After a week without a game, but 2 training sessions, the Clarets were prepared for the visit to second placed Dartford. With the Clarets in 4th, it was set up to be a good clash as Dartford were seeking revenge from December, where Louis Dunne’s late goal won Chelmsford the 3 points. Dartford took the lead late on in the first half, but it was late late action in the second half. A wonder strike from Ody Alfa late on seemingly got the Clarets a good point on the road. However, up stepped Giovanni McGregor was a superb winner deep into injury time sealing all 3 points. Once again, pure pandemonium.
After a superb win last Saturday, a few changes came the way of the Clarets. With Eddie Beach away on international duty, Jacob Marsden was in between the sticks. Along with Eddie, Jazzi Barnum-Bobb has also gone away with the St. Vincent and the Grenadines squad. Two other changes saw Tom Blackwell and Giovanni McGregor drop to the bench, with the super subs from last week, Freddie Hockey and Callum Jones, making their way into the starting squad. With Dave Winfield serving his final game of suspension today, Frankie Terry and Ade Oluwo were once again joined by Ben Brookes defensively as the trio looked to build upon a good performance last week.
The game got underway, with the Clarets kicking off at Princes Park. The opening minutes was played in the air before Ben Brookes was able to get the ball down and play an excellent ball to Freddie Hockey. He outpaced Connor Essam and got into the box before he hit a low ball across the box. Folivi and Alfa were both stretching for it, but neither managed any clear contact, as an amazing opportunity was missed. Chelmsford would hope to continue the quick start with Freddie Hockey causing early problems for the Dartford defenders. It was Robbie’s other unenforced change pulling the strings as Callum Jones was finding space just behind the 2 strikers and being able to drive. The Clarets looked to get a chance to attack, but a foul was given away, right down in the corner of Dartford’s half. The free kick saw possession given away, and a corner was won from the attack. Oluwo rose highest and got his head to the ball, seeing his effort blocked and penalty claims waved away. The early stages saw Chelmsford dominate as joy was found playing the ball over the top of Dartford’s backline. A great ball picked out Folivi, as he went 1 on 1 with Essam. He cut inside and looked to reverse his shot to the near post but was only able to scuff an effort wide of the post.
With early stages of Chelmsford domination over, Dartford had a fantastic chance. Samir Carruthers was allowed to cut inside, onto his favored right foot and swung a great ball in. Alex Wall was free at the back post but did not get enough on his header and sent it wide. The hosts came forward once again, and Carruthers was dictating the play again. He played an excellent give-and-go allowing him to have a shot on goal. The effort was deflected, wrong footing Jacob Marsden but slowing the shot down. Trotter was composed, and cleared in the nick of time, with several Dartford players rushing in to try and hound him. With the 30-minute-mark approaching, Chelmsford continued to be on top and won yet another free kick. Ben Brookes was once again the architect as another good ball was delivered. It was cleared by the Darts, but only out of play to put them back on the backfoot. Dartford were managing spells where they had possession, but it had been one way traffic so far. Alex Wall’s chance seemed to be the only threat which had come towards Jacob Marsden’s goal. Yet
another great chance cane the way of Chelmsford, with juts under 10 to play. The ball was played up to Michael Folivi, who brought it down and sent Callum Jones through. Jones was closed down and unable to hit the target, sending his effort over the bar. Folivi was involved again just minutes later. Alfa picked him out, and he was in on the keeper. Once again, it was the wrong side of the post as his shot whistled just past and out of play.
With just their second real chance, Dartford took the lead. Carruthers found Coulson who managed to cut inside and fire past Marsden. A goal massively against the run of play, with the Clarets having been in control for almost the whole half. After conceding, the Clarets looked to commit forward in the final few minutes, with seconds of the 45 to play Dartford had an even better chance. Carruthers and Coulson were 2 on 1 with Ben Brookes with Chelmsford players racing back. Carruthers cut in then out but allowed defenders to track back. He was put under pressure and could not apply the finishing touch as it went just wide of Marsden’s post. The added 1 minute was up with Farai Hallam bringing the half to a close.
