A FIRST-HALF horror show cost Billericay their unbeaten home record at New Lodge this afternoon.

An error from Billericay keeper Dale Brightly gifted Tim Sills a soft opener and the striker volleyed home two more before the interval to complete his hat-trick and leave the hosts with a mountain to climb.

They looked capable of climbing it with a much-improved second-half display.

But a goal early in the second half from skipper Rob Swaine was all they could manage as Basingstoke held firm and rode their luck to take home the points.

Basingstoke shaded a cagey and often niggly start and, after Tims Sills had poked a sitter wide, they took a 16th minute lead when the same player capitalised on a calamitous fresh-air kick from Brightly to roll the ball into an unguarded net.

It spurred the hosts into life and they almost drew level when Swaine arrived late to send a typically committed header just over the bar from Glenn Poole’s corner.

But the visitors doubled their lead on 32 minutes when a threaded pass put Delano Sam-Yorke in on goal and Brightly made a good block. The rebound fell kindly for Sills and he sent a volley into the ground which fortuitously bounced over the head of the back-tracking keeper and into the net.

It was 3-0 on the stroke of half-time and in controversial circumstances.

Ex-Braintree man Callum McNish shoulder charged central defender Chris Wild off of his feet and referee Stuart Butler - for reasons best known to himself - awarded McNish the free-kick, about 30 yards from goal.

And when Daly’s strike was deflected high into the air, Sills produced a wonderful first-time hit to crash the ball in off the post.

Billericay’s Duran Reynolds forced former Grays keeper Ashley Bayes into his first real save of the afternoon three minutes after the restart with a grass-cutter from distance.

It was a signal of intent and, after Luke I’Anson thudded a tremendous shot against the face of the bar from distance, they pulled a goal back from a familiar source as Sam Lechmere swung in a corner for Swaine to power home a header.

Suddenly Billericay looked like a side who’ve won their last three games, and they almost grabbed a quick second when Lechmere’s free kick was deflected on to the crossbar with Bayes beaten.

But the visitors were weathering the storm and shielded their goal well until Alex Osborn’s fine run and shot went narrowly wide.

Osborn had a great chance to set up a grandstand finish with 10 minutes to go when a lovely ball by Duran Reynolds put him clean through on goal, but his low shot was blocked by Bayes.

And after the impressive Sills had flashed an injury-time effort narrowly wide his side saw out the game.

Billericay will be hoping to a good response when the travel to Boreham Wood for a league match on Monday tonight.

Billericay (4-4-1-1): Brightly; Oates, Swaine, Wild, Anderson; I’Anson (Magdzinski 74), Reynolds, Edwards (Luke 74), Poole; Lechmere; Osborn.

Basingstoke (4-4-2): Bayes; Rice, Adams, Gasson, Warner; McNish (Little 71), Campbell, Daly, Brown; Sills, Sam-Yorke.

Echo MOM: Sam Lechmere (Billericay).