Lukewarm Billericay Town get right old roasting
TOWN manager Craig Edwards expects to have a new striker with a proven goal record in his side for this Saturday's tough away trip to Bath City.
And on the evidence of this draw against their local rivals on Bank Holiday Monday they certainly need more firepower, even though he gave a home debut to striker Marc Charles-Smith, signed last week from Staines Town.
"Marc did well for on his debut last Saturday but naturally tired towards the end as he did in this match," said Edwards. "But fitness will come and hopefully he'll have a new striking partner in time for the trip to Bath."
This match was the proverbial game of two halves, with the Blues dominating the first and taking a deserved lead on 12 minutes through Sam Lechmere, who reacted quickest to drive the ball home after keeper Joe Woolley had parried a Glenn Poole shot, after which they should have wrapped the game up.
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The second half though was all the Urchins as they pulled the Blues apart all over the park, led by right winger Lewis Smith who the home defenders just couldn't cope with and, but for some heroics by Blue's keeper Dale Brightly, Town would certainly have lost.
The Blues' second-half performance left Edwards seething and he gave them a right royal verbal roasting in the dressing room after the game.
"I was absolutely disgusted with the second half performance of everyone, except Dale, who kept us in the game and was the reason why we picked up a point," said Edwards. "He's had an indifferent start this season but he's answered everyone else today and put in a top show.
"I must say that second half was the worse I have seen us play since I've been at the club.
"It was inept, weak, gutless and a total shambles because we lost all our shape, commitment and we can't afford to do that again when we go to Bath City this Saturday – we might as well stay on the coach," he continued.
"We battered then the first half and should have had the game all tied with the points in the bag – I'm now looking for the right response this Saturday when hopefully Dave Collis will be fully fit to return."
Edwards gave a home debut to on-loan attacking young midfielder Duran Reynolds, at New Lodge from Dagenham & Redbridge until January and he featured early on but faded in the second half due to tiredness, which is not an excuse Edwards was prepared to give to the others.
"Even the experienced players let me down – I just can't find a reason for the overall disgusting performance – it won't happen again," he added.
Charles-Smith, Alex Osborn, Poole and Lechmere all wasted first-half chances with keeper Woolley doing a fine job.
The second half though was almost one-way traffic, with the Urchins controlling the game in every department and three times Brightly saved Blues' blushes with daring saves, including rushing out twice to kick the ball clear.
The inevitable equaliser came on 68 minutes, again like most of the second-half visitors' attacks, created by the 21 year-old Smith who saw his low cross-field shot from the right brilliantly parried away by Brightly but there was Leon McKenzie on hand to tap the rebound home with the Blues' back line standing and watching the action.
In reality the visitors had enough chances themselves to have scored two or three more with Smith at the centre of everything being denied a clearcut chance by Brightly again and then a last-ditch tackle from Chris Wild again saved the day for the home side.
Martin Tuohy also blasted two shots over the home bar when it seemed easier to score and the final minute Lewis escaped in the area, turned and shot straight at the goal only for Brightly to pull off a magnificent reaction save, pushing the ball behind.
The Blues were lucky to get a point from the game and they will have to vastly improve their performance over the full 90 minutes or they will find life at this level of football unforgiving and a constant struggle.