Billericay Town 3 Canvey Island 1
Isthmian League Premier Division. Monday 17 April 2017.
A New Lodge record league attendance of 1,970 saw Billericay sink arch rivals Canvey Island and end their home campaign on a high.
Kresh Krasniqi and Lewis Taaffe both came into the side as Billericay reverted to an orthodox 4-4-2 formation. Billericay almost took an early lead as Jake Robinson’s cross found Lewis Taaffe in the box. The winger rounded Conor Gough but ex-Blues’ defender Steve Sheehan made a fine block to deny what looked a certain goal.
Billericay continued to press as an O’Hara free kick just eluded a Blue shirt and Danny Fitzsimons headed wide from another free-kick. Canvey’s first attempt came after 10 minutes with Julian saving Ibe’s effort before the ball was scrambled to safety.
Billy Bricknell fashioned a chance for himself as he got to the ball ahead of Jake Pitty and thumped a shot goalward but Gough stuck out a strong hand to divert the ball over the bar. Robinson then headed a Lawrence cross on to the bar although it wouldn’t have counted as the assistant’s flag was raised. The pacey Callum Ibe looked dangerous for Canvey as Konchesky deflected one shot behind for a corner and then Julian spread himself well to block another effort from the winger.
Billericay took the lead in the 26th minute. There appeared little danger as Bricknell chased down a through ball but Canvey centre-half John Mbamarah inexplicably shoved him over giving the referee no option but to point to the spot. BRICKNELL took the kick himself, sending it low to Gough’s right and in to the net.
Canvey came back at The Blues as Krasniqi stood firm in the wall to block a free-kick and Julian was called into action again to block a Sykes’ effort with his feet. Billericay could have added to their lead before half time as Bricknell flicked a Krasniqi pass into the path of Robinson but he lost control of the ball at the crucial moment with Gough then able to collect.
Billericay brought on Cunnington for Krasniqi at half-time leading to a bit of a defensive reshuffle and Jack Giddens also entered the fray between the posts. The half took a little while to get going as Billericay had a couple of headed half-chances from Cunnington and Johnson before Canvey equalised in the 55th minute. A ball into the box was headed back across goal by Sheehan and Sykes nipped in front of Ellul to prod the ball beyond Giddens.
The Blues brought on McLeod for Lawrence as they looked to get back on top. They had a loud penalty shout for handball turned down before Ellul went close with a flick header from a long throw. Billericay restored their lead with 20 minutes to play when Cunnington directed his header from a Fitzsimons cross in to the path of BRICKNELL who took a touch before fading the ball in to the far corner of the net with the outside of his right-foot.
The goal spurred Billericay on and they were in the ascendancy for much of the remainder of the game. McLeod’s deflected shot was saved by Gough and the Gulls’ stopper made an even better save minutes later to keep Robinson’s drive out of the postage stamp corner.
Giddens had to be alert to save from Sykes and Canvey came close again with a header from a corner that looked to be heading towards goal but it was deflected wide by one of their own players. Billericay made the game safe in stoppage time as ROBINSON ran on to his own header before coolly lobbing the giant Gough from the edge of the area.
Canvey had no less than 5 former Blues in their 16 and one of them, Harrison Chatting, had the ball in the net on the stroke of time but it was disallowed for off-side and Billericay saw out the remaining moments and thus signed off their home season with a well-earned victory.
The Blues: Julian (Giddens), Krasniqi (Cunnington), Lawrence (McLeod), Konchesky, Fitzsimons, Ellul, O’Hara, Johnson, Robinson, Bricknell, Taaffe.
SNU Assombalonga, Putt.
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