Paul Lorraine’s own goal in Whithawk’s first league game of 2016 came before the fifth minute mark and it got Kevin Maher’s spell as interim manager off to a flying start after boss Mark Hawkes stepped down after Tuesday night’s Essex Senior Cup defeat to Concord Rangers.
Williams then headed home on the line to make it two before Jack Robinson halved the deficit for the Hawks, tucking the ball into the far corner following a long ball over the top. Bridge added a third when he broke and slotted past Craig Ross before winning a penalty after Chris Sessegnon took his legs away.
While Bricknell watched on as his spot-kick was touched onto the crossbar on the stroke of half-time, he made amends a minute before the hour-mark, slamming a shot home after picking the ball up from Bridge to make sure. Whitehawk’s Sergio Torres looked to make a change in the script with his goal late on, and Danny Mills added a third in stoppage time, but the Clarets managed to record a first win at home since the 5-2 victory over Concord on September 14th and their first league win in nine matches.
Wanting to make his own mark on proceedings since taking over as interim manager, Kevin Maher made no fewer than five changes from last weekend’s league defeat at Margate, with Marvel and Marvin Ekpiteta and Harry Morgan, plus Southend loanees Bridge and Williams, given a starting berth. Matty Whichelow, who has returned to his parent club Boreham Wood, was one of the replaced, while Bagasan Graham was forced to miss out through injury. Dexter Peter, Lee Sawyer and Ben Marlow dropped to the bench – a sign that no-one’s place is guaranteed.
It was the reaction Maher would have wanted, and it was Bridge who got the Clarets off to the perfect start. He picked the ball up on the corner of the box before skipping his way out wide and, while Paul Lorraine got in a good position to clear, the experienced centre-back couldn’t sort his feet out and turned it into his own net. While it may have been fortuitous it was luck that City haven’t simply had lately.
Confidence has been lacking of late and understandably so, so it was a return to basics for the hosts and it appeared to pay dividends. Marvin Ekpiteta put in a number of key clearances while Bridge and Williams gave a fresh attacking outlet to support Bricknell up front, a player starved of service in recent times.
Lorraine’s pain was then extended from his earlier mishap when he had a hand in the Clarets’ second. Luke Daley’s powerful cross from the right was turned on to the bar by the centre-back, and looked to have crossed the line, but Williams nodded home to make doubly sure and net his seventh goal for the Clarets, adding to the six he picked up while on-loan two seasons ago.
Whitehawk threatened from set-pieces and Brown was equal to the efforts on numerous occasions but he couldn’t, however, protect the two-goal lead when a long ball forward found the feet of Jake Robinson. The striker took his time before picking out the far corner and past Brown’s outstretched arm.
It was the exact setback that Chelmsford didn’t want, but they responded in superb fashion by netting an instant reply through Jack Bridge. The chance came moments after Marvin Ekpiteta slid in to dispossess Danny Mills a near-certain goal, but it set-up a counter that Bridge maximised. A lung-busting run down the left was followed by a deft touch inside. It gave the loanee a clear path to goal and his effort from his instep nipped off Dean Leacock and into the far corner.
City had a chance to seal it on the stroke of half-time when Bridge was fouled by Chris Sessegnon inside the area, but Craig Ross tipped Bricknell’s spot-kick onto the bar to keep the travelling side in it.
Bricknell looked to make amends and went close with a shot that went inches wide, and that forced Hawks boss Steve King into an attack-minded change. Off came holding midfielder Arnaud Mendy for the attacking threat of Sam Deering, a player who netted against the Clarets in the Hawks’ 4-2 victory in August.
That did little to change the course of the game though as Bricknell soon added a fourth just shy of the hour mark, hammering home a shot from 20 yards, his tenth league goal of the campaign.
Whitehawk skipper Sergio Torres did, however, force a nervy finish when he tucked home from close-range after Robinson saw his initial effort parried by Brown before Danny Mills added a third in injury time.
Whitehawk were empty though and left it too late while Chelmford continued to press. The nine game wait for three points was over.
1. Tim Brown
2. Rob Girdlestone
3. Marvel Ekpiteta
4. Mark Haines
5. Marvin Ekpiteta
6. Rory McAuley (C)
7. Harry Morgan
8. Jack Bridge
9. Billy Bricknell
10. Jason Williams
11. Luke Daley
12. Ben Marlow (On for Marvel Ekpiteta, 79’)
14. Lee Sawyer
15. Jake Gordon
16. Dexter Peter (On for Jason Williams, 82’)
17. Billy Hunt
1. Craig Ross
2. Chris Sessegnon
3. Craig Braham-Barrett
4. Arnuad Mendy
5. Paul Lorraine
6. Dean Leacock
7. Michael West
8. Sergio Torres (C)
9. Jake Robinson
10. Danny Mills
11. David Martin
12. Juan-Cruz Gotta
14. Sam Deering (On for Arnaud Mendy, 54’)
15. Jordan Rose (On for Chris Sessegnon, 90+3)
16. Scott Neilson (On for David Martin, 65’)
17. Danny Stevens
Referee: Mr. Ian Cooper (Rochester)
Assistant Referees: Mr. Jonathan Block and Mr. Callum Walchester
Bookings: Chelmsford City: Rory McAuley (11’), Mark Haines (64’, time wasting), Jason Williams (74’, foul)
Whitehawk: Chris Sessegnon (45+2’, foul)
Scorers: Chelmsford City: Paul Lorraine (4’ OG), Jason Williams (27’), Jack Bridge (45’), Billy Bricknell (59’)
Whitehawk: Jake Robinson (41’), Sergio Torres (78'), Danny Mills (90+2')
HT Score: 3-1
FT Score: 4-3
City Man of the Match: Jack Bridge