(Whitehawk, 24th Jan 2015, Vanarama South)
So we?re over 3 weeks into 2015, and already it?s provided a number of ups and downs for those involved here at Concord Rangers. We started the year with an impressive victory away at Bromley on New Years Day, which was a needed response after losing to them in emphatic fashion on Boxing Day, and the winning continued 3 days later at home to Staines Town with a 1-0 victory. Staines came into the game (and left) rooted to the bottom of the Conference South, but proved to be tough opposition on the day, just as you?d expect from any team in our league.
Then our away trips began, and first up was an FA Trophy last 32 clash at fellow Conference South side Hemel Hempstead Town. After beating Barnet in the First Round 6-2 in a replay, the prospect of facing another club in our league was one that we would have relished. However on the day it didn?t quite go to plan. Personally I wasn?t there, so can?t really comment on the performance, but from talking to those that were, it wasn?t the greatest and we were second best throughout. Hemel picked up a 3-1 victory to earn a place in the 3rd Round (at home to Torquay) whilst the Beachboys went home to lick their wounds.
Next up were Hemel?s local rivals St Albans City, the team we beat 1-0 to reach the FA Cup 1st Round last year. It was back to Clarence Park for the first time since that superb day back in October, but the similarities ended with that! It was a totally different Saints team that Concord encountered this time round, one with purpose, drive and determination. We were second to most balls, barely had a shot on target, and allowed ourselves to be bossed about by the more physical St Albans players. 2-0 was the score on the day, and it could have been more if it wasn?t for some fine ?keeping from Josh Vickers (who will now be a Beachboy till the end of the season).
A massive response was needed, and it would come against tough opposition this past Tuesday night in the Essex Senior Cup. Concord made the short trip down the A13 to Dagenham & Redbridge, the first time we?d been to the ground since winning the competition against Braintree last year. We?d also been there and beaten Dagenham before, coming back from 3-0 down to win 4-3, so the ground held good memories for the lads. The Daggers put out a strong side on the night, with former Hammer Zavon Hines being a standout name on their teamsheet. But our lads weren?t fazed at all, and put on a dogged, determined performance to take the lead twice (through Gardner & Stokes). Dagenham equalised both times with goals right out of the top drawer though, and penalties loomed.
Now in this competition so far this season we?ve played fixtures against Colchester United and Grays Athletic, both of which went to penalties where the lads obviously won through. Form was good in shootouts, and Tuesday night ended up being no exception. All 4 of our penalties were scored, we didn?t need a 5th though as Josh Vickers pulled off two excellent saves to send us into the Semi Finals for the 3rd year running. The draw will be made soon enough, but the three other QFs are yet to be played thanks to the inclement weather conditions recently!
So as you can see, ups and downs already and 2015 is barely a month old! Being a part of Concord Rangers is never dull, and I am looking forward to seeing what the rest of 2015 holds for the Beachboys!