HALF TIME: DFC 1-0 CCFC
The second half started with some brilliant work by Ody Alfa, despite the Dartford kick off. He ran rings around Tom Bonners, subsequently winning a corner. The first was taken short and only gave another to the Clarets. Freddie Hockey fizzed it in, with Luke Allen slicing his clearance and almost turning into his own net. The third was almost a Taylor Miles repeat, as it was delivered deep and just went wide of the goal. Chelmsford maintained possession and did eventually find a breakthrough. Krasniqi found Johnson in behind and he put the ball into the box to Callum Jones. Jones struck his effort goalwards, where it was blocked off the line. The follow ups lacked quality, and Dartford could clear. Much like the first half, it was chance after chance for the visitors, with Johnson testing the keeper this time. Ody Alfa latched onto the ball wide and fizzed the ball across. Tyreke was at the back post and managed to volley goalwards for a rather easy save. Dan Wilks was down and made a comfortable save. After having the chance, Johnson created one. Some fantastic play saw Folivi let the ball through his legs and Hockey could spread the ball wide. Johnson delivered the ball in, and Tom Bonner sliced the ball out for a corner. Hockey delivered the corner, only to go straight out of play. That would be his final act of the game, a Tom Blackwell replaced him just minutes later.
Then, Dartford had their first chance of the half. Samir Carruthers found Alex Wall who played the ball to Luke Coulson on the edge. His effort cannoned off the post before Frankie Terry was in to clear the danger. Coulson was involved once again, finding Jack Smith as Dartford flooded forward. Smith was brought down by Oluwo and a good shooting opportunity arose. It was Luke Coulson who took charge and stood over the free kick. His initial effort smashed straight against the wall, before his follow up went way over Jacob Marsden’s crossbar. With the minutes ticking away, and the score still at 1-0, Giovanni McGregor was introduced as Michael Folivi made way. As we ticked into the final 10, Ben Brookes won a free kick and Tom Blackwell stood over it. The free kick was straight into the keepers’ hands and saw Dartford come forward. It brought nothing, as they were disposed by Liam Trotter and Giovanni McGregor took over. He ran through multiple players before looking up and picking out Ody Alfa. Arjanit Krasniqi ran the overlap, and Alfa had time to unleash a wonder strike. Right footed, 25 yards out, in off the post. Dan Wilks had no chance, as Alfa got his first league goal for Chelmsford, and brought the game level.
After levelling, it was once again the Claret domination, much like we had seen in the first half. A final 4 minutes were added on, with both sides in search of the winner, but Chelmsford first to everything. Giovanni McGregor was everywhere, as he danced through the Dartford defenders. Ultimately, it was the McGregor show after he was introduced. Liam Trotter won the ball high up the pitch and McGregor latched onto it. The rest? History. Left footed, McGregor bent his effort round Wilks and into the back of the net to seal all 3 points. Pure pandemonium in the away end unfolded as a superb goal secured a superb win. Once again, staff and players everywhere and mass celebrations. 2 goals in the final 15 minutes saw a Claret turned around after their constant domination. Everyone calmed down and the game was restarted. An extra minute was played and that was that. The referee brought the game to a close and Chelmsford had beaten Dartford for the second time this season.
It well and truly has happened again, 2 late goals bring 3 points back to Essex.
FULL TIME: DFC 1-2 CCFC
Marsden (GK), Trotter (C), Oluwo, Johnson, Folivi (McGregor 73’), Jones, Alfa, Hockey (Blackwell 62’), Brookes, Terry, Krasniqi (Blanchfield 88’)
Unused subs: James, Jackson
Goals: Alfa 83′, McGregor 90+3′
Cautions: Krasniqi 45+1, Oluwo 66’
Wilks (GK), Carruthers, Essam (Murtagh 75’), Bonner (C), Coulson, Allen, Wall (Bradbury 84’), Statham, Smith, Fonkeu (Napa 62’), Odaudu
Unused subs: Chin, Dudzinski (GK)
Goals: Coulson 40′
Words by Josh Lowe