Hayes & Yeading United continued their un-noticed sneak up the table with a sixth consecutive victory at Church Road this afternoon that saw Garry Haylock's men sitting proudly in third place just two points adrift of leaders AFC Wimbledon.
United were to totally dominate first half proceedings and the Fleet could not have complained had they gone in at the break four goals in arrears, it was however just two which gave them something to fight for after the break.
Early chances came and went for United, Will Hendry and Josh Scott combined to set up Steven Gregory but his effort was deflected wide by the interception of Kenny Clark. Scott Fitzgerald was then denied by West Ham loanee keeper David Blackmore who dived to grab his deflected drive. Blackmore was again in action minutes later when he did well to hold a James Mulley shot after Thurrock's Phil Anderson had played the ball into his path.
United then took a deserved lead on 20 minutes, Hendry played the ball over his head down the left flank to Scott and his centre was fired through a crowd of Thurrock defenders by Mulley (pictured right). It took the home side just nine minutes to double their advantage just seconds after a chance was spurned. Fitzgerald was put clean through by Steven Gregory, Blackmore pushed his effort away towards the touchline, it was quickly recovered and centred to Gregory who turned his marked and placed a perfect shot into the far side of the Fleet goal (picture below).
Thurrock's only real chance of the half came four minutes into stoppage time, Aaron Howe had been booked for bringing down Fola Orilonishe outside the area but the young keeper kept his composure and dived full length to push away Jon Docker's goalbound free-kick.
Thurrock were to make the second half difficult for United but after six minutes the game should really have been put beyond them when Hendry played the ball right to Ram Marwa, his near post cross was swept wide of the post by Fitzgerald. Just minutes later the ball was almost in the United net, substitute Craig Hughes sent David Bryant through on goal, he took the ball around the advancing Howe and rolled it goalwards only to be denied by a Matt Ruby goal line clearance.
Play soon switched to the other end and it was Clark who was on hand to deny Fitzgerald, the striker outpaced Blackmore to a ball down the flank but the Thurrock defender guarded his own goal line and headed Fitzgerald's effort, from the acutest of angles, away to safety. Just after the hour mark the visitors got themselves back in the game courtesy of a second substitute in the shape of Arron McLeish who raced in at the far post to tap home a Stadhart shot that had beaten Howe.
On 70 minutes Mulley picked up the ball in his own half and went on a solo raid against the back-pedaling Fleet defence, his shot was well blocked by Matt Paine and as the ball fell to Fitzgerald he was only just off target with a snap volley. Thurrock twice went close to an equaliser as Stadhart headed wide when well placed and then Orilonishe saw a slight deflection take his shot just wide of the upright.
Clark once again kept his side in the hunt with ten minutes remaining, Mulley again broke forwards, this time he beat Blackmore but Clark slid in to toe the ball wide of the post just inches before it crossed the line. The resultant corner was hit deep, played back in by Scott to skipper Tom Cadmore but Blackmore held his header.
Two minutes from time the visitors were reduced to tem men when Docker saw a second yellow card for a senseless shirt pull as Staforde Palmer tried to break from his own half. Despite being down to ten men, the visitors did not give up and twice could have taken a point as referee Muge played almost 9 minutes stoppage time. The closest being a scramble in the area where nobody seemed to be able to get a clean strike, either at goal or away from it, before Howe secured the ball by jumping on it amongst a gaggle of legs.
Report by Kevin Watts. Photos by Ray Peploe.
Match Highlights available at www.fcvideo.co.uk
Website United Man of the Match: James Mulley.