The Magic of the FA Cup was alive and well in the September sunshine at Princes Park as the width of a cross bar ultimately denied the Mead an historic Cup upset.
In the end, it was a tie that had everything - two terrific goals; chances at both ends; heroic performances all over the pitch from those wearing green, and had Paul Vines been his usual predatory instincts fully in focus, the Mead could easily have caused one of the upsets of the round against a Billericay Town side who included Cup winner Jermaine Pennant, and who have received much recent publicity over their alleged weekly wage bill.
But on this day, that mattered not a jot as the Mead matched their illustrious opponents despite going behind to Robinson's missile in the first five minutes – the Billericay striker fired home an unstoppable drive that Lewis Carey in the Mead goal could only admire as it flew into the net via the underside of the bar.
It was then Lewis' performance that was there to be admired as he pulled off a string of stunning saves - particularly before half time - as slowly but surely the home side grew into the game, before the almost unthinkable happened after 25 minutes when the Mead levelled through Tom O'Connor's great low strike - Tom reacted quickest on the edge of the box to drill home after Vinesy slid the ball into his path superbly.
The game turned the Mead's way just past the half hour when the visitors were reduced to ten men when referee Green showed full back Josh Urquhart a straight red card for a horrendous kick out at Leon Smith.
Both sides now clearly believed that they could win the game and the second 45 minutes saw chances come and go at both ends as the two sides slugged it out almost like heavy-weight boxers.
Lewis was outstanding but mention has to be made also of the performances of those in front of him with Leon and Simon Glover immense at the heart of the Mead defence and with Tom and Bode Anidugbe covering so much room in the middle of the park that really was beyond belief. And it could have been so much better if Vinesy's 72nd minute header not thundered to safety off the underside of Billericay's cross bar.
The visitors had the chance late on to win the game when Theophanous beat his man on the left and found the tireless Robinson, only to be denied by yet another brilliant save by Lewis who went full-length to his left to make yet another incredible stop.
Honours even then, and both sides came away from what was a pulsating Cup-tie feeling frustrated, but as a well-respected Kent Bostik League manager was heard to comment after the game, “you (the Mead) should have won the game late on undoubtedly but the keeper (Lewis) was Man of the Match by a mile”!
Replay then on Tuesday at and whilst Billericay will again start as firm and possibly even stronger favourites than they did in this game, it does pay to expect the unexpected in what is after all the Greatest Cup Competition in the World...
THE MEAD - Carey, Brand, McIntyre, Anidugbe, Smith, Glover, Mendy, O'Connor, Teniola, Green
Updated 10:34 - 20 Sep 2017 by MIKE GREEN
Subs - Lutchford, Flack, Kwayie, Denny