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Brightly stars as Billericay battle for a point against Hornchurch
Billericay put back-to-back defeats behind them as they picked up a point in a pulsating derby clash with Hornchurch this afternoon.
Town took a 12thminute lead through Sam Lechmere, but were pegged back by Leon McKenzie’s equaliser 20 minutes from time and then found themselves holding on as the Urchins pressed for a winner.
Billericay keeper Dale Brightly - at fault for Eastbourne’s winner against his side on Saturday, but their best player here - made a string of late saves to earn his side a point.
After an opening in which neither side were given time to settle on the ball, Billericay took the lead through Lechmere.
The winger was first to react when he calmly rolled the ball into an unguarded net after Glenn Poole’s close range shot had been smoothered by keeper Joe Woolley.
Hornchurch looked for an immediate response and went close when full-back Alex Bentley shot over from distance.
But Town carved out the next good opportunity when Duran Reynolds - moved forward into a central midfield role after starring at centre back on Saturday - cut inside Reiss Noel and forced Woolley into a smart stop at full-stretch.
But chances were at a premium in a first-half in which both sides struggled to find a killer final ball.
Hornchurch’s best chance of the half came on 36 minutes when Simon Glover jumped highest in the Billericay box but could only plant his header a foot over the bar from Sam Cutler’s free-kick.
Determined not to give the hosts derby bragging rights in this new Conference South fixture, Hornchurch started the second half well.
And only a very smart piece of work from Brightly denied them an equaliser as he raced out to cut out Leon McKenzie’s through ball, which had put Lewis Smith clean through on goal.
Alex Osborne showed tenacity to carve out a sight of the visitors’ goal on the hour mark, but his low shot was well held by Woolley.
It became end-to-end, and Brightly was called upon next to make a fine save with his legs from the experienced Martin Tuohy, as he raced clean through on goal.
But they didn’t have to wait long for their equaliser as the increasingly dangerous looking Lewis Smith cut inside Nathan Green and drew a good save from Brightly, before McKenzie turned in the ball into the net from close range.
Hornchurch started to look the more likely and Smith went close twice, first dragging wide when well placed, and then drawing a fine, one-handed stop from Brightly, low to his right.
Home skipper Rob Swaine was next to deny the marauding Smith with a brilliant last-ditch tackle as the forward shaped to shoot from 10 yards.
And deep into stoppage time, Brightly reacted brilliantly to push the unmarked Tuohy’s first-time volley from six yards over the bar to ensure honours ended even.
Billericay (4-4-2): Brightly; Oates, Swaine, Wild, Green; Lechmere, Reynolds, Poole, I’Anson (Chatting 70); Osborn (Hutchinson 84), Charles-Smith (Jared 75).
Echo MOM: Dale Brightly (Billericay).