Rocks battle to the max to take Dartford win

George Allen (4) was at the heart of Rocks' great defensive display.

Dartford 0, East Thurrock United 1
EAST Thurrock United produced a tremendous team performance to come away from Dartford’s Princess Park with a win and the Vanarama National League South’s only unbeaten record.
It was a victory earned the hard way, with rocks seizing one of very few opportunities to come their way, then delivering a rearguard action of great endeavor, particularly in the second half when Darts laid siege on their goal.
In January Rocks were beaten 6-1 by Darts but eight months later manager John Coventry returned with a squad determined to consign that memory to the record books and the painful sore was wiped away by a display of real guts.
There was little between the sides in the opening 20 stages, with both teams testing out each other’s defences and no more than half chances came and went at each end.
But on 20 minutes Rocks were awarded a foul on the right and Reece Harris curled a shot towards Charlton loanee goalkeeper Jordan Beeney’s open side and though the keeper flung himself at the ball he could only deflect it up and onto the bar and when the rebound fell, Rocks’ Sam Higgins lunged forward to claim a classic poacher’s goal from close range.
For much of the rest of the half Dartford enjoyed the greater share of possession but Rocks were resolute at the back and industrious in midfield to cut down time and space. And the front pairing of Higgins and Femi Akinwande turned in a huge shift two, showing how well a team can do if they defend from the top.
The only significant scare came five minutes from the break when Warren Mfula closed down keeper Lukas Lidakevicius as he waited to clear a backpass and though he got a foot to the ball and prodded it past the keeper, it bobbled wide of the upright.
It was a touch of luck East Thurrock probably deserved and in the second half they rode lady fortune to the full. They were pegged back for much of the half, surviving a series of corners and free kicks but somehow they held out with every player in a Rocks shirt putting bodies in the way of the ball and tackles to keep the sheet clean.
Dartford snatched at a couple of good chances and on more than one occasion the six yard box resembled a pinball machine as the ball ricocheted around.
On rare forays forward Rocks always posed a threat but with rapidly tiring legs all three visiting subs were thrown in as reinforcements to repel more Dartford pressure.
They were each contributed as Rocks ground out victory, y surviving five fraught minutes of added time and at the end the small band of travelling fans saluted a genuine team effort that will live long in the memory.