Wealdstone paid a heavy price for a dramatic penalty save early on as they were beaten 1-0 at Billericay Town after an evenly balanced and closely fought encounter at the AGP Arena on Saturday.

With both sides going into the game unbeaten, Stones could have turned the ultimate outcome of the match in their favour when they were awarded a clear spot kick after only 14 minutes when Dean Inman fouled in the area.

Stevenage loanee Joe White confidently stepped up the take the penalty but his effort was well read by Alan Julian, who got down to his right to comfortably make the save.

Prior to the penalty, Bobby Wilkinson’s men had looked the better and more enterprising side and attacked with real threat, with Bradley Hudson-Odoi particularly causing problems for the expensively assembled and powerful home side.

Billericay’s talismanic striker Jake Robinson was always going to be a big threat to the Stones backline and he shot wide of the target soon after the missed spot kick.

Perhaps inevitably, the Blues capitalised on a chance and it came after 32 minutes. Robinson picked up Danny Waldren’s through ball and confidently stroked his finish past an exposed Jonathan North to give the hosts the lead against the run of play.

Stones found the home back line a hard nut to crack but kept plugging away after the break.

Hudson-Odoi came off injured and was replaced by striker Bradley Bubb, who had destroyed the Blues in the FA Trophy the previous season and he immediately looked lively.

Freddie Grant was brought down right on the edge of the box but hit the resultant free-kick over the bar on the hour, before a dangerous break from Joe Kizzi ended with a shot that North expertly tipped onto the bar with Adam Coombs very close to latching onto the rebound.

The visitors piled forward in an attempt to peg back the home side and created several good chances to level.

The best scoring opportunity fell to the ever-busy David Pratt, who saw his low strike confidently dealt with by substitute keeper Louis Wells with White having earlier seen a couple of glancing headers go wide.

Wilkinson’s men face another tough test tonight when a strong Woking outfit visit the Vale for a 7.45pm kick off.

Wealdstone: North, Tyler, Grant, Stevens, Okimo, Poku, Monakana, Ahmidi, Pratt, White, Hudson-Odoi. Subs used: Bubb, Green, Mambo. Not used: Wilson, Clark.