The match was tight for much of the game, City keeper Tim Brown was forced into a number of spectacular saves, but Bricknell’s 12th goal of the season separated the sides and looked to have given the visitors their first three points of the New Year.
But Tom Bradbrook made the Clarets pay for conceding a number of corners late on and netted just seven minutes after coming on to the pitch as the Darts extended their unbeaten run to ten matches.
With no fewer than seven National League South matches falling foul of the weather on Saturday the Clarets and Dartford, who sat just one point outside the play-offs at the start of the afternoon, had a chance to get some points on the board ahead of their opponents.
And with Mark Hawkes’ side, who made three changes to the side that featured against St Albans on Monday, not winning in five matches and the Darts enjoying a nine game unbeaten run, there looked to be only one winner.
With that in consideration, though, the Clarets would have been pleased when they glanced at the team-sheet prior to kick-off with the hosts resting striker Andy Pugh, who netted a spectacular winner in the Darts’ 1-0 win over City on Boxing Day.
It was a frenetic start to the match that saw both teams struggle to keep it on the deck, and it was the hosts who had the first chance of the match after George Sykes was brought down on the wing by Marvin Ekpiteta. It took a superb punch away from Tim Brown to deny Ryan Hayes’ set-piece delivery and a near-certain Dartford opener.
Chelmsford grew into the game with debutant Dexter Peter looking assured at left-back while Ben Marlow looked to pull the strings in midfield with a small degree of success. But similar to the match at St Albans, Billy Bricknell and Billy Hunt were lacking much service in the attacking third with the visitors lacking rhythm in their passing.
Much to the frustration of Hawkes and the City bench, the Clarets were affording the Darts too much time going forward and weren’t reactive enough when the ball dropped to the resolute home defence.
Chances were therefore at a premium but a long ball over the top of the City defence from Ronnie Vint looked to prove fatal. George Sykes beat Ekpiteta for pace before drawing a fine save from Brown after the striker was set free in the area.
Ebrima Adams then robbed Bagasan Graham on the by-line, although a row of claret shirts flew to block a couple of half-chances, with Callum McNaughton the last to fire an effort towards goal.
The Clarets’ first real shot on goal came two minutes before the break, but Ben Marlow’s curled effort was matched by Deren Ibrahim who collected low.
Ryan Hayes, who had troubled the defence for most of the afternoon with teasing set-pieces, was then allowed to run through the middle and shoot towards goal. He was denied by Brown’s timely reactions and then City’s Peter brought the half to a close after heading Luke Daley’s corner over the bar.
Dartford came out of the traps early on after the interval and forced Brown into a number of key saves. Skipper Elliot Bradbrook was the first to draw blood, stinging the gloves of the loanee keeper, before Danny Harris’ half-volley at the back post was kept out. Hawkes’ side momentarily switched off from the resultant corner but were let off by Brown’s excellent reaction save.
A flurry of chances then arrived within a couple of minutes as Pugh, who came on as a sub, almost made an immediate impact only to be denied a goal by the scrambling Brown who managed to claw away.
The Clarets then hit the hosts on the counter, with Hunt rattling the crossbar from range and was unlucky not to net his first goal since joining before Christmas.
City kept knocking and were rewarded for their efforts with ten minutes to go. Bagasan Graham’s long throw wasn’t dealt with efficiently, and Bricknell rose highest to nod home his second goal in two games after latching on to Peter’s timely cross.
It looked to have handed the Clarets their first win for six games but Bradbrook pounced with effectively the last kick of the game to deal a sickening blow to the Clarets, profiting as the ball dropped into the crowded area from a corner.
Up next for City is a crucial home clash against Weston-super-Mare, who haven’t played since Boxing Day due to two postponements, and Hawkes will want to arrest the poor home form that hasn’t seen a league win for over three months. The side will want to respond quickly to this late blow to pull themselves further up the table with a back-to-back victory and to record the first three points of 2016.
1. Deren Ibrahim
2. Tom Gardiner
3. Mark Onyemah
4. Ronnie Vint
5. Callum McNaughton
6. Ebrima Adams
7. Ryan Hayes
8. Elliot Bradbrook (C)
9. George Sykes
10. Tom Wynter
11. Danny Harris
12. Tom Bradbrook (On for Danny Harris, 87’)
14. Andy Pugh (On for George Sykes, 64’)
15. Barry Cogan (On for Tom Wynter, 82’)
16. Dajon Golding
17. Ben Francis
1. Tim Brown
2. Rob Girdlestone
3. Bagasan Graham
4. Lee Sawyer
5. Marvin Ekpiteta
6. Rory McAuley
7. Ben Marlow
8. Billy Hunt
9. Billy Bricknell
10. Dexter Peter
11. Luke Daley
12. Jake Gordon
14. Harry Morgan (On for Billy Hunt, 82’)
15. Damien Green (On for Billy Bricknell, 94')
17. Connor Pearce
Referee: Mr. Ian Fissenden
Assistant Referees: Mr. Jack Packman and Mr. Nick Dunn
Dartford: Tom Bradbrook (90+4')
Chelmsford City: Billy Bricknell (80’)
Dartford: Deren Ibrahim (45+2’, dissent), Ronnie Vint (79’, dissent)
Chelmsford City: Rory McAuley (61’, foul), Tim Brown (90+1', time wasting)
HT Score: 0-0
FT Score: 1-1
City Man of the Match: Tim Brown