With a cup final up for grabs, Braintree made the short trip across to face the Clarets at Melbourne Stadium. Having not lost to the Iron since 2010, the Clarets would be feeling hopeful about the possibility of an advancement. Former Claret Matt Rush’s first half goal was the difference maker, as Chelmsford fell at the penultimate hurdle in the Essex senior cup. Ultimately, Braintree’s timewasting and dark arts from the 23rd minute won them the game. Robbie will be hoping for a bounce back from his men as Chelmsford travel to Eastbourne on Saturday.
After a tough game against table toppers Ebbsfleet on Saturday, Robbie made changes. Despite being suspended, Reece Grant was in to start and looking to make it 3 in 3 against Braintree. Ernaldo Krasniqi was back from his knock which kept him side-lined for a few weeks. Elsewhere, Jackson, Blackwell and Da Costa were all back in, after making their way onto the pitch from the bench on Saturday. As well as that, Kai Yearn was in for his first Clarets appearance since the lost away to Havant, after his FA Youth Cup game last week. Guy Norton was amongst the subs alongside Michael Folivi who looked to make his first senior cup appearance for the Clarets.
The Clarets got us underway, with Braintree starting on top, as the Clarets looked to settle into the semi-final. With a fairly quiet opening 5 minutes, a chance arose just after 5 minutes, forcing Sims into a save. Tom Blackwell’s cross swooped down and Simeon Jackson was able to divert his header into the ground, but only for it to bounce straight to Jack Sims’ hands. Another crossing opportunity came for the Clarets as Kyron Farrell dragged Khale Da Costa down, giving away a free kick. Johnson delivered but failed to beat the first man. The crosses kept on coming as a corner was won, after some good play between Barnum-Bobb and Da Costa. It was played short, only for play to thistle out for a goal kick. Next up, Tom Blackwell had a shooting chance as John White handled outside the box. Blackwell struck up over the wall but millimetres away from the top corner, agonisingly close. Tom Blackwell seemingly had a golden chance for the Clarets, as he was fed through by Kai Yearn, being 1 on 1 with Sims before the linesman’s flag soon bought hold to the move. Not long after, and it was Tom Blackwell causing the danger once again. Tyreke Johnson played him in and he fired the ball in, just out of Simeon Jackson’s reach.
Midway through the second half, Braintree had their first chance as the ball fell to Matt Rush. He wriggled through the Clarets defenders before slotting past Jacob Marsden to make it 1-0 to the visitors. With Chelmsford looking to get back into the game, Sims was called into action. A quick free kick gave Kai Yearn some space where he fired his effort towards goal, stinging the palms of Jack Sims, but being a fairly easy save. After yet another long Jack Sims kick, Braintree looked threatening as Matt Rush knocked Cameron James to the ground. The ball fell the way of Joseph Boachie, who took aim but fired wide of Marsden’s goal. After he had prematurely been walked off after receiving treatment, it seemed that Reece Grant’s race was run as he went down yet again. Callum Jones was called upon and he replaced Grant. With less than 5 to go in the half, Tyreke Johnson looked to provide a moment of magic, as his tricky footwork saw him get the better of Chris Regis, before Tyreke, filling in at left-back fired his effort wide of the goal. Rather surprisingly, 4 minutes were added on with questions to why it was so little. A great chance looked to go the way of the Clarets as Ernaldo Krasniqi sent a beautiful long ball over the top, seeing Callum Jones produce and on par touch which, to the disappointment of the striker, just bobbled back behind him.
HALF TIME: CCFC 0-1 BTFC
Braintree kicked off the second half, as they immediately won themselves a free kick, and a good crossing opportunity for Alfie Matthews. His delivery fell in the box and was fired way over the crossbar by Kyron Farrell. Chelmsford looked to encourage as Blackwell did well to find space. He beat 2 Braintree defenders before being clipped and brought down in the box. Despite the almost obvious penalty, referee Lloyd Wood was not convinced and somehow waved it away. Blackwell was at the thick of it once again, as minutes later Jazzi Barnum-Bobb delivered his cross well and Tom’s header just went whiskers past the post. Chelmsford were persistent with Blackwell and Johnson linking up well, only to see the play dealt with and cleared by Braintree. The Iron counter, and after some theatrical falls, Matthews was able to get his shot away, only to find the hands of Marsden for a routine stop. With either side failing to get a chance, Barnum-Bobb nearly sealed Chelmsford’s fate. Not looking to way of Jacob, Jazzi sent the ball hurtling towards his own goal, only for there to be no keeper in it. Jacob rushed across the box and, in the nick of time, managed to slide and clear the ball off the line.
Still in search of the equaliser, Chelmsford’s performance did seem to improve. Some wonderful quick play between James, Barnum-Bobb and Yearn saw a dinked in ball bicycle kicked towards goal by Simeon Jackson, as it went narrowly wide. The minutes kept trickling away, as Braintree continued the dark arts of football, constantly fooling the referee and time wasting whenever they could. Baris Altintop continued this theme, as he went down for a period of time, allowing everyone to catch their breath. Braintree kept their good press up and were constantly forcing Chelmsford into mistakes. Robbie’s final throw of the dice saw Freddie Hockey on for Ernaldo Krasniqi as a late change of shape was made. Freddie was involved straight away as he won the Clarets a corner. Blackwell’s delivery found its way to Cameron James who wasted a good opportunity to deliver, as his pass to Kai Yearn was overhit. Braintree came up the other end and won themselves a corner, after Kyron Farrell’s delivery was cleared by Cameron James. The corner was poor but Braintree managed to keep their possession up and further running down the clock. 6 minutes were added on as the Chelmsford onslaught continued into the final minutes. The Clarets continued to send the ball long, bring no real chances. With 3 minutes to go, Altintop needlessly turned behind for a corner, where every Chelmsford player was up. Tom Blackwell delivered the corner and Jacob Marsden, yes our goalkeeper, won the header but could only send it over the bar. With a minute to go, Braintree got a corner, and time wasted their way to the Essex senior cup final.
FULL TIME: CCFC 0-1 BTFC
Marsden (GK), James, Barnum-Bobb, Trotter, Yearn, Jackson (C), Blackwell, Da Costa (Yila 62’), Johnson, Grant (Jones 37’), E.Krasniqi (Hockey 85’)
Unused subs: Folivi, Norton
Cautions: Johnson 16’, Marsden 70’
Sims (GK), Davies, Farrell, Regis, White (C), Clements, Rush (Reynolds 78’), Payne, Boachie (Pavey 62’), Matthews (Njoku 62’), Altintop
Unused subs: Niemczycki (GK)
Goals: Rush 23’
Cautions: Matthews (on bench) 89’
Words By Josh Lowe