The Peacocks are in the hat for the Emirates FA Cup 1st Round Proper after battling to a superb 2-2 draw at National League South leaders Billericay Town yesterday afternoon (20th October).

A pulsating 4th Qualifying Round tie saw all the goals come in the first half, Town fighting back from going behind twice before missing a penalty after the break and then having a man sent off. Billericay had already begun to test the Town defence before they took the lead on 17 minutes when Moses Emmanuel finished from close range after receiving a pass from Ross Lafayette. The Peacocks did not trail for long though, Shane White’s fine pass finding Andrew ‘Rocky’ Neal to slant an angled shot past Alan Julian four minutes later. Billericay regained the lead after 40 minutes when Lafayette again set up Emmanuel to clip the ball over the advancing Irish but Town equalised for a second time a minute before the break following good work down the right by White and Ben Adelsbury, the latter’s cross being swept home by Matt Buse.

Town had a great chance to go ahead twenty minutes into the second half when a penalty was awarded for handball against Lafayette but Matt Wright’s spot kick smashed the crossbar. Neal was then harshly shown a straight red card after an attempted block on Dean Inman’s clearance which led to Billericay upping the pressure for the final quarter hour. However Town held firm to force a replay at the Viridor Stadium on Wednesday evening and get their name in the draw for the First Round Proper which takes place live on BBC2 tomorrow evening.

Reaction | Head of Football Rob Dray commented: “A great day yesterday and for me an idea of what as a group of players we are all capable of. The lads performed excellently throughout, the work rate was top notch and I’m very proud of the whole team. However we have to temper that with the knowledge that Billericay will come down to us strong again for the replay and favourites to win as they are not top of the National League South for no reason. We will need to replicate yesterday’s performance in every way to give ourselves a chance of progressing  but hopefully our fans will turn out in force to give us that extra push.”

Captain Matt Wright said: “Obviously my initial reaction is that I’m absolutely gutted not to put us into the First Round. Luckily the lads defended unbelievably though to give us another chance on Wednesday. The fans were outstanding from start to finish so hopefully we can pack the Viridor and they can push us forward in the replay. We have nothing to fear whatsoever and looking forward to the draw tomorrow.”