The Beachboys cruised into the semi finals of the Essex Senior Cup after comfortably dispatching their Conference South rivals on a bitterly cold night at the Aspect Arena, writes Chris Clark.
Due to the wintery weather in recent weeks, this was the Beachboy’s first game since an impressive home performance against the league leaders Ebbsfleet, and as the players took to the field in freezing conditions it took them a few minutes to get to the pace of the game. In fact, Chelmsford had their best chance of the game on five minutes when a long throw by the full back Peter was half cleared to Harry Morgan who volleyed wide from twelve yards…he should have hit the target. This was to prove Chelmsford’s best chance of a one-sided affair.
Concord soon got into the swing of things, with captain James White dictating matters in the centre of midfield with some astute passing and a couple of efforts from the edge of the box on ten and thirteen minutes. Concord were beginning to get a stranglehold and were probing behind the Chelmsford back line constantly, it was no surprise when it was a through ball that lead to the Beachboys opening goal on sixteen minutes. Steve Cawley who had his own mid-season break played a one-two with Lewis Taaffe and Cawley was in…Brown the Chelmsford keeper rushed off his line to block, but the ball fell to Taaffe ten yards out, and with a little shimmy he placed the ball in the back of the net. Concord lead 1-0, and Taaffe had scored his tenth goal of the season from right midfield, an impressive effort.
Chelmsford were struggling to get any momentum, their players were constantly offside and any high ball played up to their centre forward was being gobbled up by Bailey-Dennis and Kingy. Concord doubled their lead on twenty-three minutes…a free kick out wide was played short to Ben Greenhalgh who whipped the ball in with his expert delivery and arriving unmarked in the box to head home from six yards was Max Cornhill. It was 2-0 and even at this early stage it was hard to see how Chelmsford could get back in the game, they just weren’t at the races.
One of the highlight’s of the first half came on thirty-three minutes when again a raking through ball from midfield found Steve Cawley in space, Cawley was wide of the box on the right hand side about twenty-two yards out…but that didn’t deter Steve, he unleashed a thunderous right footed half-volley which crashed against the outside of the near post with Brown in the Chelmsford goal hoping and praying that the ball missed the target.
The chances kept on coming for the Beachboys and a clumsy foul on the edge of the box, gave them a free kick twenty yards from goal…Greenhalgh territory. Ben stepped up and curled his effort over the wall, however it was always just a few inches too high and it clipped the top of the visitors bar.
The referee blew the whistle for half time and Concord were firmly on top and Chelmsford were glad that they were only trailing by two.
Concord 2 Chelmsford 0
As the second half got underway the weather had taken it’s hold on the pitch and it was getting increasingly bobbly in certain areas of the pitch, and it required that the players played to the conditions underfoot and dealt with the football promptly and efficiently. Concord should have extended their lead in the opening minute of the second half, as Taaffe had a shot saved by Brown and Greenhalgh rushing in for the rebound stabbed over the bar from ten yards, you could see from the disappointment on Ben’s face that he knew he should have at least hit the target.
The Beachboys kept up their dominance through the opening stages of the second half, as Chelmsford just could not come to terms with their opposition, centre back McAuley was brought into midfield to add more of a presence, but White and Cornhill were prepared and nullified his threat.
On sixty-two minutes, good play by the Chelmsford centre forward Bricknell led to their only shot on target in the whole game. The travelling fans cheered ironically as Bricknell’s shot was comfortably saved by Ben McNamara, the Chelmsford supporters knew that their side had been outplayed.
Max Cornhill had a header cleared off the line on seventy minutes from another dead ball by Greenhalgh. If it had gone in, no-one could have no complaints as Concord had dominated this game after the opening five minutes of play. With Cornhill’s timing of runs into the box and his aerial prowess, it could be argued that Cornhill is very much a non-league Frank Lampard! The Beachboys are certainly blessed with midfielders who can find the back of the net, and it’s great to get goals from all areas of the team.
Chelmsford tried to press in the last fifteen minutes, but Concord were resolute and both full backs Hammond and Stephen had excellent games. It was hard to find a Beachboy who didn’t have a good game. Jay Dowie came on for the closing stages of the game, and he decided to tackle everything that moved. I suppose being on the bench on a freezing night, when you get on you need an all-action display to warm yourself up!
The referee blew his whistle as the fans starting to regain the feeling in their hands and toes, and the Beachboys moved into the last four of the Essex Senior Cup and a determination to do the three-peat in this competition.
Concord Rangers 2 (Taaffe 16, Cornhill 23)
Chelmsford City 0
Line up – McNamara, Hammond, Stephen, King, Bailey-Dennis; White (c), Cornhill, Bantick, Taaffe; Greenhalgh, Cawley (off 75mins Dowie)
Subs not used – Lee, Easterford, Topley, Newell.