K’s Snatch a Draw From the Jaws of Victory
The grass was green, the stands were green, the seats were green, the terraces were green, the steps were green, the shirts were green, the shrubs and bushes hugging the stadium were green. Bar the grey sky and the red-and-white k’s shirts, everywhere at Rookery Hill was green. It’s the Isthmian Premier’s best kept secret, this ground, featuring a Church, two self-contained mini-terraces behind one goal, another terrace which can best be described as a cattle-shed and, get this, a fresh fish stand just 5 minutes away, selling “Torpedo” prawns and scallops to picnicking families. That’s if you don’t want a veggy burger from the friendly tea bar.
What a shame that East Thurrock’s players so consistently adopt the posture of Ryman Bad Boys, Number 4 Ryan Scott assuming the lead role on this occasion. His crimes included fouls and manic-shouting but his greatest sin came after 40 minutes when he harangued the linesman following Pelayo Pico Gomez had scored a perfectly good goal. At least a minute after the goal had crossed the line, and with everyone preparing for the game to re-start, the linesman decided that, yes, maybe there was an off-side. The referee trotted over, a conversation ensued and the goal was disallowed. No, we don’t know why either. Something to do with somebody standing near the central defender when he failed to clear the ball, shanked it to Pico who then drew the keeper and passed the ball in from the D. But only Pico had been standing near the defender. Former referee Gary Ekins politely asked the other linesman who said it was a “grey area”, giving every indication from his expression that his colleagues had got it all very wrong.
In the end, it mattered only a little because around 60 seconds later Dan Bennett waltzed into the box, reached the byline, shuffled his magical feet to ghost past a defender, shuffled his magical feet again to bamboozle the goalkeeper before virtually walking the ball into the net.
In the 69th minute, it was 2-0, Pico racing clear in the inside-left and then opening up his body for a technically perfect finish into the far corner. He promptly wheeled away to celebrate in front of a bin.
And into that bin K’s then placed the lead. Max Hustwick, perhaps forgetting after 5 years away that Rob Tolfrey is left-footed, inexplicably passed the ball into the net from 15 yards as a bemused Tolfs stood waiting for a set-up clearance.
The grim inevitability of an East Thurrock equaliser was realised in injury-time when Hustwick failed to clear, the ball ran loose and Tolfrey fouled the attacker while trying to shield the ball out. Lewis Smith converted and suddenly we were hanging on for a point.
This was flakey stuff and 70 minutes of decency was duly undone.
Match report by Taimour Lay.