Billericay Town 1-2 Fleet

Ebbsfleet United made it back-to-back wins as two first-half goals and a penalty save was enough to hold off a spirited Billericay fightback in the second period.

Bobby-Joe Taylor scored for the second game running while Jack Paxman found the net against his former club before Jordan Holmes’ penalty save from Jake Robinson helped wrap up the points.

Fleet made only the two enforced changes with Ben Frempah in for the suspended Charlie Rowan while Ben Chapman returned in place of the injured Josh Payne.

Billericay Town fielded last season’s Fleet players Frankie Sutherland and Lawrie Wilson, as well as former West Ham and Liverpool defender Paul Konchesky.

The home side’s 3G surface had kept the worst of the sudden deluge at bay though the slick surface did allow the ball to skip off it from time to time in windy conditions and neither side grasped the initiative in the opening stages.

Having benefitted from a quick-thinking through ball to land two goals in his last two games, Reece Grant almost turned provider on two minutes with a deft pass through the Billericay centre-backs. Rakish Bingham almost got the ball under control but it ran clear for a goal kick.

Bingham had a couple more efforts rise high of the bar while Billericay saw right wing man Luke Wanadio as their best outlet and he made the most of the space down the Fleet left, though Taylor and Lee Martin were swift to cover for each other.

And on the occasions Wanadio did size up the box for a cross, Frempah and Sefa Kahraman were attendant to that danger.

Tobi Adebayo-Rowling saw a ball from Adam Mekki blocked for a corner and Chapman sent an effort curling over the upright before Fleet got their noses in front on 17 minutes.

It came via a free-kick from a fair distance out on the right touchline – Taylor took it and watched it sail clear of both defenders and attackers to skip into the bottom corner, over the reach of Deon Curtis-Henry.

Wanadio continued to prove a lively customer on the right wing and he fired across a number of deliveries, the most dangerous of which twice just evaded Jake Robinson in the middle. Robinson followed that up with a shot on target that Holmes did well to get down to.

Fleet thought they were two goals to the good on the half-hour when Martin’s strike was only parried by Curtis-Henry and Grant scooped the rebound home but he was in an offside position.

The visitors were only kept waiting for three minutes more, however. Another attack from the right came via Paxman who was quickly on to Konchesky’s waylaid pass and with the goal in his sights and Billericay defenders standing off, he fired across goal and in for 2-0.

Adebayo-Rowling denied Robinson with an important interception in the box moments later before Billericay were handed a lifeline when Kyel Reid was upended inside the penalty area.

Robinson was the man tasked with hauling his side back into proceedings but his penalty to Holmes’ right was anticipated by the Fleet keeper and he pushed it clear to preserve the two-goal lead.

Taylor had the chance for a second bite at the free-kick cherry on the stroke of half-time, launching one from a similar position to his goal but that one went wide to send the Fleet in at the break with a 2-0 advantage.

Will Wood replaced Frempah for the second half and he was full of running down the right, his pass to Grant, dummied by Bingham who ran on to the return to earn a corner.

The home side replaced Sutherland 10 minutes in with Jai Reason and that seemed to give them a little more edge in midfield as they set about finding a foothold in the game.

Fleet still had the best of it initially, Chapman forcing a decent save from Curtis-Henry after an excellent move in midfield and Mekki poking one wide.

Reason’s free-kick on the hour mark almost snuck in but Holmes tipped it over the bar and at times it was end to end with the game enjoying a frenetic tempo.

Martin got a shot away on 62 minutes after a useful run into the box that Curtis-Henry was forced to stop and Mekki had to react quickly to a crossfield ball that he ended up rifling just north of the upright.

But with just over 20 minutes on the clock, Billericay roared back into it. It was that man Robinson who initially chased down a ball in the box and he did very well to get considerable power behind his second attempt to smash a shot beyond Holmes.

Substitute Michael West sent a low delivery for Martin as Fleet looked to respond but the skipper skied that one before a few heartstopping moments for the visitors at the other end. Robinson’s shot was blocked in a flurry of bodies before Bingham hacked clear and then a cross towards Reason at the far post was shepherded to safety by Chapman.

Josh Hutchinson then whipped a low effort across the face of goal that fortunately had no blue shirt following up.

Still the tempo raged and with Adebayo-Rowling doing a good job as a makeshift centre-half, Fleet kept the home side at bay.

With four minutes left, Chapman tried to relieve some pressure with an energetic run up the right flank but as the ball rolled out of play, his kick at it earned him a yellow card.

And that was to prove costly in time added on when the midfielder went to break up play in the centre-circle but in his conviction to stop his opposite number, his foot carried through and the referee produced a second yellow.

There were still chances for either side as Martin momentarily had a clear sight of goal but was stopped in his tracks by Michael Chambers while Holmes produced another excellent block when Shamir Fenelon tried his luck and the ball was scrambled off the line.

But Fleet’s second-half grit proved enough in a tough, battling second-half and the points were theirs!

EUFC: Holmes, Adebayo-Rowling, Taylor, Kahraman, Frempah (Wood 46), Chapman, Paxman, Mekki (Dobson 68), Martin, Grant (West 68), Bingham. Subs not used: Egan, Hadler
BTFC: Curtis-Henry, Wilson, Konchesky (Hutchinson 46), Felix, Henry, Chambers, Sutherland (Reason 55), Reid (Fenelon 62), Wanadio, Loft, Robinson. Subs not used: Olusanya, Knight.

Man of the Match v Billericay Town (a)


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Ed Miller

Ed Miller

Ed Miller has been Ebbsfleet United's communications manager and programme editor since 2014 and responsible for the club website since 2007. Contact him on ed.miller@eufc.co.uk

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