BILLERICAY TOWN 5 SUTTON UNITED 2
Billericay Head into FA Cup First Round after Replay Win v Sutton.
Written by Leigh @beakster99 courtesy of Phoenix FM.
Billericay reserved their place in the FA Cup 1st round for the third year running with a five- star showing to sweep aside National League side, Sutton United, in a replay on Tuesday night. A trip to Gloucestershire to meet League Two side, Forest Green, in November awaits.
A hat-trick from Blues striker Jake Robinson and goals from Sam Deering and Odysseus Alfa put the shine on a convincing 5-2 home win. The visitors, who had been the better side in the first match, had taken the lead through an early Harry Beautyman strike. Tommy Wright also scored after the break.
Much as the victory over opposition playing at a higher level was valued, there was more to celebrate that night than a successful Cup tie. Prior to kick-off, it had been officially announced that “the club has now been taken over by a local consortium of businessmen”. After lengthy negotiations, and a period of uncertainty, this update provides valid hopes that much-needed near-term security can be achieved.
After investing heavily in new infrastructure, and achieving promotion to the National South, Glenn Tamplin leaves the club in a much better state than he found it. However, having decided that his time in football should draw to a close, there were concerns for the future. Budgets have been cut and a number of the players have departed recently.
With incoming investment expected, funding issues now appear to be resolved. Further details should be provided in the near term on the owners and their plans. A meeting via a Fans Forum has been promised at which supporters will be given the opportunity to listen to plans and speak to representatives of the new regime.
Moving back to matters on the pitch, manager Jamie O’Hara, made three changes to the side from the first match as he sought to find the right blend to get past the ‘U’s’. In came the extra pace of Louis Ramsay at right-back, in place of Ben Nunn, to re-inforce an area of some brittleness on Saturday.
With QPR loanee Alfa switched to the opposite left wing, the greater defensive discipline of Alfie Potter, who had been a lively substitute on Saturday, was preferred to complete the shoring up of the right flank. It worked to good effect.
Fourth Qualifying Round Replay
Tuesday 22 October 2019
1. Alan Jules
2. Louis Ramsay
3. Arjanit Krasniqi
5. Ronnie Henry (C)
6. Sam Deering
7. Odysseus Alfa
8. Doug Loft
9. Jake Robinson
10. Jack Paxman
12. Themis Kefelas
14. Alfie Potter
13. Emmanuel Agboola
15. Darren Oldaker
16. Ben Nunn (Alfa)
17. Moses Emmanuel (Paxman)
18. Acea Laurent
19. Sam Egole
20. Jamie Reynolds
21’ – Jake Robinson
32’ – Sam Deering
39’ – Jake Robinson
49’ – Ody Alfa
97’ – Jake Robinson
BILLERICAY TOWN SUPPORTERS SOCIETY
The Billericay Town Supporters Society will be running a coach to The Blues away fixture with Maidstone United on Saturday 26 October.
The coach will leave New Lodge at 12:45pm (sharp!) and will return after the final whistle.
Seats are priced at £15 for adults and £8 for Under 16’s. Under 16’s must be accompanied by an adult.
In a 4-2-3-1 formation, Blues’ Jack Paxman was brought in to operate in a “number 10” role. Sam Deering showed his versatility to drop back to play a midfield holding position. While some may be surprised that Deering is utilised as a defensive option, his high level of technical skill and positional discipline makes him an excellent choice to partner Doug Loft. Jordan Parkes made way.
Having been moments away from a quiet Tuesday evening, before Alan Julian decided to make his late intervention, Sutton boss, Matt Gray, made two revisions to his line-up.
Sticking with his new found boldness for playing two up front in a 4-4-2, rather than reliance on a single attacking outlet as has been the case for away games, Wright and Saturday’s goal-scorer, Omar Bugiel kept their places up front. Aaron Jarvis’s profligacy as a late substitute at Gander Green Lane was perhaps behind his failure to secure a start.
In a defence that, like Billericay, has been very suspect on set-pieces, the return of skipper, Jamie Collins, at centre-back provided extra presence and aerial ability for the defence. Stand-in, Dan Matsuzaka, moved back to his customary position on the bench.
