Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting ECHONEWS to 80360, or email us »
Concord Rangers' John Easterford: I'm eyeing up Golden Boot now!
JOHN Easterford joked that he’s gunning for the Conference South Golden Boot after his second goal in as many games earned Concord their first point of the season at Chelmsford on Monday night.
The central defender bundled the ball home just before the break to make it 2-2, and that’s how it finished in front of a crowd of 820 gathered at Melbourne Park for the division’s first Essex derby of the season.
It came just two days after Easterford had turned in Concord’s first goal in the non-league’s second tier to draw level at 1-1 at home to Basingstoke on Saturday, but a late winner for the Dragons saw them steal all three points at the Aspect Arena.
“I think that makes me the second top scorer in the Conference South now so I’m going for the Golden Boot!,” said Easterford.
“But seriously I do want to add more goals to my game and it’s something (Concord manager) Danny Cowley tells me I need to do because I am good in the air.
“I set myself a target of five at the start of the season, and I usually end up with two or three.
“Most of our set plays are based around Steve King, and that’s understandable because he’s a monster in the air, but at the moment I’m getting on the end of knockdowns and crosses, and that’s what I should be doing.
“Both our goals against Chelmsford were from crosses from Sam Collins, who has a great left foot, and that’s going to be an important weapon for us.
“But the truth is it does not matter who scores our goals as long as we are picking up results, and this was an important first point.”
And it was an important first point for the Beachboys, promoted via the Ryman Premier play-offs last season, against a Chelmsford side who’ve been a regular challenger in the Conference South play-offs in recent seasons.
Jason Hallett headed Concord into an 11th minute lead against his former side, but goals from Jeff Goulding – a penalty – and Sam Long put the Clarets 2-1 up before Easterford levelled matters four minutes before the interval.
Easterford said: “They shaded the first half but we had lots of chances in the second and felt we should have won at the end of the game.
“In pre-season I had doubts about how well we would make the step up to this level, but after two games against good sides, and a Chelmsford team who keep getting in the play-offs, I now know we can compete at this level.
“As a defender I have realised the big difference at this level is that if you give a striker a chance then they will probably take it. That’s a challenge but it’s one we are all ready for.”
Easterford has come into the side following a groin injury for King which saw him come off at half-time against Basingstoke, and says he now wants to take his opportunity to stay there.
He said: “I’m gutted for Kingy because he had a good pre-season and is an important player for us.
“But I’ve been given my chance and I think I’ve done OK and scored some goals, so I’m confident I can keep my place.”
Following their postponed match at troubled Farnborough on the opening day, Monday’s game was also the first of the season for Chelmsford as their new manager Dean Holdsworth started his tenure with a point.
He said: “I know inside that dressing room some of those players are disappointed that we’ve drawn this game – and rightly so – although Concord tried their socks off.
“There were two goals conceded from set pieces so we’re disappointed with that, but it should never have been two-all because their first goal was three yards offside.
“In open play the explosiveness of the players, in the first half especially, was excellent.”
Concord named new signing Nathan Livings, a winger or striker who was previously at Bishop’s Stortford, among their substitutes at Melbourne park, and he’ll be hoping to be included again when they go to Dover Athletic on Saturday.