By Scott Hatley
A howler from Andy Walker in the 90th minute allowed 10-man Aveley to secure their first ever league win over Thurrock in a classic blood and thunder local derby.
Walker allowed Nathan Koranteng's low strike to squirm underneath his body in the final minute of normal time to snatch a historic victory on the field, just days after history was made off of it with the club being awarded planning permission to build a new stadium.
The win also dents their local rival’s title hopes, ending Thurrock’s run of seven games without defeat, but early on the match looked set to descend into farce after three players were sent off within the first 17 minutes.
Five minutes after Remi Sutton saw red for a professional foul on Paul Burnett, Petrit Elbi and Charlie Stimson were back in the dressing room for their part in an altercation that followed a late Billy Holland challenge on Lewwis Spence.
Once calm had been restored the nine-men of Thurrock went and took a surprise lead when David Knight won and then converted a penalty just before the half hour.
Oyetunji Oyewale brought Aveley level with his first goal for the club eight minutes into the second half when his thunderous header was adjudged to have crossed the line after coming down off underside of the crossbar.
And with both sides looking like they would go home with a point apiece, Koranteng struck towards goal on the turn with his bobbling effort somehow finding its way through Walker and into the bottom corner.
“That’s a proper derby” said a jubilant Millers manager Justin Gardner at full time.
“That’s what you ask for – players committed, showing heart, hunger, everything was there. I’m proud of the boys.
“The subs come on and Nathan…he’s a frustrating player but then he’s gone and got the winner and that’s what he’s capable of” said the Millers boss.