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Concord Rangers 0-1 Harrogate Town
Brave Concord Rangers saw their Buildbase FA Trophy dream end under the arch after a goal from Harrogate Town skipper, Josh Fakingham settled their delayed 2020 Wembley final.
A sizable crowd lined the streets leading from the Beach Boys Aspect Arena ground to see their heroes off to the Home of Football – the fans desperate to provide Danny Scopes’ men with as much encouragement as they could, despite restrictions forcing the showpiece occasion to be staged without a crowd.
Ahead of the game, history was made when Arjun and Amar Purewal came up against each other in an exciting FA Vase final which saw Hebburn Town edge out Consett AFC by the odd goal in five. It was the first time twin brothers had lined up in opposition in a competitive final at Wembley. The match was certainly enough to whet the appetite before the Beach Boys ‘David versus Goliath’ encounter with a side that had navigated their way through a first season in the ELF with relative ease.
Indeed, Concord came under heavy pressure during the opening stages. Stopper Chris Haigh saving from Will Smith, then scooping out George Thompson’s angled attempt – meanwhile, Lamar Reynolds ran into traffic as the Beach Boys looked to launch a raid of their own.
Jon Stead was a whisker away after turning swiftly and firing left-footed the wrong side of an upright, while Haigh somehow diverted Jack Muldoon’s close-range effort – the Harrogate leading marksman left bemused that he’d failed to add to the fourteen goals he’s netted during the campaign.
Haigh pushed over Lloyd Kerry’s speculative strike from distance, then produced an incredible save with his feet to deny Stead as Harrogate continued to ask almost all of the questions.
Josh McPake and Dan Jones had attempts deflected behind, while Connor Hall headed over as Harrogate began the second period as they had finished the first. However, the Yorkshiremen were almost undone – Jack Cawley somehow lifting over after confusion reigned in the Harrogate box.
Substitutes, Mark Beck was next to be thwarted by some desperate Beach Boys defending. Meanwhile, Man of the Match Haigh again flew across his goal, this time rebuffing from Thompson, then diving bravely as Beck looked set to pounce as Concord continued to dig deep.
But it was one-way traffic. Brendan Kiernan and Beck should have done better both heading off target after arriving unmarked. But with little under a quarter of an hour remaining Concord were finally breached. Muldoon’s effort came back off the foot of a post – Fakingham arriving to pick up the pieces from close range.
Haigh made another superb save in stoppage-time from Beck. His heroics will be documented by Concord Rangers enthusiasts for years to come.
Concord Rangers: Chris Haigh, Joe Payne, Billy Roast (Odei Martin 83’), Aron Pollock, Jack Cawley, James Blanchfield (Alex Wall 79’), Sam Blackman, Lewis Simper, Ryan Charles (Temi Babalola 60’), Tyrone Sterling (Capt), Lama Reynolds Subs not used: Archie McFadden, Dan Wilks, Ben Search, Alex Hernandez
Harrogate Town: Joe Cracknell, Dan Jones (Ryan Fallowfield 61’), Josh Falkingham (Capt), Will Smith, Warren Burrell, George Thompson, Jon Stead (Mark Beck 61’), Lloyd Kerry, Jack Muldoon, Connor Hall, Josh McPake (Brendan Kiernan 67’) Subs not used: James Belshaw (GK), Brendan Kiernan, Edward Francis, Kevin Lokko, Jay Williams
Booked: Dan Jones (foul)
Goals: Josh Falkingham 76’
Referee: Peter Bankes
Assistants: James Mainwaring and Tim Wood
Fourth Official: Marc Edwards
More to follow shortly….