Billericay's pitch was tricky, admits Bath City skipper Jim Rollo
Bath City's play-off push was halted by a surprise and undeserved defeat on a poor-quality pitch at Billericay.
The visitors were forced into late changes after Aaron Brown and Josh Low both failed to make the side through sickness and injury respectively.
Kerry Morgan and club captain Jim Rollo earned recalls in a re-arranged City line-up, while Charlie Griffin started in place of Sean Canham.
It was Rollo's first league start since October and the 36-year-old confessed he found the going difficult at times.
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"It's not easy coming back in, although not because of fitness, which you can keep up," he said. "It's more about being mentally prepared and making good decisions.
"You can find yourself in positions where you have not made a decision for a while and get it wrong."
It was also not easy for City on a surface that more resembled a municipal park than a modern football pitch, although that did not exactly come as a surprise to Rollo.
"We did have an idea of what the pitch might be like and we discussed it at training on Thursday night," he said.
"In my very first season at City I played here against Chelmsford so I knew the pitch was not conducive to our kind of football.
"We have been spoilt in the last couple of years, playing in the Conference on some beautiful surfaces."
It took City some time to get into their stride but they had the first real chance for either side on 25 minutes.
Noah Keats released Morgan on the left and he put in a great cross for Griffin, whose close-range shot was well saved by Billericay keeper Nathan McDonald.
After that, Chris Allen and Tom Nichols both went close, while Adam Connolly saw a piledriver cannon off the home defence.
Yet, as so often this season, all of City's endeavours were undone by some weak defending as Billericay's Jay May converted Dave Collis' cross.
"We didn't really squeeze the man in possession and the lad got in behind me and got a free header," admitted Rollo.
With five minutes left before the interval it was a tough time for City to concede. And the pattern was repeated in the second half, with profligacy in front of goal matched by errors at the back.
With 15 minutes to go Morgan again cut loose down the left flank. He put in a perfect cross for unmarked substitute Sean Canham who, with the goal at his mercy, could only fire against McDonald.
Seconds later Allen hit the upright and Billericay, buoyed by the twin let-off, began to come back into the game.
They secured the points when a left-wing free-kick came across the area and the otherwise impeccable Jason Mellor called for it but failed to get there, leaving Rob Swaine to head home.
It was a depressing end to a reasonable performance from City but Rollo was quick to come to his team's defence.
"You need to remember this is mostly a young side," he said. "Jason is young, as is Noah Keats, Danny Ball, Chrissy Allen and Tom [Nichols]. They are all learning their trade.
"Playing on a pitch like this should make them strive to play at a higher level on better pitches.
"However, I am not sure whether I will be playing with them, more likely playing with their dads," he added.
"I am 36 now, I look at other players who have played until 38 or 39 and I hope that I can do that. I read a good quote , 'if you are not in the team make sure the player who is in your position gets player of the year'.
"I know there are not that many years left but I still have a winning drive left in me. When I heard Billericay singing and chanting in their dressing room after they have won, it really got to me.
"If I lose that feeling, then I know it will be time to hang my boots up."