Chelmsford City registered their fifth win in six League games with a 3-1 reverse win at Dulwich Hamlet.
The Clarets struggled against their ten-man opposition, but Mikhail Kennedy’s late goal gave City added comfort in a somewhat frustrating League affair.
Chris Whelpdale opened the scoring with a powerful header four minutes into the first half before Nathan Green levelled the scores two minutes later.
Michael Chambers was shown a second yellow card by referee Robert Massey-Ellis on the half-hour mark, but the hosts nullified City despite their numerical disadvantage and took the scoreline level into half-time.
Whelpdale restored Chelmsford’s lead on the hour-mark. Nathan McDonald produced a fine save to deny substitute Decarrey Sheriff from point-blank range in the final five minutes, before Kennedy wrapped up victory with a goal in the 90th minute.
City boss Rod Stringer made three changes to the side that claimed a dramatic win over Dartford a week ago. Rhys Murphy, fresh from scoring the stoppage time winner last week, kept his place in the starting eleven. Scott Fenwick returned from illness to join the league top-scorer in attack.
Jazzi Barnum-Bobb replaced Matt Young on the left-side of defence; meanwhile, Elliot Omozusi was replaced by Michael Spillane due to injury. Tom Wraight, Anthony Church, Chez Isaac and Whelpdale were named as an unchanged midfield while Adrian Cascaval, Joe Anderson and Nathan McDonald retained their defensive positions.
The Clarets faced a familiar face in The Hamlet’s line-up as former City player Anthony Cook prepared to take on his former employers.
Having had a slow start against Dartford last week, Chelmsford fans enjoyed a promising opening five minutes. Isaac’s deep corner allowed the visitors to take the lead as Whelpdale arrived at the far post to power a header home.
However, any hopes of a good start were dashed as Green rose highest to head a left-wing corner beyond McDonald and provide an immediate response to City’s opener.
Murphy tested Preston Edwards’ reactions on eight minutes with a fiercely struck freekick. Wraight and Anderson feigned run-ups to the dead-ball, however Murphy’s eventual effort was caught by the Dulwich shot-stopper.
The Clarets pressed again when Fenwick’s poor touch took the ball out to Wraight, but the winger’s curling effort was deflected and looped up into Edwards’ hands.
Michael Chambers became the first player to receive a yellow card as he entered the book after eleven minutes for a silly foul inside his own half.
As time ticked on, the hosts settled into the game and were given freedom to resort to their natural possession-based style. A series of quick passes allowed space for Thompson to trouble the Clarets, but Spillane was available to head Cook’s freekick away after the Hamlet striker was fouled on the edge of the area.
Cook provided a bright spark for the hosts and his set-pieces created numerous chances for the League strugglers. The former Claret produced a small cheer from a group of supporters who thought he had put the hosts ahead, but his freekick curled round a five-man wall and hit the side netting.
Thompson’s low shot was saved by McDonald’s legs, but the flag was raised for offside as the home side began to assert some dominance.
A fast through ball split the City defence to send Nyren Clunis bearing down towards goal; however, the tricky striker was denied by a good save from McDonald.
Having applied dominance onto their opponents, the hosts were hit with a heavy blow as referee Robert Massey-Ellis dismissed Chambers for a second bookable offence after the defender tripped Murphy.
Murphy’s consequential freekick was saved by Edwards, but Green entered the book a minute later after fouling Wraight; leading to the home ‘keeper spilling Anderson’s freekick but gathering it at the second attempt under pressure from Fenwick.
The hosts look bitterly struck following Chambers’ dismissal but provided a rare venture forward as Dominic Vose’s fierce low strike forced McDonald into a diving save shortly before the interval.
Barnum-Bobb entered the book for a clumsy foul on Clynis just outside the box and the visitors were almost made to pay for it; however, Cook’s header was somehow directed over by Thompson at the near post.
Former Colchester United defender Magnus Okuonghae received a yellow card for obstructing Murphy’s run as City looked to sneak ahead before the break but were forced to enter the interval level.
The home side switched to a defensive 4-4-1 formation as they looked to accommodate the loss of Chambers; however, their wide players continued to drift forward, leaving space for Chelmsford to attack on the break.
Anderson’s deep cross six minutes into the second half was headed into the danger zone by Wraight, however, Church was unable to get a shot away as Dulwich threw bodies in front of the ball.
Cook continued to be a threat for the hosts with his quick footwork earning a corner but it was comfortably dealt with.
Murphy created an opportunity for Anderson when he fizzed the ball wide from a central position. The full-back’s cross was met by Fenwick inside the six-yard box, but it was headed wide.
However, the Clarets made their numerical advantage count by restoring the lead on 59 minutes. Midfield maestro Church looked up and dinked a cross towards Whelpdale who cleverly sent a looping header over Edwards’ helpless dive.
Having taken the lead, City boss Rod Stringer made his first change by replacing Barnum-Bobb with Aaron Cosgrave as Whelpdale slotted into the right side of defence.
City almost furthered their lead when a low cross beat Edwards, but neither Wraight nor Cosgrave could push the ball over the line. Fenwick rounded the on-rushing home ‘keeper shortly after; however, the Geordie was unable to get a shot away.
Stringer made his second change with fourteen minutes remaining by replacing skipper Church with Max Porter, before making his final change with seven minutes left as Kennedy replaced Murphy.
The majority of the 2826 crowd at Champion Hill thought they had salvaged a point when Sheriff rose highest to head a pin-point corner, but McDonald had other plans and produced an excellent save to deny the Hamlet midfielder.
However, the Clarets went straight up the other end and, having denied the hosts a late leveller, put the game beyond doubt as Cosgrave made a darting run into space before pulling the ball back to Kennedy who made no mistake in firing home to seal another win for City.