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Thurrock 4-1 Kingstonian
THURROCK 4 for 0 (declared)

Essex is a funny place. Hated by some, detested by others, even just dipping your toe in - Thurrock very nearly being on the right side of the river - causes all of that pent up holiday rage to come bubbling to the surface. Yet the ninety minutes of football served up at the Thurrock Hotel was of the sort to produce hysterical maniacal laughter rather than fury.

Within a space of fifteen first-half minutes the home attack ripped the K's defence - so over-whelmed with praise earlier in the season - to shreds on four separate occasions ensuring that the second-half became nothing more than an exercise in time-killing.

The visitors - so in need of a morale-boosting victory - actually started the brightest of the two teams. With Didier Moundi making his first appearance in a re-jigged back-line, Scott Smith was given the opportunity to spend time in the opposite half, and went close to opening the scoring twice in the first two minutes.

First of all a quick one-two with Grant Payne saw him shoot from the edge of the area, only for Chris Bangura's ankle to get in the way, deflecting the ball wide. But just a minute later and an even better chance came his way.

Bangura crossed from the right, Liam Collins touched back to Smith who once more shot right-footed from the edge of the area. This time it was Paul Gothard in the Thurrock goal who turned the ball aside, producing a very good save low to his right.

Bashiru Alimi went close with a left-footed free-kick after a foul on himself by David Collis, but it was Thurrock who finally opened the scoring. A long free-kick from the left from Collis was aimed at the far K's post, and in the absence of any defenders or challenge from a goalkeeper, Tresor Kandou rose to head easily past Lance Key on 29 minutes.

Not ten more minutes had passed when one became two. A long goal-kick from Gothard fell to Terry Bowes, who turned and passed square to Kandou. Once more bereft of markers, Kandou took his time and sent a well-placed shot past Key's outstretched left hand.

By this time the wheels had well and truly fallen off. Sixty seconds later and it was very nearly three. A cross from the left was met by the head of Paul Linger and Key was forced to produce a fine save to tip the ball over for a corner.

But from that, the ball was sent into the middle when once again neither defender nor goalkeeper produced a challenge. Kandou once again took advantage of the space to head goalwards, Key deflected the ball upwards only for Cliff Akurang to beat Max Hustwick to the dropping ball, tapping in from a yard out.

Three amazingly became four before the whistle for the break had sounded. Another long free-kick from Collis was met by another unchallenged leap from Kandou, who headed home to complete what must be the simplest hat-trick of his career. The half-time whistle sounded seconds later and the K's players trooped off in disbelief.

The second half was never really going to be worth watching, and were it not for one hopeless cross from Chris Nurse it wouldn't have been.

The home side certainly didn't let their work-rate drop, and went close to extending their lead on a number of occasions. Terry Bowes was played in through the middle of the static K's defence early on, only to fluff his effort when clean through.

Collins shot over and Moundi stabbed wide as K's looked for a consolation, but it took the introduction of 18 year-old Martyn Williams to cause the home side's defence any real problems. He showed the enthusiasm, desire and pace that have been lacking for so long in attack, and on another day he could have created a couple of goals.

As it was the consolation came from that most amusing source - an aimless forty-yard cross, which caught the wind, sailed over the stranded Gothard and nestled into the back of the net. Scorer Chris Nurse at least had the humility not to celebrate.

Stafford Browne - on for the last half an hour - sent one shot into the side-netting, but it was the home side who still looked most likely to score. Key denied Akurang from a left-side corner with another fine save, but he saved his best until last.

The defence proved that they had learned nothing from their first-half mauling, leaving Akurang totally unmarked six yards from goal as Jason Broom ran down the left. The cross was perfect, but Key somehow got his fingers to the ball, turning it aside.

And so a humiliating defeat to follow some other harrowing performances. It's clear that the problem at K's is scoring goals. For too long results have depended on the ability of the defence to keep a clean-sheet, with the hope being that one goal - and a point or three - can be salvaged. At Thurrock the defence certainly had an off day, and once that was established there was no doubting what the result would be.

Sat 13th Dec 2003
Thurrock Hotel
Isthmian League Premier
1Lance Key
2Stephen Broad
3Scott Smith
4Didier MoundiCautioned12
5Matt Elverson
6Max Hustwick
7Chris Nurse
8Bashiru Alimi16
9Grant Payne14
10Chris Bangura
11Liam Collins
12Stafford Browne4
14Martyn Williams9
15David Ocquaye
16Craig Lewington8
17Adrian Jones
Match Report By
Gary Ekins