Invicta returned from Essex with 3 points on Saturday as goals from David Smith and Kane Penn were enough to see off high flying Billericay Town at New Lodge.
Andy Drury named an unchanged side to that which faced league leaders Hornchurch on the previous Tuesday with Toby Byron’s not coming into effect for 7 days. 2 changes were made on the bench with Chris Sessegnon and Michael Kedman replacing Jordon Ababio (on loan at Ashford United) and Scott Heard (Herne Bay).
Invicta started on the front foot with 2 dangerous corners in the opening 2 minutes but it was hearts in mouths time in the 7th as goalkeeper Joe Coleman collided with Billericay Town forward Frankie Merrifield as the pair raced to a ball over the top. The Invicta keeper received treatment while Merrifield was cautioned, the game taking over 4 minutes to be restarted after Joe had received treatment.
Joe’s ability to shrug off his knock was tested almost immediately as Billericay created the game’s first shooting opportunity within 30 seconds of the restart, forcing a good save at his near post.
Invicta responded with a corner that goalkeeper Dan Wilks dropped inside his 6 yard box, causing a goalmouth scramble that was eventually cleared for Invicta’s 4th corner of the game after just 13 minutes.
Ian Gayle was booked on the half hour mark for wrestling with a Billericay forward.
It was down the right side Invicta were getting most of their joy with Kane Penn finding plenty of space to push high and deliver balls into the box but the first goal would come from a long Coleman kick. The initial long ball headed clear by the Billericay defence but returned by Dean Rance and flicked on by Seidou Sanogo, a lack of urgency from defenders and Wilks allowed David Smith to be the first to the ball, drawing a foul from the Billericay keeper to win a spot kick that could have little complaints. Smith picked himself up and buried the kick into the bottom corner, Wilks going the right way but unable to get near it.
Moments later Invicta struck again. The second was also started from a long Coleman kick but was equally as much a fine piece of football on that right hand side. Tom Derry headed the second ball wide to Penn who laid it off to Rance and made his run into the box. Rance fed Smith who wriggled free of his defender’s attention to drive a low ball across the box towards Derry but the intervention of a Billericay leg teed it up perfectly for Penn to strike first time low into the same corner that Smith had found just minutes earlier.
Invicta nearly killed the game off in the 7th minute of injury time. A Fregene throw down the right was allowed to bounce into Smith who carried it from wide into the penalty area before striking the near post with a left footed effort. The ball stayed in play along the byline before being cleared as the referee blew his whistle for the break.
Billericay began the 2nd half on top but failed to create a meaningful chance or force a save from Coleman.
Dean Rance joined Ian Gayle in the book on the hour for a mistimed challenge.
Ade Cole replaced Eddie Allsopp halfway through the 2nd period, followed by Michael Kedman replacing David Smith. Cole was into the book 7 minutes after coming on, presumably for something he said to the referee.
While Billericay dominated the possession, Invicta looked comfortable in their 2 goal lead as we entered 6 minutes of stoppage time at the end of the match. In the second minute of additional time Invicta broke 4 on 3, Kedman fed the ball as he burst into space on the left but his low shot was well saved by Wilks down to his left. The ball was cleared for a corner which Toby Byron was booked for taking too long over. Kedman eventually took the throw.
Billericay finally managed to set up a nervy couple of minutes as they worked Merrifield into space in the box, the forward striking a low effort past Coleman at his near post to deny Invicta the clean sheet.
Invicta were made to defend a corner and a throw at the death but saw the final moments out to make a win from our final trip to Essex this season, a superb result away from home against the side with the best record in the league over the previous 8 matches.