The Beachboys battled back to earn a point against Bishops Stortford on a blustery old afternoon at the Aspect Arena writes Chris Clark.
Concord Rangers lined up with a few changes from the Boxing Day trip to Ebbsfleet, with Steve King, Max Cornhill and Joe Gardner coming into the team, but it was the visitors who settled the quicker of the two sides. Bishops Stortford with the wind behind them in the first half pinned the Beachboys into their own half with a direct style of play, whilst it wasn’t pleasing on the eye it was certainly effective. The first twenty minutes of the game were attritional and anyone who had a heavy Christmas may well have dozed off. The effort was there from the players, but the game was lacking real quality. The visitors were on the front foot but they were struggling to create any worthwhile chances and it was only the trickery of Morgan Ferrier on the left wing who was causing Concord Rangers any trouble. Indeed it was the footwork of Ferrier which brought the game’s opening goal on thirty minutes. The winger chased after another aimless long ball into the Concord half and the ball held up in the sodden turf in the left hand channel, Ferrier just kept the ball in play and moved towards the Beachboys penalty area, he tricked his way past Steve King, and the centre back brought him down inside the box. It was a definite penalty. Elliott Buchanan who had earlier in the season hit a hat-trick against the Beachboys stepped up and rammed the spot kick home. The visitors had taken the lead in a dour half of football. In fact it’s a good opportunity to list the Beachboys chances in the first half…
The referee brought an end to a drab first half and Bishops Stortford had the lead, by the virtue of having a shot on target.
Concord Rangers 0 Bishops Stortford 1
Referee Ian Fissenden got the second half underway and immediately Concord pressed, the ball was played through to Steve Cawley whose snap-shot from eighteen yards was saved by Fitzsimons in the Stortford goal. In forty-two seconds of the second half, Concord had done more then they had in the entire first half! The wind however was blowing a gale and any deft play was impossible, so it was a case of trying to turn the Stortford defence at every opportunity and play the percentage game for the Beachboys and whilst Concord had the territorial advantage, chances were hard to come by. Stortford almost gave Concord a helping hand though on fifty-seven minutes…a wind assisted kick by McNamara was almost headed into his own net by the Stortford left back Herd, as his keeper Fitzsimons was stranded. Stortford it seemed were determined to let the Beachboys equalise, as Fitzsimons drop-kicked a clearance against the arse of his own defender…the ball fell to Steve Cawley who screwed his shot just wide.
In a rare sortie into the Concord half, Bishops Stortford earned a free kick on sixty-seven minutes. Twenty five yards out from goal and Buchanan fancied his chances of getting another, he stepped up and fired in a curling effort which hit the inside of the post and into the back of the net. The visitors had doubled their lead and led 2-0. The Beachboys needed a quick response, and boy they got it! A minute later one of the most unlikely players to hit a twenty five yard thunderbolt…Jay Dowie, did just that! It was a sublime effort from the energetic midfielder, as he pinged it in as Fitzsimons just stood and watched. The Beachboys were galvanised and it was very much game on. Concord pressed and pressed, it was wave after wave of attack. Steve King a centre back was replaced by Jordan Cox a striker. Stortford couldn’t get out their half as Concord surged forward. On seventy-seven minutes the Beachboys got their reward. A corner from Greenhalgh was headed in at the back post by former Stortford player Adam Bailey-Dennis and he celebrated wildly with the home fans behind the goal. It was 2-2 and Concord were in the ascendancy. On eighty-seven minutes Bailey-Dennis rose again from a corner but this time Fitzsimons was there to save the day. A minute later and Concord earnt a free kick thirty yards out. It seemed a long way out, but that didn’t deter captain James White, he stepped up confidently…however his curling effort just went wide. Into added time and it was Bishops Stortford who had the last talking point of the game, as Merrifield intercepted a loose pass and burst into the box, he was meet by right back James Hammond who put in a strong challenge…everyone looked at the referee…no penalty. It was definitely a 50/50 decision, and it was a heart in the mouth moment for the home fans.
The next time the referee blew the whistle was to signify full time. It was certainly an entertaining last twenty minutes, but for the Beachboys they will be wondering why they didn’t start the game with the intensity that they finished it.
Concord Rangers 2 (Dowie 68, Bailey-Dennis 77)
Bishops Stortford 2 (Buchanan 30(pen), 67)
McNamara, Hammond, Stephen, Bailey-Dennis, King (off 70mins Cox); White, Dowie, Gardner (off 63mins Taaffe), Cornhill, Greenhalgh; Cawley
Subs not used – Bantick, Lee, Easterford.