s substitute keeper. His effort was denied by the inside of the post as the keeper smothered the loose ball bravely.
THURROCK 1-0 COLCHESTER UNITED
A good win for Thurrock who created chances and secured a clean sheet. The attacking 433 formation looks very dangerous going into the league campaign on Saturday. The substitutes looked comfortable in the second period, particularly in defence.
The league kicks off this weekend as Thurrock FC host Margate at 3 o’clock on the 12th August.