Cawley dealt a hammer blow to the Clarets with just over 20 minutes remaining when his expert volley flew past Christian Dibble.
It was what Concord deserved for their second-half display as the Clarets were unable to carve out many chances of note and, when they did, Ben McNamara remained relatively untested.
Mark Haines and Billy Bricknell did both spurn good chances in a rather uneventful first-half but were unable to cope with an improved and energised Concord side who came out with something to prove in the second-half.
The match marked three matches for Chelmsford without a win heading into Monday’s home tie with promotion-chasing Maidstone United and leaves them two points above the relegation zone.
The Clarets made two changes to the side that came away pointless from Eastbourne Borough last week with skipper Mark Hughes reinstated to the starting line-up following his four match suspension, replacing youngster Harry Morgan, while Jason Williams partnered Billy Bricknell up front as Jack Bridge was forced to sit out through injury.
The Southend loanee, who has netted a remarkable six goals in nine matches, dealt caretaker boss Kevin Maher a huge pre-match blow as the side looked to record three points in order to pull themselves clear of the drop-zone, with matches against Ebbsfleet United, Maidstone and Gosport – teams challenging for the play-off places – coming up in the final month of the season.
It didn’t prevent the Clarets from having an impressive start to the game, however, as centre-back Haines found himself free inside the six-yard box within the opening three minutes, only to prod wide after Bricknell’s screwed effort fell into his path.
Concord enjoyed a brief spell of possession without really testing the gloves of City’s Christian Dibble although the Clarets, for all their dominance on the ball, lacked clear-cut chances as well as the sides battled the midfield areas.
A lapse in concentration from Rory McAuley gave Concord their first chance of the match midway through the first-half with his back pass finding Cawley who was in acres of space. Christian Dibble recovered to close the angle and claw away after the front man took it around him, and he was called into action moments later, stretching out to deny Cawley’s curling effort that was destined for the bottom corner as the score remained level.
Williams spurned a golden opportunity on the half hour mark when Graham’s corner dropped to the feet of the Southend loanee but the striker, who recovered from an illness during midweek, failed to get a clean contact on the ball as it instead bounced into the grateful arms of Ben McNamara.
With little goalmouth action and not much to shout about for either side, the home faithful almost had something to cheer within minutes of the second-half when Cawley’s floated cross was missed by Rob Girdlestone. The ball fell to the feet of Sam Collins who worked it to the right before firing a shot towards goal that Girdlestone did well to block from inside the box. An early warning sign and perhaps an inkling of what was to come in the remainder of the match.
Captain Steve King and Lewis Taaffe then both had speculative efforts from range that failed to sting Dibble’s gloves, signalling a start that Chelmsford didn’t need and, in many ways, it mirrored their defeat at Eastbourne: dominant in possession but lacking the profligacy in front of goal to reward them for their efforts.
Williams, who came on as a sub in that defeat, came close to ensuring that it wasn’t a repeat when he latched on to Girdlestone’s timely through ball before lashing a shot into the net, but he was denied by the offside flag.
They were dealt a hammer blow as minutes later Concord took the lead. Marvel Ekpiteta sold himself short in the left full-back position as James Hammond played in a teasing cross from the right after cutting inside. It was met by their top-scorer Cawley who volleyed past the helpless Dibble from just inside the area to edge the hosts in front with 22 minutes remaining. It was the striker's 19th League goal of the season.
King almost doubled their advantage when he found himself free at the back post again, although he could only steer Ben Greenhalgh’s looped corner wide of the upright.
It was another frustrating afternoon for the Clarets with no real goalscoring chances falling their way after they fell behind, and they will have to pick themselves up quickly with the drop-zone looming.
1. Ben McNamara
2. James Hammond
3. Tom Stephen
4. Max Cornhill
5. Steve King
6. Jack Lampe
7. Lewis Taaffe
8. James White (C)
9. Ben Greenhalgh
10. Steve Cawley
11. Sam Collins
12. Sam Bantick (On for Steve Cawley, 90+2')
14. Joao Carlos
15. John Easterford (On for Ben Greenhalgh, 89’)
16. Adam Topley
17. Andy Young
1. Christian Dibble
2. Rob Girdlestone
3. Marvel Ekpiteta
4. Mark Hughes (C)
5. Mark Haines
6. Rory McAuley
7. Sandro Semedo
8. Reece Prestedge
9. Jason Williams
10. Billy Bricknell
11. Bagasan Graham
12. Luke Daley (On for Sandro Semedo, 78’)
14. Harry Morgan
15. Timothy Monsheju (On for Jason Williams, 84’)
16. Lee Sawyer
17. Marvin Ekpiteta (On for Rory McAuley, 89’)
Referee: Mr. Anthony Da Costa
Assistant Referees: Mr. Joshua Flew and Mr. Anthony Pope
Bookings: Concord Rangers: Max Cornhill (57’, cynical foul), James Hammond (68’, foul)
Chelmsford City: None
Scorers: Concord Rangers: Steve Cawley (68’)
Chelmsford City: None
HT Score: 0-0
FT Score: 1-0
City Man of the Match: Mark Hughes