In a game that wasn’t flush with clear opportunities for either side, Willmott found the one bit of class needed to break the deadlock beating Lucas Covolan at his near post.
Whitehawk appointed a new manager on Thursday night with former Eastleigh boss Richard Hill taking the reigns, but it looked like there was not going to be a winning start for the new boss as Gabriel Yan was sent off for a second yellow card.
Chelmsford weren’t able to find that decisive second goal to kill the game off and Whitehawk came close to equalising at the death with Ross Fitzsimons saving from Lucas Santos Rodrigues and Danny Mills missing the target when through one-on-one.
The Clarets held on to maintain their winning league run which has now stretched to five matches having previously beaten Oxford City, Welling United, Weston-super-Mare and Ebbsfleet United.
Going into the game with Whitehawk, Rod Stringer made two changes to his starting line up that had beaten Ebbsfleet United on Monday night.
Adam Bailey-Dennis and Corby Moore were replaced by Mark Haines and Shaun Jeffers and it was the latter who produced the best opening in a game that took it’s time to really get going.
Picking up the ball on the left wing, Jeffers barrelled his way towards the penalty area and with his eyes firmly fixed on the goal his low strike had to be well tipped around the post by Lucas Covolan.
From the resulting corner Robbie Willmott’s low drive fell kindly to Haines whose effort needed to be cleared off the line by Gabriel Yan who was positioned on the post.
The game wasn’t exactly one to get the neutral’s pulses racing as the home side were forced to make do with an number of half chances.
Striker Danny Mills had the best of the chances for the Hawks as he was found unmarked from a corner, but the frontman headed the ball into the soggy turf allowing Ross Fitzsimons to gather.
In the previous six meetings between Chelmsford City and Whitehawk there had been 35 goals scored between the two sides, but it looked like we may be waiting a while to have that number added to.
That was until three minutes before the break when Bagasan Graham was brought down by Mills wide on the left.
Having seen a number of crosses easily dealt with Willmott decided to go straight for goal with his free kick, deceiving Covolan at his near post in the process to put the Clarets 1-0 up just before the break.
The second half followed the same sort of pattern as the first with both sides limited to half chances and neither really testing their opposition goalkeepers.
But Chelmsford’s cause was helped when the hosts were reduced to 10 men with just over 20 minutes of time remaining as Yan received his marching orders for a second yellow card.
Having been booked late in the first half, the full back was beaten to the ball by substitute Ashley Miller, bringing the Claret defender down and leaving referee Gary Parsons no choice but the brandish his second yellow and subsequently a red.
Chelmsford were now well and truly in the box seat with the man advantage but the points were never safe unless the Clarets could find a decisive second goal.
An indirect free kick in the area, which was given after Michael West was adjudged to have played a back pass, was easily defended by a swarm of Whitehawk defenders on the line.
The longer the game went on at 1-0 the more the host’s began to put pressure on Stringer’s side, and the home side had two glorious chances to nick something late on.
Firstly sub Lucas Santos Rodrigues was denied by a brilliant one handed save from Fitzsimons who had to tip Rodrigues’ effort on the turn away, seeing Josh Rees on hand to clear.
And in stoppage time Mills found himself in acres of space on the right and was clean through, but one-on-one with Fitzsimons he inexplicably failed to find the target as City held on to make it five wins in a row.
1. Lucas Covolan
2. Rodrigo Mann
3. Gabriel Yan
4. Ahmed Abdulla
5. Marvin Hamilton
6. Chris M’Boungou
7. Michael West
8. Sergio Torres (C)
9. Danny Mills
10. Wilfried Tagbo
11. Javier Favarel
12. Lucas Santos Rodrigues (On for Wilfried Tagbo 78’)
14. Marcos Ribeiro
15. Ramon Marimon (On for Javier Favarel 71’)
16. Matheus Soares Da Silva
17. Almpi Lengka
1. Ross Fitzsimons
2. Robbie Willmott
3. Chris Bush
4. Josh Rees
5. Mark Haines
6. Phil Walsh
7. Shaun Jeffers
8. Anthony Church (C)
9. Shamir Mullings
10. Billy Bricknell
11. Bagasan Graham
12. Ashley Miller (On for Billy Bricknell 63’)
14. Daniel Blanchett
15. Frankie Merrifield (On for Shamir Mullings 90+1')
16. Corby Moore (On for Robbie Willmott 78’)
19. Sheldon Sellears
Chelmsford City: Robbie Willmott 42’
Whitehawk: Gabriel Yan (Foul – 45-1’), Chris M’Boungou (Obstruction 71’)
Chelmsford City: Shamir Mullings (Obstruction – 12’), Chris Bush (Foul – 17’), Mark Haines (Dissent – 66’), Josh Rees (Foul – 70’)
Whitehawk: Gabriel Yan (Second Yellow – 68’)
Chelmsford City: None
Referee: Gary Parsons
Assistant Referees: Colin Hubbard & Lee Rutter
City Man of the Match: Robbie Willmott
(Photo Credit: Dave Pullman)