Full time: Braintree Town 0-3 Chelmsford City

A hat-trick of second half goals from Chelmsford City earned Robbie Simpson’s excellent Clarets side a deserved Boxing Day win against Essex rivals Braintree Town. Both sides came close to scoring in the first half, but Simpson’s men put on a second half show to remember for City fans, following goals from Jermaine Francis, Charlie Ruff, and Freddie Hockey.

Braintree goalkeeper Jack Sims was forced into the first save of the game with 5 minutes gone, when Hockey capitalised on an Iron error at the back to unleash a shot from close-range, which Sims parried behind for a corner.

The game settled down after an end-to-end opening 15 minutes that saw both sides fire shots off target. Hockey continued to be a thorn in the hosts’ side however, and in the 39th minute the forward came closest to opening the scoring again. Ruff slipped a ball behind the Braintree defence to find Hockey’s run, allowing him to fire a shot across goal from a tight angle, which ended up the wrong side of the post.

Braintree’s best effort of the afternoon came in added time of the first half, when Reggie Lamb capitalised on Callum Watts’ loose touch in midfield by driving towards goal and unleashing a powerful shot from distance. Lamb’s effort had the beating of Clarets shot-stopper Henry Gray, but fortunately it cannoned off of the post and bounced away from danger, much to the relief of Gray and his teammates.

Angelo Harrop made two substitutions within the opening 20 minutes of the second half, but his side struggled to find a foothold in the game as City continued to search for an opener, which arrived in the 67th minute.

Like earlier in the game, Ruff once again picked out the run of Hockey behind the hosts’ defence, forcing Sims to venture off his goal line and scramble the ball clear before Hockey was able to shoot. Sims’ clearance fell into the path of Francis though, who kept his cool and rolled the ball home into the empty Braintree net from the edge of the box, sparking jovial celebrations amongst the travelling fans.

Less than 10 minutes later, City scored again in the 75th minute via Charlie Ruff’s header. Watts and Barbrook combined well in midfield and picked out substitute Ody Alfa down the left-hand side, who sat down Braintree captain Baris Altintop with some impressive skill, before then delivering a dangerous ball across goal. Alfa’s precise delivery found Ruff at the back post, who clinically headed the ball into the top corner to double the Clarets’ lead.

The City rout was completed five minutes later, when a free kick won by Freddie Hockey ended in the forward scoring his fifth league goal of the season. Hockey drove forward following an Iron attack, and was fouled by Braintree substitute Leon Davies on the right flank.

Francis delivered the subsequent free-kick and found the head of Dave Winfield at the back post. Winfield’s header back across goal arrived into the path of Ruff, and the goalscorer turned into the provider by keeping his cool under pressure from the onrushing Joe Sims. Ruff quickly cut the ball back into the direction of Hockey, who completed a simple tap-in to score his side’s third of the afternoon.

The three second half goals secured Simpson’s side a memorable win, paving way for jovial celebrations between the Chelmsford players and fans at full time.

City’s Boxing Day Essex derby victory lifts the club four points above Braintree in the table as the Clarets remain in 7th place in the National league South standings, ahead of the return fixture against Angelo Harrop’s side next week on New Year’s Day.

Braintree Town XI: Sims (GK), Miccio (Davies 56’), Altintop ©, Grimwood, Tompkins, Blackwell, Payne (Aransibia 64’), Blair, Coulthirst, Ward (Watt 72’), Lambe.

Unused substitutes: Critchlow, Georgiou.

Yellow cards: Miccio, Davies.

Chelmsford City XI: Gray (GK); James, Jenkins, Winfield ©, Castiglione (Brookes 82’); Watts, Barbrook; Francis, Ruff (Jones 90+1), Carruthers (Alfa 66’); Hockey.

Unused substitutes: Barnum-Bobb, Ochieng.

Yellow cards: Ruff, Carruthers, Francis.

Attendance: 1527

Report by Jake Dixon

Cover image by Roger Robinson Photography

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