Needham Market hold big-spenders Billericay to a draw in front of record crowd
- Credit: Archant
Needham Market 1 Billericay Town 1
Needham Market held big-spenders Billericay Town to a plucky draw in the Bostik Premier last night, in front of a club record league crowd of 607 at Bloomfields.
Billericay had won nine of their first 10 league games of the season, and they looked to be heading for another three points when Jake Robinson dispatched a 23rd minute penalty.
But the Marketmen delivered an inspired second-half display, and deservedly levelled when captain Gareth Heath rammed home a low shot, the ball creeping in off the inside of the far post.
They had late chances to claim what would have been a shock win, but this was still a big point for the Suffolk hosts, ending a run of four straight league defeats.
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Daniel Gay made a couple of decent saves during the first quarter of the game, to keep Billericay at bay. Gay did well to divert a 20-yard firecracker from ex-Braintree Town midfielder Matt Paine over the bar and onto the top of the net, on 13 minutes.
And Needham’s keeper performed heroics on the 20-minute mark. Jermaine Pennant, the former Arsenal and Liverpool winger, delivered an inch-perfect through ball for Robinson to chase.
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The striker whipped over a first-time cross into the danger zone, where Ricky Modeste’s goal-bound drive was superbly parried at point blank range by Gay.
However, Billericay did get their noses in front via Robinson’s penalty, midway through the first half, after midfielder Sam Deering had been felled in the box.
Gay produced his third wonder save of the half in the 28th minute, palming away Robinson’s firm header in acrobatic style.
Richard Wilkins’ men will have been relieved to reach half-time trailing by just the one goal.
Their chances had been limited. An early cross-cum-shot by Jamie Griffiths had been smothered at his near post by Alan Julian, while Luke Ingram had an effort saved by Julian on 44 minutes.
Needham improved by leaps and bounds in the second half. They bossed possession and duly levelled via Heath’s accurate shot on 66 minutes.
Jack Simmons came close to netting a winner in the 71st minute, only for keeper Julian to saves with his legs, and the hosts finished the stronger and looking the more likely winners.
NEEDHAM MARKET: Gay, Dye, Coakley, Wright, K Morphew, D Morphew, Simmons, Heath, Griffiths, Ingram, Mills. Unused subs: Harrison, Hastings, Schaar, Turner, Munson.
BILLERICAY: Julian, Urquhart, Konchesky, Inman, Swaine, Deering, Pennant (sub Theophanous, 69), Paine, Modeste, Waldren, Robinson (sub Cunnington, 62). Unused subs: Chambers, Walker, Olukanmi.