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East Thurrock take Rovers to a replay in the dying minutes of the FA Cup Preliminary Round

After defeating London Lions in the FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round two weeks ago, Barton Rovers were drawn against East Thurrock United who defeated Frenford in their match up.

Yesterday, the day came for the Preliminary round and both teams faced off in a game that went right down to the wire as East Thurrock scored a freekick in the last minute to take the tie to a replay on Wednesday evening.

Starting the game, there were two changes to the Rovers starting eleven at Bedford Town away: Alfie Warman replaced an injured Jesse Armoo and Martel Powell came in for Ashton Grant. New signing Matty Harriott was in the squad but didn't make an appearance.

Rovers kicked off the game and although there were a few chances for both teams in the first half, it was a relatively dull half of football. Rovers best chance of the half came from Cameron Hyde as he forced the Rocks keeper into an excellent save. Up the other end, Cameron Groom was called into action a couple of times as Rocks attackers Olukolu and Odukoya hit shots towards his goal, but nothing too threatening.

The two teams went into the interval level after neither side could fire in front. However, the second half made up for the lacklustre first half as there were two goals, multiple goal-line clearances and late drama as East Thurrock scored late on.

As play resumed, it was Rovers who looked more likely to score early on as both Rhiney and Neufville had excellent chances as they tested the keeper just five minutes in. As the half went on, the hosts looked more dangerous though as the Rocks striker had a shot cleared off the line fifty-five minutes in by Cameron Hyde! Although Rovers were having to put bodies on the line and were looking the more defensive team, they took the lead in the seventy-third minute, after an excellent counterattack! The attack finished as a ball was whipped across the box and Rhiney took it down with his chest before volleying it into the bottom corner!

Just minutes after going behind, East Thurrock went in search of an equaliser and almost had one immediately as their attacker forced Cameron Groom into an excellent save! Towards the end of the game, Rovers had to weather a storm of attacks from the Rocks and bodies were thrown on the line again as the boys in blue tackled, blocked and prevented anything and anyone heading towards their goal, another goal-line clearance from McKenzie in the 85th minute was a key example of this.

Although Rovers looked like they were going to be heading home with the victory and a place in the next round of the cup, the Rocks had other ideas as Odukoya won himself a free kick on the edge of the box and scored directly from the set piece to the upset of the Rovers supporters and players. After equalising, the Rocks almost scored a late winner but Jemale McKenzie made yet another goal-line clearance! Shortly after his heroics, the referee signalled full-time, meaning a replay would be certain.

Our FA Cup replay against East Thurrock will be played this Wednesday. However, it will not be played at the ‘Winton Haulage Stadium’ in Barton-Le-Clay due to the installation of new floodlights! Instead, it will be played at Leighton Town FCs ground - Bell Close.

Full Time: East Thurrock United 1-1 Barton Rovers

Man of the match: Jemale McKenzie

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