United came away from Essex with three points from what was the most forgettable game ever as the dusty bumpy pitch and the home sides punt and run tactics contributed to a dire ninety minutes, the end result though will do for me.
The first half saw very little action as the ball spent more time in the air than on the ground. The first shot in anger came from Steven Gregory after a neat exchange with Staforde Palmer, who was deputising for the injured Josh Scott, but the shot was well off target.
Thurrock's first shot of the game came midway through the half, it started not surprisingly with a long punt from keeper Joe Woolley that bounced to Kieron St Aimie, he tried his luck from 25 yards but Delroy Preddie caught the ball comfortably. On the half hour mark we saw the best chance of the half thus far as Will Hendry beat the wall with a free-kick and Woolley blocked it at the foot of the post and Matt Paine cleared as Palmer arrived.
Hendry was again to go close minutes later, Danny Allen-Page and James Mulley worked the ball from the right with the latter playing it into Hendry's run, he was denied though by Woolley who was smartly off his line to block the incoming United man.
Five minutes before the break United had a let off, St Aimie found space in the box to pick out Che Stadhart but he fired well over the crossbar from 8 yards out.
The second half was to liven up a little but still would still have sent an insomniac to sleep!
St Aimie and Stadhart caused problems for the United defence shortly after the re-start. Having received a long punt from the back, Stadhart outpaced the United defence before feeding forwards to St Aimie who fired wildly over as Preddie raced from goal. Minutes later the same due were at it again as Stadhart picked out St Aimie, his first effort was blocked by Cadmore and his follow up was straight into Preddie's arms. Play switched quickly to the other end and Dale Binns tried his luck with a 25 yard volley but could not keep his effort down.
On the hour, Stadhart received the ball on the left side before hitting a shot that was half blocked by Preddie with skipper Tom Cadmore tidying up by chasing back to head the ball over from under his own crossbar. An injury to Allen-Page saw Garry Haylock replace the defender with striker Scott Fitzgerald while re-jigging his personnel on the pitch.
The change proved a masterstroke as ten minutes later a long Cadmore pass from the back was misjudged by Thurrock skipper Paine, Fitzgerald took over and was clean through on goal only to be hauled down by Paine from behind giving referee Muge little choice, red card and penalty kick. Having endured the wait for Paine to slow walk the whole length of the pitch to the changing rooms, Hendry stepped up and showed his mental strength by sending Woolley the wrong way from the spot.
Only two further chances hit the notebook. Mulley fed Hendry who saw his 20 yard effort held by Woolley, and then Hendry tried from twice the distance when he picked up a poor Woolley clearance but with the keeper chasing back, his effort was just too high.
Report by Kevin Watts. Photos by Ray Peploe.
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Website United Man of the Match: Will Hendry.