Chelmsford City 3-0 Eastleigh


Blue Square Bet South

Report by Ray Murphy

Chelmsford City swept to the top of the Blue Square Bet South League following this victory over Eastleigh with their third three-goal haul of the opening week of the season. Eastleigh kept the same side that had defeated Dorchester the previous Tuesday with a return for Brett Poate to the substitutes bench at the expense of the injured Staforde Palmer. The home side also kept the same line up as they had for their home midweek victory over Woking.

It was an incident packed opening first half that was never allowed to ebb and flow due to the constant interruption from referee Ashvin Degnarain. With a swirling wind encircling the Chelmsford City Melbourne Park Athletic Stadium, Eastleigh having the wind in their favour and having the better of the opening minutes were caught out in the seventh minute when a wind assisted pass fell for Anthony Cook having wrong footed Warren Goodhind. Goodhind's recovery tackle saw Cook tripped to the floor and Chelmsford skipper Dave Rainford thundered the penalty past Jason Matthews.

With the game never being allowed to run to arguably show the talents of two sides expected to be in this seasons top five places in the Division, goalmouth chances were very few and far between. After twelve minutes Eastleigh thought they had scored an equaliser. Sami El-Abd was caught in possession by Brett Williams, Williams slipped the ball through to Jamie Slabber who slipped the ball past ex-Eastleigh goalkeeper James Pullen. Slabber turned away to acclaim the congratulations from his teammates, both the referee and his assistant turned back towards the centre circle for the game to restart. The Chelmsford City defence surrounded the referee appealing for offside, the official then taking his consultation to his assistant and then returned to disallow the goal for an offside decision. After the match the referee explained that he had seen the ball in the move take a deflection off an Eastleigh player into the path of the scoring striker whilst the assistant thought it had struck a Chelmsford defender, the referee therefore changing his original decision.    

Chelmsford had to replace injured right back Ben Nunn with Ricky Modeste who caused Eastleigh concerns with constant raids down the right wing avenue. On twenty-nine minutes Modeste was in the action when brought to the ground by Chris Holland and Rainford was stepping up to convert his second penalty of the afternoon despite the attempts of Matthews getting a touch to the ball.

An incident in the middle of the park on thirty-six minutes saw all the players on the park involved in a brawl in the middle of the pitch, all being calmed down with Danny Smith receiving attention to his head following the original incident. After bringing both his assistants on to the pitch and having talked with both team captains Tom Jordan and Rainford, referee Degnarain deemed it necessary only to issue cautions to Goodhind and Cook. Four minutes later and the Goodhind caution became even more significant as the defender was on his way to the dressing room for another challenge on Modeste, which was worthy of a caution. Eastleigh also had a penalty appeal turned down when it appeared that Will Hendry was tripped by Pullen but the referee cautioned Hendry and waved the game on.

Ian Baird had to reshuffle his side for the loss of Goodhind with Richard Graham being sacrificed for left back Poate, Richard Gillespie switching to the left flank and Williams to the right from his strikers role leaving Slabber as the lone man up front. Just as the interval approached Chelmsford defender Adam Tann saw a header from Matthew Locks corner saved by Matthews.

The second period promised to be an exciting affair even if only for the stage that had been set in the first half. This proved not to be with an early goal stifling the game as a contest. Many were still taking their places for the second half when with only fifty seconds on the clock following the restart Chelmsford added their third and a real quality goal it was. A free kick was punted forward by Matthews but headed clear off his own eighteen yard line by Tann, the ball landed in the middle of the park where Rainford sprayed the ball out wide to his left where Takumi Ake collected the ball. Ake ghosted past Ross Bottomley before sending a searing left foot drive into the roof of the net, which even at this early stage must be a contender for goal of the season.   

Chelmsford were content to play possession football for the remainder of the game whilst Eastleigh being mindful of their man disadvantage kept themselves behind the ball so as not to concede more. Williams did have a shot saved by Pullen but the Chelmsford keeper had a relatively quiet afternoon. The closest that City came to increasing their lead was when Bottomley’s header back to Matthews fell short and Ake’s interception saw him loft the ball over Matthews but also over the bar.     

Chelmsford - 210810


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