Photos courtesy of Nicky Hayes
Billericay Town battled to a narrow 1-0 win at home to Wealdstone courtesy of a first half strike from prolific centre forward Jake Robinson. On a day when the Blues lacked their usual fluency, Wealdstone at times looked the better side. The Ruislip based team could have gone home with a share of the points but failed to convert an early penalty or turn impressive approach play into clear chances.
The first chance of the match fell to Billericay as Coombes headed wide from an early corner. Thereafter, the match became congested in midfield with Billericay unable to exert any real control. A piece of individual skill from Wealdstone’s Freddie Grant fashioned a gilt-edged opening for the visitors. Pushing forward on the left, he beat his man to deliver a fine ball to find Bradley Hudson-Odoi. In space, the winger was brought down by Dean Inman for a deserved penalty.
Elation at winning the penalty, in what looked like a tight game, soon turned to disappointment as the chance to take the lead was spurned. Joe White was the culprit as Billericay goal-keeper, Alan Julian, was able to save his weakly struck 13th minute penalty. With Wealdstone the better side in the first fifteen minutes, the missed spot-kick would prove to herald a swing in momentum to the Blues.
Within minutes, the next best opportunity fell to the home side through Joe Kizzi. Developing a reputation for attacking incursions, the Billericay right-back provided a constant threat down his side of the pitch. On this occasion, he stormed to the by-line finding Jake Robinson in the centre with a precise cross. The Billericay hit-man could not convert, sending an effort just over the bar.
The Blues would go closer on 21 minutes as right-winger, Alfie Potter, making his full debut, forced a save from Wealdstone keeper, Jonathan North, who blocked a stinging shot from an acute angle. In response, a floated Hudson-Odoi centre demanded intervention from Dean Inman who headed clear of danger.
With left back, Callum Kennedy, and winger, Ricky Modeste, both unavailable for selection due to injury, Billericay’s threat from the flanks, especially the left side, was less prominent. The 31st minute breakthrough for Billericay would come via central midfield instead as Sammy Deering found space to deliver a searching ball into the Wealdstone penalty area.
In his only clear opportunity of the match, Jake Robinson latched onto the pass, shaking off the unwanted attention of the Wealdstone centre-back, Connor Stevens, to fire an unstoppable shot past North. The finish was clinical and proved the point that, even in new boots, Robinson has not lost his scoring touch.
The first half petered out with Wealdstone’s Stevens involved at both ends of the pitch. Finding space in the Billericay area, he was able to register a shot on goal from a deep cross. Contact was weak and Julian saved easily. At the other end, he intervened with a great block after Deering had worked a shooting opportunity.
Neither side made changes at half-time but an enforced substitution for Wealdstone took place soon after the re-start. Striker Bradley Bubb, entered in place of the injured Hudson-Odoi. By the hour, Billericay had completed three substitutions of their own as Simon Walton was introduced in midfield for O’Hara and Adam Cunnington came on for Sam Deering. Of more concern was the sight of the injured Alan Julian leaving the field. His deputy, ex-Concord Rangers keeper, Louis Wells, proved to be more than capable as understudy.
The arrival of Walton and Cunnington helped Billericay to regain a foot-hold in a game that had seen Wealdstone grow increasingly influential. On 62 minutes, Joe Kizzi – on another forward run – would smash a shot on goal that North athletically pushed against the cross bar and out. In an instant, with Billericay caught upfield, the Stones broke with pace and hit back with their own effort through Bubb who forced sub keeper, Wells into a smart diving save.
With the home side under intense pressure, and a growing tendency to play the long ball, right winger, Jeffrey Monakana was making real headway on his side of the pitch. Often linking with the willing Rhys Tyler, several crosses would find Joe White’s head but ultimately fly wide of the target. On 85 minutes, Bradley Bubb hit a volley wide when well placed on the right side of the penalty box.
As the clock ticked down, Billericay retreated and Wealdstone needed no second invitation to attack. Their best chance would come in the 86th minute. A clever combination between White and David Pratt would see the latter force keeper, Wells, into a full length diving stop to prevent the Wealdstone striker’s effort from nestling in the far corner. Six minutes of added time yielded no more opportunities and Billericay held on to claim a hard fought and vital home win.
Billericay proved the point today that winning matches when you don’t play well is absolutely vital. For long periods, Wealdstone looked the better side and put Billericay under intense pressure. The difference between the teams was the extra quality provided by the clinical finishing of striker Jake Robinson. On this display, Wealdstone undoubtedly have the players to be in the play-off mix this season. Although clear-cut chances were few, they will rue the missed spot-kick.
1. Alan Julian (’61 Louis Wells) 2. Joe Kizzi 3. Jake Howells 4. Scott Doe 5. Dean Inman 6. Sam Deering (‘61 Adam Cunnington)7. Alfie Potter 8. Jamie O’Hara (’57 Simon Walton) 9. Jake Robinson 10. Adam Coombes 11. Alfie Potter
Goal: ‘31 Robinson
1. Jonathan North 2. Rhys Tyler 3. Freddie Grant 4. Connor Stevens 5 Jerome Okimo 6. Godfrey Poku 7. Jeffrey Monakana (’82 Yado Mambo) 8. Wadhi Ahmidi (’75 Daniel Green)9. David Pratt 10. Joe White 11. Bradley Hudson-Odoi (’47 Bradley Bubb)