Report courtesy of Peter Dudley
So on a cold Tuesday night at New Lodge I was at an important match between Billericay Town and Leiston in the Ryman Premier Division.
Both teams sat just outside the play off places on the same number of points so knew a victory would give them an advantage and take them level on points with the play off pack.
With around two minutes on the clock the visitors swung a dangerous ball into the hosts box which just invaded the far post whilst the hosts went closer on eight minutes in what was a great chance when Jordan Cox got in the clear but his lobs over ex-Canvey keeper Ashlee Jones bounced just wide of the target.
On 12 minutes Cox again beat the fragile Leiston offside trap bit dragged his effort horribly wide of the far post but on the quarter hour mark it was third time lucky for the striker as Cox again got clear of the Leiston back line and slotted past Jones and give the hosts a deserved lead.
Just a minute after this Cox missed another guilt edged chance for the hosts when he saw the laid off to him inside the box after a great move but from point black range he hit straight at Jones who made a fairly routine save. However Jones could do nothing to prevent Town’s and Cox’s second on 19 minutes when after Ibrahim Diallo had pinched the ball off the visitors on the right, his pin point cross found Cox who powered a close range header home and the hosts were flying.
The visitors tried to get a foot hold back into the game and midway through the half swung in a dangerous free kick but it invaded everyone in the six yard box but it was a warning to the hosts that this game was far from over. Just past the half hour mark a cross into the hosts area saw Leon Ottley-Gooch rise the highest but plant his header just over for the visitors.
However on 34 minutes the hosts had an ideal opportunity to possibly wrap up the points before half time when Connor Hubble was brought down inside the box but Teddy Nesbitt saw his penalty tipped onto the post by Jones before Cox took a complete air shot at the rebound and so it stayed at 2-0. As the half came towards its conclusion the visitors were putting some pressure on the hosts but were unable to test hosts keeper Jack Giddens meaning Town went into the break in good shape although probably should of been further ahead.
Half Time Billericay Town 2 Leiston 0
Any half time team talk the visitors might of had went out of the window three minutes after the restart when the hosts went further in front when the ball fell to Tom Derry whose long range effort bounced over the dive of Jones and into the net. To the visitors credit they kept plugging away and on 50 minutes broke down the right through Jake Taylor and his ball found its way to Billy Clark who swivels but hit his effort straight at Giddens.
The match had now taken on a more even look now and just before the hour the visitors carved out another opening when Taylor pounced on a defensive slip to gets in for the visitors but his weak effort was saved down to his left by Giddens. The hosts then carved out an opening on 63 minutes when Derry was played in over the top but it was a difficult chance as he tried to flick the ball over Jones with the outside of his boot but it was easy for Jones in the end.
Then on 65 minutes the visitors were granted a lifeline when after a scramble inside the hosts area they won a penalty after Joe Jefford was brought down. Jack Ainsley saw his penalty kick saved by Giddins but the ball came back out to Ainsley who duly buried the rebound and gave Leiston a glimmer of hope of a comeback.
You could sense this goal lifted the visitors and the hosts were getting a little ragged as Leiston were now piling on the pressure and saw Town having to hack a dangerous ball clear from their own six yard box on more than one occasion although again the hosts keeper had little to do.
Town managed to ride out this storm and with just over fifteen minutes to go a great free kick swung into the visitors box just invaded Derry and saw the ball go through to Jones and then with seven minutes left Hubble burst onto a loose ball and saw his curled effort deflect just wide.
A minute later Blues full back Alex Stephenson saw a close range effort cleared off the line but from the next cross Stephenson was again involved, challenging keeper Jones for the ball and saw the keeper weakly punch out into the danger area which saw Derry blast home the loose ball and seal the points for the hosts.
Leiston should of pulled a goal back moments later though when a ball rolled across the box to Jack Baker saw the visitors substitute somehow hit wide from close range. It rather summed up their night in front of goal. With two minutes left the hosts nearly increased their lead when a long ball over the Leiston defence found Cox but he horribly snatched at the effort and it went miles wide. The Town striker could of had a more than his two goals already bagged in this game but his misses didn’t prove to crucial in the end.
As the game ticked into the four minutes of stoppage time Leiston full back Sed Dunbar almost headed a cross into his own net and from the corner that man Cox headed just wide from close range. The final chance came deep into stoppage time when Blues substitute Ola Williams struck a decent effort at the Leiston goal but Jones saved fairly comfortable down to his right and soon after the final whistle peeped and the hosts moved up to sixth, level on points with the play off teams.
Full Time Billericay Town 4 Leiston 1
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