Marvel Ekpiteta netted a spectacular effort from the edge-of-the-box to hand the Clarets the lead but it was cancelled out on the stroke of half-time by Brighton’s Daniel Akindayini after the hosts were caught in possession.
The Clarets more than matched the Seagulls for large parts of the match but their overall quality shone through in the end when Charlie Harris’ strike found the bottom corner with five minutes remaining.
The match proved a good workout for Mark Hawkes’ side and, with the visit of Southend United on Wednesday, gave the Clarets a good opportunity to further gain some match fitness ahead of the League curtain raiser in two weeks’ time.
The Clarets began the game promisingly with a couple of good attacks – particularly through Billy Bricknell’s hold-up play and a direct Charlie Henry run – and have appeared to have grown in confidence game-by-game this pre-season.
They were almost picked off, however, by a wonderfully-weighted pass from Brighton’s Charlie Harris. The ball skipped past Mark Haines – playing in an unfamiliar right-back position – and into the path of Jeffery Monakana who saw his cross-cum-shot saved by the outstretched leg of Ashley Timms. The save fell kindly to the feet of former Tottenham U21 striker Daniel Akindayini, but he was unable to direct his effort on target with an open goal gaping in front of him.
City didn’t seem fazed by that near-miss though and soon took the lead just shy of the 20-minute mark. Marvel Ekpiteta – twin of centre-back Marvin – introduced himself to the City faithful having signed for the club hours before kick-off. The left-back bombed forward before checking inside and curling a sublime effort into the far corner from 20-yards to leave Seagulls keeper Jamie Smith rooted to his spot.
Chelmsford then controlled the next ten minutes with Rory McAuley’s commanding performance a highlight, and nullified the threat of ex-Arsenal youngster Monakana on a number of occasions.
Henry came close to doubling City’s lead towards the latter stages of the first-half when he was brought down on the edge-of-the-area. He stepped up before cracking a shot against the crossbar, and Timms kept the Clarets’ lead intact with an excellent save to deny Akindayini from close range.
Timms could do little about Akindayini’s leveller just before half-time, however, when his low, but tame, shot trickled into the bottom corner. The Clarets were caught on the back foot when Michael Toner lost the ball on the half-way line and, despite a good recovery challenge from skipper Mark Hughes, struggled to make amends and were punished for the kind of error that manager Hawkes has said he wishes to eradicate ahead of the trip to Oxford City on August 8th.
The second-half, as inevitably is the case with most friendlies, became disrupted through substitutions although City still impressed in the early stages with some creative dribbling from the likes of Charlie Henry.
Brighton still gave the impression that they only really needed half a chance to score and Akindayini continued to threaten with a couple of strikes from inside the area, but the City defence were alert to the challenge and dealt with the attacks well.
Bricknell went close to restoring City’s lead ten-minutes after the restart though when Marvel Ekpiteta went on a marauding run down the left. His cut-back fell to the feet of Bricknell whose left-foot shot was blocked by a combination of Rob Hunt and Ben Barclay who fulfilled their defensive duties admirably.
Bricknell, who celebrated his birthday the day before the match, came close again shortly after when Hugo Skepelhorn was hacked down around 30-yards from goal. The striker sent a powerfully set-piece on target, and substitute keeper Harry Doherty was equal to his effort and managed to palm it away.
Joe Ward – who netted double figures for the Clarets last season before making the switch to the south coast – was introduced after the hour to a very warm reception from the Melbourne Stadium faithful.
Ward almost made the perfect introduction when he found space on the right, although he sliced his final effort as Timms remained untroubled.
The game somewhat petered out but there was still time for Brighton to take the lead and claim the victory. Charlie Harris drove forward from midfield before setting himself up to strike the ball low and past the diving Timms, and the Clarets will be bitterly disappointed that they couldn’t hold out.
Chelmsford City Starting XI: Ashley Timms, Mark Haines, Marvel Ekpiteta, Mark Hughes (C), Rory McAuley, Marvin Ekpiteta, Lee Sawyer, Michael Toner, Billy Bricknell, Charlie Henry, Hugo Skepelhorn. Subs: Rob Girdlestone, Bagasan Graham, Jonah Gosling, Connor, Mason Spence, Amar Lewis.
Brighton & Hove Albion Starting XI: Jamie Smith, Rob Hunt, Dylan Barnett, Jesse Starkey, Tom Dallison, Ben Barclay, Jason Davis, Charlie Harris, Daniel Akindayini, James Tilley, Jeffery Monakana. Subs: Chike Kandi, Harry Doherty, Remi Meyers, Conor Tighe, Joe Ward, Ragnar Mar-Larasson, Archie Davis.
Scorers: Chelmsford City: Marvel Ekpiteta (18)
Brighton & Hove Albion: Daniel Akindayini (44), Charlie Harris (85)
HT Score: 1-1