Hoops Battle Hard But To No Avail
Kingstonian couldn’t replicate their opening-day heroics as big-spending Billericay left Fetcham Grove with the points following a performance and result all Isthmian title candidates must aspire to.
Leigh Dynan set his team out in an attacking 3-4-1-2 formation, with the aim of making the most of his pacey, if not especially powerful, forward line. That meant starts for Reece Grant, Tom Derry and, for the first time in a hooped shirt, Daniel Ajakaiye.
The set-up left some space down our flanks, and it was from those areas that the visitors swung cross after cross into our box, bringing to mind the reverse fixture three months ago. From one inside the opening three minutes, Rob Tolfrey brilliantly denied Dean Inman, the record signing centre-back who was playing regular Conference football this time last month.
K’s weathered the early storm and grew into the game. Midway through the half, the rapid Ajakaiye raced down the left and fired a low cross that Derry wasn’t far away from turning in. Then Andrew Musungu’s rasping 20-yarder forced the affable Ricay keeper Alan Julian into a sprawling save. From the resulting corner, an unmarked Derry headed over as fake £50 notes fluttered in Julian’s net.
Back Billericay came. Tolfrey tipped Louie Theophanous’ header wide, and Inman shot over. The referee, always keen to wave play on, ignored a couple of hearty penalty shouts from the visitors, but early in the second half he did point to the spot, spotting a nudge in the box as K’s rearguard attempted to deal with another high, loopy cross.
Billy Bricknell sent Tolfrey the wrong way from the same spot he had equalised against Leatherhead in the FA Cup first round earlier this month.
A Kingstonian comeback never looked likely as the visitors, hitherto prone to the kind of unnecessary error Step 3 football is known for, asserted their dominance. The depth of their squad was evident, too, with Jake Robinson and Adam Cunnington – with 35 goals between them already this season – as well as Jermaine Pennant, introduced off the bench.
It was another striker who got the match-clinching second, as Theophanous drove in from the left and picked out the bottom corner with aplomb.
It summed up the difference in class on a night when those in hoops did their best but ultimately fell short having been unable to take any of the half-chances created.
Match report by Rupert Cane.