Billericay Town 1-1 Tilbury – Tilbury won 4-2 on penalties (Att 218)
Tilbury reached the Semi-Finals of the BBC Essex Senior Cup for the first time since 1986 with a penalty shootout victory over Billericay Town at New Lodge.
The Dockers – who won the competition four times between 1961 and 1975 – had Reece Hewitt to thank for securing a last-four berth as the substitute cancelled out Goldy Capela’s early strike six minutes from time to set-up penalties before slamming home the decisive spot kick to earn a 4-2 success.
Gary Henty’s side are on the verge of the Ryman North play-off places, and they will now be hopeful of reaching a first Senior Cup final for 38 years after this victory, the third time in succession they have prevailed on penalties this term. Billericay, by contrast, will be disappointed after failing to make the most of their early opportunities to defeat the visitors.
Town took the lead in just the 5th minute of the match. Tilbury goalkeeper Lee Butcher had already made a smart save to hold Kresh Krasniqi’s strike above his head when the forward centred from the right flank and Capela was perfectly positioned to convert from close range at the back post. It was Capela’s ninth goal of the current campaign, and he seemed intent on reaching double figures.
In the 9th minute he forced Butcher to claim an Ibrahim Diallo cross under pressure and, moments later, he held up an Oliver Sprague delivery before teeing-up Conor Hubble, whose vicious strike was deflected over.
Tilbury were being restricted to fleeting opportunities, and their hosts could have doubled their lead in the 19th minute when Jack Carlile surrendered possession and Kam Guthmy embarked on an excellent run before marginally over-hitting his intended pass for Capela.
Home goalkeeper Jack Giddens was finally called into action on the half-hour when Neil Richmond chased down a left-wing pass and rolled the ball into the path of Lewis Jaggs, who drew a full-length stop from the custodian to tip the ball around the left-hand upright. Jaggs also fired narrowly wide of the opposite post in the dying seconds of the opening period.
By that time, Billericay had spurned further chances to move two goals clear. Hubble side-footed a Frankie Curley flick-on into Butcher’s gloves on 35 minutes then swiftly drilled straight at the custodian from the left edge of the area. Matt Johnson’s overhead bicycle kick from a Capela knock-down was also gratefully clutched by the former Leyton Orient gloveman.
Capela could have started the second period in a similar vein to the first, but he smashed wildly over from a Johnson through ball two minutes after the restart. Butcher then continued his heroics, punching out a deceptive in-swinging Sprague corner from under the crossbar before Hubble nodded another Sprague delivery wide.
The ever-dangerous Capela could have doubled his personal tally a quarter of an hour from time when he failed to keep a header from a Sprague cross underneath the crossbar. Six minutes later, his aerial effort from a Quentin Monville centre was nodded into the turf and cleared from danger by the Dockers defence.
Billericay’s profligacy came back to haunt them on 84 minutes when Hewitt equalised. Giddens had come out to try and clear on the edge of the penalty area after being chased down by substitute Danny Smith, but his efforts fell straight to Hewitt, who showed excellent composure to pick his spot from the left touchline and loop the ball into an unguarded net.
Both teams could have snatched victory in the closing stages, but Capela and Hubble failed to convert after Sprague’s lung-busting left-wing run and, at the opposite end, Giddens dived bravely at the feet of Danny Smith as he attempted to tap in a Lewis Francis cross.
Smith and Francis would have the last laugh as they sandwiched a successful Jack Carlile penalty in the shootout, whilst Butcher saved Guthmy’s twelve-yarder and Hubble missed his attempt for Billericay. Even though Luke Moore and Krasniqi did net for the hosts, when Hewitt extended Tilbury’s 100% record to four spot kicks, the Dockers could not be usurped.
Penalties: Billericay – Moore (scored, 1-0), Tilbury – Francis (scored, 1-1), Billericay – Guthmy (saved, 1-1), Tilbury – Carlile (scored, 1-2), Billericay – Hubble (missed, 1-2), Tilbury – D Smith (saved, 1-3), Billericay – Krasniqi (scored, 2-3), Tilbury – Hewitt (scored, 2-4).
Manager Gary Henty commented after the game “The lads showed great character to get back in to the game after going behind so early. Really pleased to get into the semi-final an improvement from last year in the competition.
The Dockers will have to wait a week before finding out their semi final opponents, but focus back on the league on Saturday, when they welcome play off hopefuls Haringey Borough. 3.00pm kick off.
Tilbury: Butcher, Mead, Conway, Beniot, Nightingill, Singh, Francis, Carlile, Richmond (D Smith 76), Jaggs (Aromolaran 80) and K Smith (Hewitt 62)
Unused subs: Peddie and Norton
Match Report and photos courtesy of Essex County Football Association