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Chelmsford City 2 Concord Rangers 2
12:02pm Wednesday 21st August 2013 in Sport
JEFF Goulding and Sam Long got off the mark for the season with their first goals in Chelmsford City colours as the Clarets drew 2-2 with Concord Rangers, and new manager Dean Holdsworth believes the hard-fought draw has given him plenty to think about ahead of the weekend's home fixture.
City, who were getting their campaign underway at the second attempt following Saturday's postponement at Farnborough, fell behind to Jason Hallett's headed opener on 11 minutes then turned the game around through Goulding's penalty and Long's low finish on 17 and 20 minutes respectively.
John Easterford nodded Rangers level again with four minutes of the first half remaining and, despite their best efforts, neither side could find a winner.
After the game, Dean reacted: "I know inside that dressing room some of those players are disappointed tonight that we've drawn this game - and rightly so - although Concord tried their socks off.
"They 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."
It was a dead ball routine straight off the training ground which led to the deadlock being broken, delivered from a free kick 35 yards out to the left of the penalty area.
Rangers left two players, arms raised, beyond the defensive line ready to shift as the ball was played and it was one of those, Hallett, who glanced the ball across goalkeeper Tommy Forecast and inside the far post. The Assistant Referee kept his flag down, and Concord were ahead.
Having seen a former Claret convert at the other end, the home fans had cause for their own celebration six minutes later courtesy of a striker making his debut.
A ball was delivered into the crowded Concord penalty area and Chelmsford's Mark Haines was upended in mid air as he attempted to get on the end of it.
Referee Stephen Ross pointed to the spot and Goulding confidently swept home the resulting penalty.
That was an ideal way of settling the Clarets' side, most of whom were competing in their first competitive game at Melbourne.
Confidence was then flowing sufficiently for Holdsworth's men to craft a second goal as Tom Derry was involved in the build-up which saw Long collect the ball, swivel on the spot and drag in off the foot of the post from a few yards.
Such frantic scoring prompted a short spell of play where the sides restricted each other going forward until Rangers restored parity on 41 minutes.
From another free kick Easterford rose highest to emerge from a pack of players and divert the cross into the net.
City could have regained their advantage had Derry's rifled effort not been blocked in injury time, though the teams had an opportunity to regroup at the interval with the scores tied.
Beyond the half time break it was certainly the visitors who enjoyed the better of the chances, with Forecast called into action in the 52nd minute to dive and push away Danny Spendlove's long-ranger.
This was followed by an opening for another ex-Clarets goal-getter, Sam Higgins, as he received a diagonal pass on the left and squirmed an effort across the face of goal.
It was a nervy last ten minutes for the hosts because Concord were intent on claiming what would have been a sensational victory.
Forecast got down to make a crucial block and save Reece Harris' ten-yard strike and he also had to claw away Hallett's shot on the turn not long afterwards.
Then, with three minutes left, Chelmsford were thankful that Higgins got his angles wrong and carved wide from a tight angle in the final act of the game.
Holdsworth may have felt aggrieved not to secure three points, though he reflected: "I think it's good to get the first game out of the way.
"It was a much-needed 90 minutes and we'll move on, get the players in again for training tomorrow, move on fitness-wise and look forward to Saturday. We know we can get better, and that's a good thing."
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