Billericay Town 3 – 2 Wealdstone
3 - 2
Football clichés are more than mildly irritating, but in the case of this match the oft repeated “game of two halves” fits the bill perfectly.
The Stones, 2-0 up at half time and cruising to a fairly comfortable victory, were ultimately undone by a combination of cruel luck and indifferent defending. The opening exchanges were fairly scrappy but gradually the Stones started to take control of midfield and place the too often square Town defence under real pressure. Manager Gordon Bartlett had reverted to two central defenders with Carl Martin sweeping which allowed Marvin McCoy and the recalled Lee Chappell to roam up and down each wing. This appeared to give the team better shape and paid dividends when a sweet move involving Ryan Ashe and Stephen Hughes ended in the ebullient Chappell curling the ball into the bottom left hand corner of Ronnie Worster’s goal. The Stones’ second goal was not long in coming when the ball was laid back to Hughes who sent a screamer past a startled Worster.
The Stones were totally in control for the remainder of the half but the final ball was too often not quite right and 2-0 it stayed at the break.
The opening exchanges of the second half saw the away side in comfortable control. But the game was turned on its head in a matter of a few minutes. First Ben Alexander was fouled on the edge of the home penalty area. Gary Burrell sent in a beautiful free kick that hit the corner of the post and bar and spun out. Had that been an inch lower the score would have stood at 3-0 and any hope of a home comeback would have been remote. However, shortly after a cross from the right was misjudged by James Gray. The ball skimmed over his head to the totally unmarked Billy Briknell who beat Sean Thomas with ease.
Suddenly there was a spring in the step of the home players and Wealdstone’s task of holding on to their lead was made more difficult by the forced withdrawal of Ashe through injury. With Chris O’Leary coming on there was some expectation of increased security but slowly the team seemed to lose its shape. The equaliser came a few minutes later as the ball was worked across from the left to the right past a prostrate Marvin McCoy who had been unceremoniously felled by an off the ball elbow which allowed Bricknell time and space to place a delightful curled shot past a helpless Thomas. Both Gray and Alexander suffered injuries and were replaced by Dean Papali and Derek Quaye. The home side now had their collective tails well and truly up and it was no great surprise when the hugely effective Paul Shave flicked on a long throw from the right that dropped into the far corner net for what turned out to be the winner. The game ended on a sour note when Papali and Worster were sent off for an unseemly scuffle, home skipper Leon Hunter was lucky to escape the same fate after appearing to throw something at the away fans behind the goal.
Line up – Sean Thomas, Marvin McCoy, Alan Massey, James Gray, Carl Martin, Ryan Ashe, Kieron Forbes, Gary Burrell, Stephen Hughes, Ben Alexander, Lee Chappell. Subs Chris O’Leary for Ashe, Dean Papali for Alexander, Derek Quaye for Gray