Ebbsfleet dominated the first-half but still struggled to truly test Christian Dibble, while the Clarets gradually came into the match following the interval with Tomi Adeloye looking a real promise throughout.
The replay will take place at Stonebridge Road on Tuesday 29th September at 19:45pm, and it will have to be decided there and then after nothing could separate the two sides here.
The Fleet, who still boast an unbeaten start to the season, made five changes to the side that beat Weston-super-Mare 2-1 in midweek, with manager Daryl McMahon handing ‘keeper Jon Miles his Fleet debut. Former Clarets Kenny Clark and Jordan Parkes also started for the visitors while Michael West was a late addition to the line-up, replacing the injured Danny Haynes.
In the opposite dugout, Mark Hawkes opted for a degree of rotation too with Harry Morgan and the injured Billy Bricknell making way for Bagasan Graham and Rob Girdlestone, who made his first start of the season.
And it was Hawkes’s side who looked to make the first impression; they were nearly rewarded when Luke Daley nodded Lee Sawyer’s cross towards goal. The effort was deflected for a corner though with the Fleet half-clearing it before Tomi Adeloye was brought down in the box, only for the referee to wave play on.
It was then Fleet’s turn to test the Clarets, and Jordan Parkes came close after Robbie Willmott’s corner. The Ebbsfleet midfielder drilled the ball to the back post, and Parkes was almost rewarded when his effort flew goal bound, only for Dibble’s outstretched hand to tip it wide.
It took that moment for the visitors to settle and they threatened the Clarets with some tidy possession and defence-splitting passes. The back three of Marvin Ekpiteta, Rory McAuley and Mark Haines impressed though and dealt with a number of teasing crosses with conviction.
The Clarets found themselves pegged back in their own half for most of the 45-minutes and so lacked a bit of confidence and pace when going forward; only Tomi Adeloye and Bagasan Graham really got behind the Fleet defence.
Willmott eyed the FA Cup headlines when he latched onto a cross at the back post, but his volley flew miles over and failed to threaten Dibble’s goal.
Fleet’s centre-back, Anthony Adeampong, was then fortunate not to concede a penalty just after the half-hour mark when he clumsily barged Adeloye in the back, but the referee was once again having none of it.
Fleet had an encouraging spell in the final five minutes of the first-half, first with full-back Matt Fish shooting at Dibble before Michael West blazed wide from close-range following a timely Willmott cross.
The cutting edge was lacking however as both sides remained level at the break.
In an attempt to gain a foothold in the match, the Clarets switched to four at the back with Rory McAuley sitting in the deep-midfield role.
It appeared to work and gave Lee Sawyer freedom to move further forward, but the Clarets still struggled with the final ball, and Jon Miles remained relatively untroubled.
Chelmsford did show some promise before the hour however when Lee Sawyer and Marvel Ekpiteta exchanged passes on the left, but the latter was flagged offside before he could get his cross in.
Both sides were then reasonably tentative in their approach, although there were a couple of pacy counter-attacks that were picked off.
The match became niggly – Adeloye still looked the Clarets’ most threatening outlet – and it was evident both sides would settle for a replay on Tuesday night.
Parkes had a chance to finish the tie late on but his scuffed finish dribbled wide and then Matt Gooden failed to capitalise on a lapse in concentration from City, lobbing well over the bar.
City’s second-half showing was a vast improvement on a first 45-minutes that saw them struggle to test the Fleet defence. They will have it all to do again on Tuesday though – hopefully for the sake of the supporters it will be a more exciting affair.
1. Christian Dibble
2. Mark Haines
3. Marvel Ekpiteta
4. Mark Hughes (C)
5. Marvin Ekpiteta
6. Rory McAuley
7. Luke Daley
8. Lee Sawyer
9. Bagasan Graham
10. Tomi Adeloye
11. Rob Girdlestone
12. Harry Morgan (On for Lee Sawyer, 71’)
14. Laurence Vaughan
15. Jonah Gosling
16. Charlie Henry
17. Connor Pearce
18. Amar Lewis
1. Jon Miles
2. Matt Fish
3. Joe Howe
4. Robbie Willmott
5. Kenny Clark
6. Anthony Acheampong
7. Dean Rance (C)
8. Jordan Parkes
9. Adam Cunnington
10. Michael West
11. Jon-Paul Kissock
12. Tom Bonner
13. Rhys Hughes
14. Danny Kedwell (On for Adam Cunnington, 68’)
15. Sean Shields
16. Matt Godden (On for Michael West, 62’)
17. Casey Johnson
18. Shilow Tracey
Referee: Mr. Anthony Serrano (Leighton Buzzard)
Assistance Referees: Mr. Daniel Richardson and Mr. Joel Mannix
Bookings: Chelmsford City: Mark Haines (foul, 90’)
Ebbfleet United: None
Scorers: Chelmsford City: None
Ebbsfleet United: None
HT score: 0-0
FT score: 0-0
City Man of the Match: Tomi Adeloye