On a day when three of our clubs were flying the flag in the Second Round of the FA Trophy, only Billericay Town progressed to Round Three- and by goodness they left it late! It perhaps looked rather straightforward when Jake Robinson put the blues ahead with his customary goal midway through the first half, but Stourbridge roared back just after the restart, Leon Broadhurst equalising before Stuart Pierpoint put the visitors ahead. Billericay responded with an all-out onslaught, and Ricky Modeste was on hand to draw them level, and then the match went end to end until Billy Bricknell popped up to win it three minutes into stoppage time.
Hendon and Heybridge Swifts had difficult ties away to National League sides, and both worked hard before finally succumbing to superior finishing whilst taking many plaudits for their play. Swifts were at Maidstone United and perhaps fancied yet another home replay when Joan Luque walloped the ball home with ten minutes remaining, but Maidstone still had a cushion courtesy of the two they’d scored in the first half and managed to hold on. Hendon travelled to Gander Green Lane to take on last season’s FA Cup giantkillers- and pie eaters- Sutton United, and whilst they fell to a three goal defeat the scoreline doesn’t really tell the story, Hendon matching their higher level opponents for long periods before two late goals made the match safe for Paul Doswell’s men.
Back to the business of the league, and in the Premier Division Margate holed Hamlet’s title hopes when Kane Haysman drove home with only five minutes left on the clock, and despite a late flurry the league leaders couldn’t find an equaliser. They remain five points clear at the top, but Billericay Town in second place have six games in hand.
Staines Town are up to third, winning two-nil at Thurrock in a game that wasn’t without controversy and incident. Sixteen year old keeper Toby Smith was introduced for the hosts at half time after Ben McNamara suffered concussion, and in the seventy third minute the home fans felt that the young stopper had the ball knocked from his hands before Ben Martin scored for the Swans. By that time, however, Staines were already ahead, Lewis Driver having broken the deadlock ten minutes after half time.
Leatherhead won their SEVENTH consecutive match to move up to 9th, ominously only four points away from the play-off places with games in hand, whilst Metropolitan Police also won to remain seventh, leaving it late to beat Tooting & Mitcham United with goals from Jonny Wright and Alex Fiddes, the latter making his debut after signing from Kingstonian earlier this week. The K’s maintained their improving form with victory over Needham Market, Billericay loanee Louie Theophanous scoring both of their goals to seal the points despite John Sands reducing the arrears.
It was a miserable day for the sides at the bottom end of the division. Burgess Hill Town conceded two goals in the first seven minutes at home to Harrow Borough, but showed great determination to draw level before falling to late heartbreak as George Moore struck with eight minutes to go to capture all three points. We’ve already mentioned the Terrors, but Worthing did no better, the third bottom side travelling to Brighlingsea Regent and falling to three goals in the last twenty minutes, two coming from that man Billy Hunt. Harlow Town in twentieth travelled to Wingate & Finchley, leaving with nothing as goals from Sean Cronin and Rob Laney saw the home side remain tenth.
Merstham came from two goals down to earn a point at Enfield Town, whilst Lowestoft Town and Dorking Wanderers shared no goals whatsoever, although Wanderers were helped when keeper Slavomir Huk showed that he’d lost none of his penalty-stopping prowess since the end of last season, holding from Jake Reed.
In the North Division, Waltham Abbey will be waking up this morning wondering how on earth they left Bridge Avenue with nothing to show for their efforts, after the Urchins somehow snatched all three points despite being 4-3 down with only eight minutes to go. In a match which had nine goals and nine different scorers the home side took the lead with an own goal in the ninth minute, only for the Abbotts to equalise through Christian Assombalonga. Theo Fairweather-Johnson restored the lead for the home side, but only for two minutes as Billy Holland found the net, before the Urchins got their noses in front just before the interval through Matthias Fanimo.
Abbey were not downhearted, however, and by the seventy fifth minute had turned the match on its head, Nathan Koranteng and Jack Daveney putting them clear, but this year’s Urchins are made of stern stuff and goals from Nathan Livings and George Purcell in the last eight minutes- the winner in stoppage time- saw them go twelve points clear of Dereham Town in third place.
Bowers & Pitsea remain in second place, three points behind the Urchins, picking up another three points despite falling behind early on at Brentwood Town. Matt Price put the home side ahead, but goals from Lewis Manor (two) and Callum Leahy made the match safe. Dereham Town in third were held to a goalless draw by Hertford Town, which gave Canvey Island the chance to close the gap- and they did so in style, winning 5-1 at Ware despite falling behind early on. Maldon & Tiptree slipped up to a resurgent Romford, the away side winning their third consecutive match 2-1 at the Wallace Binder Ground, whilst Potters Bar Town got back to winning ways in sixth with a two-nil victory over Barking.
Haringey Borough sit in seventh place, 4-2 victors over Bury Town without needing to be helped out up front by their goalkeeper, whilst there were also victories for Grays Athletic, Witham Town, Aveley and Norwich United, who beat bottom side Cheshunt by three goals to one at Plantation Park.
In the South Division five of the top six won- the other, Corinthian-Casuals, were held to a nil-nil draw- and for a short while Cray Wanderers were top of the pile, courtesy of three points in their early kick off in Guernsey- a victory that means they go an incredible TWENTY-TWO league matches undefeated. Lewes were soon back on top, however, although they were made to work incredibly hard at Chipstead before picking up a late goal and all three points- you can read about that match in our Bostik Matchday feature, here.
Greenwich Borough are third, Jack Barham giving them all three points with the only goal of the game sixteen minutes from time, whilst Carshalton Athletic moved emphatically into fourth and scored four, all of them coming in the first half at VCD Athletic- who did get a second half consolation, but only one. Walton Casuals celebrated manager Antony Gale’s Manager of the Month Award by also scoring four, but all of their strikes came in the second half as Ashford United left with nothing to show for their efforts.
Phoenix Sports in seventh continued their good run with victory at Shoreham, and there were also victories for Horsham, Sittingbourne, South Park, Faversham Town and East Grinstead Town. Shoreham remain marooned at the bottom, fifteen points from safety.