THREE first half headers sunk the Dockers as they twice squandered the lead on the way to defeat at Chadfields.

In a scrappy second half, Paul Vaughan’s Tilbury failed to overturn the deficit inflicted on them by Abbey in the first half.

As the game kicked off, the Chadfields pitch was bathed in sunshine but patches of sand on the pitch acted as a reminder of the wettest January on record, which has caused a huge fixture backlog for dozens of non-league sides.

Going into the game, Tilbury had won just two games in 2014 and their opponent’s just one yet weeks of postponements meant the sides had only played 12 games between them since Christmas.

And it showed in a frantic first 45 minutes.

Dockers took the lead in the 14th minute after two of the side’s new boys linked up. Ryan Blackman threw the ball in from the right, Jack West – signed from Grays a week ago – flicked the ball on and Joe Obersteller was at the near post to flick the ball home.

The home side’s lead lasted five minutes, as Abbey hit back, sparking a five minute spell in the match which brought three goals.

Ayrton Coley crossed from the right and Joe Pearman was unmarked at the back post to head home.

Two minutes later – and with 18 played – Piers Wixon rifled a first time shot from 18 yards, low into the net past Ben Barnes having been teed up by Elliot Johnson who supplied a super cross.

But the hosts were pegged back immediately after failing to deal with another Coley cross from the right, which Bradley Barnes – a former Tilbury player – planted home with a diving header.

During a lull in the game, Coley might have had a penalty when it looked like James Marrable brought him down in the box after spilling the ball.

The Abbey forward was denied another penalty minutes later when he appeared to be tripped in the box. But this time referee Mr Farrer brandished a yellow card.

With three minutes to go before half time, Abbey were awarded a free kick on the right. Pearman whipped in an in-swinging cross in to the box, inviting Tom Bruno to dive at the ball and steer it into the bottom corner with his forehead.

Both sides had chances in the second half. Abbey probably had the best of them, when Christian Wheeler and Tom Bruno got in each other’s way, denying Wheeler the chance to tap home a Barnes’ cross.

Obersteller had the best of Tilbury’s chances in the 79th minute, but after running clear of the defence, his low shot was straight at Ben Barnes.

The defeat, Tilbury’s 14th in the league this season, sees them drop two places to 16th, but 15 points from the relegation places. The loss was all the more disappointing for Dockers seeing as though it saw them fail to build on last weekend’s 2-0 win over second placed Soham Town.

For Abbey, the win drew them level on points with Tilbury.

Tilbury FC: Marrable; Johnson (Babaloa, 60’), Owen (Waters, 60’), Pooley, West; Christou, Blackman, Wixon, Cutler (Findlator 85’), Obersteller; West.

Gazette MotM: Tom Bruno (Waltham Abbey)

IN GAMES involving Thurrock’s other non-league sides, Grays Athletic continued their resurgence under new boss Andy Swallow with a 1-0 win away to Lewes.

Blues climbed further away from the relegation place, into 16th, with the victory – which came after Joao Carlos’ 25th minute goal.

David Knight hit a hat trick as Thurrock reignited their play off charge with a 3-0 win over Barkingside at Ship Lane.

All of Knight’s goals came in the second half, the last – and his 23rd of the campaign – came in the 90th minute, moving Fleet up to seventh in the Ryman Division One North, four points off the play off places, with games to spare.

East Thurrock United slipped to defeat at home to Wingate and Finchley. Josh Kennett gave the visitors a 68th minute lead.

The defeat leaves Rocks just one point above the relegation places in the Ryman Premier League. It was John Coventry’s side’s 17th defeat of the season and ninth defeat at home.

And Aveley were also beaten at home. They lost 3-1 to high-flying Dereham Town.

Millers took a third minute lead through Lee Weemes but were pegged back in 28th minute when Jay Leader turned the ball into his own net.

Second half goals from Shaun Bammant, the first in the 68th minute and the second in the 77th, consigned Justin Gardner’s side to defeat.

They lie in 11th place in the Ryman Division One North.