The Beachboy’s unbeaten start to 2016, came to a crashing halt as St Albans fought back from a goal down to take all three points at the Aspect Arena writes Chris Clark.
St Alban’s although in the bottom three of the Conference South are a rejuvenated side under Ian Allinson, and they posed Concord a stern threat as the game got underway on a cold March afternoon on Canvey Island. St Albans sprang a surprise by playing three out and out attackers and the visitors were getting the ball from defence to attack as quickly as they could. The Beachboys were struggling to get into the game in the early stages, and the referee’s insistence that every 50/50 challenge was a foul, was making the opening stages very stop start and scrappy. It wasn’t until the fifteenth minute that Concord exerted some pressure on the St Albans goal, and this led to them winning a free kick on the right hand side. Ben Greenhalgh took it with his wand of a left foot, and all Steve King had to do was put his head on it from six yards out to give the Beachboy’s the lead. The goal galvanised Concord and they looked for a second quickly, but Greenhalgh after a jinking run, had his shot easily saved by Welch on twenty minutes. The visitors whilst having plenty of possession in the Concord half were struggling to create anything, in fact their most dangerous weapon was captain Lee Chappell’s long throw…it was Rory Delap-esque. As so often the game changed on two key moments in quick sucession. Firstly on thirty-seven minutes a great Concord move down the right, and Hammond’s teasing cross was headed by Max Cornhill back across goal…Welch was rooted to his spot in the St Albans goal, but Max’s header just went wide of the far post. A minute later and St Albans were level. The visitors won a corner, and Concord neglected to mark the St Albans centre back Ben Martin, and he headed home from eight yards to bring the game level.
Both sides scrapped hard for every ball in the few minutes to half time, but the referee brought a tight first half to a close with the sides level.
Concord Rangers 1 St Albans 1
The second half got underway, and St Albans immediately pressed with the wind behind their backs and it required a great bit of covering from Tom Stephen on forty-seven minutes to stop a goal-scoring opportunity for the visitors. Louie Thephanous then made his intentions clear for the second half, by firing shots just over on forty-nine and fifty minutes. St Albans were carrying the greater threat with their three forwards stretching the Concord defence, but the Beachboys were digging in. As the half wore on Concord slowly began to work their way back into the game, but they just could not find the killer pass around the St Albans area. Lewis Taaffe on fifty-six minutes was well placed in the box, and squared the ball when maybe he could have pulled the trigger himself. Then Steve Cawley was out wide on the right hand side and his in-swinging cross was nearly met by the on-rushing Sam Collins on the hour. Concord were probing but just lacked that little bit of composure. A delightful link-up between Tom Stephen, who by the way was excellent all game, and Ben Greenhalgh, found the Concord front man in the box….his cross was played just behind the on rushing…Cawley, then Cornhill and finally Collins on seventy minutes. It was proving to be one of those days up front for the Beachboys. It was getting to the stage that it was either going to be something spectacular or a mistake to win the points for either of these sides. First to try the spectacular was Max Cornhill whose dipping volley from twenty yards just went over Welch’s bar with the St Albans keeper beaten. St Albans had a goal disallowed from one of Chappell’s long throws on eighty-two minutes, as Eddie Oshodi turned the ball home, but referee Ian Cooper had long blown his whistle for an infringement.
Steve Cawley fired a shot straight at Welch, after good work by substitute Sam Bantick down the right hand side on eighty-seven minutes. The Beachboys just didn’t have their shooting boots on today. As it appeared the game would end in a hard fought and probably fair draw…Louie Theophanous had other ideas on eighty-nine minutes. The St Albans striker picked up the ball twenty-five yards out and leathered a right foot shot past the despairing McNamara in the Concord goal. It was a wonderful strike deserving to win any game, and it certainly did for St Albans as referee Cooper called an end to the game after a couple of minutes of injury time in which the Beachboys couldn’t find a goal-scoring opportunity.
The unbeaten run had come to an end, but the Beachboys had faced a team in great form who will definitely not be relegated this season.*
Concord Rangers 1 (King 16)
St Albans 2 (Martin 38, Theophanous 89)
McNamara, Hammond, Stephen, King (c), Easterford;Dowie, Cornhill, Taaffe, Collins (sub Bantick 74mins);Greenhalgh, Cawley
Subs not used – Lampe, Topley, Dsane, Young
Match Report by Chris Clark
*In the writer’s opinion!