By Adam May
The Clarets, who named an unchanged line-up from their recent victory over Bishop’s Stortford, made an explosive start to the match against a Staines Town side who had previously suffered back-to-back defeats.
Chelmsford’s Lee Sawyer, on-loan from fellow Vanarama Conference South side Sutton United, picked out Luke Callander with a raking pass from inside his own area. And Callander, who scored two against Stortford, beat Jerel Ifil for pace and crossed for Cheek, only for the striker to see his effort deflected over.
Staines, meanwhile, struggled to settle in the early stages, only really threatening from Max Worsfold’s free-kick which Clarets’ goalkeeper Nicky Eyre comfortably collected.
It was a scrappy encounter to tell the truth with the Clarets giving the ball away cheaply in midfield which aggravated City manager Mark Hawkes, who served his touchline ban following his sending off on the opening day of the season.
It was Staines though who broke the deadlock and, for all their passing play, it came as a result of route one football. Calum Willock pounced on Jack Turner’s punt up-field, heading in from just outside the box and past the on-rushing Nicky Eyre.
The Clarets did search for an instant reply, but Michael Cheek nodded just over the bar.
He then had an opportunity to make up for the miss when Lee Sawyer played a terrific pass into the box but, when the striker found himself one-on-one with Jack Turner, sliced his effort horribly wide from close-range.
Glen Southam made up for Cheek’s miss though when Mark Haines was hauled down inside the area, prompting referee Anthony da Costa to point to the spot in first-half stoppage time. He stepped-up to convert his second penalty of the season as he slammed the ball into the top corner.
Staines almost punished Chelmsford on the counter-attack early in the second-half when Clarets’ youngster Rob Girdlestone was dispossessed following Joe Ward’s long throw. The Swans pounced and broke away through Louie Theophanous, but Mark Haines eventually cut the attack out.
It didn’t take long for the Swans to regain their lead though and it followed some sloppy play by the hosts. Joe Ward lost possession on the wing and Calum Willock found himself in acres of space in the box, heading home past the flat-footed Nicky Eyre.
City skipper Mark Hughes then had a good chance to equalise when he let the ball drop in the area, but he couldn’t keep the shot down and could only watch as his left-footed effort sailed over the bar.
In response to Calum Willock’s second goal of the afternoon, the Clarets sent on Stevenage loanee Rohdell Gordon in place of Joe Ward but the change didn’t alter too much as City lacked attacking ideas.
The Clarets certainly shaded the match in terms of possession but, when it came to the final third, lacked a penetrating pass that put the Swans’ defence under pressure. While the Staines back-line stood strong throughout, they were not tested as much as they perhaps should have been with City only threatening from half-chances.
But Staines did invite pressure in the last half an hour as they looked to preserve their slender lead.
Luke Callander twice headed wide of the mark following crosses from James Love as it looked like it just wasn’t going to be Chelmsford’s day. That was further illustrated when Mark Hughes flashed his header wide following Glen Southam’s teasing free-kick.
Staines did enough to keep out the Clarets and added a third when Louie Theophanous poked the ball home past Nicky Eyre following a through ball by Stephane Ngamvoulou as the Clarets were forced to taste defeat.
1. Nicky Eyre
2. James Love
3. Rob Girdlestone
4. Mark Hughes (C)
5. Mark Haines
6. Marvin Ekpiteta
7. Lee Sawyer
8. Glen Southam
9. Luke Callander
10. Michael Cheek
11. Joe Ward
12. Christian Smith
14. Rohdell Gordon (On for Joe Ward, 67)
15. Harry Morgan
16. Leon Redwood
17. Niklas Freund (GK)
1. Jack Turner
2. Sanchez Ming
3. Max Worsfold (C)
4. Merrick James-Lewis
5. Chris M’Boungou
6. Jerel Ifil
7. Erivaldo Felix
8. Stephane Ngamvoulou
9. Louie Theophanous
10. Josh Ekim
11. Calum Willock
12. Danny Bassett
14. Basram Pashaj (On for Erivaldo Felix, 63)
15. Luke Neville (On for Calum Willock, 63)
16. Joe Aribo
17. Ashley Lodge (On for Josh Ekim, 58)
Referee: Mr. Anthony da Costa
Assistant Referees: Mr. Jairo Marin & Mr. Richard Hart
Bookings: Chelmsford City: Glen Southam (38, foul)
Staines Town: Sanchez Ming (46, foul) Chris M'Boungou (54, foul), Merrick James-Lewis (90)
Scorers: Chelmsford City: Glen Southam (45+1, penalty)
Staines Town: Calum Willock (21, 51), Louie Theophanous (84)
City Man of the Match: Lee Sawyer