Bold Billericay earn a share of the spoils

Billericay Town 2-2 St Albans City

Supersub, Gabriel Ipanga Mwamba’s unbelievable strike, three minutes from time, gave Kevin Watson’s mixture of furloughed and Under-23 players a deserved share of the spoils, on Saturday.

With the National League still pending a vote by its members to cancel the season, both sides – out of action since mid-January – served up a fine contest on the 4G surface. With the third-placed visitors wasting a couple of early chances, with Ricky Shakes and Shaun Jeffers failing to find decent finishes, the hosts grew into this contest. Town’s Darren Foxley stung visiting keeper, Johnson’s fingers, on 35 minutes, with a fine potshot.

Barely a minute later ex-Orient loanee, Rowan Liburd, profited from Johnson’s indecision from a long punt to the edge of the eighteen-yard box, and was left with a simple tap-in, to an empty net, from 12 yards. City almost levelled immediately, but Jeffers was unable to convert Shakes’s wickedly spinning cross.

A poor Henry Lukombo foul on another former Orient man, Micheal Clark, saw the home defender lucky to only receive a yellow card. Inspired by their strong end to the opening half, the inexperienced home attack swarmed on the visiting goal.

But, St.Albans weathered the storm and were back on level terms, on the hour, when Jeffers finished from close range, from a half-cleared Tom Bender free-kick. With the bit between their teeth, City went ahead, seven minutes later, when Harry Palmer flapped at a Bender corner and could only palm the ball on to the head of James Kaloczi, whose clever headed pass put the ball on a plate for Nwabuokei to nod home. Ian Allinson’s men could only have themselves to blame for not killing the game, by failing to make their experience count and not going all out for maximum points.

And, they were punished on 87 minutes when Mbambo cleverly drew Clark and somehow flicked home, and over a stranded Johnson from the bye-line.

A frantic finale saw St.Albans going closest, with Kaloczi forcing Palmer into a fine, stoppage-time save.

A happy Watson said: “It was a hard-fought point. I’m absolutely delighted the way the boys played.

“I’m so proud of them, as only three or four of them had played together before as there were mostly under twenty-three players out there today. Probably, in my short managerial career, this is my proudest moment.

“Watson added: “Going two-one down, against a top team, we decided to throw bodies forward. We put Ruben Soares and Gabriel Mbambo up there and it’s probably a cross – but it goes in the back of the net. But, overall I thought we deserved the point after our first-half performance.”

Former Colchester and Arsenal striker, Allinson added: “Full credit to Billericay. They never gave up. It’s frustrating – though – as our keeper had hardly any shots to save and we gave away two poor goals – our defensive shape for the last goal was awful.

He concluded: “We had to be better and more professional than we were today. We had time to prepare for today’s fixture, but we were just not good enough on the day.”

Billericay Town: Harry Palmer, George Wind, Henry Lukombo, David Oduntan, Ruben Soares Jr, Craig Ferguson, Jake Nickless, Toyosi Olusana (Gabriel Ipanga Mbambo 75′), Darren Foxley, Rowan Liburd (Capt) Subs not used: Nyan Mesura, Louie Dunwell, Mark Hughes, James Drake

St Albans City: Michael Johnson, Joy Mukena, Michael Clark, James Kaloczi, Tom Bender (Capt) (Luke Warner-Eley 87′), Ricky Shakes, Kyran Wiltshire, Soloman Nwabuolkei, Zane Banton, Munashe Sundrie, Shaun Jeffers Subs not used: Romeo Akinola, Dave Diedhiou, David Noble, Mitchell Weiss

Referee: Dale Wootton
Assistants: Rhys Battye and Jack Willmore

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Brian Jeeves

Email: [email protected]