Billericay Town 2
Ashford Town (Middlesex) 0

Ryman League Premier Division,
New Lodge, Billericay
4th April 2009

Mark Butler posted his intentions with his most attacking line-up to date this season, playing three strikers, Gavin Smith, Byron Harrison and Scott Harris, although Smith dropped off into midfield for the majority of the match. But even with three experienced forwards Ashford rarely troubled Tony Tucker in the Billericay goal, and with this loss, the side from Short Lane are now right in the thick of the relegation scrap with just six matches left to claw their way to safety and to avoid being the first senior Ashford team to be relegated in the history of the club.

Ashford had their fair share of the play but the Essex side looked sharper in all departments, a legacy of having to play so many matches in so short a time for the visitors, and for a while it was even in terms of chances with a Lee Hodges header clearing Paul Burgess’ bar in the 3rd minute and Harrison reciprocating for Ashford soon after following good work from Smith.

A foul on Scott Harris gave Ricky Wellard the opportunity to whip in a vicious free kick which Tucker touched round for a corner before Joe Flack and Wayne Semanshia combined to win a corner at the other end, which Flack put wide.

Flack was in the thick of the action again, soon after, enticing Smith into a rash tackle before shooting at the near post where Burgess was forced to save low down, similarly, Harrison beat the off-side trap to race clear and cut inside from the left only to see his shot fly into the Billericay side netting while chances for Anthony Joseph and Wellard for Ashford and Flack for the hosts all went wide.

Billericay took the lead in the 52nd minute when Hodges crossed for Flack to beat Burgess with a solid header but Ashford had the chance to gain parity soon after when Tucker missed a long ball out of defence, Harris crossed across the face of the goal but none of his team-mates were on hand to take advantage.

After Joseph and Wellard had spurned further chances, Burgess was again called upon to execute a good save at the feet of Flack then, Harris won the ball with a good solid tackle to send Wellard on his way but Leon Hunter just got a touch to Nick Beale who cleared as Wellard was about to shoot.

Flack sent a good cross square across the face of the goal that no Billericay player could quite reach, then a Wellard free kick, for a trip on Harrison, was punched away by Tucker before a fluke goal put the game beyond Ashford’s grasp. Ide Okojie looked to be running aimlessly right to left across the edge of the Ashford penalty box where he fired a weak shot goalwards but, as Burgess dived to get his body behind the ball, it seemed to hit a divot which diverted its course bouncing through the keeper’s arms before trickling into the net.

With teams below them winning, Ashford find themselves just two points away from the relegation zone with potentially tricky encounters with Horsham, Canvey and Staines on the near horizon.