EAST Thurrock United climbed to within three points of safety after securing a 2-0 win over fellow strugglers Gloucester City.

Rocks went into the clash looking to build on encouraging performances in the draws with Dartford and Concord Rangers.

Goals from Rickie Hayles and Sam Ashford allowed John Coventry's side to leapfrog their opponents and into 20th place in the National League South standings, improving their hopes of avoiding the drop.

Gloucester made the trip to Rookery Hill having parted company with boss Chris Todd just 48 hours earlier.

And the visitors were immediately on the back foot as Hayles, who joined Rocks from local rivals Billericay Town last month, headed home with just 10 minutes on the clock.

Gloucester were short of confidence after suffering back-to-back reverses against title-chasing Torquay United and fellow relegation threatened side Weston-super-Mare.

And Rocks looked to test the visitors' nervy defence on numerous occasions, but they were made to settle for a one-goal lead at the break.

However, East Thurrock doubled their advantage on the hour mark as Ashford, who made an impact on his debut at Concord, grabbed his first goal in Rocks colours.

Ashford has been impressive for Witham Town in the Isthmian North this term and Coventry will be hoping the frontman can replicate his fine form in the second tier of non-league football.

Rocks were also able to keep a welcome clean sheet as they recorded their fifth victory of the campaign.

East Thurrock United: Giddens, Nzengo, Sori-Diallo, Marlow, Scott, Sheehan, Prestedge, Hayles, Derry, Osborn (Batt 70), Ashford