EAST Thurrock have completed an audacious swoop to take goal-machine Sam Higgins back from Concord Rangers.

The 30-goal-a-season man turn out for the relegation-threatened Rocks at home to Kingstonian in the Ryman Premier last night and scored in the 13th minute.

It meant the Beachboys went into last night’s Skrill South clash with Staines Town without their 13-goal top scorer and manager Danny Cowley admitted it was a blow.

He said: “I thank Sam for the efforts he has made for Concord but our team is always bigger than the individual and as a manager I won’t compromise my beliefs in team spirit.

“We have lost key players in the past and we will lose key players in the future.

“We lost Harry Elmes (to a broken leg) at an important time last year and we went on to win a cup and the play-offs. What these things tend to do is bring Concord closer together.

“Money makes the world go around, but I’m not criticising that for a moment.

“Sam came in when we lost Tony Stokes (to a bad knee injury) in the summer and did a good job for the team.

“Now we wish him and East Thurrock well because we like that club and we don’t want to see them get relegated. But for now my focus is on us.”

Cowley moved immediately to strengthen his squad by bringing in versatile, attacking wide-man Joe Gardner from Ryman One North side Maldon & Tiptree.

Cowley said: “Joe was a youth teamer with Concord, and I’ve wanted to bring him back for a while.

“He has been an integral part of the Maldon’s side but I spoke to Terry (Spillane, Maldon’s manager) and we decided it was the right time for a new challenge for Joe.”

Cowley says he is also working on bringing in other recruits as his side enter a run-in which will decide whether they retain the cherished Skrill South place they earned by winning the Ryman Premier play-offs last year.

He said: “We understand we are in a relegation battle regardless of what the table says and how many games in hand we have.

“We know we need 50 points and we know how hard it was to get to 31. And if we are in a battle I need players here I can trust.”