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Concord Rangers 3, Enfield Town 0
CONCORD Rangers put in a sterling pre-match effort to beat Saturday's fixture-decimating weather and then turned in another typically gutsy performance to beat Enfield and keep their dark-horse tilt at the title alive and kicking.
Volunteers spent a back-breaking morning pushing rollers across the Aspect Arena pitch to get the game on, and they were rewarded with an equally committed display from their players against a dogged visiting side.
With illustrious neighbours Southend United, Colchester United, Braintree Town and Chelmsford City all seeing their games wiped out by the weather, Concord were the highest ranked Essex side to get their game on, and they drew a healthy crowd of 282.
Those in attendance included East Thurrock manager John Coventry, whose own Saturday fixture at home to Hastings was rained off, and who visit Concord for a league match on Tuesday night.
There was also a morale-boosting appearance in the stands from Concord striker Harry Elmes, who was back on a match day for the first time since breaking his leg while playing against Thurrock earlier this month.
It was a day when Beachboys debutant Ben Greenhalgh turned in a match-winning performance from the left-wing, and one lit-up by a stunning van Basten-esque volley from central defender Steve King.
In fact King had broken the dead-lock in a fairly even first-half when he rose highest to guide home a header from Greenhalgh's measured delivery on 35 minutes.
Enfield pressed early in the second-half but were then pinned back by a Concord side who were wasteful until King's wonder strike and a quality injury-time finish from sub Jason Hallett gave the score-line a more realistic look.
It was a win which made it a haul of seven points from a possible nine in five days for Concord, and kept them nine points behind leaders Whitehawk - who beat Carshalton 2-0 at home on Saturday - and with three games in hand.
"I thought we were excellent to a man,” said Concord manager Danny Cowley.
“At one stage a neutral walked around from the stand and said to me ‘I’ve never seen a side work as hard as your football team’.
“And I’m very proud of that.
“It was an excellent performance from Ben Greenhalgh, and we knew what we were getting with him. He was the difference today because he provided that quality in terms of delivery which players like Steve King thrive upon.
“And it was great to get the win for those who worked so hard to get the game on. It’s not just about 11 players here, it’s about the squad and the committee too, who are all volunteers with busy lives.
“I phoned some of them at 7.30am this morning to help out and for them to get themselves out of bed and get this game on - that result is for them today.”
The first chance in a tepid opening saw Tony Stokes side-foot wide when well placed, following a good tackle and set-up from Nicky Cowley.
Soon after Greenhalgh curled a direct free-kick narrowly over, and the hosts continued to turn the screw as only a last-ditch block from Michael Bardle kept out a close-range shot-on-the-turn from Stokes.
Enfield had a good penalty shout turned down in the 25th minute when ex-Beachboy Tyler Campbell skipper away from Jack Lampe and set-up Adam Wallace, and his shot was blocked by Matt Fry - with the visitors claiming he used his arm.
Concord took the lead their dominance merited when Greenhalgh - who became increasingly influential - sent in a deep cross for King to head into the corner.
Enfield almost got a lucky equaliser early in the second-half when Jay Siva's cross caught the wind and almost crept under the bar, but the back-tracking Luke Chambers managed to push it over.
Stokes went close three times to extending Concord's lead as he fired just wide from a ball over the top, had a close-range effort blocked from Jason Hallett's cross, and then side-footed Kurt Robinson's drilled low centre just past the post.
The hosts then had loud appeals for a penalty of their own turned down when claims that Enfield skipper Mark Kirby had handled Greenhalgh's cross fell on deaf ears.
Stokes - so often the saviour of Concord, and scorer of their late leveller in the 1-1 with Thurrock on Thursday - was having a rare off-day in front of goal and should have buried the ball when James Elmes' cross landed at his feet six yards out, but keeper Noel Imber saved.
But it didn't matter as King conjured up a terrific finish with 11 minutes remaining to make the game safe. The defender drove a first-time volley high into the net from Greenhalgh's free-kick delivery to send the fans behind the goal into raptures.
They went close to a third when sub Danny Spendlove's jinking run ended with a chance for Elmes, but his low shot was well saved by Imber.
Hallett then side-footed wide when he should have done better from Spendlove's through ball, but he did get his goal in injury time with an assured finish following nice through ball from Stokes after he had played a give-and-go with Spendlove.
Concord: Rangers (4-4-2): Chambers; Lampe, King, Fry, Robinson; Gordon (Elmes 59), Cowley, White (Spendlove 76), Greenhalgh; Stokes, McKenzie (Hallett 62).
Enfield Town (4-5-1): Imber; Siva, Kirby, White (Hunt 70), Kendall; Campbell (Hope 66), Sturgess (Hammatt 79), O'Brien, Bardle, Matata; Wallace.
Echo MOM: Ben Greenhalgh (Concord Rangers).