FA Trophy - Second Qualifying Round

MATT Turpin spearheaded Thurrock into the next round of the FA Trophy with two goals deep in extra time to secure a 4-3 win over borough rivals East Thurrock United.

The man-mountain of a centre half made amends for his part in conceding East Thurrock’s first goal to head home in the 119th minute and complete a remarkable Fleet turnaround, after the home side were 2-0 down at half-time.

It was Mark Stimson’s finest moment as Thurrock boss. The former Grays Athletic manager, who has won the FA Trophy three times, joined the club in June and has enjoyed an indifferent start to life at Ship Lane.

Speaking after the game, he said: “Since Matt’s been with us he’s been immense. He could have done better for the first goal for them if i’m honest, but he knows that and he’s put his hand up at half time and that’s the man in him.

“He wanted to go out in the second half and he’s come up with two great headers. He now looks like he’s been in the ring with Nigel Benn on a good day!

“But that’s what it’s all about, putting your head in where it matters. This young side has shown good character and we’ll only gain from this because of the experience.”

Rocks started the game with a spring in their step, determined to right some of the wrongs of Saturday.

John Coventry made four changes to the side that drew on Saturday and that looked to have paid off when Sam Collins collected the ball from Turpin on the edge of the area.

The centre half had lost control of the ball while on a kamikaze run across the edge of his own box. Collins proceeded to stroke the ball into the bottom right-hand corner, giving Rocks the lead in the 15th minute.

After 32 minutes, Collins was on the score-sheet again, finishing a super Rocks one-touch passing move with aplomb.

Minutes before the break Charlie Stimson failed to turn the ball home on the line, with Rocks stopper Richard Wray making a great save before Luke Wanadio, who was fantastic down the right wing for Fleet, fired wide from close range.

In the second half, Fleet started imposing themselves on the game. Harry Honesty came on to play left wing, giving Thurrock speed and direction on both flanks.

Leroy Griffiths, a first half substitute for the injured Lewis Perkins dragged Fleet back into the game in the 58th minute, placing a sublime chip into the top corner from the edge of the area.

A little over 12 minutes later, Stimson gathered the ball with his back to goal, made some space before turning Mark Gorbell inside-out and lashing home an equaliser from six yards.

In the last minute, Thurrock keeper David Hughes made a stunning stop to prevent Hakeem Araba from netting what looked a certain goal.

For the second time in a week, East Thurrock had a cup replay go to extra-time and, as they did against Chelmsford in the FA Cup last week, they started brightly.

Gorbell climbed to head in Kris Newby’s corner, giving Rocks the lead in the ninth minute of extra time.

But after half-time in extra time Fleet came out flying. It seemed to be an omen for them that up to that point, all five goals had been scored at one end.

As the clock ticked on, Turpin jumped at the back-post, connecting with Jake Woodward’s cross, to level the scores in the 115th minute.

The tie looked destined for spot-kicks, before Turpin netted again, this time heading home Griffith’s corner in the 119th minute of an enthralling game.

“When we got back to 2-2, I thought there was only going to be on winner then.” Stimson said.

“To win it 4-3 at the end was great. It was a great local derby game and we look forward to the next round now.

“Me and my assistants both had joy as players in the FA Trophy and we’ve taken that into management.

“It’s a fantastic cup competition for non-league sides. It would be amazing to go all the way but whether we do or not, no one knows. But every win will build confidence in the club.”

Before the game, Rocks boss Coventry was reported as saying that East Thurrock are the “best team in the borough”. Stimson had the introduction of that report pinned to the wall in the dressing room.

“There was a lot of pride before the game. There a few things said before the game, not from our camp, but we’ve just gone out to try and do our job and tonight we’ve come up trumps against a decent East Thurrock side.”

Thurrock will now host Blue Square North big spenders Brackley Town next weekend.

Thurrock: Hughes; Jones, Walster, Jefferies (Griffin, 108’), Turpin; Thurgood (c), Woodward, Wanadio, Perkins (Griffiths 19’); Ibe (Honesty, 45’), Stimson

East Thurrock United: Wray; Sammons, Stephen, Peddie, Gorbell; Hall, Gilbey, Newby, Collins; Ruel, Higgins (Araba, 59’ [Parmenter, 110’])

Gazette MoM: Matt Turpin