Rocks off to a hot start

Frankie Merryfield cuts inside before striking home Rocks' fourth goal.

East Thurrock United 4, Cheshunt 1

ROCKS’ return to the Isthmian League proved a successful one with an opening day Bet Victor Premier Division win against Cheshunt, themselves newcomers to the division after winning promotion.

Last season’s relegation blues were quickly swept aside as Rocks, featuring new signing Billy Crook (who put pen to paper just hours before kick-off) made a dream start when Ryan Scott’s incisive through ball set Alex Clark free and he produced a clinical finish past Harry Girling to give the hosts a fifth minute lead.

It lasted just 14 minutes when Scott became hero turned villain as he tried to dribble the ball out of the box and lost possession leaving Brian Moses the opportunity to strike a powerful shot past Jack Gidding who could do little after being exposed to a one-on-one situation.

With the wind at their backs much of the play saw Cheshunt pressing East Thurrock into their own half but, other than another – almost identical lapse by Scott that this time went unpunished – Rocks defended with some comfort.

And on the second half restart, with the elements in their favour, it took just four minutes for them to regain the lead after a well-crafted free kick ended with Crook setting up Frank Merryfield who slid the ball in from an acute angle.

Cheshunt fell further behind after 62 minutes when the hard-grafting Ben Marlow smashed home a great strike from the edge of the box and the icing on the cake – and a fourth goal that put Rocks on top of the opening day league table – came on 75 minutes when Merryfield scored a gem, breaking into the box he left two defenders in his wake before curling a splendid strike past Girling.

Late in the piece Rocks came close to a fifth goal when the industrious Mitch Gilby’s free kick cannnoned off the crossbar.

The only gloss taken off an optimistic first day came with injuries to Scott and Lewis Smith which make them doubts for Monday evening’s trip to Carshalton.

Tilbury and Aveley both drew in their pre-season firendlies, Tilbury shared 1 1-1 scoreline at Hythe Town and Millers, who met Hertford at home with a noon kick off, drew 2-2. Grays Athletic won 3-2 at VCD Athletic.