16th August 2008 – Thurrock 7 – 1 Clapton

This was the ‘new’ reserves’ opening league fixture and after a long and hard pre-season this ‘youthful’ side never disappointed.

The visitors also had a young side out but it was the hosts who immediately took the game to their opponents. The midfield began to dominate and control the game, in the opening 5 minutes the pairing of Michael Ramkin and Reiss Gilbey enjoyed plenty of possession and their passing was crisp and precise often setting the wide men on their way and around the back of the Clapton defence. 

Wide players, Tony Fraser and Joe Staunton were always looking to get involved and as a result several chances had already been created but it was through the hard work of striker Brad Falco who won a corner which set-up the first goal. From the corner centre-half Steve Green fired in a header at the far post with the keeper well beaten, 1-0 up with only eight minutes gone. The next 10-15 minutes Thurrock were in control but it looked like the second goal wasn’t going to come, the hosts were getting closer and closer as many chances were being created but the final shot or pass wasn’t quite good enough. However, in the last 20 minutes the visitors didn’t know what hit them, a four goal blitz took their opponents apart. Some of the football in the first half was terrific, the passing and movement was just too good for the opposition and the pleasing part was that it came from every Thurrock player. Left back Sean Roberts, made a great run from the halfway line beating three players as he cut inside and hit a thunderous shot which was inches wide of the post with the keeper stranded. A brace a piece from Falco, who also smashed the crossbar and Gilbey added to Steve Green’s header gave the hosts a 5-0 lead as they went into the break.

After the interval Clapton’s desire improved and consequently so did their work rate. This was expected and Thurrock just needed to keep control of the game. However some ‘sloppiness’ started to slowly creep in and this started to give their opponents an incentive to keep going. To their credit Clapton never gave up a lost cause and continued to fight for scraps. On 62 minutes some excellent work down the right hand side saw Joe Staunton add a sixth. Moments later the hosts made a double substitution. Right back Alex Harris came off for Nathan Smith and striker Ed Freeman was replaced by Alex Ievoli.

On a few occasions Thurrock were giving the ball away unnecessarily and in doing so Clapton were starting to create some half chances and on one occasion custodian Steve Blewitt had to get down quickly and smother a well taken strike. Clapton were happy to shoot from distance in the hope of a consolation goal. Moments later on 75 minutes they got their opportunity as a rare lapse in concentration left us exposed and there striker took the ball on the right hand side of the penalty area and hit a fierce shot low into the bottom left hand corner. Thurrock’s final substitution was made which saw Kane Messenger replace Joe Satunton.

On 82 minutes Thurrock responded with Alex Ievoli being brought down after he was clean through on goal which resulted in a penalty and a second booking for the visitors’ centre-half. Ievoli dispatched the penalty with ease as Thurrock restored their six goal margin.

Overall a very promising display was delivered on what was an excellent playing surface and although there are areas that need to be improved upon, it was a cracking start to the campaign! Next up for the reserves are Canvey Island away on Saturday 30th August.

1. Blewitt, 2. Harris, 3. Roberts, 4. Ramkin, 5. Green, 6. Brookes, 7. Staunton, 8. Gilbey, 9. Freeman, 10. Falco, 11. Fraser. Subs. 62 mins Smith for Harris, Ievoli for Freeman, 75 mins Messenger for Staunton.