The goal, which came right on the stroke of half-time, was Haines’ first goal of the season and just his third for the club in 195 appearances. That strike built on Marvin Ekpiteta’s stab home after terrific work by Academy graduate Harry Morgan, cancelling out Anthony Church’s 16th-minute header.
Rohdell Gordon then made sure of the three points when he smashed home a penalty just after the hour mark, following James Bransgrove’s foul on Michael Cheek, before Academy graduate Hugo Skepelhorn stabbed home seven minutes from time.
There was potential for a Stortford revival when Church headed in his second of the game late on, but it was too little too late as the Clarets recorded their second win in ten games, ending a run of three straight defeats, with Ben Marlow sent off for the Blues after a challenge on Skepelhorn.
Mark Hawkes made just one change to the starting eleven that suffered a sucker-punch defeat at Sutton United with Sam Gregory replacing Mason Spence on the left wing. City looked to bounce back from the 1-0 weekend defeat that saw Kevin Amankwaah’s 94th-minute winner separate the sides.
But it was Stortford who started the game the liveliest, fashioning a couple of early chances that threatened to break the deadlock. First was Ben Marlow – his strike did however curl far wide of an upright - and then Bobby Joe Taylor saw his free-kick blocked by the wall.
Taylor, on-loan from Cambridge United, wasn’t fazed though when Anthony Church was brought down on the right by Rohdell Gordon. Taylor stepped up to drill in a free-kick which was met by ex-Claret Church as he headed in his 10th goal of the season with superb power.
Stortford’s form of late has been nothing short of superb considering they looked doomed at the start of the season as relegation from the Conference looked a realistic prospect. Since the turn of the year Rod Stringer’s men have produced some much-needed results, with Saturday’s 2-1 victory over St Albans City securing their League status for another season.
For all their early possession and one goal advantage they were made to pay for sitting back a little after Church’s 16th-minute opener. Harry Morgan’s direct ball allowed Marvin Ekpiteta, who was unmarked in the area, to draw the two sides level just shy of the half-hour mark. That goal came just after James Bransgrove repelled Rohdell Gordon’s snap-shot, but the Colchester United loanee could do little to prevent Ekpieta’s flick-on from hitting the net.
The Clarets appeared to seize the initiative following the equaliser – Joe Ward and Gordon looked to make active contributions as they drove forward – but the final ball was severely lacking. That applied to both sides as the two goalkeepers remained relatively untroubled for large parts of the match.
Skipper Mark Haines struck just before half-time however as the Clarets edged in front, and it was in spectacular fashion. Stortford managed to survive a couple of well-worked corners but could do little with Leon Redwood’s ball into the box as Haines’ volley nestled into the far corner. That was Haines’ first goal of the season but it was well worth the wait and got the City fans purring.
The second-half was somewhat uneventful for large parts, but the Clarets did add to their lead when Michael Cheek was brought down by James Bransgrove, forcing the referee to point to the spot. Up stepped Rohdell Gordon whose spot-kick hit the underside of the bar to give Bransgrove, who escaped with just a booking, no chance as he dived the opposite way.
Cheek went close to furthering the advantage when he pounced on a loose ball, only for James Bransgrove to dive low and palm away.
The points already looked sealed though as Stortford failed to trouble Tom Lovelock.
And it was a day to remember for League debutant Hugo Skepelhorn as the club’s Academy graduate added a fourth when he poked home on the slide, beating the onrushing Bransgrove.
Church did pull one back late on for Stortford as he headed in his second of the game, although the Clarets managed to hold on as they returned to winning ways ahead of next week’s trip to relegation-threatened Farnborough. Ben Marlow was sent off late on for an unnecessary and heavy tackle on Skepelhorn as they left Melbourne empty-handed.
1. Tom Lovelock
2. Harry Hickford
3. Michael Toner
4. Leon Redwood
5. Mark Haines (C)
6. Marvin Ekpiteta
7. Harry Morgan
8. Joe Ward
9. Rohdell Gordon
10. Michael Cheek
11. Sam Gregory
12. Mason Spence (On for Rohdell Gordon, 72)
14. Evans Kouassi (On for Joe Ward, 87)
15. Rob Girdlestone
16. Hugo Skepelhorn (On for Sam Gregory, 78)
17. Kevin Maher
1. James Bransgrove
2. Ashley Miller
3. Bobby Joe Taylor
4. Ben Marlow
5. Kenzer Lee
6. Rickie Hayles
7. Frankie Merrifield
8. Anthony Church (C)
9. Greg Pearson
10. James Walker
11. Anthony Edgar
12. Sheldon Sellears (On for Anthony Edgar, 64)
13. Jake Larkins
14. Anthony Furlonge
15. Connor Peters (On for Frankie Merrifield, 55)
16. Marcel Barrington (On for Greg Pearson, 69)
Referee: Mr Jake Hillier
Assistants: Mr Christopher Bodell and Mr Daniel Richardson
Bookings: Chelmsford City: Mark Haines (10, foul)
Bishop’s Stortford: Connor Peters (56, foul), James Bransgrove (62, foul)
Sent off: Chelmsford City: None
Bishop’s Stortford: Ben Marlow (90, dangerous foul)
Scorers: Chelmsford City: Marvin Ekpiteta (28), Mark Haines (45), Rohdell Gordon (63, penalty), Hugo Skepelhorn (83)
Bishop’s Stortford: Anthony Church (16, 84)
HT Score: 2-1
City Man of the Match: Harry Morgan