Invicta returned home to the Alcaline Stadium after 28 days away with a goal from Luke Holness in the final minute of normal time sending the crowd of 847 home bouncing.
Supporters pack newly opened The Dugout Sports Bar for an early Premier League kick off that gave an early taste of late drama that would then play out on the pitch at Cheriton Road.
Invicta suffered an early blow as David Smith and Ian Gayle were ruled out before kick off but returns elsewhere strengthened the side. Callum Davies returned from suspension to partner Jake Goodman in defence with Kane Penn moving to right back and Toby Byron making his first appearance in front of the Cheriton Road crowd at left back. Callum’s return in defence allowed Will Moses to push further forward into midfield alongside the returning Andy Drury , while Ade Cole, Scott Heard and Chris Regis supported Luke Holness who lead the line. Elliott Moore returned from injury to join the bench.
The visitors made 2 changes to the side that had beaten Chatham Town midweek to send them 2nd in the Isthmian Premier Division as Alfie Cerulli and Matt Dench replaced Moses Emmanuel and Ryan Henshaw.
The sides lined up before kick off to observe a minute silence on Armistice Day.
Invicta, attacking the Remland Stand in the 1st half, created the first chance of the game after just 4 minutes as Luke Holness fed in Scott Heard with the letters shot forcing a simple save from Dan Wilks in the Billericay goal.
10 minutes later Andy Drury stood over a free kick following a foul on Holness, delivering the ball to the back post but just evading Byron and Davies thanks to a touch from a defender that took it for a corner.
The visitors got their first sight of goal in the 24th minute a Cerulli peeled away on the left to control a diagonal pass but was unable to hit the target with his left footed shot.
Approaching the half hour mark Billericay worked a second ball into the box following a cleared corner but Lewis Ramsay headed over.
Kane Penn linked with Luke Holness before finding Toby Byron who unleashed an effort from range that went close to finding the top corner and giving the left back a perfect introduction to the Invicta supporters.
Bradley Stevenson went on a run through midfield before unleashing an effort from 25 yards that headed just wide of Joe Coleman’s post.
Byron found himself higher up the pitch minutes later as he received the ball in the penalty area following a period of Invicta possession but his ball effort from an angle was forced out for a corner.
Jake Goodman was the next to go close as he flicked on an Ade Cole cross from deep but the ball dropped just past the far post.
With time ticking away Holness fired over the Remland Stand from the edge of the box.
It was the visitors who then had the final couple of chances of the half. Stevenson forced a simple save from Coleman with a free kick before coming onto a cutback in injury time to hit it first time but Coleman was again down to it comfortably, the sides heading in level at the break.
The 1st half had been a battle on a difficult pitch and the second continued in similar vein. Invicta the first to threaten as a series of clocks denied shots from Holness, Regis and Moses while Stevenson had another go at goal from a free kick, this time failing to hit the target. Invicta immediately made a first and only change of the afternoon as Ira Jackson replaced Chris Regis.
Jackson won Invicta a couple of corners in the minutes after his introduction with Will Moses heading over from one of them.
Both Jackson and Moses were involved again quickly as the forward saw his left footed effort blocked before Moses then unleashed an effort from distance that forced a good save from Wilks.
Hearts were in Invicta mouths when, with about 15 minutes to play, Stevenson was given another sight of goal but having received the ball in space on the left he fired wide of the far post.
Richard Asamoah was next to threaten as he cut inside from the right and unleashed a left footed effort that just came from behind a defender but was well saved by Coleman before Goodman cleared.
With less than 10 minutes to go Invicta had the ball in the net for the first time, Holness turning in the box but was then adjudged to have fouled Ramsay before smashing past Wilks.
The game had opened up now and Coleman was soon forced into a save from distance as he pushed a shot from Adam Leathers to safety. The keeper collected the returning ball but failed to control it with Goodman seemingly pushed into him at the height of his jump but the big number 1 did superbly to spread himself and turn Leathers’ second effort over the crossbar.
Coleman did well to collect a couple more balls into the Invicta box, picking up a knock in doing so that saw him in need of some treatment while Luke Watkins was sent to quickly warm up. Thankfully Joe pulled through and was on hand moments later when a long throw eventually dropped to Moses Emmanuel who looked like he couldn’t miss, only the see the huge grey frame of Invicta’s number 1 get down to stop his effort.
“Moments” was something Micheal Everitt mentioned after the match and that was certainly one on which the game was won and lost as Invicta took full advantage just 1 minute and 3 seconds later. A Toby Byron throw came off a blue head before being flicked in behind by Scott Heard. Luke Holness turned on the afterburners and accelerated away from Ryan Henshaw & Matt Johnson before firing in off Wilks’ with the Cricket Ground End behind the goal exploding in a sea of what the kids call “limbs”.
More than once this season Invicta have seen a late goal cancelled out in injury time but a few minutes of rearguard action that ended with Scott Heard clearing with a diving header saw us over the line with a first clean sheet since 2nd September to take all 3 points, pushing us up to 12th in the Isthmian Premier Division ahead of the visit of Haringey Borough on Tuesday evening.
Joe Coleman was selected as Man of the Match by match sponsors The Dugout Sports Bar.