The Clarets fell behind within the first four minutes before being punished mid-way through the second-half for some sloppy defending, giving third-placed Sutton the three points they indisputably deserved.
With the Clarets recording their first home win since mid-September last week, interim boss Kevin Maher made just one change to the starting eleven that beat Whitehawk 4-3, with Bromley loanee Reece Prestedge handed his City debut in place of Marvin Ekpiteta who dropped to the bench.
City, who were cruising at 4-1 against the Hawks last week, conceded two late goals as nerves got the better of them in that match, and it appeared to take over the opening stages again as Sutton were leading after four minutes through Dan Fitchett. A neat turn on the left of the penalty area gave the striker space to shoot past Tim Brown, his second goal in two games, as United continued their reputation as the current National League South top-scorers.
The Clarets’ response was promising but the defence looked shaky at times with Rory McAuley covering well and heading Ross Stearn’s corner away after the winger replaced the injured Craig McAllister after ten minutes.
Southend loanee Jason Williams – a key figure in last week’s win alongside fellow Shrimper Jack Bridge – almost left Jamie Collins red-faced when the U’s centre-back miss-judged the flight of the ball. The forward was right on his tail and took the ball towards goal, drawing a low save from Ross Warner who parried away from danger.
The counter-attack was at times Chelmsford’ best outlet with the pace and skill Bridge possesses, but Sutton’s advantage was almost doubled when Craig Dundas latched on to a loose ball, curling inches wide of the far upright.
Dundas then cleared the bar when he neatly brought down Tom Bolarinwa’s thumped ball into the box as the U’s looked to make the score-line more comfortable going into half-time.
Their first-half display was no doubt deserving of an extra cushion and, even though the Clarets battled through Bricknell and the bullying Prestedge, ball retention was poor and numerous crosses had to be headed away by McAuley and Mark Haines at the back.
Maher was forced into a change after the break with Marvin Ekpiteta replacing the injured Mark Haines, and the Clarets almost conceded moments after he came on after Brown flapped at Nick Bailey’s innocuous ball into the box but, thankfully for the ‘keeper, Marvin nodded away.
Frustration began to creep in to Chelmsford’s play as they struggled to combat the physical nature of Sutton’s game and, even after the introduction of skipper Mark Hughes, his first appearance since December 12th, Paul Doswell’s men remained relatively comfortable in possession.
And the visitors were soon rewarded when Fitchett struck his second of the match, tucking home Tom Bolarinwa’s cross at the near post after some poor defending from Rob Girdlestone and Marvin Ekpiteta.
It was a goal City never recovered from, although Bricknell had a chance to halve the deficit late on, blazing over after Dundas shot wide from six-yards moments earlier, and it was clear that Sutton, unbeaten so far in 2016, are a different cut to that of Whitehawk. This performance and result will, however, probably no doubt be seen as a step back ahead of back-to-back away trips to Hemel Hempstead and third from bottom Havant & Waterlooville.
1. Tim Brown
2. Rob Girdlestone
3. Marvel Ekpiteta
4. Reece Prestedge
5. Mark Haines
6. Rory McAuley (C)
7. Harry Morgan
8. Jack Bridge
9. Billy Bricknell
10. Jason Williams
11. Luke Daley
12. Mark Hughes (On for Harry Morgan, 54’)
14. Marvin Ekpiteta (On for Mark Haines, 47’)
15. Billy Hunt
16. Bagasan Graham (On for Luke Daley, 76’)
18. Ben Marlow
1. Ross Worner
2. Kevin Amankwaah
3. Dan Wishart
4. Dean Beckwith
5. Craig Eastmond
6. Jamie Collins (C)
7. Tom Bolarinwa
8. Craig McAllister
9. Craig Dundas
10. Dan Fitchett
11. Nick Bailey
12. Ross Stearn (On for Craig McAllister, 10’)
14. Stuart Fleetwood
15. Shaun Cooper
16. Dan Spence (On for Kevin Amankwaah, 58’)
17. Simon Downer
Referee: Mr. Anthony Serrano (Hemel Hempstead)
Assistant Referees: Mr. Stuart Franklin and Mr. Michael Robertson-Tant
Bookings: Chelmsford City: Mark Haines (19’, foul), Jack Bridge (45’, dissent)
Sutton United: None
Scorers: Chelmsford City: None
Sutton United: Dan Fitchett (4’, 68’)
HT Score: 0-1
FT Score: 0-2
City Man of the Match: Jack Bridge