GLOUCESTER CITY 0 CHELMSFORD CITY 0
By Chris Berry
Chelmsford City had to settle for a point as they were held to a 0-0 draw with Gloucester City.
Writes Matt Lee...
The Clarets returned to Essex frustrated after being left rueing several missed chances as they failed to make their dominance count.
Rhys Murphy came closest in the first half as he flashed a header across the face of goal, before Tom Wraight sent a shot narrowly wide.
Gloucester threatened briefly before the break as Nathan McDonald’s clearance fell to Fabien Robert but the Frenchman wasted the chance. Murphy was given another chance midway through the second-half but could not muster his talismanic form of recent games as he wasted a good chance.
City boss Rod Stringer was forced into several changes as a result of injuries leaving him with a depleted squad. Full-back Joe Anderson continued to miss out as Wraight filled in at left-back; Matt Young featured on the right side of defence as Elliot Omozusi moved into the centre, alongside Michael Spillane, to cover the injured Adrian Cascaval.
Max Porter continued in midfield as Chez Isaac retired to the sideline due to an injury, Jonny Giles joined Chris Whelpdale in wide positions while Scott Fenwick occupied a number ten position behind Rhys Murphy.
The Clarets arrived in Worcestershire on the back of ten victories in their previous eleven and came close to scoring in a positive opening fifteen minutes.
Whelpdale’s clever ball over the defensive line allowed Murphy to race towards Jojo Wollacott’s goal, but his chance was cut-short by the offside flag. The duo linked up well to send Fenwick into space but his heavy touch allowed the ball to trickle into the Tigers’ shot-stopper’s hands.
City threatened again when Wollacott fumbled a deep cross, forcing the hosts to concede a corner. Giles’ initial effort was headed behind by Harry Hodges but, at the second attempt, the winger met Murphy’s darting run and the Chelmsford top-scorer flashed a glancing header agonisingly wide on 16 minutes.
The visitors came close once more on 29 minutes as they continued to dominate but remained unable to break the deadlock as Anthony Chuch’s stinging volley was deflected wide.
Chelmsford should have opened the scoring shortly before the interval when Giles dragged a shot wide to Whelpdale who then had his effort deflected over the bar, Gloucester were there for the taking but City lacked a clinical edge.
Gloucester could have snuck ahead moments before half-time when McDonald and Young failed to communicate, the City shot-stopper’s hurried clearance fell to Robert who wasted the late chance as the two sides entered the break level.
The hosts had a rare moment of attacking integrity when a rehearsed corner routine fell to Robert on the edge of the box, but the Frenchman shot into a crowded box and it eventually bobbled wide.
Murphy’s driving run towards goal was cut short when he was tripped from behind. Wraight ran over the dead-ball in a choreographed freekick routine but Murphy’s strike curled narrowly wide.
City’s best chance arrived on the hour-mark when Wraight’s pin-point delivery picked out Spillane. The defender controlled well inside the box and shifted into space, his volley produced a tame save from Wollacott which fell to Murphy who was unable to convert from within the six-yard box.
As a result of the ongoing missed chances, Stringer made his first change by replacing Fenwick with Jordan Chiedozie immediately after Murphy’s missed opportunity.
Zack Kotwicka carved an opportunity for the hosts when he peeled away from Wraight to race onto a long ball forward. The tricky forward beat his marker before shooting towards goal, but his effort rebounded off Spillane and trickled through to McDonald.
Stringer made his final chances with 23 minutes left as Church and Giles were substituted off in place of Miles and Aaron Cosgrave.
Cosgrave immediately came into action as his pace on the right flank created space, the striker delivered a dangerous cross into the box ahead of Murphy but Wollacott claimed the teasing effort.
Both sides felt they could get the all-important goal to claim victory, but chances came fair and few between as the second half progressed.
The Clarets were denied a clear-cut penalty with eight minutes left by referee Elliot Swallow, leaving City boss Rod Stringer apoplectic. Chiedozie controlled well from a deep corner but, as he turned into space, the substitute was tripped from behind and bundled to the ground – City were left baffled as their loud appeals were waved away.
Chelmsford had one last chance to steal all three points when Murphy spun away from his marker to cross into the box, but Whelpale nodded his header into the ground and wide as City were left wondering how they had not claimed maximum points.