Concord Rangers welcomed much fancied Hemel Hempstead for their first game of the season, and it was the Beachboys who came out of the traps early. In fact Concord will be disappointed that they didn’t open the scoring in the opening 15 minutes. Lewis Taaffe who was a constant thorn in the Hemel defence throughout the match nearly scored with a stooping header after three minutes, but a brilliant save by Walker kept Lewis out.
It was Taaffe again, who nearly opened the scoring on eleven minutes, as a low drive was tipped away by Walker, it just avoided the on-rushing Cox as he was following up like any good striker should. Concord were pressing, but Walker was proving a tough man to beat.
Concord were winning most of the second balls in centre midfield, and Harry Lee and Amos Nasha were dominant. In fact the opening thirty minutes were one way traffic, but Hemel dug in and slowly as the half proceeded the visitors starting edging themselves into the game.
It was nearly one of Concord’s old boys who nearly broke the deadlock for the visitors. Concord are fully aware of Ben Greenhalgh’s set piece quality, and on thirty-seven minutes one of his trademark free kick’s was well saved low down by Louis Wells.
The final chance of the half fell to that man Taafe again, as Kyron Farrell whipped in a great free kick…it fell to Taaffe on the volley but he blazed it over. A good entertaining half of football was brought to an end by the referee Richardson.
Concord Rangers 0
Hemel Hempstead 0
The second half got underway and it was the visitors who created an excellent chance after forty-nine minutes; Charlie Sheringham wriggled past the centre back’s and he should have scored, but Wells was well down to save. To be honest, he shouldn’t have had the opportunity.
Hemel were made to pay for that missed chance, as Concord opened the scoring a minute later. A long ball forward was flicked on by Jordan Cox, and Steve Cawley was in acres of space inside the area. The captain made no mistake as he lashed the ball home. Concord led 1-0.
Concord should have doubled their lead on fifty-five minutes, as Cox muscled his way past Hamblin and when composure was called for, Cox went for power and the ball was fired wildly off target from twelve yards.
The Beachboys made a change after an hour, and Steve Cawley was brought off and Dexter Peter came on. Concord moved to three centre backs. This invited Hemel Hempstead on, and Concord were content to play on the break. I won’t say that the last thirty minutes was fraught, but Concord blocked and headed every ball that was delivered into their final third.
Hemel pressed and pressed, but they didn’t really create any chances to talk off. Hemel appeared to have a good claim for a penalty after seventy-five minutes as Peter challenged Osborn in the box. However referee Richardson was un-moved as Hemel’s players and staff screamed frantically at him.
Into the closing stages, and the tension was rife at the Aspect Arena, Concord’s fans and player’s knew how vital it was to start the season with a home win. As the game moved into injury time, Hemel finally had a chance. The ball was swung into the back post, and a header across goal just went wide off the far post.
The referee brought proceedings to an end, and Concord had held on for a vital three points.
Concord Rangers 1 (Cawley 50)
Hemel Hempstead 0
Team – Wells, Girdlestone, Brown, Lee, King, Roast, Taaffe (Knight), Nasha (Topley), Cox, Cawley (Peter), Farrell
Subs not used – Da Costa