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Rocks earn draw in controversial season opener
East Thurrock Utd 1, Kingstonian 1
ROCKS keeper Jamie Riley was man of the match despite being sent off in a controversial first game of the season at Rookery Hill.
The two sides were forced to share the points after Dean Lodge gave Kingstonian the lead on 29 minutes before Kye Ruel drew the Rocks level after 52 minutes.
On the hottest day of the year, the game was packed with incident and splattered with controversial refereeing decisions.
The hosts were reduced to nine men and Kingstonian to 10 as three goals were disallowed.
K's will feel aggrieved not to have taken all three points and even thought they had when with minutes to go substitute forward Wade Small latched onto a long through ball.
Riley came charging from his goal but was beaten to it by Small, who sent a speculative lob goal-wards.
Riley caught Small late and as the ball bounced into the net, the referee blew his whistle. He brandished a red card for Riley and gave a free kick, leading to throngs of abuse from Kingstonian fans and players, angry that the goal wasn't going to stand.
That action-packed end to the game was in keeping with what had come before.
East Thurrock United started the game well but K's, wasted a whole host of chances before they took the lead in bizarre circumstances.
After 29 minutes nippy left-winger Dean Lodge struck a shot that hit the bar and the inside of the post before crossing the line.
As he wheeled away to celebrate, the Rocks players argued that the ball hadn’t crossed the line. But the referee’s assistant raised his flag to indicate a goal.
East Thurrock levelled the scores in the 59th minute, following a marked improvement on their first half performance. Ruel tapped home after Sam Collins had knocked down Sam Higgins' great cross.
Steve Sheehan and Andre McCollin were then given their marching orders after after becoming involved in a scuffle. McCollin registered his dissatisfaction at a late Sheehan tackle on him by head-butting the Rocks defender.
McCollin was given a straight red and Sheehan a second yellow, reducing both teams to ten men.
Both sides had goals ruled out, too. On the cusp of half-time, East Thurrock were denied a leveller before half-time when Kris Newby, the Rocks right winger, tapped the ball in, but was harshly judged to have been in an offside position.
Just after the start of the second half, K's also had a seemingly legitimate goal disallowed. McCollin was deemed to have fouled the keeper as he headed home a ball which East Thurrock had failed to clear.
East Thurrock: Riley, Sammons, Stephen, Sheehan, Peddie, Hall, Newby, Gilbey, Higgins, Ruel, Collins.
Gazette MOM: Jamie Riley (East Thurrock)
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