Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Four Games In

The 2012/2013 Ryman Premier League season is around 12 days old, and during the first 10 of those Concord Rangers had a tough set of 4 games. I was lucky enough to be at 2 of them, but to be honest after a solid pre-season I think as a whole we were expecting a lot more from them.

Opening day saw newly promoted Bognor Regis Town make their way to the Aspect Arena, after coming up through the playoffs in the Ryman South last season. It was a beautiful summers day, the sun was shining and spirits were high as football made its long awaited return! Spirits of us Concord fans were dampened though after 23 minutes when ‘keeper Michael Jordan failed to get hold of the ball and allowed Bognors’ Ashley Robinson to score the games opening goal. After a preseason where 6 clean sheets were kept, it was disappointing to see a goal given away so easily. The scores were level though 2 minutes later after Tony Stokes scored from a free kick (which he had originally won). Concord were playing well and the game looked to be swinging back in their favour, however after Danny Spendlove ended up kicking the air instead of the ball in the Bognor box, Regis broke forward and retook the lead thanks to Mu Maan. The second half and both teams were much better at the back, and although Concord were attacking much more, this left them open on the counter and Bognor took advantage to take a 3-1 lead in the 60th minute. And that’s how the game finished, a disappointing result really to start the season, and things didn’t look too great with an away trip to Lowestoft just 3 days away.

Tuesday came and so did the long journey to Lowestoft. I was lucky enough to be on the team coach heading up for the game, and we left just after 16:00. Even with just 2 pickups for the players, we still arrived at around 18:40, a bloody long journey to be honest! The game got under way as darkness approached, and it was barely into the 7th minute when Lowestoft took the lead after some poor defending by the Beachboys. That set the tone of the game really, as the Trawlerboys scored again from a (questionable) free kick to go in 2-0 up at half time. That free kick was given to Lowestoft, but the incident was (from my perspective) James Elmes getting elbowed in the face, then having the ball kicked at him whilst on the floor, and a Lowestoft player raising his hands to Danny Glozier. How this incident went the way of the Trawlerboys I will never know. The second half saw Lowestoft get a third before Jason Hallett finally got the Beachboys on the mark in the 58th minute. Concord tried to get further back into the game, but again it left them open at the back at Lowestoft won the game with a 4th goal in the 85th minute.

Those were the 2 games I was able to see, but due to work commitments I missed out on the following two, so details are fairly sketchy! This past Saturday Concord were away to Carshalton, who have been in the Ryman Premier for the past 6 years. Now last season Carshalton didn’t put a goal past the Beachboys, but this season they have. It was only one though, as Concord won 2-1 after goals from Jason Hallett and Danny Spendlove. Bank Holiday Monday saw Concord host Kingstonian, a tough team that continue to give Ryman Premiership clubs a test both at home and away. They proved to be a pain in the backside rather than just a test for Concord though, as two goals in quick succession during the first half pretty much killed the game off. It seemed to knock the wind out of the Beachboys sails, and Kingstonian eventually came away with a 3-0 victory.

Now this leaves Concord 18th in the Ryman (Isthmian) Premier League, which I think we all can agree is not the start the club were hoping for. However, there are 38 games left (42 if you’re Steve Tilson) and therefore plenty of football yet to be played. Next up for Concord will be an away trip to Hendon this coming Saturday, a win would be just the tonic to get the team back on track, but once again I’ll be unable to go due to work commitments. Needless to say I will be cheering the Beachboys on from afar, and hoping that we can start getting the right results!

You Are My Concord!

Sunday, 12 August 2012

At Last, The League Begins!

So that’s it, preseason football is over and the real stuff, the games that matter, will begin on Saturday 18th August. Now regular readers know that I’ve said my piece on what preseason means to fans, and even though the results don’t matter per say, we still like to see our teams winning! So I wont rehash that again, I’ll just go over the last couple of preseason games at Concord Rangers, and my thoughts on the players I’ve seen, and how things have taken shape down at the Aspect Arena.

