Billericay Town went into their FA Trophy Third Round match at Harrogate Town having already seen off Stourbridge, Havant & Waterlooville, Hungerford Town, Bury Town and Tooting & Mitcham United in this seasons competition. Harrogate, however, promised to be their toughest task yet- second in the National League North behind big spenders Salford City, having scored twelve goals in their last four matches and thrashed St Albans City 5-0 in the previous round- and so it proved as a rip-roaring game saw each side hit two goals. Billericay took the lead through Rob Swaine but were quickly pegged back through Joe Leesley, and the home side went ahead, the same player scoring with twenty five minutes remaining. Adam Cunnington scored the leveller, however, and 846 fans went home contemplating the need to do it all again in Essex on Tuesday night.
Back in the league, Dulwich Hamlet were looking to take advantage of the Blues absence to go back to the summit with victory over Met Police. Hamlet had lost their last three matches whilst the boys in blue were on a decent run of form with only one loss in the last seven matches, so this was anything but a home banker, and most of the 1465 in attendance went home disappointed as the deadlock remained unbroken- a point which brings Hamlet level with Billericay on points but keeps them behind on goal difference. Met stay eighth.
Third place Margate, one of the form sides in the league with six wins and two draws from their last eight games, made it seven wins as they entertained a Lowestoft Town side still trying to work out how they’d lost at Wingate & Finchley on Tuesday after being 2-0 and 3-1 up. Jordan Chiedozie got the only goal of the game just after the hour mark.
Folkestone Invicta, in fourth, hosted a Brightlingsea Regent side having a very steady first Premier Division campaign and looking to get back to winning ways after losing a topsy-turvy match 3-2 at Dorking Wanderers midweek. In front of the Bostik League Show cameras the result was once again 3-2, and once again Regent were on the receiving end, as Ronnie Dolan and Joseph Taylor put the home side two nil up. Billy Hunt pulled a goal back before Ian Draycott restored Invicta’s two goal cushion with two minutes to go, and although Jake Turned reduced the arrears in the last minute the home side held on to claim the points.
Fifth place Staines Town entertained an upwardly mobile Merstham at Wheatsheaf Park, with both sides looking for a fourth straight victory. Staines had an advantage, however- the form of their strike duo Elliot Buchanan and Mohamed Bettamer- and the deadly duo notched four goals, Buchanan with a hat trick, as they ran out four-two victors. Sean Bonnett-Johnson and Tom Collins scored for the Moatsiders,
Wingate & Finchley, in sixth, entertained tenth place Leatherhead with only three points between them, but it was six by full time as the home side ran out three-one winners, three first half goals giving them an unassailable lead. Reece Beckles-Richards got a brace, Nathan Mavila the other, and a Jack Midson goal five minutes from the end proved nothing but a consolation.
At the foot of the table only two points separated the bottom four teams at the start of the day. Tooting & Mitcham United held up the rest at 3PM, but that had changed by ten to five as they left Fetcham Grove with all three points, one-nil victors over Kingstonian. Burgess Hill Town hosted a recently inconsistent Hendon as the Greens took on the Greens, and the Hillians recent good form escaped them as a Niko Muir hat trick followed by a late Josh Walker effort more than cancelled out a Jack Brivio double for the home side- a result which sends Ian Chapman’s side back to the basement. Third bottom Harlow Town didn’t have a match, but fourth bottom Worthing certainly did, travelling to Suffolk to take on Leiston, and they made it count, coming from behind to win 3-2.
Needham Market eased their worries and moved up to nineteenth with a 4-2 victory over Tonbridge Angels- indeed they were 4-0 up before Angels grabbed two consolations in the last six minutes- whilst in the other match Thurrock were three-nil up before half time and went on to claim all three points despite Enfield Town getting a goal back with fifteen minutes to go.
In the North Division AFC Hornchurch started the day thirteen points clear at the summit, and after their match at Hertford Town the gap was still thirteen points, as they won 3-0with a double from Theo Fairweather-Johnson and a third from George Purcell. That of course means that second place Bowers & Pitsea won as well, and they did so in style, beating draw specialists (eleven so far) Bury Town by four goals to two.
