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Chelmsford City 3
Ruff (88')
0 Tonbridge Angels

Late goals seal defeat in Essex

Two late goals gave promotion-chasing Chelmsford City a flattering scoreline, although nobody of an Angels persuasion could really argue that the hosts deserved the points.

Until the 88th minute Tonbridge remained in the game at a windy but warm Melbourne Park but a failure to clear their lines following a corner gave Chelmsford breathing space and, in added time, a calamitous mistake from Jonny Henly wrapped up the game at a venue where fortune rarely favours the Angels.

Jay Saunders, banished to the distant viewing point of the main stand due to suspension, alongside his assistant Lloyd Blackman, was once more left with a threadbare squad, which just the one change from the side that performed admirably at Bath City with Josh Popoola coming in for the unavailable Mo Dabre, whilst Scott Wagstaff returned to the bench. 

Under-18’s manager, Dom Welsh stepped in to assistant Tommy Parkinson in the dug outs.

There was little to choose between the teams in the opening 20 minutes as the wind proved difficult with both sides struggling at times to just keep the ball on the pitch. The home side had an early opportunity as a cross from Jermaine Francis found Samir Carruthers in front of goal but a brilliant block denied the former Dartford man.

Henly had to be at his best to save from Callum Watts on 25 minutes with the follow-up being driven over the bar from Dave Winfield.

As half-time approached Tonbridge had a period when they created a couple of chances of their own after frustrating their hosts. Sean Shields twisted his way into space for a cross that was turned away for a corner and, in the last minute of the half, Shields brought a good save from Chelmsford’s goalkeeper, Jacob Marsden, at his near post and from the resultant corner, Jamie Fielding’s header was cleared away.

An early second half cross from Shields glanced off the head of Popoola before Chelmsford took a 52 minute lead. A cross into the box from Carruthers found Freddie Hockey, whose close range shot was parried by Henly but the rebound fell nicely for Francis to tuck home.

Tonbridge stayed in the game until its closing stages, limiting the home side to a couple of efforts, before a corner was only partially cleared falling at the feet of Charlie Ruff who scored from close range.

Sadly it was a calamitous moment that brought the curtain down on the game for the Angels when Henly was robbed on the edge of the box in the process of clearing allowing Francis to run the ball into an empty net.

Jay Saunders speaking to Matt Davison after the match reflected: "A bad day at the office ... We didn't work them enough in the final third, there is no denying that in the forward areas we are light. The likes of Ryan Hanson and Mo Dabre are big players for us and as a squad we can't afford to lose them. It is disappointing as management and players when we don't play as well as we are capable of knowing that supporters have spent hard-earned cash to come and watch us."

Published Saturday 13th April 2024 (last updated Monday 15th April 2024)