East Thurrock rock Ryman Premier Division league-leaders Leiston
- Credit: James Ager
Leiston 0 East Thurrock 3
East Thurrock’s Sam Higgins gratefully accepted a hat-trick last night as Leiston were heavily defeated by the Rocks for a second time in quick succession.
The Essex Club defeated Leiston 4-0 just a fortnight ago, where Higgins scored twice, and the same player went one better at Victory Road, capitalising on three disastrous defensive mistakes.
Leon Ottley-Gooch, Patrick Brothers, and Josh Merritt gifted the striker the match-ball after inept back-passes, clearances, and tackles – all in the second half.
Despite defeat, Leiston remain top of the Ryman Premier Division, but must be sick of the sight of clinical Higgins and East Thurrock.
Missing injured trio Stuart Boardley, Blake Saker, and Joe Jefford, Leiston almost got the perfect cure to their FA Cup hangover when Tom Winter dazzled down the left in the third minute, but Joe Francis couldn’t adjust his body in time to make significant contact.
East Thurrock came mightily close when Ottley-Gooch showed great athleticism to clear Ryan Scott’s header off the goal-line, with the same player seeing Ashlee Jones deny him from the resultant corner.
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The stopper, controversially sent off on Saturday, then produced a splendid save from Higgins in a one-on-one situation after a Blues attack broke down.
Leiston’s next attack, in the 35th minute, was a joy to watch with Merritt’s timely tackle resulting in John Sands acrobatically volleying just wide.
Higgins volleyed wide, and Tom Wraight, who spent a few weeks on trial at Ipswich Town last season, headed over for the visitors, before Winter couldn’t capitalise on a Sands flick as both sides headed into the interval with more to give.
But Leiston were made to pay for costly second-half mistakes.
Ottley-Gooch’s moment of misfortune came in the 57th minute with Higgins ruthlessly taking advantage of an under-hit back-pass, and the same player must have felt Christmas had come early 13 minutes later when Brothers’ poor clearance presented him another easy chance. Merritt’s ill-timed challenge on Wraight, in the 75th minute, saw Higgins smash home a penalty to seal all three points for the Essex side.
Elsewhere last night, in the Thurlow Nunn League Cup, Ipswich Wanderers thrashed local rivals Whitton 5-0, while there was better news for Leiston Reserves as they won 3-1 at Needham Market Reserves. Hadleigh lost at Wivenhoe..