Billericay Town have won the 2017/18 BBC Essex Senior Cup following a 2-1 victory over holders Chelmsford City in front of a massive attendance of 2,528 at Colchester United FC’s Weston Homes Community Stadium.
Robbie Evans’ 23rd-minute strike ignited the contest and put Glenn Tamplin and Harry Wheeler’s Billericay side in front, only for Danny Green to level a dozen minutes later as the Clarets took hold of the game. But Rod Stringer’s Clarets couldn’t build on that and Town went on to maintain the second lead Callum Butcher earned them on the hour.
A huge crowd watched from the stands, that figure being made up of supporters of both sides plus spectators who had guest tickets or had ordered tickets attached to Essex County FA club, coaching, referees and welfare workshops within the stadium beforehand. After a slow start to the game, they would soon be treated to an intriguing final.
Neither goalkeeper was seriously tested during the opening stages as the sides weighed each other up, though the game did eventually gather pace and it was the Blues who stole the initiative. Chelmsford looked for an offside which didn’t materialise but Evans wasn’t hanging around and he sprinted into space before calmly slotting past Sam Beasant.
Just two minutes later the Clarets came incredibly close to restoring parity. A corner was half-cleared to the edge of the penalty area where Green was waiting and he drilled through a crowd of players, the ball being cleared off the line by the desperate foot of a defender. On the half-hour mark City could again have considered themselves unfortunate when a frantic scramble in the goalmouth was almost forced home by skipper Anthony Church, then Chris Dickson, Michael Spillane hitting the post in-between.
Their pressure eventually told ten minutes prior to the interval. Attacking play was switched to the left-hand side then crossed back over to the right. Green composed himself at the far post before rifling into the near top corner from ten yards. At the other end, Beasant was forced into an acrobatic save to tip the ball over the crossbar and keep the scores level.
Chelmsford could have laid claim to edging the first half from a creative perspective, though they were to be dealt a severe blow on the hour with the arrival of the match’s crucial moment. There was confusion in the Clarets’ area as they failed to clear their lines and Butcher made them pay, taking advantage by sweeping home to put Billericay back in front.
There wasn’t a great deal of defending to do for Billericay as they sought to preserve their slender advantage though they did have at least two moments of anguish. On 82 minutes it was nearly all-square again as Jonathan Giles’ rasper out of the blue from the edge of the area rattled the Billericay crossbar, then ‘keeper Jack Giddens showed strong hands to deny substitute Kudus Oyenuga at the death, meaning Town could lift the Senior Cup for a third time.
Billericay Town: Jack Giddens, Josh Urquhuart, Kevin Foley (Danny Waldren, 57), Joe Kizzi, Rob Swaine (C), Sam Deering, Robbie Evans, Matt Paine (Billy Bricknell, 57), Calum Butcher (Jamie O’Hara, 69), Jake Robinson, Adam Cunnington. Unused Substitutes: Nick Wheeler, Dean Inman.
Chelmsford City: Sam Beasant, Elliot Omozusi, Craig Braham-Barrett (Bagasan Graham, 72), Taylor Miles, Michael Spillane, Chris Smith, Danny Green (Lee Barnard, 87), Anthony Church (C), Shaun Batt (Kudus Oyenuga, 75), Chris Dixon, Jonathan Giles. Unused Substitutes: Mark Haines, Matt Johnson.
Referee: Dean Skipper (Havering).
Assistant Referees: Gary Jerden (Basildon) and Aaron Farmer (Colchester).
Fourth Official: Rick Bloy (Basildon).