Blood and guts. Tackles flying in. Horrendous playing conditions. Players giving 100%. We all love football and today’s game was the reason why we love it.
The Beachboys entertained high-flying Ebbsfleet United at the Aspect arena this afternoon in driving rain and as has been the case for recent home games, a fierce wind. Both sides had faced each other on Boxing Day in which Ebbsfleet had edged the match 4-2, and manager Adam Flanagan stated “We took a lot of confidence from that game going into today. We pushed them more than they had expected on Boxing Day and if we hadn’t made some errors the result would have been very different.”
Concord certainly started the game in a positive mood looking to take the game to their table topping opponents, and Ben Greenhalgh restored to a more central role today, fired a snap shot over the bar after four minutes. Darting down the left hand side was Sam Bantick, and his direct running style and willingness to try and beat his man caused the Ebbsfleet right back all manor of problems during the game…however when Sam popped up on the right hand side after seven minutes, his left footed shot was deflected and Brandon Hall in the Ebbsfleet goal made a magnificent save. Concord with the wind at their backs were playing well. Pressing the ball high and with James White in centre midfield having beast mode activated the captain was even winning 30/70% balls. With Max Cornhill equally eager in the challenge, it was hard to see what side was actually the league leaders. On sixteen minutes Bantick was at it again, his direct approach forced the right back Matt Fish into his own box…Bantick dropped his shoulder, and fired a rasping effort which was tipped over by the excellent Hall.
It wasn’t until the half hour mark until Ebbsfleet threatened the Concord goal and a Charlie Sheringham shot from a cross was comfortably dealt with by McNamara in the Beachboys goal. However for Ebbsfleet this half chance was to be their only chance in a half dominated by Concord. Every single Concord player could be proud of their first half performance, but they knew the second half playing into the wind things would be a lot tougher.
Concord Rangers 0 Ebbsfleet 0
The second half got underway as the wind swept in off the Thames, and the pitch was getting increasingly sodden and it was certainly a test of the players stamina with this being the last game in a hectic Christmas and New Year period. Ebbsfleet were probing in the early stages of the half with Stuart Lewis becoming an increasing factor in the game in centre midfield and his link up play with the impressive Danny Kedwell was helping the visitors get a stranglehold of the game. However Concord were resolute, everyone of the players from the selfless running of Steve Cawley up front to the back four who blocked, header-ed and tackled everything which moved in the defensive third. The Beachboys would not be breached. Ebbsfleet despite dominating possession and having scored forty goals in away matches so far this season, could not create a worthwhile chance. The Beachboys were living off scraps up front, and it needed a lung bursting run from Ben Greenhalgh on fifty-nine minutes to relieve some pressure. Unfortunately for Greenhalgh the shot did not match the run. It was a case of digging in for Concord, Ebbsfleet are league leaders for a reason, and they were able to bring on quality like Danny Haynes in the second half, but the defence remained unbowed. “We were defensively excellent today. Arthur Lee came in and performed superbly, Kingy, Easterford and Hammond were brilliant. The lads in front, Whitey and Max Cornhill. Every player gave their all, we didn’t give up any chances against a top side.” Adam Flanagan commented after the game.
The last fifteen minutes of the game were tense, but Concord survived. Despite an almighty scramble in their area from a corner on seventy six minutes which was eventually cleared, Ebbsfleet struggled to create a worthwhile chance. In testing conditions the Beachboys had held the run-away league leaders to a draw and it is arguable that Concord had the better of the chances throughout the ninety minutes. The manager Adam Flanagan was a happy man after the final whistle.“This will prove to be a good point, yes we were under pressure in the second half but it was a good performance throughout and we can take a lot of positives from the performance.”
Concord Rangers 0 Ebbsfleet United 0
Team – McNamara, Hammond, Lee, King, Easterford;White (capt), Cornhill, Taaffe, Bantick (sub Dowie 75mins);Greenhalgh (sub Cox 71mins), Cawley (sub Thalassitis 87mins)
Subs not used – Stephen, Ranger.
Match Report – Chris Clark.