Posted: 21.01.20 at 23:20 by The Editor
East Thurrock United 2, Cheshunt 2
Cheshunt win 4-3 on penalties
IN what might best be described a s a low key affair, played out in front of a largely disinterested but loyal group of 95 supporters of both Bet Victory Isthmian Premier clubs, a penalty shoot-out decided who would remain in the Velocity Trophy.
East Thurrock thought they had exited the unloved competition at the first time of asking but a paperwork error by Bishops Stortford negated their win at the Grays Graphics Stadium and so Rocks were reinstated.
To be fair, for the opening 20 minutes East Thurrock really looked the business and they tore their visitors open time and time again with some attractive, attacking football. The only thing missing was a finish.
They were finally rewarded on 18 minutes when Frankie Merrifield added to his season's growing tally with a well-struck shot at the end of a flowing move.
Bizarrely, the goal that should have been the catalyst to building on a confident start proved just the opposite.
Rocks began to show a fragility and lack of confidence on the ball and they were easily unpicked on 24 minutes when Cheshunt were gifted possession and Jamie Reynolds scored.
Two minutes later, as Rocks recoiled in defensive horror, the Ambers attacked again and Norman Wabo had time and space to grab the lead.
By half time, Cheshunt could have been out of sight as Rocks foundered but the hosts somehow stayed in the game and on the hour Darren Foxley's run into the box resulted in a foul and he picked himself up to fire his side level from the penalty spot.
The final half hour was pretty unmemorable, it was as if neither side could be bothered to try and regain momentum, though Cheshunt came closest to a normal time decider with a couple of efforts that flashed across the face of goal.
In the end it came down to a penalty shoot-out.
The first was slammed home by Foxley and then Cheshunt skipper Mark Hughes nearly hit the nearby church with an effort that was high, wide and not so handsome.
Mitch Gilbey netted Rocks' second and then Ryan Moss converted for Cheshunt.
Ben Marlow's effort came back off the bar to breathe life into Cheshunt's victory ambitions and Sean Cronin thumped in the equaliser.
Rocks' Ipswich loanee Kai brown had the chance to mark his debut with a spot kick but his effort dribbled miserably wide. It was advantage Cheshunt but Jack Giddons saved Tommie Hession Harris's kick, only for the assistant referee to intervene and say the keeper had moved off his line. That meant a retake but with Giddens fired up by the official's interjection, it was no surprise he pulled off a second fine save.
Ayo Olukoga and Norman Wabo swapped successful kicks to make it 3-3 and sudden death and up stepped Rocks captain Ryan Scott but his effort lacked conviction and was kept out by Max Huxter. That set up a match-winning chance for former Rocks player Ibs Diallo and he swept home his shot to win the tie for the visitors.