Perhaps the best holding midfielder available at the club, Jon Barden, was unsurprisingly brought back into the side as Kenny Davis made way and was named among the substitutes.
Under the lights, the Blues started encouragingly, taking the initiative and launching the first attack. Proving to be a threat throughout the match, as he floated from central areas towards the right-side, Potter justified his return to the side.
Playing a neat ball inside the Sutton left-back, Rob Milsom, Potter found Robinson inside the penalty area. From a tight angle, the striker’s cut-back across the six-yard box was grabbed by Sutton goal-keeper, Jamie Butler, before any of the onrushing Billericay attackers could do any damage.
As can so often be the case, a bright start full of endeavour and tidy football was turned on its head by the concession of the first goal. A foul by Deering wide on the right flank brought Milsom’s set piece repertoire into action as he delivered a fine, curling ball into the danger zone.
Showing good movement to waltz past his inattentive marker, attacking midfielder, Beautyman, made the most of his freedom in the 18-yard box. Glancing a 10th minute header low past Julian, he registered his 7th strike of the season in all competitions.
Despite the set-back, this was not the Billericay that had been fortunate to escape with a draw at Gander Green Lane. Clearly, lessons had been learnt from the previous match. With Sutton’s wingers’ less influential at the New Lodge, the Blues’ vulnerability down both flanks was satisfactorily addressed by O’Hara in the intervening days. Defensive play looked far more co-ordinated.
An early attack foundered, as a combination of Deering, Ramsay, and Henry, all working in tandem, stifled an initial run from the Sutton left winger, Kyel Reid.
Alfa, stationed on the opposite wing, seemingly told to stretch the opposition as much as possible, after a slightly subdued match away from home, delivered on instructions. Bursting forward, he outran his midfield minders and advanced towards the penalty area. Bugiel, still smarting from a chat with the referee after a running battle with Blues centre-back, Ronnie Henry, dived in to concede what would be a significant free-kick.
National League South
The Gallagher Stadium, Maidstone
Saturday 26 October 2019
BTSS Away Travel
Essex Senior Cup Third Round
New Lodge, Billericay
Tuesday 29 October 2019
National League South
New Lodge, Billericay
Saturday 2 November 2019
In a dangerous area 30 yards from goal, Deering took his cue from Milsom’s earlier exploit to deliver a teasing ball towards the massed Billericay attackers. Loft, perhaps misdirecting his header, ended up diverting the ball perfectly to the waiting Robinson. From close range, he equalised on 22 minutes with a powerful shot that initially looked like being saved. Taking a heavy touch off Butler, the ball looped up into the opposite corner of the net.
There was still ample opportunity for ex-Sutton United keeper, Julian, to provide a contribution in this match as a well-placed header from Collins needed to be tipped over the bar. The resulting corner was held well by the number one who sensing the lack of height in the home defence and well aware of a certain fallibility to the set piece actively claimed a much higher percentage of high balls than he has in the past.
With the damp pitch just about holding up, this evolved into what is commonly known as “a proper Cup tie”, with the proverbial no quarter being asked for nor given. As the game opened up, both sides went on the attack in tandem and a series of physical, but fair, challenges were undertaken by each team in the quest for a trip to a green, vegan paradise.
It would be Alfa once more that instigated the move for Billericay’s second goal with another penetrative run finding Paxman. Taking the ball forward, the twinkle-toed schemer led the Sutton defenders a merry dance to the left side of the penalty area.
Paxman’s clever initiative created sufficient room for Deering to take his pass in space just outside the penalty area. Still with work to do, but having a glimpse of the target, the Billericay man needed no second invitation and sent the ball by special delivery into the bottom corner. All that remained was for Butler to sign to confirm receipt and the scoreboard ticked over to register the strike on 32 minutes.
Tails up, the Essex side roared forward once more. Potter, nipping past Beautyman, advanced only to see his shot beat the goalkeeper but not the defenders on the line. Right-back Craig Eastmond, once of sufficient promise, to start in the Premier League for Arsenal, was in the right place to avert danger as he hacked away the effort for a corner.
