BILLERICAY Town’s defence of the Essex Senior Cup ended at the semi-final stage with a 3-2 defeat at East Thurrock United.

Billericay had been hoping to set up a repeat of last season’s final against Chelmsford City.

But Sam Higgins’ late winner saw the Rocks head through, much to the frustration of Billericay boss Harry Wheeler.

“It was an even game and if it had gone to penalties neither side could have argued,” said Wheeler.

“They were better in the first half and we were better in the second.

“But in the end you get what you deserve.

“We made unforced errors for two of their goals and we’ve been punished.”

East Thurrock, who are 19th in the 22 team National South table, opened the scoring in the 29th minute when Alex Osbourne drilled a low shot into the bottom left hand corner of the net.

However, Billericay fought back to equalise three minutes before the break when Rocks’ Lee Burns sent a misplaced backpass from 25 yards past his own goalkeeper Jack Giddens and into the left hand side of the goal.

East Thurrock fought back to regain the lead in the 76th minute when Tom Derry’s right wing corner was missed by Billericay goalkeeper Mark Smith, enabling Ryan Scott to head home from close range.

Billericay equalised for a second time in the 84th minute when Danny Waldren tapped home after Adam Coombes’ fine free-kick had bounced back off the inside of the left post.

But East Thurrock were not to be denied and the hosts hit back to bag the game’s winning goal just two minutes later with Sam Higgins on target.