A final away trip for the Clarets brought them to Hertfordshire and Hemel Hempstead’s Vauxhall Road. Hemel visited the Melbourne Community Stadium in October, with a 2-1 win coming the way of the Clarets. They would be hoping for a repeat of that day, with another 3 points. There were plenty of chances, but nothing which hit the back of the net from either side. Some great blocks saves and tackles saw both sides keep deserved clean sheets and take a point each.
After securing playoffs away to Cheshunt, there were 2 changes to Chelmsford’s starting side, with some retuning faces too. Firstly, both missing out on Tuesday, Ben Brookes and Liam Trotter were both back available as they returned to the bench. After they both appeared from the bench, Michael Folivi and Giovanni McGregor were in from the start. They replaced Jazzi Barnum-Bobb as well as Callum Jones, who were both hard to drop from Tuesday night. Aside from those changes, the team was the same, with a great performance against Cheshunt hoping to be replicated. Finally, the 2 dropped to the bench and the 2 returning faces were once again joined by Harry Lodovica on the bench.
Giovanni McGregor got the game underway, with an early offside call denying Chelmsford a great chance, after Oluwo’s long ball saw Jackson attempt to cross, but found in an offside position. After a period of the ball being in the air, an early free-kick came for Chelmsford, after Cameron James was fouled. It was straight into the box by Krasniqi but to no danger for Hemel. The David Saunders’ long ball was sent straight back at him, with Tom Blackwell taking on his man and winning a corner. Blackwell delivered but the corner came to nothing. With just under 10 minutes played, the Clarets did have the ball in the net, but the linesman’s flag denied them the lead. After giving the ball away, Tyreke Johnson was able to win it back and get forward. He beat 3 Hemel players before delivering where Folivi, in an offside position, was able to turn home on the second attempt, before the flag denied him a goal. The Claret offense continued with Simeon Jackson doing well to pick up the ball and find Cameron James. The delivery was swung in, and Tom Blackwell headed goalwards with David Saunders able to save well. It was more of the same for the first 15, with the Clarets on top. Arjanit Krasniqi managed to win the ball high up before he was tripped and fouled. He took it quickly and Giovanni McGregor tiptoed his way through the Hemel Hempstead defenders before his final touch allowed the keeper to claim. The positive start would have been what Robbie wanted as Chelmsford were aiming to keep it up.
Continued good work by the Clarets saw the pressure kept up on Hemel. They were able to recuperate possession but Chelmsford were relentless, with Tom Blackwell and Michael Folivi doing well to win the ball back. Folivi managed to get to the by-line, before laying back to McGregor who delivered well. The cross was deep, but Hemel Hempstead managed to be first to it, sending it clear of their box. But a defensive mistake brought Hemel’s first real chance. Cameron James failed to clear, and Montel McKenzie was able to break free and at goal. He did so, getting in a shooting opportunity, only for him to blaze his effort over the bar and into the stand behind Eddie Beach’s goal. It had been a change in play, with the hosts having control of the game and coming forward. Hemel captain Jack Westbrook did well to regain possession and he was set to drive. A great give-and-go saw Myles Bright in acres of space, and able to set himself for a shot. He did just that, but straight into the hands of Eddie Beach, allowing a routine save. Again, Hemel came forward after winning the ball in midfield. The Clarets tracked back, with the ball being sent wide to Hemel striker, Charlee Hughes who won a corner off Dave Winfield. Hughes, the Chelmsford-born man, entered the box as Hemel left back Josh Williams delivered. It was poor and made its way back to David Saunders, in goal for the Tudors.
After having to sit in and defend for a while, a turnover in possession brought a great chance for Chelmsford to attack. McGregor won and drove in midfield, spraying the ball wide to Simeon Jackson. Simeon was forced wide by his opposer, Kory Roberts, but still got a shot away which was tame and turned away by David Saunders. With 2 minutes added on, they were sure to be more on top. James Blanchfield had taken a David Winfield header straight into the face from point blank, seeing him down and off momentarily. With Blanchfield off and changing his shirt, the Clarets were a man down. After surviving 2 minutes without him, he was back on as there was a last-minute corner to defend in the first half. Josh Williams laid it short to Myles Bright who set George Williams to cross. The delivery was cleared away, with still enough time left for a Hemel throw-in. Chelmsford managed to ride the storm for the last seconds, with Ross Martin blowing the whistle to see the side go in level at 0-0.
