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Concord Rangers 3-3 Tonbridge Angels
CONCORD RANGERS‘ winless sequence continued after fellow strugglers, Tonbridge Angels, snatched a share of the spoils following an entertaining six-goal thriller at the Aspect Arena.
With the Coronavirus hitting football hard, the offer of a game – provided free of charge by the Canvey-based outfit – drew a sizable crowd to the Aspect Arena.
FA Trophy semi-finalists, Concord – struggling in sixteenth place, a point better off than their Kent visitors – went into the game without a win in eight and keen to salvage what had early on suggested being a decent league campaign. For Tonbridge, an altogether more serious cloud hung overhead. Financial hardship had seen the players offer to defer their wages in a bid to ease a crisis becoming all too common at many non-league clubs. Their generosity was declined – the battle for survival remained large and very real.
But global epidemics, relegation battles, financial woes and potential trips to Wembley aside, the crowd were treated to an extraordinary opening period.
Lamar Reynolds passed up a decent early opportunity for the home side – his touch letting him down following a swift move down the right. Meanwhile, Khale Da Costa’s pace cased Concord an issue as Tonbridge used the flank to good effect.
Temi Babalola should have done better, firing over from close range after a James Blanchfield centre hadn’t been dealt with. And that proved costly – within seconds, former Beach Boy, Ben Greenhalgh drilling beyond Concord stopper, Chris Haugh, to hand the Angels an advantage.
But the lead lasted only three minutes – Babaloa nodding home from close range after Reynolds had fashioned an opening from the left.
Tempers frayed after a hefty collision between James Blanchfield and Rian Bray – the Tonbridge man booked for his protests after the ensuing melee. Nevertheless, the fired-up visitors were to hit back Tommy Wood toe-poking home after an initial attempt had deflected into his path.
Incredibly, that wasn’t the end of the first-half drama. Reynold low centre eluded everyone – Blanchfield on hand to back-heel into an empty net from close range.
Chris Haigh used his feet to deny Wood an equaliser immediately after the interval, while Da Costa rifled the wrong side of an upright. However, perhaps returning with a collective flea in their ears, defences were now a little more on top as the game descended into a somewhat leisurely pace in comparison to what had gone on before.
Reynolds fluffed his lines when handed the opportunity to add a fourth, and that left the door open. Bray rose unchallenged in stoppage time to salvage a share of the spoils – sparking further scenes of ‘handbags’ as the players left the field at full-time.
Concord Rangers return to Vanarama National League South action on Tuesday, March 17 when they face Hungerford Town at Bulpit Lane (7:30pm). The Beach Boys then turn their attention to the Buildbase FA Trophy where they take on Halesowen Town at The Grove in a huge semi-final first-leg tie on Saturday 21 (3pm).
Concord Rangers: Chris Haigh, David Olufemi (Capt), Aron Pollock, Billy Roast, Ryan Scott, Jack Cawley, Lamar Reynolds, Taylor Maloney, Decarrey Sheriff (Michael O’Donoghue 83’), James Blanchfield (Acea Laurent 70’), Temi Babalola Subs not used: Danny Green, Lee Minshull, Ben Search
Booked: James Blanchfield (foul)
Goals: Memi Babalola 19’, Decarry Sheriff 23’, James Blanchfield 45+1’
Tonbridge Angels: Jonathan Henley, James Folkes, Alex Bentley, Ben Greenhalgh, Sonny Miles (Capt), Rian Bray, Khale Da Costa (Jared Small 78’), Harry Donovan, Tommy Wood, Jason Williams (Roberto Ratti 65’), Joe Turner Subs not used: Jack Partner, Jared Small, Liam Smith, Thomas Beere
Booked: Jason Williams (foul), Rian Bray (dissent)
Goals: Ben Greenhalgh 16’, Tommy Wood 43’, Rian Bray 90+2′
Referee: Philip Staynings
Assistants: Jordan Crossley and Neil Fyfield
Reaction to follow…