United struggled to break down a home defence superbly marshalled by former Hayes championship winner Lee Flynn at Ship Lane this afternoon. That said, if Kieran Knight's header had not been ruled out for offside and the referee had seen the apparent shove in the back that led to Thurrock's opener it could have been a different story.
The game saw a return in goal for Delroy Preddie for United and within seconds of the start visiting fans hearts missed a beat as the stopper came to edge of the box and attempted to head clear, got beaten in the air, and both players ended in a heap on the floor with the whistle blown. Thankfully the referee ruled in Delroy's favour and we all breathed a sigh of relief.
After this the game took some time to get going and it was not until the 17th minute that either keeper was troubled. Staforde Palmer, playing in the unaccustomed right wing-back role, fed the ball left to Charlie Mapes who
unleashed a drive that beat the keeper but crashed back off the crossbar. Just two minutes later the woodwork again came into play, this time at the other end. A weak header from Steve Perkins fell nicely to Matt Bodkin, his dipping drive was left by Preddie before bouncing over off the United crossbar.
Chances were still few and far between, David Bryant screwed a shot wide well well placed for Thurrock while Josh Scott saw his effort from inside the area blocked by a fine sliding challenge from Matt Paine. Just before the break United went close again when Peter Collins arrived late to power a Liam Collins corner goalwards only for Bryant to head off the line whilst guarding the post.
One last chance came before the whistle when Greg Lincoln latched onto a weak clearance, his shot bounced free from Preddie's grasp but he was quick enough to gather as Bryant arrived.
The home side started the second period the sharper and wasted a good chance when Flynn crossed to a poorly marked Bodkin at the far post but he headed over. Minutes later United had the ball in the net as Kieran Knight beat keeper Blackmore to a Mapes free-kick only to be denied by a raised offside flag.
side bounced straight back from almost conceding to going ahead in controversial fashion. Adam Thompson had possession on his own byeline and appeared to receive a shove in the back from Bryant that saw him lose the ball. Bryant proceeded to fire the ball into the six yard box where Bodkin netted from close range much to the obvious annoyance of the United players.
Bodkin soon saw another chance come his way but he failed to hit the target before headers from Palmer and Knight saw the ball fall to substitute Joel Ledgister but his shot was easily gathered by Blackmore. Palmer then pounced on a weak clearance but again his shot had no venom and Blackmore fielded it comfortably.
The final nail came a minute into stoppage time when Che Stadhart found space and fed the ball inside to Bryant who slid the ball past the unprotected Preddie. United did still have time to net a consolation but Scott dragged his effort wide of the post.
Report by Kevin Watts.
Photos by Ray Peploe.