NICKY COWLEY says his first seven months as assistant manager at Concord have given him a new lease of life in football.

Rangers’ all-action midfielder was forced to hang up his boots in September because of a knee injury and he made the step up from a player-coaching role to No 2 to his older brother Danny.

That position became available after Glen Alzapiedi left to take over as manager at Ryman One North side Cheshunt and Nicky has fitted in perfectly, helping to guide the Beachboys to an unlikely crack at the Vanarama South play-offs and into the final of the Essex Senior Cup.

Despite the success, Nicky says it was a wrench to stop playing but admits life in the dugout has more than eased the blow.

He said: “It has been challenging as you would expect and I guess the toughest aspect is in doing to do the job to the best of your ability in part-time hours.

“But Dan and I put a lot into our training sessions and we work hard on preparing for our opponents so we try to get as much out of it as we can.

“I’m now doing much more coaching than I did before too, which is good because it is something I enjoy.

“But it was difficult to stop playing and I do still miss it occasionally. But I still feel very much part of the team and I can say that after a couple of frustrating results last weekend it feels every bit as frustrating as when you are playing.

“Equally the highs are just as good and we are lucky enough to have a had a few of them, so overall it has been a great opportunity and one I am thoroughly enjoying.”

Concord’s play-off hopes were hit by consecutive 1-0 defeats to Eastbourne and Hemel Hempstead over the Easter weekend and they will be looking to eat into the four-point gap to the top five when they go to bottom and already relegated Staines on Saturday.

Cowley said: “It was two close-margin games over Easter and were came out just on the wrong side when so many times this season we have been on the right side of those results when putting our good run together.

“We conceded against the run of play against Eastbourne but we had our chances and against Hemel we conceded from a set-piece, which we never like to do.

“And on Monday we also did not take advantage of them going down to ten men after about 40 minutes, and in a way it helped them become more resolute.

“But we are not expecting it to be any easier against Staines, despite where they are in the table. They beat Bromely recently, so that tells you everything you need to know about them.

“Their manager Nicky Forster has agreed to stay with them for next season and the players there will want to impress him and they are playing with a bit more freedom now so it will be another tough game, as they all are at this level.”