Hemel secure first win of the season in Billericay thriller

Billericay Town 2 Hemel Hempstead Town 3

Vanarama National League South 25/09/2021

Match Report by Allan Mitchell

It seems to have been a long time since the travelling Tudor Army returned from a game with smiles on their faces, and they certainly made the most of this result as they celebrated with the players after the final whistle.

It's far too early in the season to describe this as a 'six pointer', but it was a massive game when you look at the start both sides had made, both sitting in the bottom two places with a point apiece.

New manager Mark Jones made three changes to his starting lineup after Tuesday's disappointing FA Cup defeat, a game which he had little time to prepare for. He welcomed back striker Freddie Hinds and Cambridge loanee Liam Bennett, and he gave a start to another loan signing, Tyrique Hyde, who arrived from Dartford.

Hemel kicked off in a diamond formation which seemed to work well at the start of the half, and they created a chance in the first minute, Sam Mantom seeing his shot well saved.

Just three minutes later, they took the lead when Chris Paul did well through the centre of the park before playing the ball out wide, Bennett crossed it in, and there was a bit of a scramble before it finally found its way to Hinds, who tucked it home from close range.

This seemed to wake Billericay from their slumbers, and they had a decent chance to equalise after Hemel failed to clear their lines, Joe Felix driving the ball wide when he really should have hit the target.

Samir Carruthers, who appeared to be enjoying his role in the middle of the diamond, then sent Aaron Simpson clear with a well-weighted pass; Simpson was quickly closed down by Ricay keeper Bailey Vose who did well to block his shot.

With the game now very much end to end, Billericay missed a glorious chance when the dangerous Bagasan Graham, who was causing problems down the left, crossed into the box; Darren Foxley rose unchallenged but put the ball wide of the post.

Cole Kpekawa then got on the end of a Carruthers free-kick, arriving on the penalty spot, but his first-time volley lacked power, and Vose saved comfortably.

As the interval approached, Ricay equalised, and it was Graham who was the provider, breaking down the left and planting the ball onto ex-Tudor Rowan Liburd's head, and he made no mistake burying it past Nick Hayes on 38 minutes.

With the home side now in the ascendancy, the Tudors fans were pleased to hear the half-time whi