The eventual-winner came with ten minutes left on the clock as Cornhill reacted fastest after his initial effort was saved from Robbie Willmott’s corner.
City boss Rod Stringer made one change to the side that won 3-1 on New Year’s Day at Bishop’s Stortford: Max Cornhill returned to the starting XI as Anthony Church faced a late fitness test to sit upon the bench.
Both sides started the game brightly forcing their opposition ‘keeper into action early on. The Clarets’ first real chance came on 2 minutes as Kane Haysman and Shaun Jeffers linked up well, allowing the latter to rifle a shot towards goal which was deflected wide.
Then, just a few minutes later, the visitors almost got ahead after Ross Fitzsimons was forced into rushing his clearance. A poor back-pass troubled the City shot-stopper who cleared his lines dangerously, slipping as he went, and losing the ball to Mike West. However, the Whitehawk midfielder was unable to capitalise as he sent his long-range effort looping over the bar.
The home side’s best chance to open the scoring came on 18 minutes but Stewart denied the Clarets with another top-class save. A long-ball from defender Chris Bush split the Whitehawk defence, allowing Elliott Buchanan to race through. The in-form striker could have chosen to pass to Jeffers, but instead opted to shoot and Stewart’s legs blocked the front-man’s effort.
Stringer’s side almost granted the visitors the perfect chance to break the deadlock as Danny Mills was granted a perfect opportunity. A misplaced header from Ashley Miller fell to the Hawks’ top-scorer who was then unable to direct his shot towards and sent it well over the bar.
Two excellent saves from the visitors’ shot-stopper cleverly denied the Clarets as the hosts looked to get an advantage from a set-piece.
Mark Haines was given a yellow card late in the first half as he was forced to tackle Alex Osborn, with the Hawks’ striker racing clear of the defence.
Substitute Chris Dickson came on at half-time to make his debut for the Clarets, and the recent City signing almost made an immediate impact but his shot was deflected out for a corner.
Player joint-manager Paul Reid entered the book on 50 minutes as he denied Dickson’s driving run forward.
The home side continued their search for an opening goal with two consecutive corners but neither made any impact. Willmott’s first attempt picked out Cornhill who won the second corner as his shot was deflected out. The second corner was played deep to Haysman who drilled the ball back into the box but no-one managed to get a conclusive touch.
As the game ticked closer and closer to a draw the Clarets began to create more chances. Buchanan’s powerful effort from range was stopped excellently by Stewart, but the ball eventually found it’s way back to the City striker who forced Stewart into another save
Buchanan managed to force the visitors into conceding a corner in the 80th minute and his efforts helped indirectly towards the Clarets’ winner. Willmott delivered one of his routine crosses into the box and midfielder Cornhill directed his shot towards goal – which was blocked originally – before gathering the re-bound and smashing home.
The home side eventually held on to secure three vital points in the push for the play-offs, continuing their fine run of home form and extending their unbeaten run to eleven games in all competitions.
1. Ross Fitzsimons
2. Ashley Miller
3. Matt Young
4. Max Cornhill
5. Chris Bush ©
6. Mark Haines
7. Robbie Willmott
8. Josh Rees
9. Shaun Jeffers (46’ off for Chris Dickson)
10. Elliott Buchanan (86’ off for Anthony Church)
11. Kane Haysman (73’ off for Bagasan Graham)
12. Bagasan Graham
14. Michael Spillane
15. Chris Dickson
16. Anthony Church
18. Jake Reid
1. Thomas Stewart
2. Marvin Hamilton
3. Dan Harding
4. Glen Southam
5. Paul Reid
6. Ramon Aldavert (67' off for Chris M'Boungou)
7. Mike West (83' off for Brian Howard)
8. Segio Torres
9. Danny Mills
10. Ahmed Abdulla (59' off for Kevin Lisbie)
11. Alex Osborn
12. Lucas Rodrigues
14. Brian Howard
15. Kevin Lisbie
16. Chris M’Boungou
17. Javier Favarel
Chelmsford City: Mark Haines (44'), Chris Bush (86').
Whitehawk: Paul Reid (50').
Chelmsford City: Max Cornhill (80')
Half Time Score: Chelmsford City 0-0 Whitehawk
Full Time Score: Chelmsford City 1-0 Whitehawk
Referee: Paul Kelly.