Full time: Hemel Hempstead Town 1-4 Chelmsford City

Chelmsford City continued their fine National League South form by putting four goals past Hemel Hempstead during Tuesday evening’s visit to Hertfordshire.

City struck early in the game when George Alexander gave his side the lead, which Jermaine Francis then doubled later on in the first half. The Tudors halved the deficit before half time when Tyrese Campbell’s strike found the top corner, but Charlie Ruff’s swift second half brace ended any Hemel hopes of a comeback.

Robbie Simpson’s Clarets side dominated proceedings at the Focus Community Arena from the first whistle, and got rewarded for their positive play four minutes into the first half. Jermaine Francis showed good feet down the right-hand side before working the ball into a crossing position. Francis’ delivery didn’t disappoint, accurately finding George Alexander at the backpost, who fired the ball home from close-range to give his side the lead in the 4th minute.

The Clarets continued to pile the pressure on their hosts after taking the lead, seeing Dave Winfield’s header go just wide of the post and Finley Barbrook have a goal disallowed.

It was Francis who eventually scored City’s second goal of the game though, striking in the 28th minute. Simpson’s side combined impressively in the build-up to Francis’ 4th league goal of the season, with some intricate football in midfield culminating in Charlie Ruff finding Jazzi Barnum-Bobb’s run down the right flank. Barnum-Bobb kept his composure by picking out Francis in a crowded penalty area, who finished clinically past Craig King.

Hemel responded valiantly to going another goal behind by halving City’s lead four minutes after Francis’ goal, when a series of tackles in midfield resulted in Kombe Kawimbe picking out Tyrese Briscoe on the wing. Briscoe drove at Ben Brookes before unleashing a powerful strike from a tight angle, which found its way into the top corner of Henry Gray’s goal.

After seeing the remainder of the first half out comfortably, Simpson’s Clarets came out for the second half looking re-energised. Charlie Ruff yet again proved to be the bright spark for his side on the road when he scored in a league away game for 6th consecutive match. Following a cross from the right channel, Ruff managed to get the beating of former Claret Chris Smith inside Hemel’s penalty area and produce a shot on goal which trickled into the bottom corner of the Hemel net in the 47th minute.

The Tudors’ nightmare start to the second period was completed three minutes later when Ruff completed his brace with a fine solo effort. After receiving the ball inside the Hemel penalty box, the no.16 skilfully spun past defender Kyle Ajayi before capitalising on the shooting opportunity this worked, by once again slotting the ball past Craig King.

At the other end of the pitch Henry Gray remained sharp by preventing Tre Mitford from scoring. Mitford burst on to the end of a pass played behind the Clarets’ backline, but Gray was quick to come off his line and claw the ball away from the feet of the forward.

The Clarets came agonisingly close to making it a five-star performance in Hertfordshire when Samir Carruthers was denied from the penalty spot in the 85th minute. Carruthers, Watts, and Alexander combined well on a City counterattack, with the latter being brought down by Ajayi in the penalty box. Carruthers stepped forward after referee Matthew Norton pointed to the spot following Ajayi’s foul, but the former Hemel man’s Panenka penalty was caught by Craig King.

King’s penalty stop did little to dampen the mood of the Clarets fans behind his goal though, who got to see their side win a third consecutive National League South game ahead of Saturday’s clash against table-toppers Yeovil. City remain 3rd in the league table, with Tuesday’s three points against the Tudors closing the gap on 2nd place Worthing to two points after the Rebels’ 4-1 defeat to Welling.

Hemel Hempstead Town XI: King (GK), McKenzie, Ajayi, Williams ©, Hinds (Briscoe 26’), Mitford, Re (B Smith 73’), Kawimbe, C Smith, Bates (Roberts 73’), Judd.

Unused substitutes: Hill, Oyinsan.

Yellow cards: Judd, Bates.

Chelmsford City XI: Gray (GK); Barnum-Bobb, Barbrook, Winfield ©, Brookes; Ochieng, Watts; Francis (Wordsworth 75’), Ruff (Alfa 68’), Castiglione (Carruthers 64’); Alexander.

Unused substitutes: Jones, Hockey.

Yellow cards: Ochieng, Barbrook.

Attendance: 559

Report by Jake Dixon

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