With pressure rising, it wouldn’t be long before the Blues had their third goal. A long ball from Arjanit Krasniqi troubled Collins sufficiently as his header merely sent the ball skywards. Sensing an opportunity, Robinson stole in and floated a perfect lob over the goalkeeper’s head for his second goal on 38 minutes. Superbly executed, Butler was still within his six-yard box as the ball floated agonisingly above his head and out of reach.
That further damage was not done before half-time is down to a mixture of the speedy intervention of Sutton centre-back, Ben Goodliffe, and a rare wayward shot from Robinson. With Potter running once more, ball at feet, into the opposition penalty area, Ramsay whipped the ball off his foot to find Billericay’s leading scorer in the FA Cup in the centre. Meeting the ball well, but pressured by the defensive cover, the effort flashed wide.
The second period retained its intensity with Sutton clearly out of the traps with a word or two from the manager to elevate their level of enthusiasm. Setting about Billericay with purpose, Loft was immediately called into action to provide defensive cover as Sutton pushed forward with intent.
Funnily enough, it was the Blues who struck first after the break with a quite magnificent strike from Alfa in the 49th minute. Picking up the ball from Potter, the winger was forced wide by a bank of defenders. Clearly with a plan in mind, Alfa doubled back on himself, retreating slightly as he lined up the optimum shooting angle. With admirable precision, he lined up a 25-yard curling strike that nestled inside the far post.
Not discouraged by going further behind, Sutton worked even harder to get themselves back in the match and enjoyed their best period of the game. A Wright shot was pushed onto the post by a diving Julian as the Surrey side showed they would fight back.
Living ever dangerously, half-time substitute Will Randall proved a greater threat than the man he replaced, David Ajiboye, making several dangerous incursions on the left. One such foray, fed Wright who was unlucky to see his snapshot diverted onto the far post by Julian.
On 55 minutes, Sutton were rewarded with the goal they deserved. A powerful, low shot came in from Bugiel. Beating Julian, the ball rebounded off the far post and fell nicely for the advancing Wright who won the race with the Billericay defenders to slot home from close range.
At that stage, the match resembled a basketball match with chance after chance for each side as the game swung from one end of the pitch to the other in rapid succession.
Alfa responded for Billericay with almost a carbon copy of his earlier effort as he fired off another curling shot. Striking the ball better than for his goal, and from slightly further out, his fine effort hit the far post with the goalkeeper looking on in mild bemusement. Clearly, an extension to his 28-day loan spell remains high on O’Hara’s list of priorities.
With the visitors continuing to threaten, a poor Krasniqi throw let in Sutton’s Beautyman for a strike that brought another diving save from Julian. Learning quickly in the management game, O’Hara showed that past lessons at Oxford City and at home to Dorking had been learned by making substitutions aimed to kill off the other team rather than preserve a fragile lead.
Rather than shore up the midfield by bringing on an additional defender, on came striker Moses Emmanuel in place of Jack Paxman. With the pace to stretch Sutton on the counter-attack, and a surprisingly good defensive addition to deal with crosses into the box, the substitution would bear fruit as Billericay attacked swiftly when in possession.
With Sutton pressing but not offering more than a wild Reid shot over the bar in the closing stages, the Emmanuel, Robinson partnership worked perfectly on the break. As an attack broke down in the Billericay box, the ball was shifted to Emmanuel who sped forward.
Surrounded by three Sutton defenders, he transferred the ball across to a waiting Robinson. Shifting to his right, the striker went around Collins and delicately placed his shot over Butler into the net to claim his hat-trick and his first match-ball of the new season in added time.
With a display among one of the finest delivered for some time at the New Lodge, O’Hara’s vision of how football should be played is coming together. Acknowledging as much in his post-match interview, Billericay’s rookie boss is settling well into his role. New owners cannot fail to have been impressed at this showing on their first night at the helm.
It is true that attacking verve is mixed with defensive frailty. However, early signs are that recruitment of young prospects is providing good options for the team. On the pitch, a practical application of solutions, mixed with tactical boldness, has helped to overcome any shortcomings until they can be remedied. The future looks bright for this team.