Maldon & Tiptree 0-1 Thurrock

(R.Winn 78’)

From Park Drive

Ryman North play-off final

A LATE goal from Ronnie Winn was enough to steer Thurrock to a 1-0 win over Maldon & Tiptree in the Ryman North play-off final and secure their place in the Ryman Premier League next season.

Winn’s low strike after 78 minutes proved decisive as the Jammers could not find a way past Fleet goalkeeper Bobby Mason.

Fleet nearly took the lead inside seven minutes as Joe Christou hit the woodwork directly from a corner. With Jammers goalkeeper Daniel Wilks caught out by the set piece delivery, Maldon & Tiptree scrambled the ball clear off the line.

Just moments later, Maldon & Tiptree skipper Matt Lock’s ball over the top of the visiting defence found Rhys Henry. With striker Sam Newson sprinting into the penalty area, Henry sent a low cross into the Thurrock penalty area but Bobby Mason was quick off his line to collect the loose ball and deny the Jammers an opener.

Thurrock were looking the more dangerous on the ball and putting the home side under pressure.

And that pressure nearly paid off on 16 minutes as Jordan Clark's pass was dummied by Ronnie Winn and Mark Onyemah, before Charlie Stimson found Glenn Poole. But the midfielder’s low strike from 25 yards went inches wide of the far post.

The versatile Onyemah was proving to be a real handful for the hosts’ defence, with the Thurrock no.5’s pace and power causing all sorts of problems.

And Onyemah felt he should have been awarded a penalty less than 10 minutes before the break as he went down under a challenge from Jammers left back Curtis Haynes-Brown. But the referee waved away the claims, leaving Thurrock’s players and management bemused.

Just minutes later, Onyemah came close to breaking the deadlock, but Wilks got down well to stop the attacker’s low effort.

Two minutes after the break, Mason made a superb save to deny Lock from giving Maldon & Tiptree the lead.

Lock’s dipping volley looked destined for the top corner, but Mason did brilliantly to tip the effort around the post.

While Thurrock were the better side in the opening exchanges of the first half, the Jammers were proving more dangerous in the early stages of the second half, and Nash should have given the hosts the lead just before the hour mark.

Newson sent a dangerous cross into the penalty area and with Mason scampering across his goal, it looked as though Nash was destined to score. But Maldon & Tiptree’s top goalscorer miscued his close-range effort and sent the ball wide of the target.

That miss nearly came back to haunt Maldon & Tiptree almost immediately as Onyemah was put through on goal for Thurrock.

But Wilks rushed off his line to deny Onyemah, before colliding inadvertently with the attacker.

With 12 minutes to play, Winn gave Fleet the lead. Stimson dragged Maldon & Tiptree full back Kyle Hammond in-field to give Winn space down the left and after driving forward, the attacker’s low strike beat Wilks.

Knowing they needed to come from behind to win promotion, the Jammers went on the attack and Nash forced Mason into a good stop.

But the Jammers could not force their way back into the game and will have to settle for another season in the Ryman North, while Fleet will enjoy Ryman Premier League football next term.

Maldon & Tiptree: Wilks, Hammond, Haynes-Brown, Lock, Roast, Greenfield, Henry (Allarakhia 83’), Kamanzi (Agyermang 45’), Newson, Nash, Mills

Thurrock: Mason, R.Winn, Sutton, Halle, Onyemah (Barham 76’), Bruce, Clark (G.Winn 83’), Poole (Cowley 59’), Stimson, Christou, Morgan