TONY STOKES admits it felt great to have his old strike partner Harry Elmes back involved with Concord’s first team on Saturday.
Elmes has battled back from a career-threatening broken leg and went on loan with his former club Waltham Abbey in early October to continue his rehabilitation.
He scored four goals in eight appearances for the Ryman One North Abbotts and was back on the bench for the Vanarama South Beachboys in their goalless draw at home to Sutton on the weekend.
It was his first time back with Danny Cowley’s first team since he suffered the terrible injury in February 2013.
Rangers skipper Stokes and Elmes formed a formidable partnership for the island side in the Ryman Premier and now the former West Ham man would love to see them recapture the magic.
Stokes said: “Harry trained with us on Tuesday and Thursday but it was great to have him there on matchday again because he was such a big part of that successful Ryman side.
“I think we both joined the same year and we did work well together and scored a few goals.
“It was a real shame what happened to him but his injury drove us on to win promotion that year and also a cup – we did it for him really.
“And now we both want to try and force our way back into the side. But it is hard because our strikers have been doing well.
“It’s been a tough year for me personally but I have had 11 starts and I have got nine goals so all I can do is keep working hard.
“And it would be great if we could both get back to playing up front together this season and we’ll be trying to do that.”
Elmes and Stokes were on the bench for Saturday’s draw with Sutton and both will be pushing for starts when increasingly fierce local rivals Chelmsford City visit the Aspect Arena on Tuesday (kick-off 7.45pm).
The Clarets won this fixture 3-1 last season after the teams had played out a 2-2 at the start of the campaign. But Rangers knocked them out of last year’s county cup and beat them 1-0 in the reverse fixture this year to set up an intriguing encounter on Canvey Island this week.
City start in sixth place and eight points above 11th-placed Rangers, but Concord have three games in hand.
Stokes said: “I’m expecting a tough and passionate game.
“Both sets of fans always have a little bite at each other and that only adds to it all and I am sure it will be a great atmosphere.
“But we are in a really good place right now and unbeaten in four so hopefully we can keep that going.”
* Concord often get branded a ‘physical side’ but their fine record in the Vanarama South’s disciplinary table continued this week with news they have the fifth best record with 43 yellows and two red cards so far this season. St Albans lead the ‘bad boys’ stakes with 65 cautions and seven dismissals.