Written by Leigh, @beakster99
Billericay Town host Wealdstone FC on Saturday in the second home game of the season. With four points from the first two games, victory on Saturday would help the Blues regain momentum and go some way to overcoming the disappointment of having to settle for a draw on Tuesday with Concord Rangers.
Wealdstone come to Essex in good form having convincingly beaten Weston-Super-Mare 4-1 at home and, on Tuesday night, had the better of a 1-1 draw at Hungerford Town, only to be pegged back by a late penalty.
The visit of Wealdstone will undoubtedly stir memories of the famous 2-5 reverse suffered by the Blues last February in the FA Trophy Quarter-Final. The Stones side we see on Saturday won’t be that familiar to anybody who came to the last match-up. Since then, the Stones squad has been extensively over-hauled incurring wholesale changes over the summer. One player we will definitely see again is hat-trick hero on the day, and Grenadian international, Bradley Bubb.
Having been appointed as manager in late August 2017, ex-Hungerford Town boss, Bobby Wilkinson, commences his first full season in charge at the club.
Last year, the Stones finished a disappointing 11th and eight points adrift of the play-off places. A run to the FA Trophy Semi-Finals did not compensate for the failure to finish higher up the League.
With the benefit of being in position at the start of the season, Wilkinson has wasted no time in ringing the changes and putting in place a full pre-season program. Deals for the majority of incoming players were done quickly, with nine arrivals and twelve departures jointly announced on a single day in May.
Overall, Wealdstone brought in 17 new players with a circa 13 moving on. Of the new arrivals, a clear improvement has been in the centre of the pitch. With defensive midfielder, Godfrey Poku arriving from Oxford City, extra protection for the back-line is provided. Poku, who has League experience at Mansfield Town and Luton, plays alongside, Wadah Ahmidi who joins from Staines Town.
Full-back areas look better covered than had hitherto been the case. The experience of ex-Hungerford Town player, Rhys Tyler, comes in at right back. On the left flank, healthy competition for starts is provided by Freddie Grant who provides cover for Jake Sheppard. At centre-back, new arrivals include ex-Watford youth, Connor Stevens, who impressed as a trialist, former St. Albans City player, Tom Gardiner, and ex-Ebbsfleet defender, Yado Mambo.
Up front, extra trickery has been brought in with the return of impressive left winger, Bradley Hudson-Odoi. Comfortable on either foot, pacy, and with an eye for goal, he managed 10 goals in 28 appearances for Hampton & Richmond last year. Keeping Bubb on the bench, 19 year old, Joe White, on loan from Stevenage, announced himself with a well-taken goal versus W-S-M. With three goals in the
opening two games of the season, and a prolific goal-scoring record of 150 career League goals, ex-Chippenham Town striker, David Pratt is also a real threat.
BTFC’s defence has looked solid in the opening games with the central defensive partnership of Inman and Doe adept at repelling danger. With Kennedy and Howells very active on the left hand side, providing a steady stream of crosses to Robinson and Coombes, BTFC are in good form. With Kizzi Man of the AMtch versus Concord and Modeste also impressive on Tuesday night, Blues have a significant threat across the width of the pitch for Wealdstone to contend with.
With Gerring and Hunte still suspended, we expect the Blues to field a very similar line-up to that which took the pitch against Concord. With Walton and Waldren missing out in the week, this could be a game for one of the two to be involved. After adding momentum from the bench on Tuesday night, new signing Alfie Potter could also come under consideration for a start on the right side.
Wealdstone are a better side this year than last but the same can be said for Billericay. The game on Saturday should be a good litmus test to see how far both have progressed in the past six months. Enjoy the match & Come on you Blues!
Billericay Town (Last Starting Line-Up Home v Concord Rangers)
Alan Julian, Joe Kizzi Callum, Kennedy (’56 Alfie Potter), Scott Doe,
Dean Inman, Sam Deering, Ricky Modeste (’75 Moses Emmanuel), Jamie O’Hara, Jake Robinson, Adam Coombes (’58 Adam Cunnington),Jake Howells
Wealdstone FC (Last Starting Line-Up (Away v Hungerford Town)
Jonathan North, Rhys Tyler, Jake Sheppard, Connor Stevens, Jerome Okimo, Godfrey Poku, Joe White (Bradley Bubb ’78), Wadah Ahmidi (Matt Lench ’78), David Pratt, Daniel Green (Jeffrey Monakana ’78), Bradley Hudson-Odoi.