Billingham Social Club - Billingham Town FC
Celebrating 50 Years of Football
THE EMIRATES FA CUP EXTRA PRELIMINARY ROUND
Town crashed out of the FA Cup at the first hurdle and cannot have any complaints with the result. Pickering who will go on to play Clitheroe in the next round, strengthened their squad in midweek with several quality signings and one of the debutants, Carl Stewart made an impressive introduction. Remarkably, Stewart has already signed for three different clubs this season (Tadcaster & Scarborough) but judged on this performance he will be an astute acquisition; Town's defence had no answer to his craft and know how, often ghosting behind the back four or linking up superbly with Ryan Blott and man of the match, Lewis Taylor who ended up with a brace. Luckily for Town, they won't come across such quality players week in week out but then again, they won't be forced into playing a makeshift back four either! Left-back Mark Dixon and right-back Lee Moore will be available for the midweek trip to Ryton & Crawcrook whom started their league campaign with a bang, destroying Brandon United 5-0. Billingham's back four were caught out time after time, pleading for offsides but in all fairness, the linesmen appeared to be correct in their decision making. It only took two minutes for the Pikes to take a soft lead; Stewart evaded the offside trap and had time and space to lay the ball back for Taylor to score. On eleven minutes, Stewart was at it again, slipping his marker but could only loop his effort over the bar when clean on goal. Town threatened briefly as they settled their way into the game - the best chance fell to Chris Dickinson who shanked his shot high and wide after a poor clearance. Pickering's central defenders didn't convince but Town were unable to put them under any meaningful pressure. Alex Leeds kept Billingham in the tie, denying Blott from the edge of the box and again moments later when Stewart looked certain to score. Town had two half chances as half time approached; Jake Fenton shot straight at Harry Andrews and then Ashley Lavan's cross took a wicked deflection but drifted agonisingly wide for a corner.
HT BILLINGHAM TOWN 0 PICKERING TOWN 1
The visitors made their intentions clear by looking for a killer second goal; Blott had two efforts off target but the goal finally came on fifty seven minutes. Blott cleverly chipped the ball to Stewart inside the box who then found Robinson lurking at the back post and the full-back drilled home for a deserved 2-0 lead. Moments before the second goal, Alex Leeds had to be replaced by Mark Hodgson; probably feeling the after affects of a robust challenge from Blott in the first half. Hodgson was soon in the thick of the action, barging over Stewart inside the box for a routine penalty. The goalkeeper wasn't helped by his defenders as they collectively failed to deal with a bouncing ball and Stewart took full advantage; Lewis Taylor who practically ran the midfield along with Eddie Birch tucked away the spot kick. There was a brief respite in play as hailstones fell from the sky, then referee Neil Wright pulled up with an injury and subsequently announced his retirement after the game! Town searched for a consolation goal but were twice denied by Andrews - keeping out Lavan's strike and then diving at full stretch to deny Michael Jameson a debut goal. A disappointing start to the season but the result has to be taken into context as Town suffered from a depleted squad and faced opposition from a higher division.
FT BILLINGHAM TOWN 0 PICKERING TOWN 3