Moussa gives Billericay the blues
Moussa Diarra's 11th goal of the season extended the Beavers lead to 7 points at the top of the league as they defeated Billericay Town 2-1.
The game opened at a fast pace, indicated by Quentin Monville's yellow card on 37 seconds, surely one of the fastest in the Ryman League this season.
Hampton were created the first real chance, as an unmarked Nicke Kabamba met Tom Jelley's cross 10 yards out, which keeper Jack Giddens managed to touch wide.
Hampton keeper Mark Smith, whose loan until the end of the season was announced in the morning, nearly gifted the Blues a goal as his clearance was scuffed and it ran straight to Tom Derry. The lone striker was forced wide and the Beavers recovered.
Neither side sowed any kind of fluency in the first half hour and for two teams chasing possible honours, it didn't suggest the game would be a classic.
Just on the half hour, Billericay finally created a couple of clear cut chances, two of the few they had. Jordan Cox effectively muscled Kieran Murphy off the ball in the box and facing Smith, he fired off a shot, beting Smith. However, the post saved Hampton and the ball ran across goal and out for a corner.
3 minutes later, it was Smith who denied Billericay as Cox once more found himself in the box with a sight of goal. The young keeper stood tall to beat the ball away and Hampton began to regain their composure.
After the half time break, Hampton came out the quickest and with just a couple of minutes played, took the lead. A Tom Beere corner was met by a late-arriving Brendan Kiernan, and his solid header left Giddens grasping at air as the ball flew past him.
It could've been two-nil just 5 minutes later as Jamal Lowe lined up a drive, but the direction wasn't all it could have been and it cleared the post.
Billericay seemed to be short of any inventive threat as the second half progressed but on 70 minutes got a slightly fortuitous life-line. Jordan Cox was running parallel to the inside edge of the box, and in the act of challenging for the ball, Moussa Diarra was deemed by the referee to have fouled the striker - which surprised many - and a penalty was the result.
The Blues weren't about to refuse a gift and Glenn Poole stepped up to stroke the ball past Smith to bring them level.
In previous seasons, this might have been the cue for the Beavers to retreat into their shell, but not this season and not in front of Dowse.
They pushed on, and on 78 minutes grabbed the winner. A Josh Casey free kick to the near post was only touched on across goal by Giddens, it fell at the feet of the lurking Diarra and he had the time to pick his spot and sidefoot it into the net from about 8 yards
Billericay tried to push on for another equaliser but weren't able to get the slice of luck they'd previously had and it was the Beavers who could have scored in the last few seconds.
Nike Kabamba, who'd had a torrid afternoon against central defender Ejiro Okosiene, managed to break the offside trap and generate a one-on-one with Giddens, but the tall defender got back to make a despairing challenge and deflect the ball away for a corner.
After the game, Dowse agrees it wasn't the best of games, "The second half was better, and we came out quicker but the first, well we didn't show up, and I wouldn't have liked to pay my £10 to watch that."
"We knew how Craig (Edwards) would play it today, as I've known him a lot of years but we really struggled. Thankfully we got through it, and we've a tough weekend coming up over Easter. If we get 6 points from that, then we might start to think about the Conference South, but not yet."
Hampton & Richmond Borough (0) 2
Brendan Kiernan 47'
Moussa Diarra 78'
Billericay Town (0) 1
Glenn Poole 71 (p)
Hampton & Richmond Borough: 1 Mark Smith, 2 Tom Jelley, 3 Josh Casey, 4 Kieran Murphy, 5 Moussa Diarra, 6 Leon Solomon, 7 Jerome Federico (Eddie Hutchinson 80'), 8 Tom Beere, 9 Nicke Kabamba, 10 Brendan Kiernan, 11 Jamal Lowe
Subs: 12 Joe Hicks, 14 Eddie Hutchinson, 15 Michael Kamara, 16 Charlie Moone, 17 Shaquille Hippolyte-Patrick
Billericay Town: 1 Jack Giddens, 2 Ibrahim Diallo, 3 Alex Stephenson, 4 Conor Hubble (Evans Kouassi), 5 Ejiro Okosiene, 6 George Beaven, 7 Quentin Monville (Louis Hazelwood), 8 Glenn Poole, 9 Tom Derry (Mike Fondop-Talom), 10 Jordan Cox, 11 Teddy Nesbitt.
Subs: 12 Pierre Haret, 14 Onome Sodje, 15 Evans Kouassi, 16 Louis Hazelwood, 17 Mike Fondop-Talom