Concord were at home to Chesham Utd just 3 days after their 3-0 loss at the hands of Dagenham & Redbridge, and the players responded in the best way possible, with a 1-0 victory and a clean sheet. The same result followed at home to Tonbridge Angels on the Tuesday (31st), showing that Dan Cowley & Glen Alzapiedi have worked hard to get the defence solid and strong ready for a tough season ahead. Next up was a friendly against Southend Utd, well I say Southend Utd, it was their youth team, and boy did it show on the day! I don’t know whether these lads have been treated like stars at Southend, but they certainly couldn’t handle a standard tackle or things not going their way. A number of times words were exchanged and petty arguments seem to appear because Utd were not happy about a game of football! Concords experience shone through, dominating the first half and although taking it easier in the second, managed to walk away with a clean sheet & a 2-0 win. The Southend kids were not a good representation of the professional club, and that was disappointing for me really, I thought even as kids they would have a bit more respect for the game and their fellow players, but it was not to be.

That was the final home preseason game for Concord, as away trips to Maldon & Tiptree and Harlow Town were to round off the preparations for the coming season. At Maldon & Tiptree the Beachboys were once again able to keep a clean sheet, their 4th in a row and 5th of the preseason, and win by a goal to nil. Harlow Town were able to keep a clean sheet against Concord, as the game finished 0-0 on Saturday, and this meant that the final preseason record was 6 wins, 2 draws and 1 loss. Solid form which to me displayed the fact that the team are ready to go into the regular season on a roll.

As previously mentioned, there are different ways to take preseason results considering the trialists and new signings, and the quality of the opposition. But with all that in mind I think that the squad Danny & Glen have put together, along with the addition of Nicky Cowley to the coaching staff with established goalkeeping coach Danny Clare, it’s promising stuff for the coming year. The players that have stuck around from last season have shaken off their rust of the summer and impressed in the lead up to the season. The main standout really has been Tony Stokes, recently made captain due to his performances in the middle of the park in preseason, the responsibility seems to have galvanised him and brought out an extra 5-10% of effort and drive. Steve King still looks solid at the back, and Lee White seems to have come back a lot stronger. James Elmes has recovered well from his nasty ankle injury suffered against Canvey last year, whilst Reece Harris looks sharp and pacey alongside him in the midfield. Up front, I’ve already mentioned Stokes, and Harry Elmes looks ready to go when I saw him play. Promising young midfielder Sammy Knott has been loaned to Great Wakering (managed by former Beachboy Dan Trenkel) in order to get him ready for first team Ryman League football.

The new guys have been a revelation too, bringing some experience and youthful talent to the Concord squad. Michael Jordan has been impressive so far in goal, no dodgy decisions made yet, and long may it continue! Danny Glozier has returned after a year away and has been menacing at the back, and not just because he’s lost loads of weight and scares the crap out of anyone who looks at him! The experience of John Easterford has already helped shape the back line into the force it will clearly be this season, whilst the addition of Billy Coyne to replace Ashley Miller (who left for Canvey) has been inspired. Coyne has barely stopped when I’ve seen him play, going forward well and being impressive at the back. Danny Spendlove scored against Southend, and has been impressive as well, except for his dodgy hair band, no respect for that one! Another addition to the midfield has been James White, who is a big, strong player, towers above some of the other guys and has a very good awareness of the game and of what’s going on around him. Both Chris Bourne and Jacob Cleaver have been determined additions to the midfield, both showing fantastic fitness and composure when notching up their goals. Up front Jason Hallett has come in with enthusiasm and drive, dropping weight and becoming a great preseason pick-up. Already establishing himself as a possible starting striker, my money would be on him to notch up a fair few goals over the year; he’ll have something to prove to his previous club (the dodgy lot down the road at Park Lane).

That’s a quick take on the players we’ve now got at Concord Rangers, pretty positive all round to be honest, but you never know how the lads will truly do until the regular season begins next week! I’m optimistic, the team are confident, all that’s left now is to get the season started!

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