Youthful Shrimpers overcome on the Island - Concord Rangers 6-0 Southend United XI
Brian Jeeves reporting between the caravans and gas terminals at Thames Road
Southend United took a youthful line to Thames Road to face Conference South newcomers Concord Rangers. The Canvey based outfit have made an impression during pre-season, comfortably beating a young Stevenage team along with local rivals Canvey Island, scoring a bucket load of goals along the way. The Shrimpers youngsters came into this game on the back of an exciting 2-2 draw with FA Youth Cup holders Norwich City.
Concord started brightly and were first to threaten, Jason Hallett’s cross just eluded Osborne. However, the Beachboys didn’t have to wait much longer to break the deadlock. In the third minute, Jason Hallett headed past Ted Smith in the Shrimpers goal, after Gary Ogilive’s free kick had cannoned down off the underside of the bar.
Blues came close to restoring parity when Josh Banton had Rangers keeper Jamie Butler scurrying across his line, while at the other end Osborne’s thundering effort was brilliantly fingered onto the top of the bar by Smith. This was turning into a competitive encounter, with the Shrimpers youngsters giving as good as they got. Ryan Auger sent an effort harmlessly wide after some good approach play, the Jack Edwards headed over after a pinpoint centre from Mitchell Pinnock.
The home side had a glorious opportunity to double their advantage after Smith felled Osborne, giving whistler Neil West no option other than to point to the spot. Nevertheless, the Southend custodian redeemed the situation, making a smart saving from Ogilive low to his left.
Concord continued to press, Former Great Wakering Rovers man James White found Leon Gordon, but his cross shot escaped a clutch of would-be takers. Then Smith made a wonderful point-blank save to keep out Jack Lampe’s goal bound effort.
With the half time brew on the boil, The Beach Boys added a second. Hallett swept home an unstoppable shot, although the Southend rearguard seemed disappointed that the goal wasn’t chalked off for an alleged foul in the build-up.
The impressive Mitchell Pinnock tried to give Southend a foothold, showing trickery before firing over in the last piece of meaningful action of the half. Despite the deficit, the young Shrimpers had given a good account of themselves. However, the introduction of former West Ham United front man Tony Stokes provided Southend a few nightmares. Stokes lethal pairing with Hallett was foundational during the Islanders promotion last season. As a incoming thunderstorm rolled around Thames Road, the pair looked to reignite that partnership. However, it was another of the Concord substitutes who was first to deal the Shrimpers a blow, Jacob Cleaver supplying a crisp finish to beat Smith after a well-constructed move.
Concord were bossing the encounter, but credit must go to the Shrimpers youngsters who showed endeavour and tried to play football. Jason Williams attempted to reduce the arrears, but his shot on the turn whistled over without troubling Butler.
It’s clear to see why the home side are so hard to beat on their own patch, as the game came into its ascendancy, they turned the screw on their youthful opponents. Cleaver headed over, then Smith made a good block to deny Gordon. At the other end, Butler made a similar stop to refute James Pinnock.
Nonetheless, Concord weren’t finished. Gordon’s deflected cross fell to Hallett who in turn dispatched a low strike past Smith to complete his hat trick and make it 4-0, then before the dust had settled Stokes got in on the act beating Smith thundering a free kick into the bottom left hand corner of the Shrimpers net.
Stokes completed the scoring, heading home from close range with the Southend back line all at sea. It had been a harsh lesson for the Blues who will not come up against too many teams as good as this during the domestic campaign. Concord Rangers proved to be a decent side, and on this evidence will have a successful first season at Conference South level.
Concord Rangers: Butler, Osifuwa, Lee, Easterford, Goodacre, Gordon, Lampe, White, Ogilive, Hallett, Osborne
Concord Rangers substitutes: Glozier, Cleaver, Stokes, Livings, Hamilton.
Southend United: Smith, Auger, Farrell, Edwards, Banton, King, Scott, Barlow, Jason Williams, Gard, M Pinnock.
Southend United substitutes: J Pinnock, Keating, Cotton, Jordan Williams, Tackaie-Apenteng, Norman, Snook, Johnson, Adeyeye