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Billericay Town 0-2 Kingstonian

A make-shift Kingstonian squad produced a hugely impressive win at Billericay, with goals at either end of an entertaining match. Eight players were unavailable for selection, meaning that youngster Matt Bradford started just his second match ever, and other players were asked to slot into unfamiliar positions. The bench had an even more unusual look about it, with reserve-team manager Trevor Jones alongside youth team players Luke Fontana and Jake Newton.

The hooped ones started like the proverbial train. With but one minute on the clock, James Pinnock charged down a clearance and crossed towards the middle where a sliding interception by Ollie Adedeji proved just enough to deny Ronnie Green in front of goal.

The New Lodge

The clearance led to a corner on the right, which was followed immediately by another. Pinnock swung the ball towards the far post, and up jumped Bradford who headed the ball perfectly over Adedeji on the line to open his account for the club. Just two minutes were on the clock, and K's led one-nil.

Billericay's captain, Lee Williams, took the goal worse than most, when just a couple of minutes later, after a free-kick was awarded against him for a foul on Pinnock, he lashed out at the K's midfielder, catching him in the neck with his raised hand. A yellow card was shown after several handbags had been brought in by several players, but Williams can count himself lucky to have been allowed to stay on the field.

Prior to this game, the home side were lying just one place below K's in the league table, separated just by goal difference. As the first-half wore on they started to prove their worth. They had an early shout for a penalty turned down when a cross from the right saw a shot from Andy Douglas blocked by Chris Whelan. The centre-half's arms were certainly up, but the referee decided that the contact did not warrant a spot-kick.

Unorthodox defending

Lance Key was having to be at his best to keep Billericay out, as the home side took a grip on possession. K's were forced to play on the break, but with Pinnock and Collins in inspired form that was little problem. They conjured up a chance for Scott Edgar after some impressive inter-play on the right, only for the resulting header to go away from goal as Chris Moore pressured the striker. Shortly afterwards, a fine cross-field pass from Craig Lewington found Collins, whose cross was nipped off Ronnie Green's toe by ex-K Jerome John in the home goal.

The final third of the half saw three fine chances for the home side to equalise, but on each occasion Key and co. were equal to their efforts. A short corner from the left allowed Richard Graham to shoot from the edge of the box. His shot squirmed under Key's body, but Phil Wingfield was on hand to smash the ball away from under his own crossbar.

Just a minute later and a throw on the left found Douglas just outside the box. He certainly meant to cross the ball, but he ended up producing a high shot which would have crept in at the far post had it not been for Key's alert interception. But he'd saved the best for last. Just before the interval, Williams played in Douglas for a clear run on goal, Key came out and smothered the ball superbly as the shot came in from sixteen yards.

That's more like it

The second-half started with Billericay striving to find the equaliser that their share of possession in the first-half had probably deserved. That said, they were still finding it difficult to break down the stubborn K's back-line, and spent a great deal of their time passing the ball sideways some distance outside the penalty area.

Their first really close effort of the half actually came via a K's boot. Mark Graham crossed from the right towards the far post, ex-K (but only just...) Paul Fewings flicked on, only for Matt Bradford to clear at the far post. He got his clearance all wrong though, slicing the ball just over his own bar for a corner. This was sent in by Graham, landing just the one yard from goal. Key got a touch to the ball, it dropped into the six-yard box, bodies fell and the ball ricocheted before the whistle went for a free-kick to K's.

On twenty minutes Key made his only real mistake of the match - sending a goal-kick straight to Fewings inside the K's half. He immediately played in Douglas for a run at Key, but the goalkeeper more than made up for the mistake saving brilliantly, turning the ball aside to his left.

JJ blocks Edgar's shot

Scott Steele was sent on in place of Phil Wingfield, as K's tried more and more to catch Billericay on the break. They almost managed this with ten minutes to go when Collins played in Edgar, who beat Adedeji on his way into the area. John came off his line and blocked well as Edgar shot (above), the ball bounced out to Collins who had followed up on the right, but John blocked well once more as the second shot came in.

Another change by K's saw Luke Fontana introduced in place of Ronnie Green, but the play was by now almost exclusively at the other end of the field. Cross after cross was being played into the Kingstonian area, but the defence were still standing solidly. Gary Ansell had what proved to be the last chance for the home side when Moore headed across goal, but the striker couldn't make contact when any shot would surely have earned the equaliser.

With Billericay by now pushing forward in desperate search of an equaliser there were holes at the back for K's to exploit. And so they did. In the third minute of injury time Edgar played a ball through for Fontana to run onto. He sprinted into the area, John came out to challenge, Fontana drifted further and further to the right, finally stabbed the ball past the goalkeeper only to be up-ended.

Steele beats JJ

The referee correctly pointed to the spot and produced a yellow card for John. It could be argued that a red card was deserved, but on balance the referee probably got that one right. It mattered little anyway, because Steele tucked the penalty away with the minimum of fuss (above), and just a few moments later the whistle went.

This was a fantastic display by K's. With the inexperienced Matt Bradford at right-back and Bashiru Alimi at left-back, there were two players playing out of position, and several others only selected because of injuries and suspensions. But every one of the thirteen who played fought for every ball, covered each other, and created - and took - their chances. Let it never be said that this team lacks commitment, because at Billericay they proved that they have it in spades.

Sat 22nd Feb 2003
New Lodge
Isthmian League Premier
Billericay Town0
Bradford, Steele (pen)
1Lance Key
2Matt Bradford
3Bashiru Alimi
4Craig Lewington
5Chris Whelan
6Matt Flitter
7Liam Collins
8James Pinnock
9Scott Edgar
10Ronnie Green15
11Phil Wingfield12
12Scott Steele11
14Trevor Jones
15Luke Fontana10
16Jake Newton
Man of the Match
Matt Bradford
Matt Bradford
Match Report By
Gary Ekins