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Concord Rangers 4, Hastings United 0
POST-MATCH INTERVIEW WITH CONCORD MANAGER DANNY COWLEY CAN BE FOUND HERE:
DANNY Cowley dismissed suggestions his Concord side could challenge for the Ryman Premier title, despite seeing his side move up to second in the table with their second 4-0 league win in a row.
A penalty from Harry Elmes, a brace from red-hot striker Jason Hallett, and a goal from Leon Gordon on his full debut, left Concord as the closest challengers to runaway leaders Whitehawk.
Concord are still 11 points behind the Hawks - who enjoyed a 3-1 victory at home to Lewes - but the Beachboys have two games in hand.
And despite their fifth straight league win, Concord manager Cowley played down expectations.
He said: "We've had an amazing run in the league and we're in a position that no one inside the club, or outside the club, expected us to be in.
"So we're just going to keep enjoying the moment and taking each game as it comes, as the old adage goes.
"Now we've got a massive game on Tuesday against Grays (an Essex Senior Cup semi final) and then we have some really tough fixtures coming up, so we'll just keep going and see where that takes us."
It was comfortable in the end on Saturday for Concord, but that's not how it started as Hastings went close twice when debutant Mikel Suarez side footed wide after the hosts failed to deal with Lee Carey's free-kick, and then Jack Lampe cleared Elliott Cox's stabbed effort off of the line.
And the visitors continued to turn the screw as Bradley Goldberg's incisive run and shot from distance drew a low, one-handed save from Tom Lovelock.
Concord finally started to click into gear and only a combination of debutant keeper Daniel East's hand and the post kept out Hallett's powerful downward header from a Reece Harris corner midway through the half.
The opening goal came six minutes before the break as Gordon was felled by the onrushing East just inside the box.
The keeper was shown a yellow card and got a hand to Harry Elmes' spot kick, but could not keep it out.
And they made it 2-0 on the stroke of halftime as Elmes sent Harris marauding into the box and his low cross was turned in from close range by Hallett.
Hastings had shown signs in the first half they were capable of a fight back in the second, but they were left with a mountain to climb when Hallett made it 3-0 just 13 seconds after the restart.
The striker was afforded acres of space on the right of the penalty box and, after his initial shot was saved, he steered home the rebound with the outside of his right boot.
It should have been 4-0 soon after but Harris dragged a shot wide after being given a clear sight of goal by Elmes' cross.
It was 4-0 in the 67th minute as Gordon skipped around keeper East and side-footed an effort on target which Ben Judge clumsily skewed into the air on the line and then inadvertently headed into the roof of his own net.
Hastings pushed and pushed for a consolation goal, but Zac Attwood's curler past the far post and then saved low drive was as close as they went in the closing stages.
Concord (4-4-2): Lovelock; Lampe, King, Easterford, Glozier (Fry 78); Gordon, White (J Elmes 75), Stokes, Harris (Spendlove 64); Hallett, Elmes.
Echo MOM: Steve King (Concord Rangers).
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