A first-half Alan Gilbertson goal and a penalty from Harry Doyle after the interval proved to be enough for Concord Rangers to retain the Essex Pelly Under 18s Cup with a 2-0 win over near neighbours Canvey Island.
In front of an excellent attendance of 335 at Aveley FC’s Parkside home, Gilbertson fired the holders ahead on the half-hour before Doyle sealed the win from twelve yards, dusting himself down after being tripped to coolly slot home.
The win capped a fine campaign for the Concord Beach Boys who had already sealed their Eastern Junior Alliance title, with the side having also produced players for the club’s adult First Team in the Vanarama National League South. Others gained senior experience out on loan at Essex Senior League top two Basildon United and Great Wakering Rovers.
“I’m well chuffed!” said Concord’s Joint-Manager Mark Collins after the game, reflecting: “The boys have applied themselves really well. I couldn’t have asked anymore and we controlled the game, really, from start to finish. If anything, we probably didn’t take the chances we had in the first half and probably sat back a little bit in the second.”
“We let them come on to us a little bit, but our goalkeeper didn’t really have any saves to make. Some of the boys have won this [a County Cup] four or five times and now they’re leaving youth football and pushing onto senior levels, which I think will be great for them.”
An early chance actually fell the way of Canvey Island as Concord goalkeeper George Marsh tipped over from Jordan Collier. But Concord soon gained control and Doyle slid a low shot just wide. A good move then saw Doyle chip wide after good play by Gilbertson and Jake Wiggins.
The Beach Boys earned the lead on 30 minutes. Gilbertson burst through on goal and sent a bouncing shot along the floor and inside the left-hand post. The second arrived nine minutes into the second half. Concord’s Doyle was tripped in the penalty area by Nigel-Ezra Marshall and Doyle himself scored from the spot.
Canvey had a chance to halve the deficit as Nico Ospina Salazar fired wide of the near post under pressure, but Concord managed to stand their ground well, becoming only the second club to successfully retain the Pelly Cup. With the Concord youth setup delivering trophies, the side’s other Joint-Boss, Miki Hood, is looking to the future.
He added: “Realistically, the success has got to come from these players playing senior football. We can win as many trophies as we want at youth level, but the challenge for a club of our size and our infrastructure means that these boys are going to have to develop into senior players for us. They’re winning this, now we’ve got to win things for them with places in the squad.”
With the club’s First Team having guaranteed National League South football the previous evening with a win over Hungerford Town, it proved to be a fruitful midweek for the club. “We’re delighted we’ve secured National League South status for another season” said Hood.
“I think a lot of people thought, when Danny [Cowley] left the club, that it would plummet back down through the leagues. But we’ve secured another season at this level which will only help us attract youth players, too.”
“A club like Concord Rangers is only going to survive on what it can produce itself. It’s a fighting club, it’s a club which punches above its weight. We’ve got to do that at all levels, but if we can get one or two [youth players] a season into our squad we’ve succeeded in some way.”
Canvey Island: Luke Smith, Luke Hanna, Nigel-Ezra Marshall, Jack Unwin, Nico Ospina Salazar, Sammie Scates, George Unwin, Frankie Regan, Tommy Green, Edward Hawney, Jordan Collier. Substitutes (repeated): Charlie Dell, Jack Talbot, Alfie Gummer, Charlie Bayles, Kian Smith.
Concord Rangers: George Marsh, Flynn Astbury, Danny Hurford, Zack Littlejohn, Kiah Froud, Harry Haysom, Oliu Paul, Henry Sims, Harry Doyle, Jake Wiggins, Alan Gilbertson. Substitutes (repeated): Cody white, Teddy Rumsby, Jack Dresner, Taylor Turner, Toby Barlow.
Referee: Farai Hallam (Redbridge).
Assistant Referees: Leo Del Rosso (Brentwood) and Charlie Roberts (Havering).
Fourth Official: Jamie Pope (Rochford).