Late 'Ricay show leaves Angels pointless
Disappointing festive period for McKimm's men
Once again everyone connected with the Angels were left wondering at the final whistle how on earth their team had managed to surrender precious league points by conceding very late goals. It is a habit the team needs to eradicate and quickly if their chances of reaching the playoffs are to be a realistic proposition.
At New Lodge Lane, it looked as if they were about to celebrate their first ever win at a venue where over the years they have enjoyed little success but once again it was not to be. For 85 minutes they had looked relatively comfortable against a Billericay Town side full of quality players but who at times still seemed to struggle to play as a team. Then suddenly out more or less nothing, with a simple free kick hit over the top of a static defence and a goalkeeper who came far too late, the home side were on level terms.
To their credit the home side not content with simply playing out for the draw which had looked out of their reach, proceeded to go for the win and following heavy pressure on the Tonbridge goal and a defence sitting far too deep, ex Dover man Billy Bracknell hit the winner from close in on 90 minutes.
It had all stared so well for Tonbridge. Moving the ball around with purpose and using the full width of the pitch, the trickery of Nick Wheeler, the hold up play of Nathan Elder and the pace of Alex Akrofi was causing the Billericay Town defence all sorts of problems.
On 11 minutes a skilful run by Akrofi to the line followed by a clever pull back saw Luke Blewden in the right place to poke the ball past Jake Giddens in the Billericay goal to open the scoring. There was little response from the hosts and it looked odds on that the visitors would increase their lead but it didn't quite happen. Chances fell to Elder, Wheeler, Mitchell Nelson and Luke Allen but they weren't taken and that was in the end to prove costly. Tom Parkinson on 40 minutes was unlucky to see his shot from distance hit the base of the post with Giddens completely beaten.
All Billericay had to show for their first half efforts was forcing a decent save from Anthony Di Bernardo and a clearance off the line by Jack Parter.
As to be expected the home side came out with a bit more purpose for the second half and forced a good save from Di Bernardo in the 51st minute but the Angels still provided plenty of threat with Akrofi continuing to ask questions of the Billericay defence. In the 34th minute Town were grateful to Oliver Sprague for a goal line clearance off Akrofi's shot which was immediately followed by an Elder header which somehow went wide.
But by now both Allen and Wheeler had been substituted and Akrofi had dropped back a little so that Angels attacking flair appeared reduced. The away defence however seemed more than capable of controlling matters with Billericay largely restricted to occasional crosses and shots from distance. That was until their late intervention and the subsequent sealing of all the points in their favour. It was a bitter pill for the visitors to swallow but the fact is, its a lesson they should have learned some time ago.
A bitterly disappointed and frustrated Angels boss, Steve McKimm said afterwards: "Its no good playing well for 85 minutes at a place like this, you have to do it for 90+. We are now behind on the points schedule and will have to get a succession of wins under our belts - draws are no good anymore. If we don't we shall fall out of the race."