Lowestoft Town 1 Billericay Town 0
Lowestoft Town moved to within a point of league leaders, Billericay Town, at Crown Meadow on Saturday afternoon thanks to a wonderful second half free-kick by Adam Smith.
The left-back’s superb strike in the 64th minute was the difference between the two sides in a tight contest and extended the club’s unbeaten run to nine games, eight of them victories.
Lowestoft looked to have the edge over their opponents all afternoon although the visitors posed a threat from set-pieces. But Lowestoft were the side to carve out the better chances and, had Joe Francis or Andrew Fisk had their shooting boots on then, the margin of victory could have been greater.
But Smith’s strike was enough to take the three points and the Trawlerboys faithful will be starting to wonder if this could be their season again.
This looked anything but a top-of-the-table clash in the opening stages and it was clear that Billericay had not blazed a trail to the top of the Ryman League Premier playing champagne football.
The long throw of Sam Berry looked their most effective weapon in the opening period. It was not Rory Delap like but it had more than enough to try and find the heads of giant centre halves Rob Swaine and Chris Wild.
On several occasion the throw-ins caused a degree of concern in the Blues defence but it was from a Berry corner that Billericay almost opened the scoring when Wild rose highest to head goalwards and force an excellent save out of Jake Jessup, who was again standing in for the injured Andy Reynolds.
This scare seemed to awake Lowestoft and it was clear that if they could find Matt Nolan enough he had the kind of ability the Billericay defence don’t see much in the Ryman Premier.
Nolan acted as a fulcrum to most of the Blues’ forays forward while Lubo Guentchev was also getting some joy down the right hand side.
The Bulgarian was on the end of a flowing move involving Jamie Forshaw and forced Dale Brightly into an excellent save when he let fly from 20 yards.
Lowestoft were lucky not to go into the half-time break behind and it was all of their own making. Scott Mitchell had the chance to clear his lines but only cleared as far as Chatting, who from 10 yards contrived to hit the post when it looked easier to score.
Mitchell almost made up for his misdemeanour in injury time at the end of the first half when Billericay failed to clear a Guentchev corner properly and the midfielder was the first to react but his goalbound shot was brilliantly blocked by Swaine.
Greg Crane came even closer on the hour mark but saw his left-footed shot cleared off the line and as the half evolved it was clear that one moment of brilliance was going to be the difference.
It duly arrived in the 64th minute and it was well worth waiting for. Smith surged forward before being unceremoniously hacked down by Wild and you could see the left-back’s eyes light up when the free-kick was awarded.
Twenty-five yards from goal, just right of centre, this was most definitely Adam Smith territory. The defender proceeded to bend a sumptuous strike into the top corner giving the keeper no chance.
The job wasn’t done for Lowestoft yet though and four minutes later slack marking allowed Swaine a free header but everyone of a Trawlerboy persuasion breathed a sigh of relief when he glanced just wide from eight yards.
Francis had a glorious chance to put the result beyond doubt 15 minutes from time when Forbes’ cross found the winger but he blazed over from eight yards.
Fisk then got in behind the Billericay defence after a great flick by Nolan but his touch was heavy and Brightly sprung off his line to smother the danger.
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