Hawks 3 Billericay 2 - Hosts weather tense finale in terrible conditions to progress into FA Cup fourth qualifying round
Three goals in 19 second half minutes helped Hawks past fellow National League South side Billericay in a five-goal FA Cup encounter at Westleigh Park.
Jake McCarthy's opener on 48 minutes - his third in two games in the competition this term - and strikes from James Roberts and substitute Tommy Wright seemed to have seen Hawks cruising through the third round qualifying tie in the pouring rain.
But a tense finale ensued against a Billiercay side with one win in seven this season after Darren Foxley's free-kick and penalty double set up a tense final few minutes.
Although Hawks, now just one win away from the first round proper, managed to see it out and pocket £5,625 in prize money.
Hawks made four changes from the side who were beaten at St Albans last time out. Full-backs Josh Passley and Michael Green were handed starts, as were Alex Wall and Jamie Collins in place of the injured Paul Rooney while Tommy Wright, Joe Newton and Abdulai Baggie all dropped to the bench.
The hosts were seeing plenty of possession in the early exchanges but unable to penetrate a Billericay side content on inviting pressure in the persistent rain.
Hawks' best chance arrived just as the Essex side were beginning to pose a threat of their own in attack. Billy Clifford's delightful cross was met by Jake McCarthy who could only divert wide from close range 10 minutes before the break.
Jamie Collins was on hand to divert Kurtis Cumberbatch's goalbound strike over a couple of minutes later before the hosts missed a couple of good chances in the lead up to the interval. First, McCarthy glanced a header wide of goal from Clifford's corner then Wall hooked wide of the far post.
Hawks made a blistering start to the second half, taking the lead on 48 minutes. McCarthy, switched to a role in the back three at the break, was the furthest forward to fire Clifford's cross into the bottom corner.
The rampant hosts then doubled their advantage with Roberts sliding into an empty net after great work from Wall 14 minutes later.
When substitute Wright slotted home with ease after Roberts teed him in on 67 minutes Hawks looked in for an easy passage through.
But Foxley first fired back from a free-kick 13 minutes from time then grabbed his and from the spot - after referee Marc Whalley had initially awarded a free-kick after 85 minutes. Yet Hawks managed to cling on and secure their passage into the fourth qualifying round.
Hawks: Worner; Magri, Collins, Oastler, Gobern, Passley, Clifford, McCarthy, Green, Roberts, Wall. Subs: Wright (Collins, 45), Newton (Green, 66), Rendell (Wall, 73), Searle, Baggie.