CHELMSFORD CITY 1 CHIPPENHAM TOWN 0
By Matt Lee
Tom Wraight scored the only goal of the game as Chelmsford City beat Chippenham Town 1-0 to move up to fourth in the Vanarama National League South.
Writes Dan Deakins...
The Clarets have now won back to back home games for the first time since April, and moves them within five points of leaders Billericay Town.
Rod Stringer's men should have been 4-0 up at half time; with two penalty shouts and a shocking miss from Rhys Murphy coming before Wraight knocked in the winner prior to the break.
The defence wasn't massively tested throughout the game, but when it was needed, players stepped up resiliently to prevent goals that on another day may have gone in.
City had a fair shout for a penalty within five minutes. Chris Whelpdale put Jazzi Barnum-Bobb through down the right, and the right-back appeared to be pulled down inside the box near the byline. Referee David Spain wasn't having it though.
Matthew Young survived a scare as Karnell Chambers battled past him down the right flank. The forward charged into the penalty area but was well tackled by the covering Michael Spillane, captaining the side in the absence of Anthony Church: an early warning that Chippenham were ready to capitalise on any complacency.
Chippenham's first chance in the 18th minute was another stroke of luck for City. After a melee of tangled legs and a bobbling ball in the box, Nat Jarvis' lunging shot from all of a few yards only rippled the side netting.
City had a second call for a penalty in the 21st minute, and this time it was far more substantive. Young's cross clearly struck the upper arm of a Chippenham defender, but it was waived away.
Rhys Murphy - one short of his 10th league goal of the season - was put clean through in the 26th minute. It seemed a simple one: suss the keeper and nestle the ball in the bottom corner. But he somehow skewed it wide. His dramatic dive to the floor with his hands over his face was enough to suggest he didn't need telling just how much of a prime opportunity it was to take the lead.
Murphy was through again with five minutes left of the first half, but slipped just as he went to pull the trigger, putting the ball straight down the throat of Chippenham's goalkeeper, Brad House.
Wraight broke the deadlock moments before half time. Whelpdale's ball into the box was mishit by Scott Fenwick but Wraight was behind to follow up and finish with a half volley past House.
Josh Smile's speculative long range effort nearly found the equaliser within three minutes of the restart. On the edge of City's box, the forward finessed a curling effort but it was too high to trouble Nathan McDonald.
As if Murphy's shocking miss wasn't enough, Whelpdale offered one himself. The wide midfielder latched onto Murphy's cross with his in-step, but it flew past the post. So convinced were the crowd it was a goal, they cheered and gasped in frustration in one unbroken noise.
House would've been glad Murphy's shot on 65 minutes was a bit too high. His effort from the angle, hit with lashings of venom, needed tipping over, but even if it had been lower it probably would have taken the Chippenham goalkeeper into the net with it.
Chippenham were inches from an equaliser as the game entered the final 10 minutes. City conceded a foul on the edge of their box and Jack Compton stepped up to curl the ball against the far post. An odd choice to select an out swinger from that kind of angle, but it nearly paid off.