Full time: Chelmsford City 1-0 Yeovil Town

Chelmsford City ran out as winners against table-toppers Yeovil Town on Saturday afternoon at Melbourne Community Stadium. Glovers defender Morgan Williams’ 72nd minute own goal made the decisive difference between both sides, earning the Clarets three points which fires them up to second in the National League South standings.

City’s toil and organisation was a key feature of the top of the table clash, and it meant limited opportunities fell the way of Yeovil, who regularly got caught offside throughout the afternoon as the Clarets proved yet again why they possess the best defensive record in the league.

The persistence of Robbie Simpson’s side paid off in the second half when Williams diverted the ball into his own net, thanks to Jermaine Francis’ ingenuity which kept a Clarets attack alive. Yeovil looked at their most dangerous once they went behind, flashing a number of dangerous deliveries across the City penalty area late on in the game.

It proved to be a closely contested affair in Essex throughout the ninety minutes, but City created the clearer openings in the first half, with Jermaine Francis and Dave Winfield both testing Yeovil keeper Joe Day.

The tenacious Francis’ energy caused Mark Cooper’s men problems all afternoon, and the winger forced Day into his first stop of the afternoon in the 13th minute. Francis stole the ball off defender Jay Foulston on the edge of the penalty area, and then quickly unleashed a shot towards the bottom corner of the net, which Day was equal to as he diverted the ball behind the goal for a corner.

George Alexander’s powerful header from the subsequent corner had the Glovers worried but flew just over the crossbar. City caused their visitors problems from a set piece once again later in the half, when Castiglione found the head of Winfield from another one of his corners. Winfield’s looping header hit the target, but Day was able to easily claim it.

Simpson’s men had their best chance of the half on the cusp of the break, with Francis getting slipped behind the Yeovil defence by Charlie Ruff’s accurate pass. Francis cut inside and powered forward, eventually producing a low shot which flashed across the face of goal but ended up the wrong side of the post.

Henry Gray was forced into a rare stop midway through the first half; Glovers captain Matt Worthington slammed a powerful shot from far out towards goal, which stung the palms of Gray who tipped the strike over the crossbar.

The tight pattern of the game continued into the second half, but Yeovil dangerman Frank Nouble began to cause City some problems and delivered a dangerous cross which found Sam Pearson in space at the back post. Pearson headed just wide, but the linesman’s flag was raised anyway, with City’s defensive line once again holding strong.

The Clarets got rewarded for their efforts later on in the half when the only goal of the game came in the 72nd minute. Yeovil defender Jake Wannell met Ben Brookes’ dangerous cross into the penalty area with a looping headed clearance, which only fell as far as Jermaine Francis on the edge of the box. Francis quickly nodded the clearance back towards goal, resulting in Williams putting the ball into his net while under pressure from Charlie Ruff.

Four minutes later, City could’ve put the result beyond doubt when Ody Alfa worked a promising opening inside the penalty area, but the substitute’s powerful effort missed the target.

The visitors thought they found an equaliser in the 79th minute when substitute Alex Fisher headed the ball past Henry Gray from close range, but the Glovers fans’ celebrations were cut short by the linesman’s flag who judged Fisher to have been in an offside position.

Yeovil flashed a number of dangerous deliveries across goal in the closing ten minutes but were unable to turn these deliveries into goals, with boss Mark Cooper bemoaning in his post-match interview that his side “didn’t show the bravery” to finish those attacks off.

The Clarets preserved their clean sheet in four minutes of added time and secured a memorable victory over the Glovers, resulting in Simpson’s side climbing up to 2nd place in the National League South table, overtaking Worthing after the Rebels’ defeat to Braintree Town. City have closed the gap on table-toppers Yeovil to 12 points and return to action on Tuesday with an away trip to Farnborough.

Chelmsford City XI: Gray (GK); Barnum-Bobb, Barbrook, Winfield ©, Brookes; Ochieng, Watts; Francis (Carruthers 86’), Ruff (Wordsworth 90+3’), Castiglione (Alfa 71’); Alexander.

Unused substitutes: James, Hockey.

Yellow cards: Francis, Barbrook

Red cards: Mickey Spillane

Yeovil Town XI: Day (GK), Williams, Wannel, Stevens (Dawes 67’), Worthington ©, Morgan (Fisher 56’), Lo-Everton, Smith (Cooper 83’), Pearson, Nouble, Foulston.

Unused substitutes: Whittle, Owers.

Yellow cards: Morgan, Williams, Worthington, Stevens

Attendance: 1502

Report by Jake Dixon

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