Concord Rangers 0
Torquay United 1
United produced a dogged display in Canvey Island on Saturday, as they secured the win that sent them back to the top of the table.
In a game of few chances, United inflicted only a second home defeat of the season on Concord, care of Kyle Cameron’s 71st minute header.
Gary Johnson made one enforced change to the side which disposed of Dartford at Plainmoor last Saturday, with suspended centre-back Jean-Yves Koue Niate being replaced by Jamie Sendles-White. Young striker Olaf Koszela was the beneficiary of the place vacated on the substitute bench.
Both sides began the match in positive fashion, getting forward at every opportunity, but little was created in the way of clear-cut chances.
Saikou Janneh, chasing down every loose ball, fired over from distance on 12 minutes, and then provided the groundwork for Connor Lemonheigh-Evans to follow suit six minutes later.
The first real moment of action for either ‘keeper came in the 29th minute. Jamie Reid found space and sent in a shot that looked to be sneaking into the bottom corner, before Sam Beasant intervened to palm the ball behind.
United weren’t having it all their own way, with Jack Midson keeping the Gulls’ backline occupied. As the sides marched off at the interval though, Shaun MacDonald was still waiting to be tested.
United looked threatening right at the start of the second half. Two minutes in, and Ben Wynter found Reid with a long searching ball forward. The Gulls’ leading scorer found himself in space but wide of goal, resulting in shot that fizzed just wide of the target.
In a pattern very much reminiscent of the first half, Torquay were looking the more cultured side, but were being well marshalled by a committed home side.
In the 64th minute, Johnson sent on Ryan Dickson in place of Kalala, in the hope the experienced midfielder could once again provide the key to unlocking The Beach Boys’ defence.
Lo and behold, seven minutes later the breakthrough came.
United initially appeared to be in a spot of bother, as Ashford beat Davis and sent in a dangerous cross into the box. After clearing their lines, Torquay immediately took the ball up the other end, winning a corner. As the ball was swung in, Kyle Cameron rose highest and glanced home his first goal of the season.
1-0 up away from home, and results elsewhere were going Torquay’s way.
After holding United so well for so long, the home side were now forced to gamble, and they came within inches of an equaliser on 79 minutes.
Danny Green struck a marvellous free-kick that thudded against the post. With Ashford well placed to head home the loose ball, MacDonald came up with a superb save to keep his side in front.
The game was opening up now, as Rangers pressed for a leveller and United looked for a second goal to seal the points. With seven minutes left, Reid again found himself through in on goal with just the keeper to beat, but his finish narrowly missed the target, and the result remained in the balance.
As the clocked ticked down and the match entered four minutes of additional time, it looked increasingly like The Gulls would have to defend their single goal lead.
With one minute of injury time remaining, the home side were awarded another dangerous free kick just outside of the box. The ball was floated in and reached the head of Midson, but the experienced striker sent the ball over the bar, and with it went his side’s last chance of a point.
The next challenge facing Johnson’s men begins next weekend in the form of a Plainmoor double-header, with Wealdstone and Chelmsford the visitors.
Yellow Army… See you there!
Concord Rangers: 1. Sam Beasant, 2. Tosan Pop, 3. Jed Smith, 5. Connor Essam, 6. Tyrone Sterling (c), 7. Juan Luque (14. Lee Minshull 76′), 8. Sam Blackman, 9. Sam Ashford, 10. Jack Midson, 11. Taylor Maloney, 14. Ahmed Abdulla (15. Danny Green 72′). SUBS NOT USED: 4. Aron Pollock, 16. Joe Gardner, 17. Josh Glover.
Yellow Card: Blackman (90+4′)
TUFC: 1. Shaun MacDonald, 2. Ben Wynter, 3. Liam Davis, 6. Jamie Sendles-White, 7. Ruairi Keating, 8. Asa Hall (c), 10. Saikou Janneh, 11. Connor Lemonheigh-Evans, 17. Kyle Cameron, 19. Jamie Reid, 20. Kalvin Lumbombo-Kalala (16. Ryan Dickson 64′). SUBS NOT USED: 12. Olaf Koszela, 13. George Burton, 14. Frank Vincent, 18. Jake Andrews.
Yellow Card: Lemonheigh-Evans (42′)