Brentwood, 11.54pm: 15°C, heavy intensity shower rain

Match report: Billericay Town 1 Dartford 1

A late equaliser with almost the last kick of the game saw Billericay Town denied a home win as Dartford pounced through Jamie Philpot to gain a 1-1 draw. In a tight contest of few clear chances, Blues, through Jake Robinson, would first miss a penalty but later convert another from the spot to lead. With leaders Woking losing to Dulwich Hamlet, the Darts leveller deprives the Blues of top spot.

It’s difficult to argue with Glenn Tamplin’s words posted on twitter at the end of the match, which sum up the feelings of most fans at the game. He said:

“Disappointed with the 1-1, thought we were the better team. We let them back into it when we should have killed them off”.

Pending the appointment of a new manager, expected next Wednesday, owner, Glenn Tamplin, continued as the boss in the dug-out, assisted by Danny Hazle. The exit of former Blues manager, Harry Wheeler, was confirmed last Tuesday by his unveiling as the new man in charge at National League, Maidstone United. Shortly afterwards, Assistant Manger, Tristan Lewis, and fitness coach, Craig Lewis departed the club to join up with Wheeler at his new place of employment.

Photo: Nicky Hayes

To no great surprise, Billericay Town set up using the 3-5-2 system that had functioned well after its employment in the second half at Hemel Hempstead. Striker Adam Cunnington, rewarded for his goal from the bench last time out, came in for his first start of the season at the expense of Adam Coombes. Dean Inman slotted back into the team to play the role of third centre-back. To accommodate the change, winger, Alfie Potter, dropped back to the bench.

Early action would see the Darts start in the ascendancy as Amadou Ba worked himself into space in the opening minutes. Recruited just over one week ago to try and solve the Darts poor record of just five goals in the opening eight games, he would provide a lively presence on the right hand side. A twisting run on the Billericay left would see the speedy on loan Southend Utd striker fire off a shot across the face of Alan Julian’s goal as an early warning to the Blues defence.

As the game progressed, Billericay would start to have a stronger influence on the match. Sam Deering, in particular, started to exert control and soon forced Gibraltan international goalkeeper, Deren Ibrahim, into a diving stop. In the 23rd minute, Billericay’s Jake Robinson would have a first clear sight of goal. A rapid burst on the right would end with a shot across the keeper flying narrowly wide.

Playing on his own up front, Dartford’s Delano Sam-Yorke filled the role of the bustling target man well. He worked hard all afternoon, was prominent in the air and, in the 24th minute, climbed to send a firm header just wide of the Billericay goal. As would be the case on several occasions, Ben Greenhaugh was behind the expert delivery. Just one minute later, Darts left winger, Tom Knowles, would get in on the act as he lined up a shot from the edge of the box that flew inches wide.

Cunnington, justifying his inclusion with his strong aerial game and physical presence, proved to be a challenge for the Dartford defenders to handle. A running battle with Dartford centre-back, Tom Bonner was a feature of the game.

The tall striker played a vital role in winning the first Billericay spot-kick. Rising well in the penalty area, Cunnington’s header allowed Jake Robinson the opportunity to latch onto the loose ball, only to be brought down in the box.

For only the second time in his career at Billericay, the Blues top scorer would miss, cannoning a vicious shot against the cross bar. By coincidence, Robinson would miss one and score one on the only other occasion that he failed from the spot, which was versus Wingate and Finchley in a Velocity Cup quarter-final tie.

The disappointment of the wasted scoring opportunity did not linger long with the Blues putting together some fine passing moves. Danny Waldren, looking in prime form in central midfield, was at the heart of the impressive play. At one stage, he took down a headed Inman clearance to launch a Blues attacking passing combination taking in Deering, Kizzi, and Robinson ending in a corner.

Photo: Nicky Hayes

Billericay took the lead on 51 minutes with a successful Jake Robinson penalty. With Modeste on for Kizzi at the break for the Blues, the fleet-footed Grenada international made an impact on the right hand side. His early run brought a corner from which a clear foul on Cunnington yielded the spot-kick. This time, Jake Robinson took no chances slamming the ball low into the right hand corner.

With Billericay in front, and controlling midfield through Waldren, Dartford tempers began to fray. A driving run through the centre of the pitch from Modeste was ended illegally and a heated argument with Darts defender, Bonner, saw both players booked. No action was taken by the referee on the visitors centre-back, Ronnie Vint, who raised hands pushing Modeste to the floor.

The home side kept pushing forward and looked the more likely team to score as, on 61 minutes, Jake Robinson broke towards goal once again. Held up by stand-in right back, Chez Isaac, the Blues striker shot just wide of the post. On 62 minutes, Waldren was substituted for Connor Hunte, who took his place in central midfield. At the same time, the home side changed formation switching to a back four. Inman switched out from the three to cover the right back position.

The absence of Waldren saw the Darts come back into the game with several swift breaks through central areas. The Kent side were unable to make the most of their openings with first Greenhaugh, Isaac, and then Knowles missing the target with shots when well placed. In response, Billericay made the most of Modeste’s pace and several bursts forward helped to ease the pressure at the back.

With five minutes remaining, Dartford threw men forward in a desperate search for an equaliser. After a series of shots from Ba, Greenhaugh, and Philpot had gone wide, it looked like another defeat for the visitors. With the final move of the game, a Tom Knowles cross was missed by Dean Inman who ended up kicking fresh air. Evading all other Blues defenders, the ball reached the far post where ex-Millwall man, Jamie Philpot, was on hand to finish and earn the point.

Losing points to a late goal is always disappointing especially as the Darts had very few efforts on target and looked a well-organised but limited side. Overall, the Blues looked comfortable in the game but lost momentum in the last twenty minutes and paid the price for relying on a single goal advantage.

Billericay Town Formation: 3-5-2
1. Alan Julian 2. Dean Inman 3. Calum Kennedy 4. Scott Doe 5. Rickie Hayles 6. Sam Deering (12. Alfie Potter, ’74) 7. Joe Kizzi (16. Ricky Modeste, ’46) 8. Danny Waldren (15. Connor Hunte, ’62) 9. Jake Robinson 10. Jake Howells 14. Adam Cunnington
Substitutes Not Used: 11 Moses Emmanuel 17 Adam Coombes

Goal: ‘48 Robinson (Penalty)

Dartford FC Formation: 4-2-3-1
1. Deren Ibrahim 3. Mark Onyemah 4. Billy Roast (19. Manny Ighorae, ’75) 5. Ronnie Vint 6. Tom Bonner 7. Ben Greenhaugh 8. Lee Noble 10. Amadou Ba 14. Delano Sam-Yorke (12. Jamie Philpot, ’85) 15. Chez Isaac 19. Tom Knowles
Substitutes Not Used: 11. Tom Murphy 9 Kudus Oyenuga 13 Ryan Nicholls

Goal: ‘90+5 Philpot

Attendance: 1,431

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