Saturday 22 April 2017 – Ryman Premier League
Needham Market 1 – Billericay Town 2
Billericay ended the season on a high note with a brace from Jake Robinson helping them to victory at Needham Market.
Injuries and suspensions forced The Blues into a defensive reshuffle with Giddens and Sprague coming in for Julian and Krasniqi and up front Adam Cunnington returned to partner Jake Robinson.
Despite Needham still having an outside shot at the play-offs it was Billericay who dominated possession in the early stages of a pedestrian first half. Danny Fitzsimons had Billericay’s first real attempt at goal with a fierce drive that stung Needham stopper Danny Gay’s hands.
Billericay thought they had scored after 17 minutes as Joe Ellul found the net from a Johnson long throw but referee Callum Walchester disallowed it for an apparent infringement. Robinson put an attempted lob over the bar and it was midway through the half before The Marketmen’s first attempt with Luke Ingram’s header going over.
The Blues had all of the ball and were attempting to pass it around on another tricky surface but clear chances were hard to find. Lawrence and Cunnington both had reasonable efforts before a tepid half drew to a close.
Billericay introduced top scorer Billy Bricknell at half time and changed shape to a 3-4-3 and this had a noticeable impact. Gay was twice called into action as he saved an O’Hara free-kick and a Bricknell shot. Joe Ellul went close with a header from a corner, which was again well saved by Gay before The Blues finally broke through in the 54th minute. Jamie O’Hara’s corner was headed on by Ellul and ROBINSON was in the right place to hook the ball home from five yards.
Town continued to dominate the play with Gay pushing a Sprague cross over the bar and Johnson shooting over from the resulting corner. Robinson had another shot blocked having been put in by Bricknell and Bricknell’s shot from the edge of the box forced Gay into another excellent save.
Needham equalised on 74 minutes with a rare excursion into the Billericay half. Experienced striker John Sands latched on to a long ball out of defence and slotted home past the advancing Giddens. Needham’s Joe Whight collected a second yellow after a tangle with Sprague as the referee somehow managed to produce eight cautions in addition to the red during the course of the game.
Billericay restored their advantage with seven minutes to play. Bricknell’s effort from a free kick in to the box was blocked but it again fell to ROBINSON who poached his second of the game from close range. Needham did have the ball in the net as full time approached but Sands’ spectacular effort was ruled out for off-side.
The Blues finished the season in eighth place and will no doubt be looking forward to an assault on the promotion places when the new season commences in August.
The Blues: Giddens, Fitzsimons, Sprague, Konchesky, Johnson, Ellul, Taaffe (McLeod), Lawrence (Bricknell), Cunnington (Krasniqi), O’Hara, Robinson. SNU Cobden