Tilley hat-trick helps Billingshurst to second league victory

Billingshurst Nick Tilley in action last season. Picture by Jon Smalldon
Billingshurst Nick Tilley in action last season. Picture by Jon Smalldon

Division 1 new boys Billingshurst clinched their second victory on the campaign as they overcame basement side St Francis Rangers on Saturday.

A Nick Tilley hat-trick and own goal completed the 4-2 home victory as Hurst moved up to 11th in the standings.

Buoyed by the return of centre-back Pete Proto and Mark Cooper and coupled with the signing of Jake Chadwick, Hurst went into the game with renewed optimism.

The visitors arrived having yet to find a league win, bottom of the pile with one point but would have been upbeat after Hurst’s 3-0 home loss to Seaford the previous week.

Cooper provided the game’s first chance when his free-kick found the head of Stallibrass but he directed it straight at the visiting keeper.

Paul White then released Hawkes whose cross was met again by Tilley sliding in trying to get in front of the defender, the ball ricocheted back into the path of White, but his shot was cleared.

With Hurst fully in control, Tilley created space inside the area and fed Stallibrass but he screwed his shot wide of the post.

Away stopper Jordan Markell kept out Harry Bowles’ far-post effort following another Cooper set piece.

Hurst’s best chance of the half came when Hawkes delayed his shot enough to allow the defender to make a last-ditch tackle, before Markell pulled off another fine stop to deny Cooper’s free-kick.

St Francis then capitalised on some hesitation in the Hurst defence following a long ball. and the alert Stuart Goodwin nipped in and lofted the ball over the advancing Tom Betts in the Hurst goal to put the visitors into an unlikely lead.

After the break, Strudwick came off the bench and almost made an immediate impact when he fed Tilley, who ghosted past three players, but was denied by Markell, and Hawkes’ follow-up was also cleared.

On 59 minutes, Hurst levelled as White’s skill in the area saw hum slide the ball to Tilley, who took one touch and fired home.

Six minutes later, substitute Kia Bichards’ shot was diverted past Markell and into the net.

After having penalty appeals turned down moments earlier, Tilley was again taken out and the assistant flagged for a penalty, which the midfielder dispatched.

St Francis got a goal back just two minutes later as they broke on the counter attack and Goodwin was picked out to smash home.

A minute later, Tilley completed his hat-trick and sealed the three points.

Manager Adie Konieczny said: “We needed something from the game and I’m more than happy how the players have responded after last week’s disappointment.

“Nick (Tilley) will get all the plaudits and rightfully so, but most of our attacking threat came down our right side courtesy of Elliott (Hawkes) who had a great game.

“We also had a solid base on which to build from and Coops (Cooper) and (James) Hancock provided that, screening the back four yet probing and prompting the side from deep and allowing our offensive players to be higher up the pitch and have much more of an influence on the game.

“It was pleasing to see us create so many chances and when Nick is in this sort of mood he is a handful for anyone. I was pleased with our reaction after conceding the first goal as it didn’t upset our rhythm and we kept on playing and believing in what we were doing.”