Concord Rangers 2 – 2 Wealdstone
2 - 2
Gordon Bartlett’s pre match warning that Concord would pose a real threat turned out to be all too correct on Saturday as despite their previous excellent record at the Aspect Arena, Stones found the going very tough against their Essex hosts.
Wealdstone had to come back twice after falling behind to a Harry Elmes goal in the first half but equalised soon after the restart with a typically predatory effort from Richard Jolly before Lee Chappell came to the rescue cancelling out Tony Stokes goal for the Beach Boys.
Stones, resplendent in an all white kit, looked hesitant in the early exchanges, whereas their hosts came out of the blocks looking strong and sharp and eager to gain their first home points of the new campaign. Nevertheless, Stones had their moments when they were able to get their fluid passing game together and Lee Chappell saw a great strike hit the cross bar from a Tom Pett move down the left flank after 6 minutes.
But the game soon settled into a pattern of Concord dominating the midfield and snuffing out Stones attacks with their big centre halves – whilst the experienced Harry Elmes for the home side was a continual handful for Wes Parker and Alan Massey.
Even so the Wealdstone defence held firm and repelled most of what was coming at them – that was until the 28th minute of the first half. Tony Stokes seized on the ball in midfield and managed to find Elmes who turned and crashed a pile driver of a shot past Rikki Banks and into the far corner.
This rocked Stones and they now looked increasingly vulnerable under pressure – Massey saw yellow for tugging back as a home forward threatened to break through again.
Play was held up just prior to the break when Scott McCubbin tumbled awkwardly from a collision and sustained an elbow injury that saw him leave the action. Tommy Brewer replaced.
Wealdstone came out for the second period looking as though they had received the hair dryer treatment and Kurtney Brooks got a shot away within a minute with Beach Boys keeper Michael Jordon doing well to push the midfielders shot away to safety.
A few moments later and Stones were level. Tom Pett lofted the ball over a crowded goal area to a lurking Richard Jolly who planted a cushioned shot into the net at the far post to the huge relief of the players and the sixty or so travelling fans.
As goals always do, this action galvanised Stones into a far more attacking and dominant mode and put a shocked Concord under real and sustained pressure for the first time in the match. The game became more physical with Peter Dean in the thick of things, holding the ball up well with his strong link up play. In the midst of this battle Concord’s Nick Cowley was booked.
Play was now far more open and entertaining and Jolly had a good chance on the edge of the box but his strike was blocked by a frantic defence. The home side regrouped and regained their composure as Stones dominance started to ebb away from failure to find the net. A series of crunching tackles from Stones most effective player Chris O’Leary stopped the home side from gaining too much ground in the midfield but the tide was turning.
Stones were rocked to the core on 80 minutes when Concord regained the lead. Ironically, Banks had just made an outstanding finger-tip save from a long range strike but the resulting corner found an unmarked Stokes and the tall forward headed past the Stones custodian with some ease.
It looked game over but a minute later Lee Chappell had other ideas and on the basis: ‘if you don’t buy the ticket you wont win the raffle’ he took advantage of a lose ball on the left flank, powered on, and unleashed a great speculative strike from 25 yards that took wicked deflection over the defence and smashed it into the far corner for 2-2.
Striker Mark Knight replaced Dean late on and looked lively.
So all credit for a valuable point rescued on Canvey Island from a very strong Concord outfit that belies their current league position, but Stones will know that they have to do better than this in upcoming games.
This Saturday, 22nd September, Stones entertain Lowestoft Town in a mega FA Cup clash at The Vale. Kick off is 3pm.
Wealdstone: Banks, McCubbin, Chappell, Parker, Massey, Dyer, Brooks, O’Leary, Dean, Jolly, Pett. Subs used: Brewer, Webb, Knight. N/u: Hammond, Cronin.