Staines 2 Thurrock 3 (03/09/2011)
I may be a jinx to Bracknell Town, but I seem to be something of a lucky charm as far as Thurrock are concerned. Only twice have they avoided defeat this season, both times away, and both times I was there.
Staines, the town if not the football team, has attained a certain ironic notoriety, with this part of leafy suburban Surrey being the supposed home ghetto of Ali G. It’s not a point lost on the club. Their extra-large (and excellent) match programme titled “it’s massive” is clearly not just a reference to the size of it.
On this day though, Ali G didn’t seem to be “in da house”, and nor were too many others, with just 276 people there. And that is a shame as Staines’ Wheatsheaf Park is a nice little ground to watch football on a warm Indian summers’ day. The new main stand, build as part of redeveloped fitness club, looks fresh-out-of-the-wrapper new despite being 8 years old already. The 400 or so seats offer an excellent view, and offer a more imposing backdrop to this side than usually found at this level.
Opposite is a covered terrace with several steps of terracing, as well as low roof, which gives it a slightly claustrophobic feel. The quality of the main stand probably keeps the numbers using the terracing down, particularly as both are the same price.
Behind the eastern goal is perhaps the most token of terraces anywhere in the country. Barely wider than the goalmouth, two steps of terrace rise up a matter of inches for what must be the world’s least imposing “kop end”. Behind here, horses in a field graze away, as oblivious to the goings on in the ground as they are to the Jumbo Jets banking round overhead after taking off from Heathrow, a couple of miles or so to the north. The other end, backing on the back gardens of suburbia, neat lawns, conifers and conservatories, et al, doesn’t even have room for there extra terracing.
Thurrock came into the game bottom of the table, with Staines just a few places ahead. Any thoughts Staines might have had about this being an easy game quickly evaporated and Thurrock showed the same determination, and no little ability, that I’d seen them show at Salisbury a few weeks earlier. Staines did have the edge in the play, but seemed to lack much of a spark up front. Maybe things would have been different had promising youngster Mario Quiasacca still been in the team. I seen him score a stunning free kick at Havant last season with his first touch after coming on as sub, and he had real promise. Alas, while many a young player has a penchant for designer clothes, unlike Mario, most didn’t acquire their range of fashions by kicking in the windows of Sloane Square’s Hugo Boss during the London riots a few weeks back. With a custodial sentence likely, his contract was cancelled.
Thurrock though, while getting forward less, did look a little more dangerous. This proved to be the case 30 minutes in. A ball into the box was headed away weakly rather than being put out for a corner, and the loose ball was teed up perfectly to be smacked low and hard into the far corner.
The lead lasted just 10 minutes, when a calmly finished follow up shot was turned in from an angle, to give Staines a deserved half-time share of the spoils.
Parity lasted just a few minutes into the second half. With fans still wandering about to take up positions, Thurrock bundled themselves back ahead from close range.
This prompted a good spell for Staines. One shot whistled just over the bar, and another hit the bar and bounced down onto the foot of a defender, ricocheting just past the post for a corner. Quite how much he knew about it, only he can tell.
As time wore on, Staines appeared to be getting more and more resigned to defeat. A free header from a corner late on, that was powered just wide, was looking to be the last throw of the dice. A panicky late challenge in injury time though, gave Staines the chance to rescue the points from the spot. The keeper was sent the wrong way, and Staines celebrated getting out of gaol in the 93rd minute.
Unfortunately the Staines players were mentally back in the dressing room after that, patting themselves on the back at salvaging the point, and didn’t take note of Thurrock marauding forward one last time. A ball across the box found a Thurrock player, unmarked and free beyond the back post, and he hammered it past the helpless keeper to take the points back to Essex.