BRIGHTLINGSEA Regent assistant boss Chris Smith felt his players could hold their heads high after losing 4-0 at Bostik League pacesetters Billericay Town.

The R's had won their previous three premier division fixtures but came up against a quality opponent who look bound to challenge for title honours this season.

Jake Robinson scored twice, sandwiching goals from Adam Cunnington and Jermaine Pennant, at the AGP Arena on Tuesday night.

However, Smith felt his players gave a decent account of themselves and were unlucky to lose so heavily.

"I didn't think it was a 4-0 game," he told the Gazette.

"But the reality is that we were up against a very, very good side.

"Billericay should walk this league.

"There's absolutely no reason why they shouldn't, but I thought we were competitive and gave them a game.

"It might have been a bit tighter, if Phil (Kelly) had managed to score from Freddie Gard's cross.

"Overall, though, we can't grumble and the quality of Jermaine Pennant's free-kick at the end typified what we were up against. Then again, he's someone who's played in a Champions League final."

Smith says the midweek defeat should not dent confidence levels heading into this weekend's rearranged match at Merstham.

"We said 'well done' to the boys afterwards," he said.

"There were positives and we can certainly go into our next game with realistic hopes of getting something, having won our previous three league games and played well.

"The boys gave everything but we came up against a side with more quality on the pitch.

"Our budget is one of the smallest in the league whereas Billericay's, by their own admission, is something like £33,000 (a week)."

Elsewhere, MALDON AND TIPTREE lost 2-1 at home to division north leaders AFC Hornchurch on Tuesday.

Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe was on target for them, either side of goals from the Urchins' Leon McKenzie and Bradley Warner.

WITHAM TOWN snatched a late equaliser to draw 1-1 at Dereham Town.

Daniel Beaumont had put the hosts ahead just before half-time but Ryan Imbert popped up with an 82nd-minute leveller for Adam Flint's side.

In-form HEYBRIDGE SWIFTS had been due to visit Canvey Island.

However, the match was postponed earlier in the day due to floodlight issues.