Dreams of a trip to Ewood Park for Hayes & Yeading’s under 18s were shattered at Ship Lane as hosts Thurrock earned a trip to Blackburn Rovers in the FA Youth Cup with a 2-0 victory over Simon East’s side.
The first half saw both sides struggling to find their feet, literally in some cases, as the evening dew made the pitch somewhat slippery. Indeed we had to wait until the 18 th minute for a real effort at goal when Aristede Bassele collected the ball 25 yards from the Fleet goal, his shot going well wide of the target though.
On the half hour mark Thurrock’s Kieren McKenzie and Daniel Okah combined down the left side, the latter prodding the ball past Luke Daley’s dive only for Adam Butler to clear from inside his own six yard box. The resultant corner was fired goalwards with Andrew Dean clearing off the line at the near post.
Three minutes later an Andrew Dean effort from distance was blocked by a defender, the ball dropping nicely for Jeffrey Kimoto but his effort was high and wide.
The closest call in the first half came just before the break when Fleet full-back George Light gained an advantage from being tackled as the ball ricocheted back into his path allowing him the chance to hit a shot that glanced the top of Daley’s crossbar.
The second half was to prove more lively in terms of chances although a controversial non-decision by referee Mr Bushell just four minutes into the half left United fans and officials somewhat bemused.
Thurrock’s Okah received a perfect through ball from substitute Davidson Tejaiye, racing on to slide the ball under the on-coming Daley to open the scoring. The controversy then came as the already cautioned player leapt the pitch side barrier and ran along the terracing behind the goal before returning to the field of play, is this not a yellow card offence? Not according to Mr Bushell who failed to even speak to the player about it.
Twice in the following ten minutes Okah tested Daley but on both occasions the United keeper was equal to his effort. At the other end a Lewis Cole free-kick was cleared as far as Kimoto who brought the ball down well before seeing his volley saved by Shane Scanlon in the Fleet goal.
United went even closer to a leveller four minutes later when Cole’s free-kick was controlled by Aaron Harriott eight yards from goal, his shot beating Scanlon only to come back off the face of the left hand post.
15 minutes remained to be played when a slide rule pass across United’s two central defenders saw the impressive Walshe through on goal, Daley did well to block his initial effort but the ball fell nicely to the Thurrock man who slid the ball home to double his sides advantage.
As the game entered stoppage time, United did everything but score. Firstly Butler saw a looping header come back off the crossbar to Harriott who fired over before the same player met a Leonel Da Goma cross only for his header to again come back off the woodwork before being cleared.
In the sixth minute of stoppage time Scanlon was to make the save of the game as he dived full stretch to tip away Levi Fernandez’s drive that was destined for the top corner of the Thurrock net.
All in all a disappointing night for United but I must congratulate them on their progression in the competition and at the same time wish Thurrock all the best for their trip to Ewood Park.
Report by Kevin Watts.
United Man of the Match: Jeffrey Kimoto.