Kingstonian visited New Lodge for a 3-2 defeat in which there was no doubting the honesty of the errors and endeavours on show.

Defensive lapses let in Billericay for an early two-goal advantage before both keepers spilled easy catches in a typically fraught Ryman Premier clash that also saw Kingstonian reduced to 10-men after Matt Somner’s second-half red card.

Ks looked out of shape and out of ideas in the opening period, with Charles Ofusu-Heyne struggling to make an impact down the right and talented left-winger Charlie Knight too often isolated in a lop-sided formation.

Last season’s player of the year, Matt Pattison, warmed the bench. Manager Alan Dowson seems understandably unwilling to play two flair players in a midfield four, though the early-season experiment with five in the middle might provide a solution.

Kingstonian’s bright young hope Daniel Sweeney returned from his trial at Ipswich Town but his mind may have been on higher things as two early errors by the 19-year-old, playing in his less favoured centre-back position, were clinically punished.

Callum Dunne evaded Sweeney to give Ricay the lead with a free header in the fourth minute before a slip by the former AFC Wimbledon midfielder let in Joey Benjamin soon after for a second.

“I knew that if Sweeney played well, it would be the best thing ever, and if he didn’t it would be thrown back at him that ‘he’s not a centre-half’,” said Dowson.

“But he was outstanding in defence against Met Police. He’s just had a bad day at the office. He was the youngest player on the pitch again.”

The awful start raised the spectre of Ks' last heavy defeat in Essex, a 6-0 battering in September 2011.

But to their credit, the away team edged their way back into the game through the pace and industry of Andre McCollin and the ever willing Knight.

On-loan midfielder Campbell made it 2-1 on the half-hour when Billy Lumley allowed a softly-struck volley through his gloves and into the net, prompting away fans to sarcastically wave five-pound notes in the air.

Just as Ks looked like pushing for an equaliser, Somner, a right-footed midfielder struggling once again to cope at left-back against one of the league’s better sides, lost patience with the tricky Junior Luke and lunged in wildly for a straight red.

The arrival of Matt Drage, inexplicably dropped for the second time in recent weeks, and the naturally left-sided Marcus Moodie, immediately gave Ks a better shape and even with 10 men they threatened to snatch a point until Rob Tolfrey spilled a corner and Isaac Layne took full advantage.

Moss scored a consolation goal with almost the last kick of the game but Ks were consigned to their third league loss of the season.

They are suddenly looking a soft touch again and that may herald a hard winter.

Ks host struggling Thamesmead Town next Sunday before kicking off their FA Trophy campaign away at Folkestone on October 19.