Classy Clarets Seal Vital Win Over Bath
BILLY BRICKNELL’S 11th League goal of the season helped Chelmsford City on their way to three points over fellow strugglers Bath City.
The Romans sat just two points below the Clarets prior to the afternoon and were second-best for large parts of the match as first half goals from Bricknell – his first in 11 matches – and Bagasan Graham gave the hosts a commanding lead at the break.
Mark Hughes extended the advantage with a first-time strike on 49 minutes, effectively erasing any hopes of a comeback from the Romans, although Tyler Harvey pulled one back for Bath with a fine strike from outside the box to make it a somewhat unnerving finish.
The result leaves Chelmsford six points above the drop-zone with games against Havant & Waterlooville, Ebbsfleet, Gosport, Sutton, and basement club Basingstoke remaining.
The Clarets made just one change to the side that saw off Maidstone United 3-0 last week with Southend loanee Jack Bridge reinstated to the line-up at the expense of Sandro Semedo, while Bath City’s Liam Kelly returned to their first eleven, meaning Nick McCootie dropped to the bench.
It was arguably the visitors who shaded the opening exchanges with Kelly causing havoc down the left and forcing Kevin Maher’s side into two blocks early on.
Just prior to those two chances, though, Mark Haines came close to heading the Clarets in front from a Bagasan Graham long throw, but he was almost the culprit moments later as he let a cross slip under his feet, giving the experienced Dave Pratt a chance that he failed to capitalise on.
It didn’t take long for the Clarets to gain a foothold in the match and break the deadlock, with Billy Bricknell edging the hosts in front on 13 minutes. A header into the box by Mark Hughes was nodded in from a tight angle as City’s top-scorer broke his 944 minute goal drought and, more importantly, gave Bath an early set-back.
From then on, Gary Owers’ side look unassured at the back – although centre-halve Jack Batten tried to take matters into his own hands by firing wide from distance – as Bridge’s pace on the right caused them numerous problems.
Bath shot stopper and skipper, Steve Phillips, was then left stranded when Reece Prestedge locked on to a loose ball only to drag wide before Chelmsford doubled their advantage four minutes before the half-hour mark. The lively Bridge carried the ball down the right before Bricknell deft flick run through to the lurking Bagasan Graham. The winger took a touch before composing himself and lashing a shot into the top-corner that was beyond the gloves of Phillips.
Bath certainly had the better of the chances but it was at the back where they looked most vulnerable, although they were prevented from halving the deficit thanks to an outstanding save from Christian Dibble. Tyler Harvey – who scored a sensational winning goal from inside the centre-circle in their 2-1 win over Weston-super-Mare recently – had his shot from a tight angle tipped on to the crossbar and post as they were left in disbelief as to how they hadn’t forced the ball home.
They may have felt they deserved more from their display but they were pegged back further four minutes after the interval when some promising build-up play was finished off by Hughes as the skipper side-footed home Bricknell’s cushioned lay-off.
Chelmsford were clinical, something that hasn’t been abundant in recent matches but their calmness in front of goal came at the right time in this encounter with Tuesday night’s tough away trip to Havant their next fixture.
The visitors’ frustrations began to seep through after an altercation from both dugouts, summing up the mood for the Romans who struggled to carve out many chances in the second period, largely thanks to some organised and dogged defending from Chelmsford.
They were, however, rewarded for their endeavour and pulled one back with under 20 minutes remaining when Harvey lashed in a superb shot from outside the box that hit the underside of the crossbar on its way in. A blot on the afternoon’s copybooks for Maher’s outfit, but a mere consolation for the Somerset side.
Graham had a chance to wrap up the three points late on but was denied by a block at the near post, although the game was over by that point as the Clarets recorded back-to-back wins and a fourth consecutive home victory.
1. Christian Dibble
2. Rob Girdlestone
3. Marvel Ekpiteta
4. Mark Hughes (C)
5. Mark Haines
6. Rory McAuley
7. Jack Bridge
9. Jason Williams
10. Billy Bricknell
11. Bagasan Graham
18. Reece Prestedge
8. Timothy Monsheju
12. Sandro Semedo (On for Billy Bricknell, 76’)
14. Luke Daley (On for Jack Bridge, 73’)
15. Harry Morgan (On for Reece Prestedge, 90+2')
16. Marvin Ekpiteta
1. Steve Phillips (C)
2. Dan Bowman
3. Danny Greenslade
4. Jack Batten
5. Dan Ball
6. Chas Hemmings
7. Frankie Artus
8. Ashley Kington
9. Tyler Harvey
10. Dave Pratt
11. Liam Kelly
12. Nick McCootie (On for Chas Hemmings, 46’)
14. Andy Gallinagh
15. Billy Murphy (On for Ashley Kington, 46’)
16. Josh Hutchinson
16. Brad Williams
Referee: Mr. Christopher Pollard (Stowmarket)
Assistant Referees: Mr. Paul Quick and Mr. George Laflin
Bookings: Chelmsford City: Reece Prestedge (42’, foul)
Bath City: Danny Greenslade (54’, cynical foul)
Scorers: Chelmsford City: Billy Bricknell (13’), Bagasan Graham (26’), Mark Hughes (49’)
Bath City: Tyler Harvey (72’)
HT Score: 2-0
FT Score: 3-1
City Man of the Match: Jack Bridge
Match Day Sponsor: Direct Insurance Ltd.