GLEN SOUTHAM recorded Chelmsford City’s first goal of the Vanarama Conference South with his second-half penalty, but the Clarets could only settle for a point against promotion hopefuls Sutton United.
Michael Cheek was brought down by Tom Lovelock in the area five minutes into the second-half, prompting referee Sam Purkiss to brandish a straight red and to award the Clarets a penalty kick. Glen Southam then stepped up to dispatch the penalty past Luke Ruddick who was presented with the task of filling in for Lovelock.
The Clarets then sat back rather than opt to test the nervy ‘keeper and James Love subsequently turned the ball into his own net following Jack Evans’s drilled cross, leaving the Clarets disappointed that they couldn’t secure all three points.
The Clarets made an impressive start to the match and had two good opportunities to break the deadlock within the opening five minutes. Luke Callander set-up last season’s top-scorer Michael Cheek with a neat reverse pass, but the frontman could only watch as he dragged his shot wide of an upright.
Callander then had his driven free-kick tipped round the post by Sutton ‘keeper Tom Lovelock after Cheek was fouled by Matt Lockwood.
Lovelock was then called upon again as he reacted well to punch Glen Southam’s teasing set-piece routine away from goal, and was then called upon once again as he scrambled to clear Lee Sawyer’s scooped effort.
The Clarets’ passing in the middle of the park was at times impressive, but it was the final link-up play that was particularly lacking as the imposing figure of U’s skipper Charlie Clough cut out the majority of danger.
23-year-old Clough expressed his desire to remain with Paul Doswell’s side despite reported interest from clubs such as AFC Wimbledon and Eastleigh, and it’s hard to disregard Sutton for promotion if he continues to put in such a solid display as witnessed at Melbourne.
Sutton soon gained confidence as the first half grew old and Kane Haysman pulled a fine save from Nicky Eyre who has looked a steady figure in the Clarets’ previous League matches.
City soon had a goal and numerical advantage when Michael Cheek was brought down by U’s keeper Tom Lovelock, who was shown a straight red, allowing Glen Southam to net City’s first goal of the campaign as he tucked the spot-kick into the bottom left-hand corner.
Matt Lockwood then tested Nicky Eyre with a well-struck free-kick but the former Heybridge Swifts ‘keeper pushed the ball away and collided with a post.
City failed to make the man advantage count however and Luke Callander and Michael Cheek were left to rue their missed chances when Jack Evans saw his drilled cross deflected into the net by the unfortunate James Love.
Sutton could have stolen all three points when substitute Craig Dundas shimmied his way into the box and laid the ball off to Michael Spillane, but he saw his shot blocked by the on-running Christian Smith.
Luke Callander then blazed a shot over the bar following Michael Cheek’s lay-off but, in the end, the Clarets were forced to settle with a point.
1. Nicky Eyre
2. James Love
3. Leon Redwood
4. Mark Hughes (C)
5. Mark Haines
6. Marvin Ekpiteta
7. Lee Sawyer
8. Glen Southam
9. Luke Callander
10. Michael Cheek
11. Rohdell Gordon
12. Christian Smith (On for Leon Redwood, 68)
14. Joe Ward (On for Rohdell Gordon, 74)
14. Harry Morgan
15. Hugo Skepelhorn
19. Niklas Freund (GK)
1. Tom Lovelock
2. Luke Ruddick
3. Jack Evans
4. Michael Spillane
5. Matt Lockwood
6. Charlie Clough (C)
7. Kane Haysman
8. Ricky Wellard
9. Jessy Reindorf
10. Jamie Taylor
11. Marvin Williams
12. Dammy Shitta (On for Ricky Wellard, 90)
14. Craig Dundas (On for Marvin Williams, 58)
15. Claudiu Hoban
16. Albert Jarrett
17. Louis John (On for Kane Haysman, 58)
Referee: Mr Sam Purkiss
Assistant Referee: Mr O Dalton & Mr D Richardson
Bookings: Chelmsford: Michael Cheek (31, foul), Leon Redwood (59, foul), Marvin Ekpiteta (foul, 67), Glen Southam (87, foul)
Sutton United: Jack Evans (55, foul)
Sent off: Sutton: Tom Lovelock (51, foul)
City Man of the Match: Nicky Eyre