Potters Bar Town, in third place, boasted the joint best record in the division (with the Urchins) over the last six matches, and travelled to Plantation Park to take on a Norwich United who had had a resurgence of late, losing only twice in their last ten matches. A close game went the way of the Scholars, Eoin Casey’s thirteenth minute goal proving the only one of the afternoon.
Fourth place Canvey Island took on eighth place Barking at the Essex seaside, in a game which had match of the day written all over it. It had perhaps been written in invisible ink, however, as only two goals were scored, one for each side.
Dereham Town were hosting a Heybridge Swifts side who had gone entirely off the boil after their cup heroics, although manager Jody Brown can undoubtedly point to a lengthy injury list. Swifts had won only one match from their last ten in the league, and after ninety minutes that was one from eleven, as Rhys Logan and Matthew Castellan had fired the home side to victory, despite a late goal from Joe Gardner.
Maldon & Tiptree, in sixth, hosted a Soham Town Rangers side who were full of confidence having beaten Haringey Borough and Canvey Island in their last two matches, but the Jammers were too strong, winning a tight game 3-1.
At the bottom of the table, Cheshunt, who hosted Witham Town, were two points behind Romford, who travelled to Aveley. Two second half goals at the Cheshunt Stadium gave both sides a point, whilst Aveley went goal mad, an Alex Teniola hat trick sandwiched between efforts for Connor Witherspoon and Anthony Martin taking them to a 5-1 victory. Bryan Kyungu got the consolation for Romford.
AFC Sudbury, winners of their last three matches, hosted a Waltham Abbey side who had lost their last four, and by full time it was four wins/five losses as Phil Kelly and Billy Holland scored to give the home side a 2-0 victory and move them up to ninth, ten points outside the playoff places.
In the other matches Haringey Borough defeated Brentwood Town 1-0, Tilbury defeated Ware by two goals to one, whilst Grays Athletic travelled to Mildenhall Town and also went down 2-1. Borough remain seventh, a point behind Maldon & Tiptree, whilst Mildenhall move up to fifteenth, where they sit one place above the Dockers.
In the South Division only seven points spanned the gap between 1st and sixth place at start of play, and the side at the top of the pile, Lewes, travelled to Thamesmead Town. Town had won their last match, at Ramsgate, by coming from behind to score two last minute goals, whilst at the same time the Rooks were being held 1-1 at home to Walton Casuals. Lewes were visiting Princes Park for the second time this season, having been walloped 3-0 in an FA Cup match five months previously, but on this occasion there were no goals at all and very little to write home about.
Second place Cray Wanderers, the highest scorers in English football, must have thought that their luck was in when they realised that their opponents East Grinstead Town had conceded eight goals last Saturday and five the weekend before, but it was a much sterner swarm of Wasps who turned up today, coming from behind to earn a 1-1 draw as Wanderers failed to cut the gap at the top of the table. This gave third place Carshalton Athletic, of course now shorn of striker Mickel Miller after his move north of the border (the Scottish border, he hasn’t moved to Sussex), the chance to get within one point of the automatic promotion places with a 2-1 victory over Hythe Town, whilst Greenwich Borough are only one point further back, beating Horsham 2-0 at Culver Road in a match you can read more about HERE..
The Casuals of Walton and Corinthian varieties, in fifth and sixth place respectively, had what appeared to be rather different challenges, with the Stags facing seventh Phoenix Sports at their Xcel Sports Hub whilst the famous amateurs travelled to 21st place Ashford United. Both picked up three points, Walton going three nil up before Sports notched their single consolation, whilst Corinthian-Casuals ground out a 1-0 victory at Homelands.
At the bottom of the table, Shoreham and Molesey had their matches called off due to waterlogged pitches, and indeed no sides in the bottom eight managed a victory, Ramsgate and Faversham Town losing to Whyteleafe and Chipstead respectively. Whyteleafe may have only scored once this weekend as opposed to eight last, but the three points moved them up to eighth. VCD Athletic must have thought they’d grabbed three points with a goal in the eighty-fifth minute from Aymun El-Moyhalbel, but Hastings United limited them to one, Ollie Rowe getting the equaliser at the death.
The match between South Park and Sittingbourne was also postponed.