East Thurrock 2 vs Lewes 0: Dry November continues

Ah, there’s nothing like a midweek road trip. The massive rats in the pre-match pub:

The signs urging you not to go topless in the club bar. IN NOVEMBER:

And then there was Lewes Lunatic Fringe stalwart, Cynical Dave, taking a tumble down East Thurrock’s ramshackle terracing, leaving the poor sod in agony and with an ankle that looks more like a badly abused grapefruit. Rest up, Cynical, and thanks to our club physio, Tom, for going above and beyond with a spot of Cynical healing.

Still, at least there was the football to rescue us from the rat-infested, dilapidated, sunlit uplands of naturist-hostile Essex, right? Well, about that…

It seems the Rooks are going through something of a blip.

Having kicked the living pants out of Margate and Leatherhead, and then losing to the old goal in nine at Worthing, we’ve seemingly forgotten how to score. We’ve netted twice in our past four matches compared to 15 (fifteen!) times in the preceding three. And it’s not as if the quality of opposition has massively improved – Margate, Leatherhead and Worthing are no worse than Bishop’s Stortford, Carshalton and East Thurrock.

At Thurrock, we barely made young Simon Le Bon in the Thurrock goal get his gloves dirty. I counted two shots on target all night, both of which Cynical could have saved with his busted ankle.

Yes, they had the New Manager Bounce, with former Met Police gaffer Jim Copper stepping in for the night, but they’d also shipped six against Kingstonian and eight against Enfield in recent weeks. This was the very definition of a winnable game for a side with promotion ambitions.

What’s gone wrong? That’s for Tony and his team to work out, but some things are obvious from the terraces. The defence continues to chop and change, whether that’s because of new personnel (Salmon), sickness (Salmon on Saturday) or suspension (Nelson last night). That’s not helping things to gel and it was another defensive error that led to the first goal last night, with Thurrock’s striker left to run at Lewis Carey, who tumbled the forward in the box. Lew claimed he got the ball, but the referee saw otherwise and Alex Hernandez gave the home side an unexpected lead.

The second Thurrock goal was another penalty, with Matt Weaire laying hands on the Thurrock forward as he burst into the box. Again, the decision looked soft from the other end, but it was duly despatched by Hernandez again.

Meanwhile, we created very little to scare the chickens – a recurring theme in recent games. Freddie Parker playing in the number 10 role seems to have stopped Taylor Maloney from making those David Platt-like darts into the box that were proving so fruitful only weeks ago, while the other Taylor – Joe – is feeding off scraps. Both wingers were subbed midway through the second half last night, but it’s the shape of the midfield three that is of greater concern. Something’s not clicking.

Anyway, you don’t come here for Michael Cox-like tactical analysis, and I’m 100% confident Tony and team will snap us out of our current malaise.

In the meantime if anyone’s got an ice pack for Cynical’s ankle, a rat trap for the The Bull public house, and any advice on how to clear to the mental image of 60-something Essex geezers walking around the clubhouse with their wobbly bits out, please get in touch. Urgently.

Lewes: Carey, Yao, Carlse, Weaire, Salmon, Pritchard, Maloney, Parker, Tanner, Coleman De-Graft, Taylor

Subs: Hall, Colombie, Allen, Olukoga, Moore