The Beachboys and their high flying visitors played out a belting game of football to warm up the hardy souls who braved the icy wind’s roaring through the Aspect Arena writes Chris Clark.
Hampton & Richmond arrived at the Aspect with an unbeaten away record in the League, whilst Concord had won their last two league games against Poole and Gosport. Concord lined up with Jordan Chiedozie as the lone striker with Steve Cawley moving to the right wing, and new boy Lyle Delle-Verde on the left wing. It was the visitors though who started the strongest with their captain Jamal Lowe dictating play in what appeared to be a free role. Lowe was finding pockets of space and using it to good effect. Hampton & Richmond were not afraid to whip quality balls into the Concord box, and the Beachboys had to defend resolutely as the crosses rained in. The quality of crosses during the game from both sides was impeccable, and both back four’s were kept busy throughout.
Hampton had the first real chance on eleven minutes, again it was that man Lowe who found more space and a low drive was tipped away by Bailey Vose in the Concord goal. A few minutes later and Vose was called into action again, as Kabamba twisted in the box and Vose got down low to save. Concord needed to break the pressure and through Rob Girdlestone they found a novel way of doing it. A Hampton cross was blocked by Girdlestone with a unmentionable part of his body, and he went down. On a cold day like this, it was a painful blow. Girdlestone stayed down for a few minutes and then gingerly got to his feet. After this break in play Concord created their first chance on twenty minutes. Down the right hand side, Cawley, Chiedozie and Collins linked up. Cawley played a Messi like lob pass to the through-running Collins, and Sammy’s neat shot was saved at the near post by Grainger in the Hampton goal.
It was Concord who took the lead on twenty-six minutes. Again it came from Concord’s right hand side. Sam Collins stood over a free kick and whipped in a delightful ball, the Hampton right back Jelley wobbled under the pressure and guided a header into his own net. Grainger stood no chance. Concord had the lead.
Hampton roared back into action, as a observer they are a good side and you could see why they sat 3rd in the league and were unbeaten away from home. Brendon Kiernan was the next to test Vose in the Concord goal on thirty minutes, but Vose was again up to the job keeping the ball out. Vose throughout was backed up by his defence, who were quicker to every rebound in the Concord box and cleared the danger.
Right on half-time Hampton had a chance to draw level. A free kick was awarded on the edge of the Concord box and Josh Casey left foot-ed curled it round the wall, but again Vose was there to palm it away, the on-rushing Christian Jolley on the follow up could only lift it way over the bar. At the break, Concord led 1-0 fortuitously, but they lead nevertheless!
Concord 1 Hampton & Richmond 0
Hampton started the second half on the front foot again and were enjoying spells of possession, but on fifty minutes Concord broke away. Rob Girdlestone was in space on that Concord right hand side again, and he whipped in a brilliant cross, it was begging to be tucked away…and it was…Jordan Chiedozie on the far post buried it. Chiedozie fresh from signing a new contract, had bagged another goal. The boy is on fire!
Concord had a 2-o lead. It was harsh on the visitors, but Concord had taken their chances when they had fallen to them. The visitors made some changes to get themselves back into the game, and it paid off on the hour. After some intense pressure in the Concord box, the ball fell to Hampton’s star man Lowe and he slid the ball into the Concord net. Hampton had reduced the deficit and it was very much game on.
Hampton kept on piling forward, their two wide men were whipping crosses in at every opportunity, and Concord were having to dig deep to keep them out. On sixty-eight minutes Kamamba unleashed a wicked volley from just inside the box, it rattled the Concord bar and then clipped the post…Concord were staying ahead but only just!
A few minutes later and Kiernan rose from a corner and he planted a header against the Concord bar. Hampton were ruing their luck, but Concord were fighting like mad to keep hold of the advantage their own enterprising attacking play had earned them.
Into the last ten minutes and Hampton were beginning to get anxious in their play. Long gone was the intricate play which had seen them at times dominate possession, now the ball was being flung into the Concord box at every opportunity. This however suited Ekpiteta, White and Norman perfectly. I don’t think the three of them missed a clearing header all match. In fact my ears are still ringing from James booming out “Whitey’s!” at every opportunity.
Whilst Hampton were getting desperate, Concord were being more astute in their break’s out of defence. All game Chiedozie did not stop running and his persistent play was wearing down the Hampton defence. Chiedozie bothered and badgered the full backs and his link up play especially with Cawley and Collins was superb throughout the game, and in the later stages earned Concord free kicks and well earned time in the Hampton half.
As the game winded down into injury time, the home fans were baying for the referee to blow his whistle. We seemed to play more time than was actually added on, and this played on the home fans nerves. Finally referee Lloyd Wood blew the final whistle and Concord had taken all three points in a brilliant advert for National League South football.
Concord Rangers 2 (Jelley (og) 26, Chiedozie 50)
Hampton & Richmond (Lowe 60)
Team – Vose, Girdlestone, Wyatt, Ekpiteta, White(c); Norman, Dowie, Collins; Cawley, Delle-Verde (Laucys 87);Chiedozie
Subs Not Used – Carlos, Stokes, Topley, Gordon