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Billericay made to pay for soft goal in defeat at Eastbourne
A SOFT goal cost Billericay as they suffered their second defeat in the opening week of the Conference South season.
It was 1-1 when Town keeper Dale Brightly hit a goal-kick into the legs of his captain Rob Swaine and Eastbourne picked up the loose ball for Gary Hart to fire home what would prove to be a 77th minute winner.
Billericay, who had about 150 fans in the 700-strong crowd, had some good late chances to earn a point but the hosts stayed firm to hang on to all three.
It was an even first-half in which Eastbourne made the breakthrough on 29 minutes when a nice passing move ended with Chris Shepherd slotting the ball in the bottom corner.
Town went close to an equaliser before the interval when Harrison Chatting scuffed an effort wide, and when Nathan Green fired over when well placed.
But they didn’t have to wait long to draw level after the restart as, just three minutes in, Sam Lechmere was fouled in the box and Glenn Poole converted his third penalty in two games.
Town were in the ascendancy after that, so it came as a body blow when Brightly’s weak kick allowed the vastly experienced Hart to put his side 2-1 up with 13 minutes to go.
Town pushed for a late equaliser and Luke I’Anson squandered a glorious chance when he raced on to Poole’s cross but hit a first-time effort wide from 10 yards.
Swaine then headed wide from a Dave Collis delivery, and when a handball penalty shout from Poole’s shot was turned down in the dying seconds, Billericay had to settle for defeat.
One of the bright spots for Billericay was the promising debuts of striker Marc Charles-Smith, who replaced Jay May when he was forced to come off with an injury early in the second half.
And also an excellent debut for former Dagenham & Redbridge man Duran Reynolds, who came into the heart of the Billericay defence for Chris Wild, who was not in the match-day squad.
If he keeps his place, Reynolds will need to have another solid game on Monday when Billericay host neighbours and fellow promoted side Hornchurch in what has all the ingredients for a cracking derby at New Lodge.
Billericay: Brightly, Oates, Green, I’Anson, Swaine, Reynolds, Letchmere, Poole, May (Charles-Smith 54), Osborn (Dadson 78), Chatting (Collis 46).
Echo MOM: Duran Reynolds (Billericay).