HALF TIME: HHFC 0-0 CCFC
The second half got underway, with Hemel kicking off. They immediately lost the ball, with Tyreke Johnson getting on the ball and swinging a ball in. It was cleared well, with Blackwell and Folivi looking to pounce. But, despite the Clarets’ fast start, it was Hemel who came closest. Bayley Brown excellently manoeuvred past Krasniqi and Blackwell before swinging a ball into the channel of uncertainty. Beach parried clear but only against Cameron James, with the ball looking destined to end up in the back of the net. James did well to get a clearance, seeing him clear off the line and out for a Hemel corner. The delivery was excellent but too deep and Cameron James’ header sent the ball clear of any danger. It was the Clarets who then went up the other end to create the danger. Some superb quick passing from Jackson, Folivi and Johnson saw Simeon a chance to put it into the box. It was fizzed in well, but a combination of Kyle O’Connor-Ajayi and Tom Blackwell did not direct it goalwards and it trickled out of play. As we ticked over the hour mark, 2 substitutions were made with Robbie welcoming 2 players back in. Ben Brookes returned, coming on for Tyreke Johnson as well as James Blanchfield making way for Liam Trotter. It was Trotter who won the ball back and gave Chelmsford a great opportunity to go forward. He broke out and found Giovanni McGregor, who flew through the Hemel players. He kept going, before finding Tom Blackwell on the left. Blackwell cut inside, sending Jack Westbrook to the shops for a seemingly easy finish. Blackwell leant back, seeing his effort fly over the crossbar. Arguably the Clarets’ best chance so far.
Chelmsford looked to be on top, with Ben Brookes winning and taking a corner. It fell to Cameron James who clipped it back in but saw it turned behind for a corner. The corner came all the way back to Brookes who delivered again, and Dave Winfield rose highest, looking to score his third goal in 5 games. Dave’s header was good but over the Hemel crossbar and out for a goal kick. Going into the final 10 minutes, the chances had been slim and a corner to Hemel brought danger. George Williams delivered, but Winfield was up again to win. It was cleared and a Claret attack almost started. They managed to get forward after a throw-in, and Michael Folivi worked well and was brought down winning a free kick. Blackwell took the kick, but David Saunders got up well and claimed. Hemel had a free kick of their own not long after, with Liam Trotter tripping up the onrushing George Williams. It was sent in well, and headed at goal but Beach was on hand to catch and make the save. The Clarets were getting forward, Tom Blackwell battled excellently and won a corner. His cross was cleared but the
Clarets persevered and recycled. Cameron James got down the right and was able to cross. Simeon Jackson seemingly tried to shoot and control it at the same time but only knocked it out for a goal kick. But it the 90 up, 5 were added on and a massive chance came for Chelmsford. Simeon Jackson was fouled, and Ben Brookes stepped up to deliver. It was whipped goalwards, and David Saunders was able to save and parry away. There was a moment of madness, as we entered the final minutes. Eddie Beach rushed out to challenge Reece Grant. Beach could only get a deft flick before attempting to win it back, but Reece Grant had virtually an open goal. Grant hesitated and Winfield got back, diverting Grant wide. It was great work, as everyone dropped back, and Winfield threw another great block in after Montel McKenzie sent a ferocious effort in. But, as we entered the 7th yes 7th minute of added time, Bradley Smith drifted forward and had a great chance. He unleashed a superb effort, flying into the back of the net surely until Eddie Beach retaliated, flying across with a superb, outstretched arm to make a great save. But, with a ridiculous amount of added time played, the game was over, and a point would have to do for the Clarets.
FULL TIME: HHFC 0-0 CCFC
Beach (GK), James, Winfield (C), Oluwo, Johnson (Brookes 61’), Folivi, Jackson, Blackwell, McGregor (Jones 77’), Blanchfield (Trotter 61’), Krasniqi
Unused subs: Barnum-Bobb, Lodovica
Cautions: Trotter 83’,
Saunders (GK), McKenzie, J. Williams, Roberts, Westbrook (C), O’Connor-Ajayi, G. Williams, Brown, Holness, Hughes (R. Grant 66’), Bright (Smith 66’)
Unused subs: Mukendi, E. Grant, Castiglione
Cautions: O’Connor-Ajayi 51’, McKenzie 73’
Words by Josh Lowe