Match Report

East Thurrock United
Saturday 17 December 2011
Isthmian League Premier Division

Match Report

Hendon were distinctly fortunate to go into their Christmas fixtures with their unbeaten run intact after a goalless draw at East Thurrock United on Saturday. The draw, combined with other results, saw the Greens slip to seventh in the table, two places away from the playoffs.

Jamie Busby was ruled out following the knock he picked up in the win against Tooting, so Elliott Godfrey replaced him in the starting line-up. However, the list of injured players once again topped the half0dozen mark, which has seemed to be the tipping point for disappointing results (Elliot Brathwaite, Busby, Lee O’Leary, Casey Maclaren, Carl McCluskey, Aaron Morgan, Isaiah Rankin and Mauro Vilhete - whose loan spell from Barnet was not extended, but his injury will keep sidelined until the new year - being those out).

This was a dire match, played on a difficult pitch in dark, dank, murky, bitterly cold and windy conditions. And it is little wonder that a mere 109 souls ventured out to watch the game.

After a bright opening couple of minutes for Hendon, East Thurrock - buoyed by excellent form in a variety of cup competitions - began to take control. The first incident of note, however, was a bad one for Hendon.

In the 12th minute, a challenge by former Greens player Sam Collins left James Parker writhing on the ground in agony. Some people thought it was an accidental collision, but others felt there was some malice involved.

Parker was stretchered off the pitch and he went to hospital where severe bruising to his foot was the initial diagnosis, but a prognosis for his return could not be given at that early stage. James Archer came on and he slipped straight into the right back position, though the Hendon bench did consider switching James Fisher to his favoured position and moving Archer into midfield.

The Greens biggest problem was that the midfield was forced to play too deeply and attacking options Jerome Federico and Elliott Charles were too remote from Fisher, Godfrey, Darren Currie and Kevin Maclaren. That said, the passing all over the pitch by Hendon was disappointing, even on the heavy, bumpy surface.

Another indication of the difficulty players were having came after 21 minutes when a back-pass to Berkley Laurencin by Ryan Wharton took a bad hop in front of the goalkeeper and his attempted clearance went behind him. Laurencin was able to recover quickly before Sam Higgins could pounce. Frank Sinclair was the next to be caught out. He leapt for a ball which bounced much higher than he expected and it cleared his head with daylight to spare.

East Thurrock were convinced they should have had a penalty when a free-kick struck the outside man in the Hendon wall and bounced away over the goal-line near to the corner flag. The Rocks were sure the ball had come of the green-shirted arm, but neither the referee nor his assistant was convinced and a corner was awarded.

Collins really should have given East Thurrock the lead after 34 minutes when Kye Ruel flicked on a cross and the ball reached him unmarked 18 yards out. After taking a touch, Collins shot past Laurencin, but put his effort wide of the far post. It was a very bad miss.

Just before half-time a shot from Federico went high over the East Thurrock bar. It was notable only because it was the first attempt on goal by Hendon.

Before the second half kicked-off, Greg Ngoyi replaced Federico and Currie moved to the opposite flank, leaving Scott Cousins with little in front of him. It wasn't that the skipper needed help in defending, it was more a case of his easy outlet passes being no longer available and meant that the ball, all too often, came back almost as quickly as it was cleared.

The second half was pretty much one way traffic towards the Hendon goal. Laurencin made outstanding save from a close range effort. Other than that, however, East Thurrock were guilty of some glaring misses, Ruel, Higgins, Collins and Kris Newby all being culpable.

When Hendon did get the ball forward, they could not get past the excellent Simon Peddie, who organised the defence superbly and kept both Charles and Ngoyi very quiet. It meant that Richard Wray was little more than a noisy spectator throughout an ever more dreary Essex afternoon.

Very unusually, with the deadlock still unbroken, neither team made any changes for almost all of the second half. Hendon were, it must be said, limited by having only one substitution left to make, but the Rocks had all three, but preferred to stay with what they had on the pitch.

As the game moved into the 90th minute, both teams did make a substitution. Godfrey went off for Hendon, being replaced by Michael Lewis, while Petrit Elbi – a prolific goalscorer for Essex clubs in both levels four and five - came on for Matt Hall.

Deep in stoppage time, Hendon nearly snatched a most undeserved winner. Following their first spell of concerted pressure on the East Thurrock goal, they forced a couple of corners. The home defence didn't competently deal with the second of these and Charles was able to control the loose ball.

With his back to goal, Charles did well to turn and fired a shot which flew past Wray from six yards out. Unfortunately for Hendon, the ball was still rising and it cleared the crossbar by a few inches.

East Thurrock's players and supporters all breathed a sigh of relief. It would have been a gross injustice if they had received nothing from the game, while a point was probably more than the Greens merited.

"We were poor today," admitted Hendon manager Gary McCann. "We didn't play percentage football as well as they did and our ball retention was nowhere near good enough.

"On a positive note, the clean sheet was very pleasing and I am glad that we came away from there with a point."

Report by David Ballheimer


Berkley Laurencin
James Parker
Scott Cousins
Ryan Wharton
Frank Sinclair
Kevin Maclaren
James Fisher
Elliott Godfrey
Elliott Charles
Darren Currie
Jerome Federico
Greg Ngoyi
Michael Peacock
Dave Diedhiou
Michael Lewis
James Archer

Match Events

James Archer replaced James Parker
Greg Ngoyi replaced Jerome Federico
Michael Lewis replaced Elliott Godfrey

East Thurrock United

Squad unknown