Rocks 1 Billericay 1 FT

The Rocks failed to win their basement clash at Nyewood Lane as nine-man Billericay held on for a point after in-form Jason Prior cancelled out the visitors' opener.

The Rocks went into the battle between the Ryman premier division's bottom two with just one change from the side who beat Ashford in the FA Trophy last week.

Young winger Louie Castles came back into the starting line-up and striker Mickey Demetriou continued as a stand-in centre-half.

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Braintree had an early chance to put the Rocks under pressure when they won a free-kick on the right just outside the area. Michael Shinn swung it in but Demetriou headed it clear.

It was a slow start by the home side in a game they were desperate to win and Danny Green's shot was only just wide of Anthony Ender's near post when he ran through virtually unchallenged in he fifth minute.

Immediately after that, Jason Prior was fast to clear the danger when Lawrence Yiga found himself unmarked ten yards from goal.

The Rocks were struggling to get on the ball and put the visiting defence under any kind of pressure. Billericay, though, were winning a lot of aerial balls to keep the Rocks on their toes.

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It was no real surprise when Billericay took a 15th-minute lead. Billy Bricknell controlled a pass just outside the box and, despite the attentions of a defender, shot low to beat Ender at his near post.

The Rocks did at least manage their first shot at goal a minute later, but Lewis Ide's weak effort didn't trouble Billericay keeper Andy Walker.

Billericay caused the under-fire hosts more problems from a corner but after a scramble, Ender grabbed hold of the ball before a lurking Billericay player could pounce.

Billericay left-back Ryan O'Rawe was booked for hacking down Sam Tucknott in full flight in the 22nd minute. From Michael Birmingham's free-kick Prior and Tim Bond both had shots blocked.

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Birmingham was at the centre of the action again a minute later when he was the victim of an awful lunging tackle by Yiga. As the skipper writhed in agony, Yiga was shown a straight red, while Ide was booking for getting involved.

Birmingham was helped gingerly to his feet after a couple of minutes of treatment. Billercay switched to a 4-3-2 system.

A neat build-up involving five players ended with Gary Norgate blazing an ugly shot high and wide.

Then Prior got a talking-to after fouling Walker as he tried to beat him to Tucknott's curling cross.

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Billericay made a change on 32 minutes as the dangerous Green went off '“ presumably with a knock '“ to be replaced by Dave Wareham.

The Rocks were level on 33 minutes when Prior scored his third goal in two games, drawing the keeper before calmly firing past him after being put through by James Crane's nice through-ball.

Crane fancied getting on the scoresheet himself but didn't get enough on a shot that followed a surging run from just inside the Billericay half and an exchange of passes with Prior.

The Rocks had gained the upper hand now and Tucknott beat his man to cut into the area but couldn't find a green and white shirt with his cross.

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Darin Killpartrick's side were making the most of their one-man advantage with all the possession, though they couldn't find a way through the defence.

Half-time 1-1

The start to the second half was quiet as the sides tried to exert their authority on the match, but eventually the Rocks forced their first corner six minutes into the half.

When it came in, Bond found space for a shot but it was blocked at close-range by a defender.

Billericay gave the Rocks a scare in the 58th minute when Fiston Manuella blocked a clearance from a free-kick and it spun up, over Ender and only just over his crossbar.

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Then it was the Rocks' turn to attack and Crane set up Castles for a tempting cross into the six-yard box which was safely gathered by the leaping Walker.

On 62 minutes, Billericay were down to nine men. O'Rawe was sent off for his second yellow after Tucknott dribbled his way past him on his way into the box.

The Rocks wanted a penalty but a free-kick was given just outside the box, and when it was delivered into the goalmouth, no Rocks player could get the touch needed in the ensuing scramble to put them ahead.

Not surprisingly, all the play was in the visitors' half and Prior sent a fierce cross in from the left that was cleared for a corner.

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Castles was replaced by Charlie Oatway with 24 minutes left. And the sub was soon the next name in ref Mr Daly's book for a strong challenge on Shinn.

As the Rocks tried to force their way into the lead, Ide fizzed a shot just wide of the post with Walker beaten.

Norgate and Tucknott combined to create another opening, but Tucknott hit his cross against a defender with two men waiting in the middle.

Oatway sent a high hanging cross in from the left but Prior and Norgate seemed to get in each other's way and the chance was gone. Birmingham tried a shot from 30 yards with 16 minutes left but although it dipped, it was well over.

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Billericay made their second substitution on 79 minutes as scorer Bricknell was replaced by Leon Antoine.

Manuella was booked with five minutes left.

The Rocks' last throw of the dice saw Richard Greenfield and Ruben French replace Tucknott and Franks.

Crane might have won it in the 87th minute but couldn't get a touch as he closed in on a high ball to the back post with no defender near him.

Another chance for the Rocks fell to Ide, whose low drive was well held by Walker.

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Billericay broke in the final minute but couldn't quite get the ball past last defender French. Then at the other end, Greenfield's shot was saved on the post by Walker and Prior flicked a header only inches wide from a Greenfield cross.

Rocks: Ender, Crane, Franks, Ide, Bond, Demetriou, Tucknott, Birmingham, Prior, Norgate, Castles. Subs: Oatway, Wood, Greenfield, French, Shay.

Billericay: Walker, Pond, O'Rawe, Shinn, McSweeney, Cousins, Green, Manuella, Baker, Bricknell, Yiga. Subs: Wareham, Chatting, Antoine, Sagna, Edwards.

Ref: S Daly (Staines)

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