It’s a sweet little mystery how Concord didn’t score more in wet, wet, wet conditions but the Beachboys won’t be complaining as they stormed to a comprehensive victory over Basingstoke.
The game kicked off after an impeccably observed minutes silence, and both sides were struggling in the early stages as the rain lashed down, and the wind swept in. It wasn’t pretty as both teams adapted in the blustery conditions. It was tight and chances were certainly at a premium in the opening twenty minutes, barring a Ben Greenhalgh snap shot and a long range drive by Sole of Basingstoke, there wasn’t much to write about…so we won’t!
Into the later stages of the half and Concord began to get on top, on thirty-seven minutes a lovely turn by Ben Greenhalgh gave himself a chance to attack the Basingstoke defence, a great lay-off and Lewis Taaffe was in…hard and low is normally good enough from fourteen yards, but the out-stretched leg of Howe in the Basingstoke goal diverted the ball away for a corner. Concord pressed again, and this time Joe Gardner was free in the box, he leathered, and I mean leathered his shot at goal…however it deflected off the Basingstoke defender and flew over the bar, from the resulting corner Max Cornhill’s free header was easily saved by Howe. Concord were getting on top, but they went into the half time break level.
Concord Rangers 0 Basingstoke 0
Into the second half and Concord immediately pressed, straight onto the attack, passing and moving, this was a time high in confidence. Lewis Taaffe burst into the Basingstoke box and was clipped from behind…Penalty! No argument’s from the Basingstoke players, it was blatant. Steve Cawley stepped up and banged the spot-kick hard and low to the keeper’s right. Concord deservedly led 1-0 after forty-seven minutes.
Buoyed by the early goal, Concord came again. Basingstoke struggling to get out of their own half, the ball was astutely headed on by Joe Gardner to Steve Cawley in the box…Howe rushed from his goal…Cawley cheekily lobbed the ball over the keeper into the empty net…it was 2-0 as people were still taking their seats for the second half. The Beachboys were on fire!
Concord swarmed forward time after time, it was one-way traffic. Basingstoke at times were their own worst enemies, there was some shocking defending on show from the visitors. Any ball, and I mean any ball behind the Basingstoke defence was causing the alarm bells to ring. On sixty-four minutes Steve Cawley raced onto a through ball un-opposed…swept in a great cross and Lewis Taaffe threw himself full stretch (which isn’t that long if you know Lewis :-)) and his diving header flew just wide of the post with the keeper beaten.
The lads were coasting and it was soon 3-0 when Ben Greenhalgh created himself a shooting opportunity eighteen yards out from goal and fired the ball expertly into the keeper’s far corner. Ben made it look simple, but it was far from it. Basingstoke were going under, but for Concord they were enjoying the visitors sweet surrender.
Greenhalgh on seventy-five minutes looked to repeat the trick, but this time Howe was wise to the forward’s ideas and turned the ball wide for a corner. The dead ball was swung in, and James White was pulled in the box..was it…yes…another penalty! Steve Cawley grabbed the ball. This was his chance for his first hat-trick in Concord colours. Steve stepped up…and smashed it into the bottom corner. It was 4-0, Cawley had three, but Steve would admit he couldn’t have done it without a little help from his friends.
The Beachboys however saved the best till last. On eighty-eight minutes Max Cornhill picked the ball up thirty-five yards from goal, dropped his shoulder, then smashed a fantastic strike into the top corner. It was a complete and utter Thunderbastard of a goal. It was 5-0 and Concord in the second half had played champagne football. For the fans who had braved the horrible conditions, it was a half of football that will be talked about for a long long time.
Concord Rangers 5 Basingstoke 0
McNamara, Hammond, Stephen, Lee, Bailey-Dennis; White (c), Cornhill, Gardner, Taaffe (sub 75mins Bantick), Greenhalgh (sub 78mins Ranger), Cawley
Subs not used – Bowles, Cox, King.
Match Report by Chris Clark