Cheek’s chipped effort from 40-yards put the Clarets back in front just before half-time after Jake Robinson cancelled out an early Joe Ward free-kick.
The Clarets handed debuts to goalkeeper Tom Lovelock, signed from Vanarama Conference South rivals Sutton United, and Southend loanee Jack Bridge. These two sides have served up plenty of goals in their three encounters already this season (two in the FA Cup and once in the League) with no fewer than 19 goals witnessed.
Prior to the match a twenty-minute flurry of snow lightly covered the pitch and it served up another entertaining fixture, and a huge mention must go to the Clarets’ fans who turned up hours before the game to clear the pitch and thus making it playable.
Jaanai Gordon, who recently extended his loan move from West Ham United for one more month, should really have put the Clarets ahead in the fourth minute when he found himself free inside the area, only to head Joe Ward’s free-kick wide.
It certainly wasn’t an easy game for City goalkeeper Tom Lovelock to make his debut, and he was almost left red-faced when he fumbled Jake Robinson’s low shot, managing to pounce on the loose ball just before it crossed the line.
An energetic and frenetic start indeed; precisely what the spectators needed to keep them entertained as the temperature plummeted.
The home faithful were given an extra boost on twelve minutes when Joe Ward fired the Clarets in front from the unlikeliest of circumstances. Nick Arnold fouled Jack Bridge on the left-flank and, from around 35-yards out, Seb Brown was caught too far off his line as Joe Ward’s free-kick flew over him and into the net, and was exactly the start Mark Hawkes would have wanted.
It was short lived however, and the Clarets should have identified the aerial threat that Tom Cadmore possessed before the leveller when he rose above all to head over. It was the same player who had a crucial hand in the equaliser when he nodded down Sam Deering’s corner, giving Jake Robinson the simplest of finishes from six yards.
Chelmsford will be bitterly disappointed after conceding from a set-piece, especially after finding themselves in front, but they almost came close when Seb Brown unconvincingly punched a Joe Ward corner wide.
The match was certainly end-to-end although there was little in the way of chances with neither goalkeeper finding themselves having to do that much. Both sides moved it well in the middle of the park; Whitehawk’s Christian Nanetti, who signed on loan from Dover Athletic just four days ago, looked particularly dangerous on the left-flank and he was supported well by David Ijaha who protected the back four impressively.
Mark Haines, who was thrown straight into the line-up after missing over a month with a fractured eye-socket, showed why Hawkes selected him when he dived in front of Sam Deering’s shot to deflect the ball wide as Whitehawk seized the initiative.
They couldn’t quite grab their chance – Christian Nanetti came closest but had his low shot saved - and were punished for that when Seb Brown rushed out of his area to clear the ball right on the stroke of half-time. His clearance lacked any real conviction however and fell to Michael Cheek. The frontman demonstrated great composure to take a touch before clipping the ball over the head of the helpless keeper and into the net to score his 22nd goal of the season.
Whitehawk started the second-half brightly with Sylvestre Guyonnet sliding a perfectly-weighted cross along the face of goal that required only the faintest of touches. Mark Hughes then wasted a fine chance to further cement City’s lead when he nodded over Joe Ward’s free-kick from close-range.
The woodwork then prevented the Clarets from doubling their lead when Jack Bridge’s excellent footwork gave him some space to try his luck from outside the box, but his shot cannoned off the outside of the post.
He had another chance to seal it late on after Whitehawk’s Jake Robinson curled a decent effort narrowly over, but the Clarets returned to winning ways as Whitehawk returned home with nothing to show for their efforts and with manager Steve King sent off late on for dissent.
1. Tom Lovelock
2. Rob Girdlestone
3. Michael Toner
4. Mark Hughes (C)
5. Mark Haines
6. Harry Hickford
7. Lee Sawyer
8. Joe Ward
9. Jaanai Gordon
10. Michael Cheek
11. Jack Bridge
12. Leon Redwood (On for Jaanai Gordon, 84)
14. Yado Mambo
15. Sam Gregory
16. Christian Smith
17. Jake Gordon
1. Seb Brown
2. Nck Arnold
3. Lee Hills (C)
4. David Ijaha
5. Osei Sankofa (C)
6. Tom Cadmore
7. Sam Deering
8. Sylvestre Guyonnett
9. Jake Robinson
10. Sam Gargan
11. Christian Nanetti
12. Danny Mills (On for Sam Deering, 81)
14. Pa Saikou Kujabi (On for Osei Sankofa, 89)
15. Filip Zazareanu
16. Ahmed Abdulla
17. Frantz Heonang
Referee: Mr Anthony Da Costa (Cambridge)
Assistant referees: Mr Jairo Martin & Mr Nigel Phillips
Bookings: Chelmsford City: Rob Girdlestone (41, foul), Mark Haines (58, dissent)
Whitehawk: Nick Arnold (12, foul)
Scorers: Chelmsford City: Joe Ward (12), Michael Cheek (40+1)
Whitehawk: Jake Robinson (20)
HT Score: 2-1
City Man of the Match: Jack Bridge