It was a historical night this past Tuesday at Dagenham & Redbridge as Concord Rangers recorded their third Essex Senior Cup win in as many years, beating Heybridge Swifts by a goal to nil.
The game started as many thought it would, with the underdog Swifts soaking up the Concord pressure and remaining resolute at the back. The early pressure though paid off quickly as Sam Bantick’s shot was parried by the Swifts ‘keeper right into the path of Ben Greenhalgh, who calmly slotted the ball into the back of the net to make it 1-0 after just 13 minutes.
It may have taken another 10 to 15 minutes for the scoreboard to respond to the goal (which was started 5 minutes late anyway), but Heybridge were not so slow. The speed of Lamar Reynolds was already showing moments of danger when going forward, and it was a long ball forward which helped earn Swifts a corner a few minutes after the goal. The corner swung in and after what looked like some confusion, the ball fell to Lewis Godbold, who was unlucky to fire his shot directly into the arms of Concord ‘keeper Ben McNamara.
A quick counter attack followed soon after and the Concord fans were on their feet as Bantick was played through to a one on one with the Swifts stopper Sambridge, fully expecting him to score, however the shot smashed into the post leaving Banno and the Beachboys disappointed.
It looked as though the floodgates could open with that attack, however Heybridge were determined to make this a competitive game, and that’s exactly what they did, putting numbers behind the ball and neutralising the Concord counter attacking threat.
The second half saw the relegation threatened Ryman One North side take the initiative and attack with intent, again utilising the pace & talent of Reynolds and Jack Barham to test the Beachboys defensive line.
Steve Cawley managed to work in a rare second half chance for Concord, using his strength to beat a Swifts defender, but the Heybridge ‘keeper was more than up to the challenge and used his feet to keep the game close.
As time wore on, the Swifts had the bit between their teeth and knew that an equaliser would give them the momentum going in to what would be a decisive penalty shootout after 90 minutes. Both Reynolds and Barham were impressive as chances were created, but ultimately they were all denied by Ben McNamara, who kept another clean sheet in the Concord goal.
The final whistle was met with cheers and applause from the Concord fans, but the Swifts faithful were just as vocal, as they had been all game long.
History was made, Concord Rangers became the first team since Leytonstone in 1967 (the year of Concord Rangers formation) to win the Essex Senior Cup three years in a row.
(Report by Alan Jessup-Peacock)
Concord Rangers: McNamara; Dowie, King, Easterford, Stephen; Taaffe, Cornhill, White, Bantick (Collins 84); Greenhalgh, Cawley.
Heybridge Swifts: Sambridge; Doyle, Anderson, Thomas, Emsden; Dark, Pooley, Godbold; Reynolds, Barham, Alleyne (Duyile 81).