East Thurrock United draw

BILLERICAY came from behind twice to hold East Thurrock to a 2-2 draw in a keenly-fought contest.

East Thurrock came into the match having not won a home match in the league since September 21, while Billericay had just won on their travels against Margate.

David Bryant twice gave the home side the lead with two perfectly executed volleys but Rocks could not hold on to the advantage as first Josh Ekim and later James Robinson drew Billericay level.

However, the real star of the show was Ricay striker Ricky Sappleton. The bulky forward had a hand in both goals and was a constant thorn to the Rocks defenders.

Neither team could get the upper hand early on and the first real chance of the match resulted in a goal.

Jason Hallett won a corner and Tom Stephen swung in a flag kick that was flicked on at the near post by the head of the defending Sappleton. But the ball was not cleared and dropped perfectly onto the foot of Bryant, who rifled into the net.

Sappleton could have made amends 10 minutes later after George Beavan sent him clean through. He turned a defender but his low shot was pushed away by Rocks goalkeeper Sam Mott.

Moments later the visitors did get the goal their play deserved.

Glenn Poole hit a ball into the channels for Sappleton to run onto and the target man swiveled before squaring to Ekim, who scored his second goal in two games since joining on loan from Welling.

Bryant hit the crossbar before the break and saw his low free kick turned behind by Billy Lumley.

In the second half, Bryant was again pulling the strings for Rocks and he scored another terrific goal midway through the second half.

Leon McKenzie’s shot was saved by Lumley but the ball only fell to Hallett. His cross was met by Bryant and he smashed a volley into the top corner.

Once again Rocks could not hold onto the lead and Sappleton was again the architect. The Jamaican beat Simon Peddie to the ball and he fired a terrific low cross to the far post for substitute Robinson, who had been on the pitch less than a minute, to divert home.

The goal gave Ricay belief and they should have scored a winner as the clock ticked towards 90 minutes.

Substitute Isaac Layne had two gilt-edged chances to score, after the visitors had struck the upright, but he was denied by two terrific saves from Mott.

Rocks manager John Coventry said: “We played well today but were put under a lot of pressure towards the end.

“We have a good group and will be back to winning ways soon.”

East Thurrock: Mott, Sammons, Stephen, Dawson, Sheehan, Glover (Peddie), Hopkins, Thurgood, Hallett, Bryant, McKenzie (Paxman).

Billericay: Lumley, Rodgers, Beavan, Dunne, Halle, Kizzi, Luke (Benjamin), Poole, Sappleton, Webb (Robinson), Ekim (Layne).

MOM – Ricky Sappleton (Billericay).

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