Road to Wembley 17/18: 3rd Qualifying Round

Two rounds from the First Round Proper, the FA Cup is beginning to get competitive. As ever, we have had our reporters out and about to bring you the action.

Concord Rangers 3-0 Dorking Wanderers

A trip to Concord Rangers was the next destination for Dorking Wanderers in the F.A. Cup, and the latest stop on my ‘Road To Wembley’.

Concord play on Canvey Island, and would theoretically just be a journey down the Thames Estuary for me.

Those who know me, will recall that I’ve spent quite some time walking down the Anglian coast this summer heading towards Tilbury, and the finish of my many years walking the UK coast path.

Having been sent to Essex this week thanks to the luck of the draw, it seemed an ideal time to finish the walk. However due to a combination of other commitments, illness and poor weather it wasn’t feasible, so it would just be a day trip to the Essex coast.

My main fear of delay was congestion in the Dartford Tunnel, so an early departure seemed the safest bet. I didn’t even reach Dartford before a Police incident had closed my route though.

It wasn’t a major issue, as the diversion actually speeded my journey up. I was soon through the tunnel, and heading out to change buses at Basildon.
It’s the home of music, well it is, if you’re a huge Depeche Mode fan like me.

I had an hour to spare, so had a wander around the precinct. I went into one of these autograph shops that sell signed vastly overpriced autographed memorabilia.

Just out of interest, I asked them if they had anything  Depeche Mode related. I was genuinely surprised when the answer was no.
Just as  Depeche Mode had in the 1980’s, I chose to leave the town as soon as I could.

The number 22 bus took me across the slither of water and mud onto Canvey Island. It dropped me only 5-10 mins walk away from The Aspect Arena.

I’d done the same journey exactly three years ago, when I saw Concord beat Winchester City at the same 3rd Qualifying round of the F.A. Cup.

As the ground was only a short walk from the Thames, I’d hoped to wander down to get a sneak preview of what I could expect when doing this stretch of my coastal walk. The road was fenced off though, as there’s a sewage works behind one goal, so I headed straight into the ground.

There are no less than five stands at The Aspect Arena, on both sides of the pitch. There’s also covered standing behind each goal, so everyone is catered for.

Some people were complaining about the smell on the far side, but I only recall one foul whiff when I circumnavigated the ground prior to the game.

With the sewage works behind one goal, a caravan park along one side, and a gas terminal the other side, it was probably unfair to point the finger in one particular direction.

It seemed a very friendly club though, with a smart bar.

The programme standards seem to be improving round by round, and today was no exception. I could be biased though, as they published my article on the ‘Road to Wembley’ in it.
Thanks again to Alan Jessup-Peacock for that.

Steve arrived after I’d settled into the main stand.
He’d been getting stick for being only being a few miles of Roots Hall on a match day, and yet choosing instead to spend the afternoon on Canvey.

Canvey Island were also at home today, and this would be Concord’s lowest attendance of the season so far.
The 141 crowd was even the lowest F.A. Cup crowd of the day, despite Dorking Wanderers again laying on another free supporters coach.

The match started slowly and didn’t really have the feel of a cup game.

Concord created a couple of chances in the first five minutes, with Jordan Cox heading wide, and Khale Da Costa’s shot saved by Wanderers keeper Harry Palmer.

After a while Dorking had their first decent move when Tom Tolfrey’s run ended with a shot that rattled the cross bar.
Concord failed to retain possession and Matt Briggs had a good long range effort saved by Beach Boys keeper Louis Wells.

Even though Concord were having more possession, Wanderers were now looking more dangerous going forward. David Ray had another chance with a header.

It was Concord who broke the deadlock in the 20th minute when Amos Nasha fired the home side ahead from the edge of the box.

David Ray had another free header five minutes later which went wide.

Dan Pearse did have the ball in the Concord net in first half injury time, but he was deemed offside, and the Beach Boys went in 1-0 up at half time.

Khale Da Costa had a chance to double the lead in the 50th minute, but fluffed his lines when one on one with Harry Palmer. It only took another two   minutes for Concord captain to put them two up with a fierce finish.

Despite their poor league position in the National League South, Concord were a division above their opponents, and now two goals to the good.
They seemed to be cruising.

It wasn’t looking good for Wanderers, but Matt Briggs tested Louis Wells in the 56th minute, and a few minutes later a handball in the box meant a penalty for the visitors.

Tom Tolfrey had a chance to bring Dorking back into the game, but his penalty flew over the bar, the stand roof and maybe even the sewage works.

If that wasn’t the final curtains for Wanderers, Jordan Cox’s goal a minute later was.
He beat one man, then finished bottom left and the Beach Boys were 3-0 up and having Fun, Fun, Fun.

Dorking hadn’t given up, but they struggled to break down a resolute Concord side.
Wells had to save with his legs in the 65th minute from Wanderers James McShane following Tolfrey’s cross.

Harry Lee’s attempted to make it 4-0 in the 72nd minute but shot wide.

Wanderers came again with efforts from McShane hitting the post and David Ray forcing Wells to make a great save.

Towards the end Concord were relaxed, and putting on more pressure. James Eaton-Collins, Harry Lee and Danny Parish all chances to get on the scoresheet..

I think any more than 3-0 would have been cruel on Wanderers, but Concord were definitely deserved winners and will be the team that Steve and I now follow into the 4th qualifying round.

Best wishes to Dorking Wanderers for the rest of the season, but as they say, the show must go on.

It was a tight connection with the bus going back,
But Steve kindly dropped me on the mainland to give me a head start.

Whether or not we return to Canvey in two weeks time is dependent on the F.A..’s bag of balls.
If not, I may have to wait until I walk the Essex coast path again.

Our thanks to Andy Phillips. Follow him on Twitter to see all of his pictures!

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