Horsham remain in the bottom three but will wonder just how they
failed to take at least a point from the division's in-form side after
creating several clear goalscoring opportunities during an impressive
first half showing.
Gary Charman, Pat Harding and Lee Carey all had great chances to give
the hosts the lead but, instead, it was Billericay who broke the
deadlock with arguably their first meaningful attack of the half. A
sense of justice prevailed when Reading loanee Michael Hector forced
the ball home, 5 minutes after the interval, but the young defender
blotted his copybook with a costly mistake that handed the
visitors their match-winning goal just after the hour.
Under no apparent pressure, Hector stumbled over the ball on the edge
of the penalty area and Bertie Brayley pounced to set up Anthony
Robinson to stroke the ball past Mark Zawadski. It was harsh on
Horsham and harsh on the debutant who looked an assured presence at
the heart of a defence that stood firm against a Billericay side that
had come in to the match on the back of a 7 match unbeaten league run
that had taken them up to 4th place in the Ryman Premier Division
Hector's inclusion, his first on a month-long loan from the
Championship side, came at the expense of Tom Graves, Jack Page
returned from injury to replace the suspended Mark Knee and Lee Carey
made his first appearance in the green and amber jersey for almost 2
years after rejoining the club at the end of the week with the Hornets
looking to build on Tuesday's dramatic last-gasp win at Tooting &
And it was Charman, so instrumental in that midweek victory, who had
the game's first chance when he found himself on the end of Page's
second minute cross but uncharacteristically misconnected, sending his header wide
of the mark. Anthony Storey kept up the pressure with a fierce
free-kick that went straight at goalkeeper Nick Morgan and the new
strike partnership of Pat Harding and Ben Andrews looked to have
combined to good effect until the latter's return pass lacked the
required accuracy and the ball was cleared.
The pacy Junior Dadson gave an early indication of his menace down the
visitors' left when his positive run ended with a driven cross
flashing across the face of goal but the main threat remained at the
opposite end of the pitch where the game's first goal should have come
after 15 minutes. Storey's chipped pass looked set to be cleared by
Cedric Ngakem but the defender slipped, leaving Harding a free run on
goal. With the crowd halfway to their feet, and willing the ball into
the net for the sake of the goal-shy forward, Morgan raced from his
line and spread his body, repelling the ball with his feet, and Page
could only put the loose ball over the crossbar.
There was further frustration for the home fans on 23 minutes when the
increasingly impressive Miles Mitchell attacked down the left and sent
in a terrific cross that took out both defender and goalkeeper but
Carey's goalbound shot was cleared off the line.
Billericay responded with a corner by Brayley, nodded down by the
lanky Chris Wild only for Lawson's volley to be deflected over the
crossbar and, from the subsequent corner-kick, Robinson headed just
over the top. Andrews' inclusion in the forward line had given Horsham
a new dimension to their game at Tooting and his aerial prowess
continued here, winning frequent mid-air battles, but it was two low
shots from the captain that threatened to break the deadlock in one
scrambled attack that ended with Carey chipping the ball straight into
the goalkeeper's hands.
With the hosts the dominant side, it probably came as no surprise to
the Gorings Mead faithful when the visitors got their noses in front.
A decent attack appeared to have broken down when Page headed the ball
clear but possession was instantly regained by the Blues and the ball
played out wide to Brayley who hit a pinpoint cross on to the head of
the unmarked Lawson who claimed his third goal in two games since
his arrival from Concord Rangers.
Undeterred, Horsham tried to hit back immediately and Page's
outstretched boot sent the ball against the outside of the post at the
end of a patient build up that drew appreciative applause from those
in the stand. Morgan was almost caught out when his weak clearance
was picked up by Charman who returned the ball towards the goal. The
back-pedalling 'keeper was able to get his body behind the ball but
fumbled the shot, sending the ball trickling towards the goal-line
until cleared by Billericay skipper Ian Cousins.
Cousins then popped up at the other end where his free-kick was
punched clear by Zawadski and Paul Kennett headed Micah Hyde's
follow-up shot behind his own goal as the visitors began to exert some
late first half pressure. Hector covered well after Storey had been
dispossessed by Sean Bonnett-Johnson but the home defence was guilty
of ball-watching, moments later, when a long goal-kick went right down
the middle of the pitch and Brayley headed on for Robinson who
embarrassingly fly-hacked at the ball, missing it completely.
H/T Horsham 0 Billericay Town 1
Billericay were the quickest to settle after the break and only a
strong save from Zawadski prevented Dadson from doubling the
advantage, having been played in behind the defence by
Bennett-Johnson's slide-rule pass.
Horsham's hopes of a recovery were hit when Charman was forced out of
the action with a hamstring problem but his replacement, Steve Davies,
quickly made his presence felt by winning a corner within
seconds of his arrival. From Storey's delivery, Morgan fumbled
Andrews' downwards header and Kennett scrambled to convert the rebound but
it was Hector who took control and smashed the ball into the net from
It was no more than player and club deserved and only a brave
defensive header by Ngakem stopped Andrews from getting on the end of
Harding's whipped in cross as the hosts went in search of a second
goal. From the resulting corner, the ball was
cleared and a devastating run down the left by Dadson left Page
trailing in his wake as he raced towards the byeline before putting a
killer ball across the face of goal only for Brayley to hit the ball
into the side netting from a couple of yards out.
It was a huge let-off for Horsham but, having ridden their luck, they
went straight up the other end and, after Ryan Woodford's determined
run had ended with him being felled on the edge of the penalty area,
Mitchell fired a 20 yarder just past the upright. But it was the
visitors who were beginning to get on top and Brayley was only inches
off target after latching on to Hyde's ball over the top.
Then came Hector's first mistake of the game. With the Hornets passing
the ball around comfortably in defence, there seemed little pressure
on the back four but the youngster got himself in a muddle and Brayley
picked his pocket, slipping the ball to his left for Robinson to
sidefoot the ball into the far corner of the net.
It was a crushing blow for the home side, who had battled so well to
get back on level terms, but they had a sniff of a second equaliser
when another ineffective Morgan clearance presented Harding with a
tempting sight of goal but his attempted long range chip drifted wide
of the far post.
Morgan was more alert to deal with Harding's dangerous chip into the
box, shortly after, when he nipped in ahead of Davies to claim the
ball but you sensed that the stuffing had been knocked out of the
Hornets as Billericay began to enjoy themselves in the open spaces
left by their opponents' desperate attempts to salvage something from
Lawson's far post volley was blocked, from Dadson's deep cross, and
with Hector still troubled by his earlier mistake, the Horsham defence
looked less assured than it had been for the opening hour. The
debutant was cautioned for kicking the ball away as his frustrations
increased and Davies' turn and shot from 40 yards was met with groans
as it sailed harmlessly wide.
Carey gave way to Tony Nwachukwu for the last quarter of an hour and
the young substitute tried to light things up with a purposeful run in
to the heart of the Billericay defence but his approach was not
matched by the finish as his scuffed effort failed to trouble Morgan.
Zawadski had to be alert to keep out Junior Luke's powerful header,
after he linked up with fellow substitute Harrison Chatting, and there
was a moment of farce when Carey, warming down at the side of the
pitch, was cautioned for speaking out of turn to the linesman before
Luke had the last effort of the game when sending a shot over the top
in the closing stages..