Friday, September 30, 2022
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Football: Aveley bow out to Billericay in Essex Cup

Ryman League Premier Division club Billericay Town will go head-to-head with Vanarama Conference South Concord Rangers in the Essex Senior Cup supported by BBC Essex Final at Dagenham & Redbridge FC after a brace from Ricky Sappleton helped them to their Semi-Final victory at Aveley.

Sappleton converted once in each half – goals complemented by another from Stevie Sheehan – meaning Petrit Elbi’s 55th-minute reply for Ryman North Aveley proved to be a consolation in a re-run of the 2011 final between the two sides. Billericay now advance to the climax at Dagenham on Monday 20th April hoping to upset the current holders.

Aveley had performed admirably to make it as far as the Semi-Finals, knocking out Conference South opposition themselves in Chelmsford City and emerging past local rivals Thurrock. Meanwhile, Billericay’s own run was action-packed, playing out a five-goal thriller at Harlow Town and beating Brightlingsea Regent on penalties in a match which seemed destined to never be played due to wet weather conditions.

It was a quiet opening 15 minutes except for an early opportunity when Billericay’s Afolabi Obafemi got in behind the home defence, only to be challenged crucially by Spencer Harrison. Then, on 14 minutes, Town were through on goal again as Sappleton raced away. Goalkeeper James Marrable proved to be the last line of defence for Aveley on this occasion.

Town came closer still a couple of minutes later, Rowan Liburd’s shot rapping the post and rebounding to Obafemi, who somehow missed the target. But Craig Edwards’ men did grab a deserved lead with 25 minutes played. Sappleton was played in with only Marrable to beat, and this time he made no mistake as he stroked into the bottom corner.

Mid-way through the half Aveley began to craft an attacking influence, going close with a Danny Francis deflected effort wide plus Billy Holland rattled the upright. Either side of the half-hour there was a penalty appeal apiece, Town feeling Sammy Knott had handballed while the Millers’ Francis was brought down by goalkeeper Marko Cancar right on the edge of the box.

Referee Robert Whitton deemed it to be a free kick, and both managers were complimentary of the match official’s overall performance after the game. He contributed towards a flowing encounter where the frames of the goals were living a charmed life. The hosts came close to equalising once more, Holland’s angled header frustratingly striking the crossbar.

Having emerged into the game as the first half progressed, Aveley will have felt hard done by to go two goals down four minutes beyond the interval. Sappleton just managed to guide a header into the net despite the best efforts of industrious defender Knott, meaning the hosts would have to produce something special to recover against their higher-ranked opponents.

That blow would prove crucial as Town went on to kill the game off with a third on 51 minutes. Billericay earned a corner, from which Glenn Poole found Sheehan to nod home. Aveley cleared a further Liburd effort off the line on 55 minutes but, with just pride to play for at this stage, the Millers reacted with a goal of their own in the 69th, Elbi collecting a loose ball and tucking first-time below Cancar from close range.

Billericay’s appetite for more goals remained, yet Obafemi and Sappleton were both guilty of squandering clear chances to add to their team’s total. Nevertheless, the visitors maintained the two-goal cushion until the final whistle to ensure they have the chance to reclaim the silverware they last won four years ago.

Aveley: James Marrable, Paul Preston, Sammy Knott, Junior Baker, Spencer Harrison, Ahmed Deen, Theo Ola (Tarryn Allarakhia, 88), Billy Holland, Petrit Elbi, Alex Stavrinou (Aryan Retkoceri, 81), Daniel Francis (Elias Armah-Tackie, 70). Unused Substitutes: Anton Stephenson, George Essuman.

Billericay Town: Marko Cancar, Ola Williams, Ryan Melaugh, Jack Edwards, Richard Halle, Stevie Sheehan, Afolabi Obafemi (Harry Baker, 76), Glenn Poole, Rickie Sappleton, Rowan Liburd (Shameek Farrell, 83), Callum Dunne. Unused Substitutes: Cyrus Mahler, Lewis Godwin-Green (GK), George Beavan.

Bookings: None.

Referee: Robert Whitton (Braintree)

Assistant Referees: Craig Barnett (Basildon) and Robert Claussen (South Fambridge).

Attendance: 134.

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