Grays Athletic 2, East Thurrock United 0
GEORGE Kamurasi’s goalkeeping heroics and two super strikes from midfielders saw Grays Athletic triumph in a bizarre Thurrock derby.
Kamurasi made half a dozen unbelievable saves as long range efforts from Joao Carlos and Scott Dixon, on his Grays debut, gave Blues their fifth league win on the bounce.
The two sides met having found some form following a dismal couple of months over the Christmas period.
A resurgent Blues – with Andy Swallow having recently taken up the helm – had won their last four on the spin. While Rocks, having gone 11 games without a win between December and February had won two of their last three, inspired by the return of goal hero Sam Higgins.
The stage was set for a corking Thurrock derby as a chilling fog began to descend on Aveley’s Mill Field ground.
And an important one with both sides languishing at the wrong end of the Ryman Premier League.
Having started stronger, Grays took the lead in the 15th minute.
Leroy Griffiths charged down the ball, pounced on it when it went loose and pinged the ball through to Joel Nouble.
George Kamurasi made several excellent saves to deny Rocks [Pic: Andy Smith]
He looked to have been fouled in the box by Tom Stephen as he turned inside, but as the penalty appeals were waved away, Nouble laid the ball to Carlos, who buried a rasping, 20 yard strike past Hughes into the net.
After that, Blues created few chances.
Rocks on the other hand created three and should of at least levelled the scores before the break. Had it not been for two super saves from George Kamurasi, they would have done.
In the 24th minute, Lewis Smith ended a driving run with a low, powerful shot which Kamurasi spilt. The forward had kept on running and got to the loose ball first. But Kamurasi quickly spread himself at Smith’s feet and deflected the ball away from goal.
In stoppage time, Smith’s clever reverse pass found Higgins, who having got in behind the defence should have done better than tamely shooting across goal and wide.
Seconds later, Higgins was released in the box once again. This time is fizzing shot was spectacularly kept out by Kamurasi who can’t have known much about it.
In the second half, it was all Rocks. They created chance after chance, but on every occasion, they were denied by Kamurasi.
At the near post, at the far post, from distance, from point blank range; somehow the unconventional but highly effective stopper kept Rocks at bay.
After a double save, which saw Higgins prod the ball at goal twice in a matter of seconds, Blues went up the other end. Carlos earned a free kick, which Griffiths shot low at the wall.
The ball span loose to Scott Dixon – a first half sub for the injured Kenny Beaney – who took one touch before rifling a 30 yard belter into the goal.
And with 70 minutes gone, and having been under heaps of pressure since the interval, Blues were 2-0 up.
In the dying moments, Kamurasi again prevented Higgins getting on the score sheet. Rocks could have played all night, they probably wouldn’t have scored.
The defeat leaves Rocks perilously close to the drop zone and at risk of becoming cut off from those above them.
For Grays, this was their fifth win in a row and they continue to climb clear of relegation.
Grays Athletic: Kamurasi; Pope, Flynn, Kirby (Anderson, 63’), Yala; Bunce (Mbamarah, 79’), Cruickshank, Beaney (Dixon), Carlos; Nouble, Griffiths
East Thurrock United: Hughes; Peddie, Stephen, Easterford, Sheehan; Sammons (Richmond 65’), Thurgood, Symons, Pinnock; Higgins, Smith.
Scott Dixon's winner flies past Hughes [Pic: Andy Smith]