Billericay Town vs Cray Wanderers
Isthmian Premier – Saturday 13th January, 2024 – Match Report
Billericay Town 6
Porter 7 mins, Cerulli 35, 44, 75,
Merrifield 59, Stevenson 68
Cray Wanderers 0
Cray Wanderers went down to their heaviest league defeat of the season as a very slick and professional Billericay Town scored six goals without reply to leave Cray in 17th place in the Isthmian Premier and inflict a third successive away defeat.
The Wands had been very solid defensively since Christmas but were rocked after conceding an early Jay Porter goal and after looking to work their way back into the game, two Alfie Cerulli goals before half time gave Cray a mountain to climb in the second half. Second half goals from Frankie Merrifield, Bradley Stevenson and Cerulli completed his hat-trick to seal an emphatic win for 3rd placed Billericay Town. This was Cray’s heaviest league defeat since losing 7-2 at Bognor Regis Town in December 2019.
Cray were looking to bounce back from Tuesday night’s defeat at Bognor Regis Town to two late goals and from the side which started that game into the team came Sam Wood and Tom Bonner for Tayo Oyebola and Jamie Mascoll. Billericay Town were in good form having won their last three league games and made one change to the side which won at Kingstonian last Saturday with Richard Asamoah coming in for Moses Emmanuel.
On a bright afternoon if slightly chilly, Billericay started brightly and took the lead in the 7th minute when from a corner down the left, Bradley Stevenson’s ball into the area was cleared out to Jay Porter whose shot hit the underside of the crossbar and was deemed to have gone over the line.
Cray looked to get back into the game and in the 17th minute came close when Tom Beere’s cross from the right into the area was steered wide of the left post by Gary Lockyer from seven yards. For Billericay, Alfie Cerulli fired over the top with a centrally placed free kick.
Perhaps Cray’s best chance came in the 31st minute when down the right, a cross from Ellis Brown found Lockyer whose strike was cleared almost off the line by George Wind and following up George Porter’s shot was blocked and Beere fired off target.
Billericay nearly added a second shortly after when Richard Asamoah’s cross was headed wide of the left post by Frankie Merrifield.
However, in the 35th minute Billericay added a second which was well worked down the left as Tommy Davis and Asamoha combined to find Porter whose cross was stabbed in from close range by Alfie Cerulli.
Cray really needed to stay in the game before halftime but a minute before the break conceded a third goal when Porter who had a very good first half won a flick on at the right post to set up Cerulli for his second of the game.
Before half time, David Ijaha headed over a Frankie Raymond corner. Then down the right, Brown set up Emmanuel Kwatchey who shot over the top.
With the Wands chasing the game, Anthony Cook and Yahya Bamba were introduced at half time and Cray did begin the second half on the front foot but the nearest they came was when Cook set up Raymond for a shot over the top. For Billericay, Davis lashed a shot over the top.
Any chances of Cray getting back into the game were dashed in the 59th minute as Billericay scored a fourth as down the left, Asamaoah who had an excellent game cut into the area and put over a ball into the box which was headed in by Frankie Merrifield.
Cray had a shout for a possible penalty shortly after when Bamba looked to have been caught by a high boot by George Wind inside the area but the referee deemed the challenge accidental and awarded a drop ball instead.
Billericay though it seemed could up the gears when they felt like it and in the 68th minute scored a fine fifth goal with Asamoah again involved down the left and his cross picked out ex-Wand, Bradley Stevenson who found space to pick his spot and drill a shot into the bottom left corner of the net.
At this stage it looked like Billericay would score more goals with the Wands looking more bedraggled and in the 75th minute, the Blues scored a sixth goal and Cerulli who always seems to play well against Cray cut inside from the left and cracked in a shot which beat Shaun Rowley at the right post for his hat-trick.
In the end and perhaps mercifully for the Wands there were no more goals and the only blip for Billericay came in the second minute of stoppage time when Louis Ramsay was sent off for a late challenge on Frankie Raymond.
Cray were not really at the races today and after a few weeks of solid, determined performances and becoming harder to beat, this was definitely one to forget about very quickly. Credit to Billericay who looked a very good side and when they won at Cray in August and really should be in the promotion shake up at the end of April and face Hornchurch at home on Tuesday night and can go into the game with confidence.
The Wands in 17th and six points above the bottom four though do not have to wait long to bounce back and visit Folkestone Invicta on Tuesday who are one place above Cray in 16th and looking to get back on track.
Billericay Town: Dan Wilks, George Wind, Jay Porter, Matt Johnson (Ryan Henshaw, 78), Bradley Stevenson, Alfie Cerulli, Tommy Davis, Ollie Peters, Richard Asamoah (Ruben Soares, 73), Lewis Ramsay, Frankie Merrifield (Moses Emmanuel, 73): Subs: Tom Bender, Jayden Robinson
Sent Off: Ramsay 90+2
Cray Wanderers: Shaun Rowley, Emmanuel Kwatchey, Tom Bonner, Cameron Black, Sam Wood, David Ijaha, Tom Beere, Frankie Raymond, Ellis Brown (Anthony Cook, H/T), George Porter (Yahya Bamba, H/T), Gary Lockyer: Subs: Alfie Evans, Jamie Mascoll, Tayo Oyebola
Booked: Ijaha 21, Bamba 90
Referee: Tom Harvey
Assistants: Gavin Jolley, Sam Jones