Billericay Win Battle Of The Blues
Lacklustre Blues suffered a damaging defeat against near neighbours Billericay writes The Mariner
Blues came off second best in this local derby with a disappointing display ,a lack of firepower up front and the all too familiar defensive frailties saw Billericay claim the points. Once again the Blues fell foul of some poor refereeing, leading to the hosts’ opening goal. Grays’ cause was not helped with David Fallah and Etienne Mukanya Kababola missing through injury.
A quiet opening period saw neither side establish any dominance with play confined to the midfield area. The first real chance fell to Billericay wide man Guthny who saw his effort saved comfortably by Amadou Tangara in the Grays’ goal. The home side were looking to find the tricky winger at every opportunity.
With the wind at their backs, the home side began to take control pushing Grays back. Blues were not helping their cause with the quality of ball out of defence with the ball aimlessly punted forward where Luke Hornsley and Lheureux Menga were feeding off scraps and when the Grays midfield did get on the ball, possession was given away cheaply.
The tall Billericay striker Diau had a great chance to open the scoring but made a hash of his attempt with the ball sliding wide of the target.
Blues’ first real chance fell to Kwabena Osei who struck a fierce shot which took a deflection for a corner. Home stopper Giddens claimed with ease the resultant kick.
Tangara made probably the save of the match with a point blank stop from Diau, somehow managing to turn the ball over when a goal looked a certainty. Diau again squandered a golden opportunity after a free kick found him in acres of space just yards from goal with Blues’ defenders standing like statues looking for an offside.
Blues were keeping themselves in the game with some determined and sometimes fortunate defending. They did enjoy periods of possession but too many times any forward movement tended to break down in the final third when the final ball lacked accuracy or penetration, allowing the hosts to clear comfortably.
Blues looked much sharper at the start of the half but it was still Billericay who looked the more dangerous in front of goal. A free kick deep into the Grays box nearly resulted in a goal with the ball dropping wide of the post from a Krasniqi header.
The hosts gradually increased the pressure, pinning the Blues back in their own half. Tangara was kept busy but the big keeper looked assured with clean handling, though he was powerless to stop the Billericay opener in the 58th minute.
The build up to the goal was cloaked in controversy when Blues felt that they should have been awarded a free kick following what looked like a high tackle on Osei, but the official waved play on. The ball broke forward finding Capela on the edge of the box. Blues’ defenders hesitated allowing him time and space to pick his spot and he unleashed an unstoppable shot past Tangara.
The goal enraged players and management alike, and in their defence the official appeared throughout the game too eager to punish the Blues for minor infringements whilst allowing Billericay challenges to go unpunished.
The fear was that the goal would open the floodgates, but to their credit the Blues dug in and created their own openings in the process, Hornsley latched on to a Menga flick bursting to the edge of the home box he could only screw the ball wide of the goal.
Blues had another scare at the other end when a penetrating deep cross to the far post saw Capela head just wide. Blues quickly replied when Cole weaved his way into the home box but his shot lacked the power to beat Giddens who held onto the ball.
Manager Jamie Stuart entered the fray allowing Arron Wickham to slot into midfield and he quickly made an impact getting on the end of a Harry Watkins corner, nodding just wide of the near post. He had a similar opportunity from a free kick heading into Giddens’ arms. Blues were enjoying their best period of the game at this stage and it was Hornsley who had the next opportunity turning quickly, but firing a long way wide of the goal.
Despite the pressure Blues still failed to carve out a clear cut opportunity in contrast to Billericay - who always looked menacing going forward - so it was no surprise then when they increased their advantage in injury time, and again poor defending led to the goal. Monville was allowed to run unchallenged from the touchline deep into the Blues’ box allowing Capela to sweep the ball home for his second of the match.
The defeat and victory for Metropolitan Police pushed Blues to bottom of the pile. The fear now is unless they start grinding out results they could find themselves adrift of teams above them. The return of Fallah and Mukanya Kababola is vital to their cause. Having said that, they must stop gifting the opposition goalscoring opportunities if things are to improve and they must be more clinical in front of goal.
Tuesday evening sees a break from the league with a trip to Barking in the Essex Senior Trophy. A win is vital not only for progress in the competition but also to instil confidence in the squad who face a difficult trip to Lowestoft next Saturday.