The Clarets were back in action in the Essex Senior Cup after a disappointing result against Bath City on Saturday. A somewhat local derby as Witham Town travelled the short distance to Melbourne Stadium, once again in the Senior Cup like they did in 2015 where Chelmsford ran out 3-1 winners. Today, it was another dominant display from the Clarets with a changed team doing the business against as wasteful Witham side. An away trip to Havant is up next for Chelmsford, where a suspension crisis leaves the starting side unpredictable.
With the lower league side Witham struggling in their league, Robbie was allowed to make changes and give some good youth players some minutes. Once again, Jacob Marsden was in between the sticks, taking the captain’s armband again this season. Elsewhere, youngsters Harry Davison, Freddie Hockey and Finn Wilkes all came into the starting eleven to get themselves minutes with the first team. As well as that, Ody Alfa came into the starting side after making his debut off the bench on Saturday. Tom Blackwell, Khale Da Costa and Harry Lodovica all made their way back into the team. Multiple players dropped to the bench with the top of the table clash against Havant on the horizon. A bench filled with talent was named as youngster Harry Lloyd was joined by Simeon Jackson, Reece Grant, Anisius Lewis and manager Robbie Simpson.
We got underway at Melbourne Stadium with Chelmsford looking to show their upper league class against the Isthmian North side. Early on, some nice linkup play between Tom Blackwell and Khale Da Costa allowed Khale to deliver the ball into the box towards Harry Lodovica. He got up well and won the header but could only nod it wide of the goal. Not long after, and et again it was Tom Blackwell causing problems for the Witham defenders. He got away well and delivered a dangerous ball into the box towards Freddie Hockey who glanced a header towards goal but could not get enough on it to send it goalwards. Next up, Ody Alfa was up for a chance. Arjanit Krasniqi picked him out and let him run at his man. He managed to cut inside and looked to bend his effort goalwards but only managed to send it high and wide of the goal. Just after the half hour mark, there was another great chance for City. Arjanit Krasniqi got the ball in space and drove towards goal, unleashing a shot which flew just over the bar, but was enough to worry the keeper as he backtracked.
Harry Lodovica was in the wars next he rose up with a Witham defender and clashed with the Witham keeper too. Both Lodovica and the defender went down, and both were required treatment. Unfortunately for Harry, this meant the end for him as he walked off with club Sports Therapist Tom Hurding and needed subbing off. His replacement was Simeon Jackson, an impressive reserve to have with years and years worth of experience. After Lodovica limped off, play continued. Just minutes later, Witham were forced to take their war-wounded defender off as he was injured in the collision with Lodovica and his own goalkeeper. Captain zigs was replaced by McLean. After the referee indicated the additional minutes, a great chance broke for the Clarets. The ball was played low into the box towards Ody Alfa. The striker took the ball in his stride and fired an effort goal wards. The shot deflected but still found his way into the box, giving Ody Alfa a goal on his full Chelmsford debut and giving the Clarets a lead.
With still more added time to be played, the Clarets for another golden chance to score through Freddie Hockey. The striker latched onto a beautiful ball played over the top and, with the keeper rushing towards him, chipped it excellently and was unlucky as it just went wide of the post. After taking the lead through a deflected goal, Chelmsford needed some more luck. Witham got into the box and after a little tussle, they saw the referee point to the spot, for what seemed to be a soft penalty. Vyse stepped up and looked to bury it bottom left, but the shot rebounded back off the post. After the game, Jacob Marsden claimed to me the he did get a touch on it, so I’ll side with him, a great fingertip save from the Clarets’ keeper. After an injury time goal and missed penalty, the first half was finally brought to a close and Chelmsford went in 1-0 up.
HALF TIME CCFC 1-0 WTFC
Witham kicked us off for the second half but immediately came under pressure from another Chelmsford attack. Tom Blackwell went forward and got himself into space on the edge of the Witham box. He took aim and fired goalwards, only for the keeper, Ben Lane, to pull off a great save and send it over the bar and out for a corner. The resulting corner amassed to nothing and Witham were able to clear the ball upfield. However, the Chelmsford barrage continued. Ody Alfa was given the. All in the left hand side of the pitch and drove forward well. He set himself well and, with heaps on time, finished well past Ben Lane, to give Chelmsford a 2-0 lead which was much deserved. Alfa and teammates celebrated a great goal. Witham did get themselves a chance after this as Pegrum found space in behind the Chelmsford back line. Marsden was quick off his line and closed the angle well, making it harder for the Witham player who fired his effort wide of the goal
Despite the scare from Witham, Chelmsford confused to dominate. Khale Da Costa came close next after Tom Blackwell beautifully delivered to the front post. His effort was good but flew over the bar. They kept on going as Cameron James was in, one on one with the keeper. The defender rounded the keeper but a heavy touch meant the ball got away from him and went out of the play. James was involved once again straight after. A nice dummy sent him away on the left hand side and he looked up and sent the ball across the box straight to Simeon Jackson who finished well and into the back of the net to get the Clarets’ third for the night. Not even 2 minutes later and it was 4. It was that man again. A beautifully weighted ball over the top meant Simeon was clean through and an intelligent dunk over the keeper capped off an excellent spell for the Clarets and all but wrapping the game up.
Moments after replacing Ody Alfa, Anisius Lewis was straight in the thick of it as he was sent through and used his pace to get the byline before fizzing the ball across the face of goal, seeing no one connect to it as it rolled out for goal kick. Continuing to impress from the bench, Lewis was involved again. This time he looked to set someone up as he get some space and sent a ball to the feet of Blackwell who has his effort blocked before Jackson narrowly missed out of the loose ball to Lane. With a clean sheet being hard to come by for Chelmsford, the Witham celebrations were damming as an excellent finish saw the Witham fans have what they thought was a consolation, before the linesman’s flag ruined their fun. With the minutes trickling away, the result was set in stone. A great performance sealed a place in the semi final against either League 2 Colchester or fellow National League South side, and close rivals Braintree. Yet another great game to look forward to in coming weeks.
FULL TIME CCFC 4-0 WTFC
Marsden (GK) (C), James, Alfa (Lewis 66’), Lodovica (Jackson 40’), Blackwell (Grant 80’), Da Costa, Davison, Hockey, Wilkes, A.Krasniqi, E.Krasniqi
Unused subs: Lloyd, Simpson
Goals: Alfa 45+3’,48’, Jackson 64’,66’
Cautions: Grant 90’
Lane (GK), Soganile, Whipps (Godward 60’), Dauti, Tsingano, Ige (C) (McLean 44’), Kwatchey, Ajani-Salau, Vyse, Richeford (Mharapara 72’), Pegrum
Unused subs: Madden (GK), Hyde
Caution: Ajani-Salau 26’
Words By Josh Lowe