Southend Manor 4, Thurrock 0
Pre-season friendlies inevitably bring up a huge variety of results and performances. They are no more than glorified training sessions at first, designed to gauge fitness levels and getting players back into the groove of playing as a team.
After a few weeks, however, you get clear signals of how things are starting to pan out. For Thurrock, after their visit to the Southchurch Park Arena, the alarm bells are ringing loud and clear.
Southend Manor, having already disposed of Great Wakering Rovers earlier in the week, simply tore Thurrock apart. True, many of the Fleet squad were either youth, reserve, or squad players. Worringly, though, the same could also be said for their conquerors. A fair number of the Southend Manor side who won at Burroughs Park were sat in the stand.
The match as a contest was all over in the first 20 minutes. As early as the 6th minute, long serving Manor midfielder Jason Jay headed narrowly wide. The warning wasn’t heeded, and two minutes later, Thurrock failed to defend a free kick and Manor were left with an easy tap-in from inside the the six yard box.
Chief tormentor in the home ranks was midfielder Chris Baddeley, who led the Thurrock players a merry dance. He set up Manor’s second goal in the 17th minute after skinning the full back and crossing for yet another easy tap in from around 8 yards out.
Then 3 minutes later, another Baddeley run down the left ended in a crude, clumsy Fleet tackle in the box. The penalty was duly dispatched and at 3-0 with 20 minutes gone, the game was over and Thurrock were staring humilation in the face.
To be fair to the Fleet , they battled hard from thereon in to try to stay in the game but seldom threatened. The home side kept going forward, led at the front by the imposing figure of Gary Paterson, aided and abetted by the lively ex Basildon United man Jason Jay and wily veteran David Tubbs.
Between them all had shots either well saved or just wide. One vicious free kick from 25 yards out early in the second, in particular, whistled just over the bar after a fine finger-tip save.
It wasn’t until the 74th minute that Thurrock had a chance worthy of the name. After good build-up on the right, a shot from 12 yards out looked like reducing the deficit until a last ditch clearance on the line put paid to their hopes.
Then to round things off, in the 87th minute, after yet another Manor attack, another clumsy tackle came in, and Gary Paterson put away the second penalty of the evening to complete Thurrock’s misery.
Overall, it was a depressing evening for the Ship Lane outfit, with the message coming louder and clearer than any neon sign from Southend’s gaudy seafront: “It will be another long season with perfortmances like that.
As for Manor, after defeating Conference South and Ryman League opposition this week, their message is equally clear: “Watch out.”