Rocks share points with rivals as strikers show their worth

Thurrock Gazette: Rocks boss John Coventry was pleased with the point Rocks boss John Coventry was pleased with the point

East Thurrock 2-2 Billericay Town

from Rookery Hill

East Thurrock ground out what-could-be a valuable point against their Essex rivals in a match decided by two strikers at the peak of their powers.

Rocks forward David Bryant and Blues hotshot Ricky Sappleton each demonstrated why they are regarded as two of the most highly regarded strikers in the league with exemplary performances.

Rocks came into the match having not won a home match in the league since September 21, whilst Billericay had just won on their travels against Margate.

The in-form Bryant twice gave the home side the lead with two perfectly executed volleys but Rocks couldn’t hold on to the advantage as first Josh Ekim and later James Robinson drew Billericay level.

However, the real star of the show was Sappleton. The bulky forward had a hand in both goals and was a constant thorn to the Rocks defenders.

Neither team could get the upper hand early on and the first real chance of the match resulted in a goal.

Jason Hallett won a corner and Tom Stephen swung in a corner that was flicked on at the near post by the head of the defending Sappleton. However, the ball wasn’t cleared and dropped perfectly onto the foot of David Bryant, who rifled into the net.

Sappleton could have made amends ten minutes later after George Beavan sent him clean through. He turned a defender but his low shot was pushed away by Rocks ‘keeper Sam Mott.

Moments later the visitors did get the goal their play deserved.

Glenn Poole hit a ball into the channels for Sappleton to run onto and the target man swiveled before squaring to Ekim, who scored his second goal in two games since joining on loan from Welling.

Bryant hit the crossbar before the break and saw his low free kick turned behind by Billy Lumley.

Into the second half, Bryant was again pulling the string for Rocks and he scored another terrific goal midway through the second half.

Leon McKenzie’s shot was saved by Lumley but the ball only fell to Hallett. His cross was met by Bryant and he smashed a volley into the top corner.

Once again Rocks couldn’t hold onto the lead and Sappleton was once again the architect. The Jamaican beat Simon Peddie to the ball and he fired a terrific low cross to the far post for substitute Robinson, who had been on the pitch less than a minute, to divert home.

The goal gave Ricay belief and they should have scored a winner as the clock ticked towards 90 minutes.

Substitute Isaac Layne had two guilt-edged chances to score, after the visitors had struck the upright, but he was denied by two terrific saves from Mott.

Billericay boss Craig Edwards said his side should have won the match comfortably and said, in Sappleton, he had the best striker in the league.

“It is frustrating as we had to score two very good goals to cancel out two bad goals.

“Ricky was fantastic and is the best in the division in my book. He did everything but score.

“These are the sort you games we need to win but four points in a week away from home isn’t too bad.

Rocks manager John Coventry said: “We played well today but were put under a lot of pressure towards the end.

“We have a good group and will be back to winning ways soon.”

East Thurrock - Sam Mott, Ryan Sammons, Tom Stephen, Lea Dawson, Steve Sheehan, Simon Glover (Peddie), Jack Hopkins, Stuart Thurgood, Jason Hallett, David Bryant, Leon McKenzie (Paxman)

Billericay XI - Billy Lumley, Paul Rodgers, George Beavan, Callum Dunne, Richard Halle, Joseph Kizzi, Junior Luke (Benjamin), Glenn Poole, Ricky Sappleton, Callum Webb (Robinson), Josh Ekim (Layne)

MOM – Ricky Sappleton (Billericay)

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