CHELMSFORD CITY 3 TILBURY 1.
By Steve Parker
Chelmsford City won at home for the first time since 25 August as they progressed to the next round of the BBC Essex Senior Cup with a hard-fought 3-1 win against Tilbury.
Writes Dan Deakins...
Two goals from Rhys Murphy and one from Scott Fenwick earned City the win but not before Lewis Smith had put Tilbury ahead midway through the first half.
Chris Whelpdale had the first meaningful chance of the game after nine minutes, getting past giant centre back Hussain Jaffa who was pressing high, and shooting wildly past Jamie Merralls' near post.
In the first 20 minutes the game was very scrappy, and while Chelmsford dominated possession, were only able to create half chances.
Albert Keith had Tilbury's first effort after 19 minutes. The forward got down the right side of the penalty area before earning a corner off his deflected shot.
Smith took Tilbury into a shock lead in the 21st minute, tapping home from close range after his teammate's shot had rebounded off the post.
Murphy - substituted on in the 19th minute when Jordan Chiedozie hobbled off with a hamstring injury - went ever so close to the equaliser in the 28th minute. His free kick on the right side of the box was well saved by Merralls low to his left, and from the subsequent corner, Anthony Church volleyed over the crossbar.
Lewis Jaggs was a few inches from doubling Tilbury's lead with 10 minutes of the first half remaining, nearly finishing off a delightfully swift counter-attack; Mitchell Gilbey picked it up on the left side of the halfway line and curled a cross field ball with the outside of his boot to right-back Jaggs. A heavy touch brought Nathan McDonald off his line and Jaggs went for an adventurous dink, which dropped just wide of the far post, with Gilbey sliding to get a toe on the wayward effort.
In added time in the first half, Murphy found himself through on goal from Whelpdale's cross over the defence. With a defender in pursuit, Murphy calmly squared up Merralls and safely tuck the ball into the top corner.
Murphy earned the Clarets a penalty five minutes into the second half when Jaffa's pass back to Merralls was drastically under hit. Murphy nipped in to nick the ball and was taken out by Merralls. Scott Fenwick stepped up and slotted the ball into the bottom right corner to put City ahead for the first time in the game.
Whelpdale really should have added the third a few moments later. Fenwick was put through down the left flank by Murphy and squared across the box, but the sliding Whelpdale couldn't make any contact with the goal at his mercy.
City were struggling to put Tilbury away with 20 minutes remaining and the score at 2-1. The hosts were enjoying a wealth of chances but somehow just couldn't convert them.
To top it all off, Church missed an open goal in quite bizarre circumstances; Merralls became an impromptu 'sweeper-keeper', taking on two City players before being sent the wrong way by Church a good 10-yards outside his area. The Clarets' captain took aim for what was a sure goal, but it sailed embarrassingly over the crossbar.
Merralls was forced into a couple of smart saves as the game moved into the final 10 minutes; firstly Whelpdale's header front point blank range was well pushed away, and then, with the next cross from the right that was looping over his head to the far post, he jumped and reached back to tip the potentially goal-bound effort over the bar.
Chelmsford were given a big chance to seal the tie with six minutes to go when Fenwick was deemed to have been pushed over in the box. Murphy stepped up and made no mistake in netting his second of the game.
Murphy had a chance to notch his hat trick in injury time, but after delaying and delaying, hit the ball way over the bar.