Article by Matt Harris: Billericay Town F.C are in the hat for the FA Cup second round qualifying draw after beating Hadleigh United 4-0 at New Lodge.
The game all over by half-time as goals from Glenn Poole, Steve Sheehan and Chris Benjamin set them on their way before Ricky Sappleton rounded off the scoring late on.
Hadleigh weren’t to be underestimated, they won the Thurlow Nunn Premier Division last season, but opted against promotion to the Ryman League Division One North for financial reasons. They top the league again this season and are unbeaten with six wins from their first seven matches, but they were put to the sword by Billericay early on, as they went 2-0 up inside ten minutes.
The Blues made two changes to the team that lost at home to Bognor Regis Town on Tuesday in the league, with summer signing Rowan Liburd, who has been out with a broken arm, finally making his long awaited debut.
He came in for Ryan Scott, who played as a makeshift striker on Tuesday, while Benjamin came in for Frazer Shaw. Liburd was instantly involved, leading the breakaway from Billericay’s opening goal in the sixth minute.
The Blues cleared a Hadleigh corner, Liburd picked up the loose ball near his own box and carried it tofive yard outside the visitors’ penalty area, before passing right to Benjamin, he went right again to the unmarked Poole, who clipped the ball over stranded keeper Ben Nower into the net.
Four minutes later it was 2-0 as Poole free-kick from over on the right touchline was swung in to the far post where Sheehan headed home.
Benjamin was at the end of everything the Blues produced and he was unlucky to his shot cleared off the line on 20 minutes. Shortly after a lovely step over saw him beat his man but his shot from distance was partially blocked an easy for Nower to save.
The Blues ahd tow shouts for handball turned down in the visiting penalty area before Junior Appiah picked up a clearance from a corner and hit a cracking half volley that was straight at Nower.
Hadleigh should have capitalised when a bouncing back pass from Sheehan wasn’t cleared by keeper Billy Lumley and Aaron Churchyard nipped the ball away, slightly wide of the goal, he dawdled and his cross was put behind.
On 37 minutes Benjamin finally got his goal as he raced on to a ball over the, checked inside to beat his man, and slotted past Nower.
Liburd fired a great volley on the turn narrowly over the bar, as Billericay looked to put the tie totally to bed, before Liam Jennings missed a free-header on the move at the back post for the visitors just before the break.
Kevin Inglis fired a free-kick from 23 yards straight at Lumley as the half ended.
Both teams made changes at half-time with Chris Webber replacing the ineffective Nigel Neita for Billericay.
The second hald was dominated by the Blues who should have put more gloss on the scoreline but for poor finishing.
Benjamin should have got a second, but from six yards out and unmarked, he headed over Appiah’s cross from the right.
He then latched on to Liburd’s excellent through ball before seeing his shot deflected over and when he did find the net again it was ruled out for offside.
Poole sent a free-kick over the bar and Benjamin got free again, but took too long to pick an option and was crowded out when he was well placed.
The tiring Liburd was replaced by Sappleton and the big front man instantly made and impact, forcing a smart close range save from Nower after getting his head to Poole’s corner.
Sappleton got his head to another Poole corner moments later, but this time the effort went wide.
Hadleigh substitute Mike Barwick sent a header narrowly over the crossbar and another sub, Sam Sharp should also have done better after getting through on goal.
The Blues responded and Sappleton quick free-kick sent Benjamin down the right channel but he dragged his shot wide for the far post.
Sappleton volleyed over substitute Frazer Shaw’s cross before eventually finding the net two minutes from time.
Appiah played the ball into the striker, and with his back to goal he cleverly turned his defender before placing past the keeper.
Billericay: Lumley, O’Hanlon, Halle, Sheehan, Beavan (Shaw 61); Appaih, Poole Edwards, Neita (Webber HT); Liburd (Sappleton 66), Benjamin. Unused subs: Scott, Ferguson, Taylor-Crossdale, Godwin-Green.
Article and image by the Brentwood Gazette, Matt Harris