Ryman Premier Division:
AFC Hornchurch 1 Billericay Town 1
It was a warm day and in front of a strong crowd of just over 500, the Urchins kicked towards the clubhouse end for the first half. Billericay brought with them a sizeable support which made for an entertaining match. Urchins gave a debut start to Lee Brown and made a lively start to the match when Simon Parker, back from injury, controlled a long ball, turned a defender and won the first corner of the game. From the resulting corner, Frankie Curley volleyed just over the crossbar. Billericay won the first free kick of the game from their goal kick but it came to nothing. Simon Parker was impressive and determined to prove himself as he made further runs down the right flank. His cross found Lee Hodges, previously with Billericay, whose shot hit a defender and Billericay broke away. Considering the excellent start that the Urchins had made, it was somewhat of a surprise when BILLY BRICKNELL put Billericay ahead early on, with a superb finish that eluded Dale Brightly in the Urchins goal and left the home crowd, including big Bill, in a state of shock.
The Urchins continued to press forward despite the early setback and won a free kick just outside the box. Lee Hodges took the kick but the Billericay goalkeeper saved comfortably. Billericay used the flanks to good effect and won a free kick mid-way into the Urchins half, the resulting kick headed away commandingly by John Purdie. Simon Parker went on another run past a defender before crossing, and found Fiston Manuella whose header was saved. Elliot Styles received some lengthy treatment after a horror tackle, which appeared two-footed. However the referee decided otherwise and gave out no cards. Billericay were quick on the break, particularly down the right flank and had another great opportunity to extend their lead when a long ball on the ground was picked up and played across the face of goal, but thankfully the Urchins were able to clear the ball with ease.
The first booking of the game was given to a Billericay player when Dean Green was fouled. The resulting free kick unfortunately did not find a Hornchurch head and went out for a goal kick. Billericay came forward in another quick attack and Billy Coyne cleared a potentially dangerous ball. The Urchins then had a good chance to score when a re-taken corner was played short and crossed in by Lee Hodges, whose shot produced a goalmouth scramble and a clearance off the line. Billericay received a second booking for another poor challenge and shortly after won a corner that was again cleared by the Urchins defence. A good long ball found Lee Hodges who nearly found Dean Green in the Billericay penalty area. There was an incident between Lee Brown and a Billericay player after the ball had passed that was sorted out calmly by the referee without any need to produce more cards in this feisty derby clash.
Urchins finished the first half stronger and created a few more chances as they looked to equalise before the break. Simon Parker ran past a defender again and won a corner, the resulting kick finding Frankie Curley whose header rose just above the crossbar. Then came Urchins best chance of the half, deep into the three minutes of first half injury time, when Lee Hodges took on a long range shot, which bounced off a defender deep in the box and the ball fell to Elliot Styles in front of goal who hit his left footed kick just wide. John Purdie became the third player to receive a booking and a Billericay free kick was cleared just as the half time whistle sounded.
Half time: AFC Hornchurch 0 Billericay Town 1
Billericay started the second half better and had an immediate chance to extend their lead, but the Urchins defence were able to clear the early dangers. A booking each was handed out to Elliot Styles and the Billericay player involved in a further incident in midfield and then yet another booking for Billericay was given for a foul on Elliot Styles. The Urchins began to slowly get into the game again and a good ball was sent into the box, which reached the head of Fiston Manuella, but the goalkeeper managed to get there at the same time and required treatment for the clash. A foul on Dean Green gave Urchins a free kick that was unfortunately wasted, but the Urchins continued to press forward and Lee Hodges went on a good run and eventually put in a high cross to the left flank which just fell too far ahead of the required player.
Then a triple substitution by Colin McBride, which saw Kris Lee, Ross Wall and Mark Janney come on for Billy Coyne, Simon Parker and Lee Hodges respectively. These changes in personnel seemed to help the Urchins considerably as they managed to keep possession of the ball for longer periods and produce some dangerous attacks of the own more frequently. Billericay were still a threat and looked to put the game out of sight of the Urchins when a good move, which was partly cleared by Andy Tomlinson was eventually cleared to safety. The possession was certainly largely with the Urchins at this late stage of the game and it looked like a goal may be on the cards. Thankfully, the goal came and it was a small surprise when it did as the cross came into the Billericay penalty area, the ball was partially cleared but fell to ANDY TOMLINSON who controlled the ball superbly and hit a hard left-footed shot from just outside the penalty area into the bottom right hand corner of the net to sent the home crowd into raptures.
Billericay had a penalty appeal turned down for an apparent foul in the box and were awarded a free kick shortly after for a separate incident. The kick was sent low into the box and the Urchins put the ball out for a corner, which was initially cleared and then sent back into the box for Dale Brightly to collect. Both sides were intent on trying to win the game towards the end and the best chance fell to Billericay. A through ball was picked up by the striker and he ran on to goal, only to place the ball just wide of goal to the relief of the home crowd. A corner from Billericay was cleared and Mark Janney picked it up and went on a long solo run down the right flank. Unfortunately his good cross was not met by any advancing Hornchurch players. Into injury time, Fiston Manuella was booked and Billericay pressed forward but the Urchins were able to clear to safety the cross that came in and the referee brought an end to a feisty entertaining local derby clash that ended all square.
Full time: AFC Hornchurch 1 Billericay Town 1