Duff’s header in the 68th minute was all that separated the two sides in a close fought contest with both teams guilty of missing clear chances in front of goal.
Chelmsford’s best opportunities came either side of Duff’s winner through Sandro Semedo and Rory McAuley but the travelling Clarets failed to make the most of their opportunities.
City were given a lifeline with just over 10 minutes remaining when Aaron Bentley was sent off for a second bookable offence, but the Clarets were unable to capitalise and came away from Cornwall empty-handed.
It was a tough defeat to take for Clarets Caretaker Manager, Kevin Maher, who was forced into making two changes from his side that comfortably beat Bishop’s Stortford on Monday night, with the suspended Mark Hughes and Jason Williams being replaced by Lee Sawyer and Sandro Semedo.
Prior to kick off Truro’s manager Steve Tulley was presented with the Manager of the Month award for February but that supposed curse that comes with that honour didn’t appear to show up when Christian Dibble was forced into making two early saves.
Firstly the on-loan Barnsley stopper was forced to save with his feet after Isaac Vassell has ghosted past Mark Haines, and from the resulting corner Dibble had to claw the ball off the line after Vassell’s header found Matty Jay at the far post.
After the opening flurry chances began to become few and far between with City’s best avenue to goal looking like it was coming down the wings. After Semedo and Bagasan Graham had switched wings the former picked out a delicious cross which just missed the head of the diving Billy Bricknell.
Vassell again got in behind the Chelmsford backline when Haines misjudged a header clear to be one-on-one with Dibble only to scuff his shot wide, before Bricknell carved out the Clarets’ best opening when his turn and shot had to be parried away to safety by Martin Rice.
In the second half City were almost handed the lead on a plate when a barrelling run from Graham forced Riley-Lowe to stick a toe out and almost inadvertently steer the ball passed Rice with the ‘keeper recovering well.
Dibble was called upon again when a free kick from the far left was whipped in and fell to Aaron Bentley. The centre half’s crisply struck volley was well blocked by the City ‘keeper who had spread himself well to make the save.
Of the two goalkeeper’s Dibble was certainly the busier and was called into action against when the pacey Vassell ran clear of the Chelmsford back line, but a poor touch from the striker allowed Dibble to smother the ball at the feet of the Truro number 10.
After that let off Chelmsford created their best opening of the game thus far when Semedo stole the ball off Riley-Lowe 20-yards from goal, but with all the time in the world to pick his spot Semedo shot first time and struck it straight down the throat of the thankful Rice.
It was a chance that City was rue missing as less than five minutes later they fell behind to what would turn out to be the match-winner from substitute Craig Duff.
Having only been brought on a few minutes earlier for Matty Jay the midfielder found himself unmarked inside the six yard box and was able to head home Cody Cooke’s corner to give the home side the lead.
It was a hammer blow for City but they almost made amends straight from kick off after Bricknell won a corner. Having dealt with the initial ball in, Lee Sawyer’s hook back into the area was flicked on by Bricknell to the feet of Rory McAuley who failed to hit the target with the goal gaping.
That was the best opportunity the Clarets could muster despite the fact that Bentley was given a second yellow card for kicking the ball away with 11 minutes remaining. Despite the man advantage it was the hosts who came closest to adding to the score line after Cooke twisted his way into the area and hit the foot of the post before missing the rebound.
“We’re bitterly disappointed really and felt we were more than good value for a point” said Kevin Maher at full time.
“I can’t fault the players for their work rate and their performance again today. We more than matched a team that’s on a brilliant run and are playing with a lot of confidence, and I think we were probably the better team throughout.”
“We switched off from one set piece and it’s killed us.”
1. Martin Rice
2. Shane White
3. Connor Riley-Lowe
4. Ryan Brett
5. Aaron Bentley
6. Arran Pugh (C)
7. Ollie Knowles
8. Dan Green
9. Matty Jay
10. Isaac Vassell
11. Cody Cooke
12. Jake Ash (On for Isaac Vassell 81’)
14. Craig Duff (On for Matty Jay 63’)
15. Ben Adelsbury
16. Les Afful (On for Connor Riley-Lowe 73’)
17. Aaron Dawson
1. Christian Dibble
2. Rob Girdlestone
3. Marvel Ekpiteta
4. Lee Sawyer
5. Mark Haines
6. Rory McAuley (c)
7. Reece Prestedge
8. Jack Bridge
9. Billy Bricknell
10. Sandro Semedo
11. Bagasan Graham
12. Marvin Ekpiteta
14. Harry Morgan
15. Luke Daley (On for Lee Sawyer 84)
17. Connor Pearce
Truro City: Craig Duff 68’
Chelmsford City: None
Truro City: Aaron Bentley (Obstruction - 34’) Dan Green (Foul - 63’)
Chelmsford City: Billy Bricknell (Raising his arm – 72’)
Truro City: Aaron Bentley (Second Bookable Offence – 79’)
Chelmsford City: None
Referee: Adrian Quelch
Assistants: Lewis Sandoe & Lee Rutter
Clarets Man of the Match: Christian Dibble