|Billericay Town 3|
|B. Bricknell (26p), B. Bricknell (69), J. Robinson (90)|
|Canvey Island 1|
|G. Sykes (55)|
The Gulls gave a good account of themselves against their big budget opponents but having drawn level in the second half conceded twice more to slip to back to back defeats.
Manager Danny Heale changed the shape of his team in an attempt to contain the home side. Omarr Lawson came into the starting XI alongside Ryan Blackman and Frankie Merrifield in central midfield.
Meanwhile, former-Gull Tambeson Eyong missed out for Billericay with an eye infection.
Callum Ibe and Jay Curran also started on either wing in place of Mitchell Gilbey and Marlon Agyakwa, with George Sykes the lone striker.
Canvey started nervously and could have found themselves 1-0 down after only three minutes when a ball in from the left found Lewis Taaffe. The midfielder looked to have scored but was denied thanks to a superb last ditch block from Steve Sheehan.
The Gulls created their first chance of the match in the tenth minute when Jay Curran played a through ball for Callum Ibe to take into the area from the left. The ball was slightly ahead of Ibe but he managed to bring it under control before firing a shot goalwards which keeper Alan Julian saved with his legs.
George Sykes closed down the loose ball but a Blues defender was able to clear before Sykes could finish.
Conor Gough was called into action for the first time on 12 minutes after Jake Pitty had under hit an attempted clearance inside the area. Striker Billy Bricknell thumped a powerful shot towards goal which Gough did well to turn over the bar with a left-handed reflex save.
Defender John Mbamarah was involved at both ends in during the middle period of the first half. On 18 minutes he got his head to an Ashley Dumas corner at the back post, but he was only able to steer the ball wide of the post.
Mbamarah then conceded a penalty on 25 minutes for the second consecutive match when he was adjudged to have pushed Billy Bricknell over inside the box. Bricknell went down very easily but did enough to convince referee Peter Cruise that he had been fouled.
Bricknell picked himself to steer the spot kick into the bottom corner via the inside of the post despite Conor Gough guessing correctly and diving to his right.
George Sykes did well to bring the ball in from the left wing and into the area on 34 minutes, beating two defenders before hitting a low shot which Alan Julian kept out with his legs. Soon afterwards a nod down from Byron Lawrence for the Blues presented Billy Bricknell with a chance, but he flashed his left-footed shot high and wide.
Jake Robinson should have doubled Billericay’s lead on 36 minutes when he raced onto a ball in behind the Canvey defence. However the forward, who cost £24k when he signed from Hemel Hempstead Town earlier in the season, took a heavy touch at the vital moment and allowed Conor Gough to seize possession.
Ryan Blackman was growing into the match as it progressed and very nearly released both George Sykes and Omarr Lawson in behind the home defence. However, an excellent sliding interception from central defender Joe Ellul stopped the ball getting through.
The final chance of the first half came on 43 minutes when a cross from deep on the left wing found the head of Billy Bricknell at the back post. However, the normally clinical striker squandered the opportunity by heading into the side netting from close range.
Both sides made changes at the break, with Canvey replacing Jay Curran with Simon Thomas and Billericay introducing Adam Cunnington and goalkeeper Jack Giddens in place of Kreshniq Krasniqi and Alan Julian respectively.
Canvey got themselves back on level terms ten minutes into the second half when Frankie Merrifield chipped the ball into the area from the left to the back post. Steve Sheehan headed the ball down and George Sykes ran in to poke home his 21st goal of the campaign from close range.
The hosts responded well to being pegged back and started to put pressure on the Canvey goal. On 62 minutes a ball through to substitute Mekhi McLeod saw him curl a shot goalwards from the left which Conor Gough dived to save.
Two minutes later a long throw from Matt Johnson was flicked on by the head of Joe Ellul and was heading in until Conor Gough used all of his height to claw the ball from underneath his crossbar.
The pressure finally told on 69 minutes when a cross from the left towards the dangerous Adam Cunnington was headed away, but only as far as Billy Bricknell just inside the area. Bricknell had been left unmarked and managed to shoot across goal and score via the inside of the post.
Cunnington and Bricknell were involved again on 77 minutes when Lewis Taaffe’s cross from the right found Cunnington at the back post. He headed across the face of goal and found Billy Bricknell, but his looping ball back into the danger zone was headed over by Steve Sheehan for a corner with the goal gaping.
Despite their lead Billericay kept men forward which allowed Canvey space when attacking. On 81 minutes Frankie Merrifield passed to George Sykes on the counter attack who curled a right-footed shot past Paul Konchesky which was saved by Jack Giddens.
The closest Canvey came to an equaliser came with two minutes remaining when Frankie Merrifield had a free header from a corner, but unfortunately for him the ball struck Simon Thomas on its way to goal and went behind for a goal kick.
The result was sealed in the second minute of injury time when a long ball forwards appeared to be causing no danger. Jake Robinson seemed to be coming back from an offside position but at the last moment decided to contest the header. However, the assistant referee failed to raise his flag and Robinson raced through to finish with a delightful chip over Conor Gough from 20 yards.
Harrison Chatting had the ball in the back of the net for Canvey against his former side soon afterwards, but this time the goal was ruled out for offside by the other assistant.
The full time whistle means that Canvey dropped to 22nd place in the table. The Gulls now have to beat AFC Sudbury in the final match of the season and hope that two of Harrow Borough, Metropolitan Police, Hendon, Folkestone Invicta and Burgess Hill Town drop points.
Photo: Holly Allison
Danny Heale Post-Match Interview with Simon Pitts