It’s getting a bit tedious, really. Another 1-0 victory, over Concord Rangers, made it five straight Conference South wins and not a single goal conceded, ahead of Monday’s trip to St Albans, as Borough’s late-season charge continued.
Back on August Bank Holiday, early-season strugglers Concord had been swept aside by an awesome Borough performance at their aptly-named Beachlands ground, squeezed between the caravan parks on Canvey Island.
But the cheerful Beachboys arrived at Priory Lane on Saturday boasting a remarkable 15-match unbeaten run which has carried them to play-off contention. Two form teams, then – but only one winner.
Tommy Widdrington replaced Nat Pinney with Richard Pacquette, and brought back Adam Watts in that quite distinctive role – played once before by Ian Simpemba – as a midfield anchor just in front of the back four.
The opening exchanges actually saw Concord on the front foot, aided by a stiff Priory Lane breeze which – while far less disruptive than the previous week’s storm-force conditions – made text-book passing football difficult. Sam Collins, a threat all afternoon, almost gave the visitors an early lead but delayed his final shot.
But on 10 minutes the Sports were ahead with a wonderful goal. Darren Lok surprised his marker with a superbly timed flick on, and Pacquette burst on to it, choosing his moment and firing sweetly past keeper Josh Vickers into the bottom right corner.
Borough never looked back. Remarkably, it was to prove the only time that Vickers was beaten, and Concord had their young goalkeeper to thank for a string of excellent saves that kept his side in the game.
But any other result would have been robbery. Widdrington’s team nowadays has such organisation and discipline that one goal is always enough to win a game. On the day, Lewis Carey in goal was rarely stretched, but his own form and the steely commitment of the players in front of him have created a rock-solid defensive line in recent weeks.
By contrast, the Beachboys’ defences were about as secure as sandcastles, as waves of home attacks flooded at them. Pacquette, recalled after a week or two on the bench, looked a striker reborn, stomping on to every half-chance, and on 22 minutes only a brave dive at his feet by Vickers prevented a second goal – a trick repeated on the half-hour after Simon Johnson’s canny back-heel had put the striker in on goal.
In the wide areas, Lok and McCallum had far too much pace for a ponderous Concord back line. Indeed, the visitors were fortunate that referee Elliott Kaye – while correctly penalising their robust tactics – seemed determined to keep the yellow card in his pocket, and it was a full 75 minutes before Collins became the first Rangers player in the book.
Right on half-time Ryan Worrall – Borough’s proud Vanarama Player of the Month – thought he had doubled the lead with a perfectly struck low drive, but that man Vickers kept it out at full stretch.
The second half was admirably open. In the ten minutes after the break, with Concord pushing forward, first Lok and then McCallum were set free in space but thwarted by last-gasp defending. Then Pacquette blasted his final shot ingloriously high after Gavin’s header had created a chance for him.
The Beachboys threw on three attacking subs in a brave attempt to rescue the game, but the Sports remained on top. Five minutes from time, Vickers was called on for his best save of the day, arching back to tip over a magnificent 40-yard free-kick from Jack Evans. It didn’t matter. This was yet another 1-0 massacre for Tommy’s Boys.
Borough: Carey; Sessegnon, Simpemba, Khinda-John, Beale; Worrall (Evans 81), Watts, Johnson (Haysman 45); McCallum, Pacquette (Pinney 76), Lok.
MoM: Darren Lok – battered but irrepressible Att: 495