BLUE SQUARE SOUTH: Hayes & Yeading United 2 Thurrock 1
The machine that Garry Haylock is building at Church Road ultimately took the chequered flag and a sixth successive victory but it was not an entirely smooth ride against bottom side Thurrock.
United purred into a two-goal lead inside 30 minutes without getting out of second gear but when they slipped into neutral after the break and were pegged back they were in danger of letting two points slip away.
However, the stronger mental attitude that Haylock has been instilling and which has been so evident this season, came to the fore as the hosts cleared the temporary roadworks and roared up to third in the table, just two points off pace setters AFC Wimbledon.
Thurrock actually got off the line better, mounting a couple of dangerous attacks and looking nothing like a side with only one point from 21 to its name, yet slick passing from Josh Scott, Will Hendry, Scott Fitzgerald and Ram Marwa hinted at things to come.
Scott gave former Hayes favourite Lee Flynn a torrid time all afternoon and he out-jumped Flynn, playing right-back, to flick the ball to Hendry, whose return ball sent Scott scampering clear with Flynn trailing in his wake.
His square ball was behind Fitzgerald but perfect for James Mulley who came in off the right flank to plant a shot through keeper David Blackmore and a defender on the line for a 20th minute opener.
Nine minutes later Steven Gregory seized a loose ball and split the defence with a brilliant pass for Fitzgerald, who is looking increasingly confident and more like the player that earned a professional contract with Watford, but his shot was saved by Blackmore.
Nevertheless, Hendry and Fitzgerald kept the ball alive, fed Gregory again and he took on and beat the last defender before clipping the ball over Blackmore too. Easy. United were far too lively in midfield for the visitors and Marwa and Gregory were picking some superb passes, while the defence was alert to whatever came its way and Che Stad-hart was always shepherded well away from the danger area.
That was until first half injury time when Stadhart broke through and was brought down by Aaron Howe who had to come a long way out of his area and could only attempt a tackle with his feet.
He stayed on the pitch because the ball was heading well away from goal with defenders in attendance, Howe completing his job with a diving save from the free kick, but it was a sign of things to come. Fitzgerald turned a sharp chance the wrong side of the near post early in the second period but suddenly Thur-rock found an extra gear and United slipped out of theirs.
Matt Paine sent David Bryant clear and Howe could not really risk a challenge but he at least forced him wide and Bryant's final shot was weak enough to allow Matt Ruby to intercept.
Ten minutes later though, Stadhart went through and slipped the ball past Howe, with substitute Arron McLeish tapping home just in case.
United were suddenly in a battle. Fola Orilonishe was not far away with a deflected shot and while Ruby was pleading for calm it was two of United's youngsters as much as anyone who settled the nerves.
First 19-year-old Mulley did a fine job of carrying the fight with some surging runs, one leading to another instant Fitzgerald strike just the wrong side of the upright, and another straight through the middle before beating the keeper, but Kenny Clark cleared off the line.
Then Staforde Palmer, 20, on for Scott, twice ran the ball out of defence and crucially was brought down by Jon Docker, who could see his side would be outnumbered if Palmer escaped and a second yellow card ended his afternoon a few minutes prematurely.
With their opponents a fewmore horsepower shy, United finally crossed the line in front despite Thurrock's late appeals for a handball which would have been harsh.