The Blues progressed to the FA Cup 3rd Qualifying round with a 3-1 success over Hornchurch. Sam Lechmere created Town’s opener before netting a second half brace to secure the win.
These two sides have met numerous times in recent seasons, and a cagey first half indicated that this might be a typically close-fought encounter. Billericay took the lead early on when Luke I’Anson won the ball with a crunching tackle on Michael Spencer. The ball was fed to Sam Lechmere on the right wing, and his cross found Alex Osborn who had capitalised on a lapse in concentration from Reiss Noel to ghost inside and open the scoring.
After that, chances were hard to come by before the break. Billericay’s Rob Swaine flashed a header wide at a corner, but by and large the two sides cancelled each other out. The visitor’s best moves all involved Tambeson Eyong, but with Martin Tuohy and Lewis Smith struggling to make an impression up front, he often found himself trying to beat the entire Town defence on his own.
The second half started with AFC Hornchurch very much on the front foot, and for a good twenty minutes they were able to force Billericay back. The best chance of an equaliser fell to Smith who fired in a shot that took a large deflection, but Town ‘keeper Dale Brightly was equal to the challenge, and changed direction mid-dive to push the ball away from danger. Gradually Town began to re-establish their dominance, forcing a series of corners. Rob Swaine went close from the second corner with a header that Joe Woolley had to dive full length to keep out. It was only a momentary respite, however, as a long throw from Duran Reynolds was only half cleared to Sam Lechmere whose low drive through the crowded area beat Woolley to double Town’s lead.
Town’s third arrived when Woolley inexplicably picked up a back pass, presenting Billericay with a free kick that Glenn Poole rolled to Lechmere who fired in another low drive to score. Smith grabbed a consolation at the death, but there was no doubting that Town were the better team on the day and deserved the win. Speaking after the game, Town boss Craig Edwards expressed his pleasure at the result. “I was delighted with the win today. I love getting a local derby in these cup games, particularly at home. We’ve played better recently (than we did today), and we had a disappointing last seven minutes when we conceded a soft goal, but I don’t want to take the gloss off our win. it was a triumph of our hard work over the ninety minutes.”
Blues: Brightly, Oates, Anderson, I’Anson (Luke 77), Swaine, Wild, Lechmere, Poole, Osborn (Magdzinski 79), Green, Reynolds
Subs not Used: Halle, Edwards, Hutchinson, Bennett, Toye