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At Last, The League Begins!

Regular guest blogger Alan Jessup-Peacock is getting excited for the start of the new season for Concord Rangers.

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 se, 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!

Thanks to Alan for this article. You can read more of Alan’s writing on his excellent blog. Follow him on twitter: @BullJet

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About James Bartaby

Hey, I'm James and I'm relatively new to non-league football, having only taken in my first match in September 2011. Despite it being a 0-4 defeat for Hampton & Richmond Borough, I became a huge fan of the club and NL in general. So much so that they are now the first club that I mention when talking about which team I support! I just got massively disillusioned with top flight football in this country and the attitudes of the lawmakers and top clubs in general, and I wanted to start taking my son to see decent football. I am now the club's Deputy Press Officer, and loving every minute!

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