Full time: Chelmsford City 4-1 Dartford

Braces from George Alexander and Charlie Ruff earned Chelmsford City a fine Good Friday victory over relegation-threatened rivals Dartford.

Both of the Clarets’ full-backs were the providers in the first half, with Jazzi Barnum-Bobb’s ball across the Darts’ penalty area being converted from close-range by Ruff to put the hosts ahead.

Left-back Ben Brookes helped City double their lead before the break; the no.3’s pinpoint cross from the left-hand-side picked out the near-post run of Alexander, who became the next Clarets player to put the ball beyond Rhys Byrne from close range.

The visitors dampened the mood in Essex when they halved Simpson’s side lead minutes into the second half. Alexander and Ruff got on the scoresheet again in the latter stages of the second period though, meaning City were able to comfortably close out the game.

Robbie Simpson re-introduced captain Dave Winfield and midfielder Finley Barbrook back into the starting eleven on Good Friday; both were eligible to return to action after completing recent suspensions. George Alexander also returned to the fray at the expense of Freddie Hockey.

City dominated possession in the early stages of proceedings in Essex, but up until the half an hour mark, had struggled to test Leyton Orient loanee Rhys Byrne who started in goal for the visitors. That all changed on the half an hour mark, when Jermaine Francis slipped a ball into the path of Barnum-Bobb down the right-hand-side. Ruff found himself in the right place at the right time and was quickest to react to Barnum-Bobb’s delivery, converting the ball past Byrne.

George Alexander doubled his side’s lead twelve minutes later. After a quickly taken throw-in, Ben Brookes delivered an accurate cross into Alexander. The forward converted Brookes’ delivery with a one-touch finish, scoring his first home goal since signing for the club in February.

Dartford started the second half the stronger of the two sides, and earned a path back into the match when Brandon Barzey capitalised on some City indecision at the back. The Clarets failed to clear their lines in their own penalty area, and Barzey capitalised by firing the bouncing ball towards goal and into the top corner of the net.

Barzey nearly secured a brace of his own to bring Ady Pennock’s men level in the 56th minute. The 24-year-old was gifted with a free header from a corner, which he guided towards goal, but the Darts were denied an equaliser when Josh Castiglione produced a heroic goal-line clearance to preserve City’s lead.

George Alexander made no mistake in the 80th minute to complete his brace and restore City’s two-goal advantage. After some more good linkup play between Barnum-Bobb and Francis on the right flank, the latter of the two squared the ball across goal to Alexander, who couldn’t have missed from such close range as he scored his side’s third goal of the afternoon.

Four minutes later, Charlie Ruff capped off a superb afternoon for the Claret Army when he completed his brace. Ruff applied the finishing touch to a fine tiki-taka passing move by City, adding another strike to the club’s already long list of goal of the season contenders.

Another win for Robbie Simpson’s side cements their place at 2nd in the National League South table for the time being, ahead of a return to action on Monday against Dover Athletic.

Chelmsford City XI: Gray (GK); Barnum-Bobb, Jenkins, Winfield ©, Brookes; Watts (Ochieng 85’), Barbrook (Wordsworth 46’); Francis, Ruff, Castiglione (Carruthers 74’); Alexander.

Unused substitutes: Alfa, Hockey

Yellow cards: Wordsworth.

Dartford XI: Byrne (GK); Wynter, Coulson © (Smith 46’), Rooney, Statham, Barzey (Allen 87’), Nembhard, Maloney, Greenidge (Shomotun 78’), Box, Nelson.

Unused substitutes: Wray (GK), Wall.

Yellow cards: Greenidge, Nelson, Barzey

Match Officials: Morgan Conn, (Referee), Charlie Roberts, (1st Assistant), Craig Winter (2nd Assistant).

Attendance: 1591

Report by Jake Dixon

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