While the magic of the FA Cup may have bypassed Melbourne on Saturday, this match more than made up with it with Skepelhorn’s dramatic late winner over Ebbsfleet.
With no goals in over 110 minutes of football between these two sides, two goals came in the space of one minute in what was a frenetic spell in the first-half.
Ebbsfleet steered themselves in front with Matt Godden’s driven effort from the left before former Claret Kenny Clark diverted the ball into his own net a minute later, after he was unable to clear Marvel Ekpiteta’s driven cross.
While Ebbsfleet pushed men forward and wasted a plethora of chances, the Clarets nicked the win with Hugo Skepelhorn’s 85th minute strike following Tomi Adeloye’s knock-down.
That victory sets up a Third Qualifying Round tie away at fellow National League South side Basingstoke Town on October 10th.
The Fleet made five changes to the side that drew with the Clarets on Saturday, and the alterations arguably strengthened their team and is keeping in with the team that have started in their unbeaten National League South campaign.
Brandon Hall returned in goal ahead of the weekend’s debutant, Jon Miles, while Anthony Acheampong, Adam Cunnington, Michael West and Jon Paul-Kissock all made way for Danny Kedwell, Matt Godden, Stuart Lewis and captain Tom Bonner.
Mark Hawkes also opted to freshen his side with Harry Morgan and Charlie Henry coming into the side, seeing Lee Sawyer and Mark Haines drop to the bench, and the City chief was almost rewarded with his attacking approach when Bagasan Graham tried his luck from distance early on, although Hall made a routine save.
Despite the Clarets’ pleasing start to the match, with Graham looking a menace, the Fleet had a goal disallowed on 11 minutes. Danny Kedwell, who came on as a sub in Saturday’s original tie, nodded into the net but the referee blew up for a push as City escaped.
Marvel Ekpiteta, who was one of Chelmsford’s stand-out performers in the 0-0 draw, was invited to shoot from range after the ball just popped up in front of him, but his fierce shot dragged wide of an upright.
The hosts soon began to force their way into the match with Matt Willmott and Matt Godden causing havoc on the right-wing, and Kewell almost profited from a slack back pass from Marvin Ekpiteta, although he got the ball stuck under his feet and Henry was able to clear.
While the Clarets got away with it on that occasion, they could do little about Ebbsfleet’s opener as Matt Godden cut inside from the left before dispatching a shot that beat Christian Dibble at his near post.
The Clarets didn’t lose their heads though and looked to make amends straight from kick-off, and were rewarded when Marvel Ekpiteta crossed from the left a minute later. His cut-back from the by-line was drilled into the area, with ex-Claret Kenny Clark running into the ball and diverting it past his own ‘keeper.
With the Fleet stunned after conceding so soon after putting themselves in front, Tomi Adeloye almost nodded in at the back post, but he narrowly missed Mark Hughes’ timely in-swinger from the right.
The Clarets were almost undone by a fortuitous Fleet chance when Jordan Parkes’ diving header, which was going wide, hit Kedwell’s knee, taking it back towards goal. Dibble then had to shift his body shape to tip it around the post, although the lineman raised his flag anyway.
Daryl McMahon’s defence was soon split open with a raking pass from Hughes from deep inside his own half. Adeloye skipped past Bonner before curling an effort that dropped wide of the post, and the whole of the Chelmsford bench thought it was in before having their celebrations cut short.
And it was evident that boss McMahon wasn’t willing to let this match slip from their grasp, introducing John-Paul Kissock from the bench in place of the booked Dean Rance.
Kissock looked to dictate the play immediately, just as he did on Saturday, but it was the Clarets who had the first chance of note after the re-start, with Adeloye pouncing on a defensive mix-up, only to prod wide.
If there was anything the Clarets could do, Ebbsfleet seemed to match with Dibble soon called into action. He was forced to tip Stuart Lewis’ thumping effort from range around the post as the two sides remained level.
Chelmsford’ endeavour and commitment couldn’t be questioned during this FA Cup tie with Adeloye leading the line superbly. He was later supported by young Hugo Skepelhorn, who replaced Charlie Henry, and City looked rejuvenated following the change.
Ebbsfleet, meanwhile, dominated the chances in a similar vein to the first tie, but still lacked the clinical finish. Their spurned chances gave the Clarets a bit of confidence to push forward as they began to believe a victory could be theirs.
They had to ride their luck a little bit though as Kedwell fluffed his lines from close-range following Joe Howe’s pin-point cross.
With Ebbsfleet clearly searching for the win during normal time, McMahon threw on Adam Cunnington in place of Jordan Parkes to go three up front, and it certainly edged the Clarets further back as fatigue began to set in.
The closing stages of the second-half were more reminiscent of the first match with Hawkes’s men pegged in their own half with very few attacking chances.
Cries from the City chief to ‘dig in’ perhaps summed up how the tide had changed with Ebbfleet mounting attack after attack.
But in a rare City burst, the Clarets actually found themselves leading with five minutes remaining. Bagasan Graham drove down the left before crossing into the back post. Adeloye then knocked the ball down to Skepelhorn who slid in to convert past Hall and send the travelling City fans into hysteria.
The Clarets held on for the win, ending Ebbsfleet's 12 match unbeaten run, and recorded their third consecutive victory at Stonebridge Road. This result certainly illustrates just how far the side have come under the stewardship of Hawkes.
1. Brandon Hall
2. Matt Fish
3. Joe Howe
4. Robbie Willmott
5. Kenny Clark
6. Tom Bonner (C)
7. Dean Rance
8. Jordan Parkes
9. Danny Kedwell
10. Matt Godden
11. Robbie Willmott
12. Anthony Acheampong (On for Joe Howe, 90')
13. Jonathan Miles
14. Adam Cunnington (On for Jordan Parkes, 72’)
15. Jon-Paul Kissock (On for Dean Rance, 46’)
16. Sean Shields
17. Casey Johnson
18. Shilow Tracey
1. Christian Dibble
2. Rob Girdlestone
3. Marvel Ekpiteta
4. Mark Hughes (C)
5. Marvin Ekpiteta
6. Rory McAuley
7. Luke Daley
8. Harry Morgan
9. Bagasan Graham
10. Tomi Adeloye
11. Charlie Henry
12. Hugo Skepelhorn (On for Charlie Henry, 62’)
14. Laurence Vaughan
15. Jonah Gosling (On for Luke Daley, 39’)
16. Lee Sawyer
17. Connor Pearce
18. Mark Haines (On for Hugo Skepelhorn, 89’)
19. Amar Lewis
Referee: Mr. Daniel Cook
Assistance Referees: Mr. Antony Foster and Mr. Jammal Horne
Bookings: Ebbfleet United: Dean Rance (27’, foul)
Chelmsford City: Mark Hughes (32’, dissent)
Scorers: Ebbsfleet United: Matt Godden (24’)
Chelmsford City: Kenny Clark OG (25’), Hugo Skepelhorn (85’)
HT score: 1-1
FT score: 1-2
City Man of the Match: Tomi Adeloye