By JOHN CHUBB
Bowers & Pitsea began warming up for their first ever season in the Isthmian Premier League on Friday night, as they welcomed EFL League Two side Colchester United to the Len Salmon Stadium.
Bowers, looking to build on their impressive Isthmian North title win of last season gave a good account of themselves, and held their own for the first hour of the game.
But John McGreal’s U’s, also playing the first of their pre-season friendlies eventually found a breakthrough, and goals from Louis Dunne and Luke Norris after half-time ensured they ran out 2-0 winners in front of 325 spectators.
On Saturday Concord Rangers, with new manager Danny Scopes at the helm began their preparations for their forthcoming National League South campaign with a prestigious friendly at home to Millwall.
The Championship club brought a strong squad to the Aspect Arena and ran out 4-0 winners.
Shaun Williams gave the Lions a first half lead, then after the break Cameron Harris – 17 year old son of Millwall manager Neil Harris – came on as a substitute for the home team.
But his father’s side showed their professionalism with three late goals. Ben Thompson doubled the South Londoners’ lead with 18 minutes remaining just before Reuben Duncan made it 3-0, after being set up by ex-Southend United midfielder Ryan Leonard.
Fred Onyedinma added a fourth for the visitors late on, in front of a crowd of 1238.
Meanwhile Chelmsford City, one of three Essex clubs Concord will be facing in league action this season travelled to Suffolk and came away with a thumping 7-0 victory at the expense of hosts AFC Sudbury.
Clarets manager Rod Stringer’s squad for this friendly included several unnamed trialists, one of whom scored a brace.
Billy Knott, Michael Spillane and Jonny Giles, all retained from the squad that finished the 2018/19 season at Melbourne Park all found themselves on the scoresheet for City.
Two of Stringer’s close season recruits, former Charlton and Maidstone midfield man Ollie Muldoon and young striker Andy Fennell, signed from Coggeshall United got the other Chelmsford goals.
EFL returnees Leyton Orient kicked off their pre-season campaign with a short trip up the M11 to Harlow Town, who are preparing for life in the new Isthmian League South Central Division following relegation from the Isthmian Premier League.
Ross Embleton, taking charge of the O’s for the first time following the tragic death of previous manager Justin Edinburgh saw his side claim a comfortable 5-0 victory at the Harlow Arena.
Matt Harrold and debutant Conor Wilkinson – signed from Dagenham & Redbridge – gave Orient a 2-0 half time lead before James Brophy, Lee Angol and James Alabi completed the scoring in the second period.
Southend United travelled to Berkshire to take on Championship club Reading in a friendly played behind closed doors.
The Royals side won 2-0, but Blues boss Kevin Bond was able to assess his squad by giving game time to 22 players.
Braintree Town began life under their new manager Glen Driver with a visit to Thurlow Nunn League outfit Newmarket Town, where they picked up a 3-0 victory thanks to a fifth minute goal from a trialist, and a second half brace from Tom Richardson.
And there was also a win for Isthmian Premier League side Hornchurch, who visited Grays Athletic of the North Division and won 2-1.
Lewwis Spence put Urchins ahead in the first half before a trialist added a second from the penalty spot with 17 minutes remaining. Tony Stokes scored Grays’ consolation 2 minutes from time.