Isthmian Premier Division Sat 4 January Rookery Hill
East Thurrock Utd

Dylan Jelley came in for Aarran Racine and Callum Kealy started in place of Jasper Pattenden, while Danny Barker and Tom Chalaye were back amongst the substitutes, with the visitors looking to keep pace with league leaders, Folkestone invicta.

It didn’t take long for the action to get underway and it was the host’s Mitch Gilbey who, firstly, fired a free-kick narrowly wide of the near post, then forced Carl Rushworth into stopping and settling on his well-struck drive, from just inside the penalty area.

The Rock’s defence struggled to clear their lines and presented Kealy with a second bite of the cherry but he wasn’t quite able to capitalise.

Play rapidly moved back up the other end and Matt Price drove an attempt across the six yard box and past the back stick before Reds regained the initiative when Joel Colbran regained possession in midfield and released Alex Parsons down the right; only for his low delivery to elude everyone in the middle.

Price got down the left again and, this time, slipped in Frankie Merrifield but he too missed the far post and Rushworth’s goal remained intact.

A foul on Reece Myles-Meekums, marginally inside the home half saw Colbran take it, Kealy hold it (up) and, finally, Parsons strike the upright, from the right, to leave the hosts holding on.

Worthing came closer still to edging in front, thanks to Alfie Young’s ball-winning skills in the centre of the park and a strong run by Ricky Aguiar that culminated in Jack Giddens producing an impressive save to keep the game scoreless.

Another dead-ball delivery, garnered from another indiscretion against Meekums, saw Colbran, this time, get Giddens down to parry for a corner, which the number two played back in, seemingly for Young to slot home at the back stick, only for the leg of Captain, Ryan Scott to appear out of nowhere and prod away for another set-piece.

In the final act of an absorbing half of football, Giddens got there again; palming away a Colbran cross to stop Ollie Pearce pouncing and we went into the break all-square.

The opening salvo of the second forty-five came, once more, from Gilbey but, just like the Reds’ backline, hesitation affected him too and allowed Cameron Tutt to intercept and clear the danger.

(The) Price was almost right, when he got his head to a left flank centre, only for a falling Rushworth to hold on then, two minutes later, Meekums made his way to the byline, where his deflected ball in was acrobatically missed by Aguiar.

Merrifield had a great chance to make his teammates, well, you get the pun, as he outmuscled Alfie but lobbed the wrong side of the far post from a good position, on the left-hand edge of the area.

Starting in an identical position, although going the other way, Colbran burst forward, exchanged passes with his Captain, Parsons and fired goalwards from eighteen yards, with a touch off a home player taking the ball out for a flag-kick.

The Skipper soon got himself into a similar place, only to blaze over the bar.

A lack of inches prevented Darren Foxley applying a heavier and more decisive touch to Danny Harris’ dinked/curled set-up and Carl caught comfortably.

Old Golden Gloves then beat Merrifield to the ball to punch clear from almost on the goalline and nearly punched the air in delight a little over ten minutes before the final whistle but Aguiar’s free-kick, aimed at the back post, ended up past it rather than inside it, despite the best efforts of
those (players) in attendance.

Harris looked likely to snatch a potential winner when he found himself within range, after scampering down the left but wobbled approaching the box and wellied well over the target.

Merrifield nodded down and into the hands of Rushworth, as the Worthing rearguard gave Manager of The Month, Adam Hinshelwood a little cause for concern.

Foxley cut in off the left and fizzed an attempt not very far at all above the crossbar before more defensive uncertainty gave the travelling masses further palpitations towards the end.

One last chance presented itself to Harris again but a lack of composure led to him pulling his effort wastefully wide of the near upright and only some brave blocking prevented East Thurrock claiming a second win over their high-flying guests, in the dying embers.