Chelmsford City scored two goals in the final five minutes to come from behind to beat Dartford.
Phil Roberts put the visitors ahead by scoring on five minutes against his former employers and the vistors could have been further ahead at half-time following a plethora of chances.
Substitute Jonny Giles levelled things for City with five minutes remaining with a sublime curling effort just a handful of minutes after being introduced to the fiery Essex-Kent derby, before Rhys Murphy reacted quickest to poke home Chez Isaac’s initial effort after it struck the post in added time.
City boss Rod Stringer made three changes to the side that fell to a 1-0 defeat at Slough Town last Saturday.
Rhys Murphy returned from injury to start for City, pairing alongside Aaron Cosgrave as Mikhail Kennedy had to settle for a spot on the bench and Scott Fenwick dropped out the squad. Michael Spillane also missed out, Elliot Omozusi moved into central defence and Matthew Young filled the vacant right-back position.
Nathan McDonald retained his position between the sticks as he looked to maintain his form after conceding just two goals in four matches since his return to the squad from illness. Adrian Cascaval and Joe Anderson kept their defensive positions.
Stringer named an unchanged midfield quadrat, Tom Wraight and Chris Whelpdale set to attack from the left and right flanks respectively; Chez Isaac and Anthony Church occupied central midfield.
Meanwhile Kudus Oyenuga, who scored twelve goals from 39 appearances for City last season, took a spot on the bench for the visitors; Phil Roberts, another former City striker, started for the Darts.
The Clarets had an awfully slow start and found themselves a goal behind inside five minutes. Young was caught out of position on the left-side, Ben Greenhalgh skipped past the defender to play a low ball into the box which beat McDonald and was pounced upon by Roberts from five yards out.
Roberts beat the offside trap five minutes later to bare down on McDonald, but the City shot-stopper came off his line to gather the ball after the former Clarets striker made a heavy touch.
In typical derby fashion, referee James Durkin attempted to set his mark on the game by brandishing Ronnie Vint a yellow card after he mauled Cosgrave to the ground as he looked to engineer an attack.
City had loud claims for a penalty waved away when Murphy went down in the area under Tom Bonner’s captain, but Mr Durkin felt the contact was not enough to warrant a penalty.
The Chelmsford defence was under attack once more when Roberts held the ball up well outside the box. He cut outside his marker and crossed deep to Ryan Hayes, but the winger shanked his effort high and wide.
Sheringham attempted to double the Darts’ lead on twenty minutes when he sent a looping volley towards goal although it went comfortably over.
City had a great opportunity to level the tie when Isaac’s freekick picked out Whelpdale ten-yards inside the Dartford box; however, the winger watched as his fierce strike was cleared from the line for a corner.
Roberts hit a cross into the box after he lapped up Cascaval’s poor clearance but Sheringham flashed a header wide as the Darts looked more likely to score.
Murphy provided a rare venture forward as he drove towards Vose but his low cross was blocked by Bonner for a corner which Cascaval headed over at the near post.
City’s support for the officials remained limited as Vint escaped man-handling Murphy inside the penalty area, despite the impeding challenge being seen by the majority of the 1023 supporters in the Melbourne Community Stadium.
Church received his fifth yellow card of the season for his part in a fifty-fifty challenge with Billy Crook; however, the Clarets will feel more done by the official’s inability to award City a spot-kick after Wraight and Omozusi were thrown to the floor during a corner five minutes before the interval.
Wraight’s pin-point pass split the Dartford defence early inside the second half, it allowed Cosgrave to deliver across the face of goal; however, Murphy expected a shot and came agonisingly close to getting a conclusive touch.
Cascaval almost handed the visitors a second as his pass back to McDonald lacked any real power, but the City shot-stopper came off his line quickly to clear under the threat of Roberts.
Greenhalgh’s tricky run allowed him to break into space on the left flank, his delayed cross caused trouble in the City box, but substitute Andre Coker was unable to get a shot away in his first moment of action after coming on a minute earlier.
The Clarets came ever so close to levelling just past the hour-mark. Whelpdale’s low cross found a City body in the six-yard box, but the visitors hurried the ball away amid a goal-line scramble.
On sixty-five minutes City came close again but it was a matter of margins once again that beat the home side. Young’s cross from the right proved out of reach for Cosgrave and Murphy to direct towards goal, Wraight’s fierce strike was then blocked by a defender as the Clarets came closer to scoring an all-important goal.
Stringer opted for a double change on 67 minutes as he looked to draw level. Cosgrave and Church came off as the City boss aimed to boost energy levels by introducing Kennedy and Max Porter.
The double change almost back-fired as Roberts flashed a header from a right-wing cross towards goal, but it went wide.
City’s final change introduced Jonny Giles for Young with 18 minutes remaining on the clock.
Isaac almost levelled for the Clarets with a thunderous effort against his former employers, but Vose was equal to the midfielder’s shot from range.
City eventually got the goal their efforts deserved when Giles cut inside his marker on the edge of the box to curl a shot into the top left corner.
If anyone had thought City would settle for a point, think again. In the final minute, Isaac smashed a low shot against the post which rebounded back to Murphy who made no mistake by smashing home to claim all three points in added time.