Debut Delight For Whichelow
By Adam May
MATTY WHICHELOW got his Chelmsford City spell off to a flying start with two goals against Basingstoke.
The Boreham Wood loanee scored either side of Liam Enver-Marum’s 58th minute penalty to hand the Clarets the three points, a week after ‘Stoke dumped Chelmsford out of the FA Cup.
Whichelow shot past Aaron Howe on 38 minutes but the Clarets were soon pegged back after half-time when Liam Enver-Marum converted from the spot after Luke Daley brought down Lloyd Macklin.
The Clarets weren’t put off and looked to regain their lead, and Whichelow added his second of the game with a fierce drive into the bottom corner 14 minutes from time.
It was City’s first National League South win since their 5-2 victory over Concord Rangers on September 14th.
In response to last week’s disastrous 4-2 Emirates FA Cup exit to ‘Stoke, City boss Mark Hawkes made three changes with Harry Morgan, Bagasan Graham and Wichelow all being drafted in, meaning Tomi Adeloye, Sean Shields and Lee Sawyer dropped out. Dragons’ chief, Jason Bristow, meanwhile, opted for the same starting eleven that saw off the Clarets last time out, with scorers Manny Williams, Chris Flood and Enver-Marum retaining their places.
The Clarets stated their intent early on with some decisive runs from Whichelow and the loanee, who signed on Friday, drew the first shot of the match, but he saw his effort take a deflection and curl wide of the far post.
Skipper Mark Hughes, who netted a sensational last-minute consolation goal last week, then headed over twice from promising positions as Basingstoke were slow to start.
They managed to eek their way into the match with left-back Tom Bird having the Dragons’ first shot on target ten minutes in, but his right-footed effort was comfortably dealt with by City’s Christian Dibble.
Clear-cut chances were still, however, at a premium, with City forced to work hard against what is an experienced back-line who boast over 400 ‘Stoke appearances between them.
West Ham loanee Jordan Brown tried his best to hold the ball up, although was caught flatfooted a couple of times when the ball was played beyond the defence.
And ‘Stoke, where credit’s due, don’t look like a side who currently prop-up the National League South table at all. They had drawn half of their games prior to this fixture, though, perhaps concisely demonstrating how resolute they can be.
And they almost edged in front when Enver-Marum directed a ferocious shot towards Dibble, but the stinging shot from outside the box whistled narrowly wide of a post.
It was Chelmsford who netted the opener seven minutes prior to the interval when Whichelow picked the ball up inside the area from Rob Girdlestone’s cut-back. He then coolly dispatched past Aaron Howe after a deft touch to take the ball away from his man, with a deflection from David Ray wrong-footing the former Sutton ‘keeper.
Flood had a golden chance to pull the sides level after the restart, but Marvin Ekpiteta managed to regain his footing following a heart-in-mouth moment for the visitors.
Whichelow then went close to doubling his tally with a fierce drive moments after, but Howe was equal to the effort and pushed the shot away.
City then had another chance to make the score-line look more favourable, but Luke Daley failed to connect with Graham’s pacey cross with the goal gaping.
The visitors were left to rue their missed chances as two minutes shy of the hour mark the hosts were given a way back into the match. Enver-Marum, who netted a brace seven days ago, sent Dibble the wrong way from the penalty spot after Daley brought down Dragons’ substitute Lloyd Macklin, who had only been on the pitch for two minutes after replacing the ineffective Manny Williams.
Chelmsford were then fortunate not to concede another when Dibble dropped a high ball into the box before appearing to block-off Enver-Marum. The referee saw no wrongdoing despite the ‘Stoke striker’s protestations, and the Clarets ‘keeper got off lightly.
Whichelow then took it upon himself to hand the Clarets the three points, with the debutant striking low into the bottom left corner, giving Howe absolutely no chance to execute the save.
Basingstoke applied plenty of pressure as they searched for a late leveller, but the Clarets managed to hold on and keep the Dragons’ attack at bay despite a late flurry of corners which saw Ray head wide in stoppage time.
The result and performance will undoubtedly please boss Mark Hawkes who cut a frustrated and angry figure last week, and the Clarets will now go into next Saturday’s clash with current league leaders Ebbsfleet United with some added confidence, having beaten the Fleet in the FA Cup in the Second Qualifying Round replay.
1. Aaron Howe
2. Nathan Smart
3. Tom Bird
4. James Harper
5. Jay Gasson
6. David Ray (C)
7. Louie Soares
8. Harrison Gilkes
9. Liam Enver-Marum
10. Chris Flood
11. Manny Williams
12. Lloyd Macklin (On for Manny Williams, 56’)
14. Rob Rice
15. Will Salmon
16. Shaun McAuley
17. George Hallahan
1. Christian Dibble
2. Rob Girdlestone
3. Aiden Palmer
4. Mark Hughes (C)
5. Marvin Ekpiteta
6. Rory McAuley
7. Luke Daley
8. Harry Morgan
9. Jordan Brown
10. Matty Whichelow
11. Bagasan Graham
12. Hugo Skepelhorn (On for Jordan Brown, 80’)
14. Sean Shields (On for Bagasan Graham, 73’)
15. Marvel Ekpiteta
16. Lee Sawyer
18. Jonah Gosling
Referee: Mr. Samuel Allison
Assistant referees: Mr. Martin Underhay and Mr. Lee Rutter
Bookings: Basingstoke Town: Harrison Gilkes (61’, dissent), James Harper (73’, foul)
Chelmsford City: Rob Girdlestone (43’, foul), Marvin Ekpiteta (45’, foul), Luke Daley (50’, foul)
Scorers: Basingstoke Town: Liam Enver-Marum (58’, penalty)
Chelmsford City: Matty Whichelow (38’, 76’)
HT score: 0-1
FT score: 1-2
City Man of the Match: Matty Whichelow