Hampton put on an impressive performance to defeat play-off chasing Billericay 3-1 at the AGP Arena.
The Beavers raced into a two-goal lead thanks to Ruel Sotiriou and Rian Bray and worked tirelessly throughout the 90 minutes to make sure they held onto the lead.
Billericay threw all they had to get back into the game and did so in the second half thanks to Moses Emmanuel but, undeterred, Hampton pushed on and found a third through Zak Joseph.
There were scenes of pure joy at the end as Hampton moved six points clear of safety and put in a performance that proved they should not be down there in the first place.
Billericay nearly got an early breakthrough when Jack Paxman struck the post from outside of the box in the 5th minute.
Hampton responded well though and went straight up the other end and won a penalty when Sotiriou was pushed in the back inside the area. Sotiriou stepped up himself to take it and blasted his penalty into the right-hand side of the net, beating Alan Julian even though he dived the right way.
The lead was doubled five minutes later when Jack Connors floated in a free kick to the back post which was met by Sotiriou who cut it back for Rian Bray to poke it into the net.
Michee Efete nearly brought Billericay back into the game but he couldn’t direct his powerful long-range effort either side of Ashley Maynard-Brewer.
They came even closer when the ball dropped to Moses Emmanuel in the six-yard box, he appeared to be unmarked but as he unleashed his shot Oli Sprague dived in front of the effort to prevent a certain goal.
Hampton ended the half clinging on and had the fingertips of Maynard-Brewer to thank for keeping the lead at two after he tipped Adam Cunnington’s deflected effort around the post. Although Sotiriou had a late chance on the breakaway beaten away by Julian in the Billericay goal.
Billericay emerged for the second half, but their manager Harry Wheeler did not. After being warned in the first half, he crossed the line again on the way off at half time and as a result had to spend the rest of the game in the stands.
The hosts continued the second half in much the same vein, but Hampton continued to defend valiantly. They were tested when Rian Bray lost possession to Adam Coombes and his resulting shot ended up in a goal mouth scramble. Substitute Alfie Potter then shot over when it looked easier to score.
After an hour, Hampton tested Julian again. Sotiriou’s lovely footwork saw him weave through Billericay’s defence before being brought down. From the resulting free-kick, Ryan Hill’s curling effort was saved well by Julian.
The Beavers’ resistance was finally broken with 20 minutes to play though, after a strong run down the right, Potter squared the ball to Efete. He played in Emmanuel who jinked past two defenders and placed his shot out of the reach of the on-rushing Maynard-Brewer.
Ten minutes from time, the game’s crucial moment came when Julian went sprinting over to the referee to protest about a foul not being given, his over the top antics earned him a second yellow card and midfielder Danny Waldren would spend the rest of the match in goal.
Undeterred, the hosts kept pushing forward and hit the post when Jamar Loza’s teasing cross nearly caught everyone out before Connors was on-hand to clear the rebound.
Maynard-Brewer then pulled off a wonderful save from Adam Coombes who got free after Ruddick missed his interception but in a blink of an eye, Hampton went up the other end and saw Casey Maclaren’s shot rebound off the crossbar.
The Beavers finally killed the game just before stoppage time with a sensational counter-attacking goal. Tyrell Miller-Rodney broke down the right and played a measured ball across to Joseph, he controlled the ball, took it round Paxman and slammed home to calm the nerves and send the fans behind the goal wild.
Updated 18:39 - 6 Apr 2019 by HRBFC Press Team