Mark Hughes headed home the winner as both sides were reduced to ten men in a frantic local derby, with City keeper Ashley Timms bringing down Buchanan in the area, leaving the referee with no other option but to display a straight red in the first-half.
Connor Pearce was introduced for his City debut in goal but could do nothing to stop Elliott Buchanan’s spot-kick from bulging the net on the half hour mark, even if he did manage to get fingertips to it.
Marvin Ekpiteta then drew the sides level when he nodded home Aiden Palmer’s corner before Stortford themselves were down to ten men after George Allen was shown a straight red for hauling down Billy Bricknell.
Hughes then rose highest in the area to power home Palmer’s free-kick as the Clarets made it back-to-back wins, and three straight victories over Stortford.
Not wishing to tinker with a winning formula, City manager Mark Hawkes kept with the same line-up that saw off Hayes & Yeading 4-0 on Saturday with Bricknell leading the line and former Stortford left-back Aiden Palmer retaining his left-back spot. His plans were soon thrown into the air following Timms’ red card though as winger Charlie Henry had to be sacrificed.
Stortford, meanwhile, named two new signings on the bench for the local derby. Mason Walsh, on-loan from AFC Bournemouth, and former West Ham youngster Kieran Bywater were both named as substitutes while ex-Claret Anthony Church captained the side with Tom Lovelock in between the sticks. Christian Smith also made the bench.
With both sides picking up one win, one draw and one loss so far this season the match was finely poised and, with the Clarets beating Stortford 3-2 at the ProKit UK Stadium last season, Rod Stringer’s men were fast out of the blocks and were plotting their own revenge.
They came close in achieving that when Buchanan tried his luck from range within the opening minute but his shot deflected wide with City ‘keeper Ashley Timms rooted to his spot.
Stortford then piled on the pressure as they looked more promising in the attacking areas, with Church heading over a corner as City looked to keep a foothold on the ball.
Billy Bricknell looked an isolated figure in the opening 20-minutes due to the impressive and resolute performance by Stortford’s centre-back pairing of George Allen and former Bromley defender Adam Bailey-Dennis. And if his task wasn’t hard enough it was about to get a lot more difficult when the Clarets were dealt a sucker punch just before the half hour mark. Michael Thalassitis threaded a perfectly weighted ball to Elliott Buchanan who was bearing through on goal and, when he took the ball around Timms, he was knocked to the ground, leaving the referee with no other option but to award a penalty to the Blues and show Timms his marching orders.
So with City down to ten men, Hawkes was forced into a substitution that he wouldn’t have wanted to make with Charlie Henry making way for young goalkeeper Connor Pearce. The debutant got a hand to Buchanan’s poorly struck penalty but couldn’t quite find the power to push it away from goal as the Blues found themselves 1-0 up.
City were handed a lifeline when Aiden Palmer’s corner was nodded in at the back post by Marvin Ekpiteta to draw the sides level three minutes before the break.
The drama didn’t finish there though as George Allen hacked Bricknell down when the Chelmsford striker found himself charging through on goal and, similarly to Timms, was also shown a straight red as both sides were reduced to ten men.
With the red coming right on the stroke of half-time, both sides needed to regroup after a frenetic final 15-minutes as tempers threatened to boil.
Hawkes made a bold substitution at the interval with Hugo Skepelhorn, who netted in the Clarets’ opening day draw with Oxford City, replacing the injured Marvel Ekpiteta, resulting in Luke Daley slotting into the full-back position and the brilliant Moses Makasi - on-loan from West Ham - shining in midfield and providing protection for the back four.
But Stortford almost regained their lead ten minutes into the second half when Church’s strike from range hit the outside of the post.
That was to prove pivotal as two minutes later the Clarets edged themselves in front. Aiden Palmer’s inswinging free-kick from the right was met by the head of captain Mark Hughes who made no mistake in heading in and netting his first goal of the season.
Buchanan then almost drew the sides level when his header dropped narrowly wide of an upright with Pearce rooted to his spot, and then the Clarets went up the other end, only for Makasi’s free-kick to drop wide of the near post.
Anthony Church then cracked another shot against the foot of the post for Stortford before AFC Bournemouth loanee Mason Walsh forced a fine save from Pearce.
The Clarets were put under severe pressure in the final stages but managed to hold their nerve as they recorded back-to-back wins and head into Saturday’s away trip to Brighton-based Whitehawk in promising form.
1. Tom Lovelock
2. De’Reece Vanderhyde
3. Kenzer Lee
4. Frankie Merrifield
5. Adam Bailey-Dennis
6. George Allen
7. Sheldon Sellears
8. Anthony Church (C)
9. Michael Thalassitis
10. Elliott Buchanan
11. Johnny Herd
12. Mason Walsh (On for Michael Thalassitis, 66)
14. Josh Ekim
15. Ejiro Okosieme
16. Kieran Bywater (On for Johnny Herd, 71)
17. Christian Smith (On for Sheldon Sellears, 58)
1. Ashley Timms
2. Marvel Ekpiteta
3. Aiden Palmer
4. Mark Hughes (C)
5. Marvin Ekpiteta
6. Rory McAuley
7. Moses Makasi
8. Luke Daley
9. Billy Bricknell
10. Charlie Henry
11. Harry Morgan
12. Hugo Skepelhorn (On for Marvel Ekpiteta, 46’)
14. Jonah Gosling
15. Lee Sawyer (On for Moses Makasi, 85')
16. Bagasan Graham
17. Connor Pearce (On for Charlie Henry, 30’)
Referee: Mr Robert Mackay
Assistant Referees: Mr Dele Sotimirin and Mr Scott Williams
Bookings: Bishop’s Stortford: Frankie Merrifield (77’ – simulation)
Chelmsford City: None
Sending offs: Bishop’s Stortford: George Allen (45’ – last man)
Chelmsford City: Ashley Timms (26’ – denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity)
Scorers: Bishop’s Stortford: Elliott Buchanan (30’ – penalty)
Chelmsford City: Marvin Ekpiteta (42’), Mark Hughes (56’)
HT Score: 1-1
City Man of the Match: Rory McAuley.