Concord Rangers FC vs Leamington FC
Saturday 8th February 2020

On Saturday Concord Rangers welcomed Leamington FC to the Aspect Arena for one of the biggest matches in the club’s history. This was the furthest the beachboys have ever reached in the competition, and an impressive turnout from both sets of fans provided an electric atmosphere for the special occasion as both teams were eager to take one step closer to Wembley.

Concord’s starting XI included Chris Haigh, David Olufemi, Nathan Carlyle, Billy Roast, Lee Minshull, Aron Pollock, Lamar Reynolds, Ben Wells, Kit Elliot, James Blanchfield and Joel Nouble. The substitutes were Jack Cawley, Danny Green, Decarrey Sheriff, Michael O’Donoghue, Alex Hernandez, Ben Search and Archie McFadden,

It only took 5 minutes for Concord to gain an advantage, after Elliot won the ball in the Leamington half before carrying it down the right wing and crossing it into Lamar Reynolds who’s header was sent directly into the top right corner of the goal.

Reynolds came close again later in the half as Blanchfield received the ball and passed it into the penalty area where it met the feet of Elliot, who then sent it out to the left where Reynolds ran onto it before making a low driven shot which was saved by the Leamington goalkeeper and then cleared by the defence.

Leamington didn’t create too many chances to challenge Haigh in goal within the first 45, however they came close to equalizing the score at the half hour mark when Dunbar broke forward and went through on goal, however his shot smashed against the side netting.

Following the goal, there were not many chances that really stretched either goalkeeper, leaving the scoreline for the first half remaining at 1-0 to the beachboys.

Half Time: Concord Rangers 1-0 Leamington FC

The beachboys were awarded a free kick early in the second half as Blanchfield was taken down outside of the Leamington penalty area by English, who then received a yellow card. Nouble stepped up to take the kick, however his ball into the box went straight into the hands of Weaver in goal. Minutes later, Reynolds almost scored another as he latched onto a poor backpass from Mace, but unfortunately he was unable to take the ball around the goalkeeper.

Despite Concords positive play, Leamington found their equalizer in the 60th minute after a corner was sent into the box and cleared by the Concord defence, but it only fell into the path of Stephen Morley, whose half volley flew into the top right corner of the goal.

Haigh prevented Leamington from taking the lead with 15 minutes to go after making a superb save as the attacker’s header was directed towards the top right corner. There was further drama in the following minutes as Nouble was taken down after a very poor challenge from English, who was then given his second yellow and sent into the changing rooms.

Leamington came close once again in the final minutes as Storer broke through the Concord defence, Haigh was able to come forward and win the ball, however got hurt in the process. Luckily, he was able to continue.

As the score was all tied up at the end of the 90 minutes, the game went into extra time.

The intensity continued into the final 30 minutes of the game, and the beachboys regained their lead 5 minutes into the extra time period as Elliot played the ball through to Sheriff, who went down following a challenge from the goalkeeper, however the ball fell straight to Blanchfield who took advantage of the fact that the goalkeeper was off of his line, and chipped the ball into the goal from 20 yards out.

Leamington took their chance and equalized just before the midway point of extra time as the ball was headed into the path of Maycock in the penalty area before he managed to tap the ball past Haigh and into the goal.

Full Time: Concord Rangers 2-2 Leamington FC

As the game could not be settled in the 120 minutes, the final stage was to go to penalties.

The beachboys scored their first whilst Leamington’s first smashed off of the crossbar.
Concord’s second penalty was also shot against the crossbar whilst Leamington’s was scored.
Both teams scored their third and fourth penalties.

Then it came down to the fifth and final penalty, which was buried into the bottom right corner by Decarrey Sheriff for the beachboys. The Leamington player then stepped up for the final penalty and aimed towards the left of the goal, however the shot was brilliantly saved by Haigh, stimulating triumphant celebrations from the home fans and staff, who then ran onto the pitch to celebrate with the winning team.

Another incredible victory from the beachboys sees them continue to write history by making it into quarter finals of the FA Trophy and taking one step closer to the final, held at the home of English football, Wembley stadium. Everyone who put on that yellow and blue shirt put in a superb performance in a very important game, and it would be fair to say that the victory on Saturday was a well deserved one for Danny Scopes and the team.

Millie Hawkins