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Kingstonian 4-1 Billericay Town

The last time Billericay visited Kingsmeadow they were most certainly the underdogs in an entirely forgettable League Cup tie settled by a solitary Richard Cherry strike deep into extra time. Much has changed since that night: Billericay now competing on an even level, possibly entering this game as favourites, while K's footballing journey has taken in the Conference, FA Cup runs, the joys of Wembley and the pains of relegation.

One of the heroes from the second Wembley visit, the scorer of THAT goal, was back on familiar territory, albeit in the unfamiliar yellow of the visitors. Indeed it was Amara Simba who almost opened the scoring early on, his drive well blocked by Peter Barnsby.

Simba was clearly keen to make an impression against his former club, Simon Stewart lofting a clearance over the bar before another Simba effort flashed just past the post from a tight angle. K's were clearly shaken and the hangover from Saturdays visit to Braintree seemed to be taking hold. They needed a turning point, someone to take the game by the scruff of the neck and start to dictate the pace.

Enter Mark Beard. The best outfield player by a long way at Braintree and starting the game tonight in midfield as Max Hustwick had been pushed out to right back to accommodate Simon Stewart's return from suspension. Just past the quarter hour mark and a static front two left Beard with not too many options but a shot at goal. This he did, and from fully 30 yards sent a rocket of a shot screaming into the top corner, Gavin King in the Billericay goal having no chance.

Boo the number 10 - he cleared this off the line

This spark of brilliance awoke K's. Steve Brown fired a low cross across goal which was scrambled away before Peter Barnsby had a header hacked off the line from a corner. Beard was everywhere in the midfield, winning 50-50's and coming away with the ball when the cause looked long gone. His persistence almost paid off shortly before half time, winning the ball and flicking it out wide to Liam Collins whose cross evaded the keeper but also the lurking Steve Brown at the far post. The second half started with the home side again in the ascendance, Greg Ball's determined running almost forcing an error from Moore who managed to poke the ball back for King to clear just in time.

Ball didn't have to wait long too long for his first goal for the club however. An innocuous enough looking shot from the right wing produced a wild swing from Jordan, completely missing the ball but doing enough to distract the keeper's eye from it and it rolled between King's legs and trickled over the line, the young K's striker celebrating his first goal for the club not with an air of embarrassment as you might expect but with a flying cartwheel in front of the Kingston Road End.

With a two nil cushion K's started to knock the ball about with an air of confidence if only in fits and starts. Colin Luckett tried his luck from distance but this time the keeper managed to hold onto the tame shot, unlike Ball's previous effort.

The ball and some blurred stuff

Jones saw his good run at the defence ended when his shot was blocked and looped over a stranded King but dropped the wrong side of the crossbar, before the best move of the game saw Collins beat his man and cross to the far post for the waiting Ball whose header back across the face of the goal drifted wide.

Billericay still pressed forward looking for a way into the game with Lance Key punching away a corner from the head of an oncoming forward. In an attempt to shore things up in midfield Jones was replaced by Steve McKimm for the final 20 minutes. Soon after, Ball started and finished a move to further increase K's lead. On the half way line a deft flick released Collins to sprint down the right wing before setting up Ball. The youngster teed it up onto his left foot before hitting home a low drive to the bottom left corner, and 15 minutes after entering the race he was storming ahead in the Golden Boot stakes.

Still the visitors didn't give up the ghost - Lance Key forced to make a close range save before Carthy received a yellow card for a two footed challenge on Beard, although in truth it was more likely frustration than malice on the Billericay midfielders part.

With five minutes on the clock, Sadler replaced the tiring Brown and made an immediate impact - his run knocking the ball past the keeper and with players queuing up for a fourth goal Beard's shot was well blocked.

The fourth wasn't long in coming though, and it was that man Ball again, completing a memorable hat-trick with another left foot drive into the corner. Billericay responded finally through Moore in stoppage time to add a degree of respectability to the scoreline, heading home from a corner.

Greg with the Ball

Ball left the pitch to a standing ovation to be replaced by Ronnie Green, whose fierce run saw him bypass two defenders before rounding the keeper. However the young forward had taken the ball too wide in doing so and lofted his shot over the bar.

A marked improvement on recent performances, but not one to get too carried away over - K's will face sterner tests than this in the months to come, and will need to improve further if a realistic challenge for the title is to be mounted. However a reason to be optimistic for a change and perhaps tonight's game will act as a stepping stone to better things. Lets hope so.

Tue 18th Sep 2001
Kingsmeadow Stadium
Isthmian League Premier
Beard, Ball (3)
Billericay Town1
1Lance Key
2Max Hustwick
3Colin Luckett
4Peter Barnsby
5Simon Stewart
6Bashiru Alimi
7Liam Collins
8Mark Beard
9Greg Ball14
10Steve Brown12
11Mark Jones15
12David Sadler10
14Ronnie Green9
15Steve McKimm11
Man of the Match
Greg Ball
Greg Ball
Match Report By
Simon Murray