The Clarets travelled to East Essex, where Steve Tillson’s Heybridge Swifts stood between them and the Tolleshunt D’Arcy Memorial Cup final. The previous round saw an emphatic 4-1 win, away to Stansted FC. There was another chance tonight for some youth players and first teamers who were returning from injuries and suspension. It was Chelmsford who dominated from the off with countless chances going the way of Robbie’s side. A strike from the birthday boy, coupled with a late equaliser brought penalties to the Aspen Waite Stadium. 14 spot kicks were taken, with the Swifts advancing.
With cup rulings limiting Chelmsford to just a few first teamers from Saturday, 1 player kept their space. Jacob Marsden, after an impressive performance on Saturday, was once again between the sticks. Elsewhere, Tom Blackwell, James Blanchfield and matchwinner Giovanni McGregor were all in from the start. Cameron James, Simeon Jackson and Harry Lodovica were all included in the starting eleven on their returns from injury. Clarets captain Dave Winfield was back, following his completion of a 2-game suspension. 2 players who featured for Hullbridge on Saturday, Finn Wilkes and Guy Norton, were both playing due to Finn being dual registered with Guy being allowed to play due to rules. Finally, TJ Bramble was starting in midfield for the Clarets. On the bench, Manager Robbie Simpson was joined by youth prospects Leandro Sain and Alfie Gilbey as well as Freddie Hockey after he started on Saturday. Finally, there was a trialist amongst the substitutes.
The Semi-Final was kicked off by Heybridge as they looked to upset the higher league opposition. A first chance fell to the Clarets, with Blackwell linking up with the returning Lodovica and Jackson who sees the latter in enough space to turn but he fired wide. Heybridge sat back and watched for the opening stages before Matthew Price found a way in. He ran off Cameron James, 1 on 1 with Jacob Marsden but sent his effort over Jacob and his crossbar. Chelmsford were showing their class, dominating the ball and cruising around the pitch. A chance came the way of Tom Blackwell, just after the 20-minute mark. Finn Wilkes made some space and sent a cross into the box, which was controlled and brought down by Tom. He managed to get a shot way, which was well blocked and turned behind for a corner by the Heybridge Swifts defenders. The resulting corner was delivered in, but the referee had seen something he deemed to be a foul and Heybridge had the chance to regroup and send the ball up the pitch. The theme continued, as it was Claret domination. This time Lodovica sent an effort just wide. A short corner to Guy Norton allowed the defender to pick out the striker, who headed wide of Wray’s goal. It was another short corner routine which Heybridge had to deal with next. Simeon Jackson got wide after receiving the ball from Finn Wilkes and won the corner. A short routine resulted in some good defending, as Heybridge were able to deal with the threat.
Another break saw another chance with Tom Blackwell playing Harry Lodovica through. His opposing defender slipped on the astro, seeing Harry with the chance to shoot. He took on an early shot,
trying to catch the keeper out and managing to force a save. It was Lodovica involved again, just minutes later. A beautiful piece of play ended with Harry shooting on the spin from the edge of the box, and narrowly missing the goal. With Heybridge willing to sit in and defend, the Clarets continued to come forward with this time Cameron James creating the danger. He won the ball back and sent a great ball into the box where Blackwell was waiting again. Tom got up and connected well, but sent his effort just over the bar from close range. With seconds remaining, it was Blackwell turned provider. His free kick from wide was aimed towards Cameron James who won the header, but could not guide it towards goal. With the minutes all but up, there was still time for the game’s first card. James Blanchfield had seemingly nicked the ball in midfield before the referee pulled him back to brandish a yellow card. The resulting free kick was sent forward before the half commenced, ending goalless.
HALF TIME: HSFC 0-0 CCFC
Chelmsford kicked the second half off, and it was going to be a repeat of the second half. The domination was evident once again as the Clarets were flowing. A corner was won, and Captain Dave Winfield the target. He was around the back post, and could only head to the side netting. From the goal kick, Heybridge did manage to win the ball and get somewhat of a chance. Price got an opening in the box but could only bend his attempt wide of the post. More substitutes were made by Robbie just after the hour mark, with Tom Blackwell and Harry Lodovica replaced by Freddie Hockey and youngster Alfie Gilbey was on for his senior debut. The changes seemingly brought instant impact, with the deadlock being broken soon after. A deep cross made its way out to Cameron James, who beat his man and drilled a low ball across the face of goal. Birthday boy Simeon Jackson was on hand to turn home, as the striker was composed from close range. With the lead finally coming for Chelmsford, they would look to get more and finally show their goal scoring touch. It was a long ranged free kick which tested Thomas Wray next. James Blanchfield, from about 30 yards out struck well, but only resulting in a rather routine save for the Swifts keeper.
Freddie Hockey had been quiet since coming on, but finally got involved. He beat some players before picking out an excellent ball to Simeon Jackson. It seemed harder to score than miss, but Jackson could not stretch to convert the chance. Another chance was missed by the Clarets, with Robbie hoping that his side would not live to rue their chances. It was a busy few minutes for Freddie, seeing him played over and bundled down in the box. The referee waved away the penalty, before concerns were raised for Freddie. He was down for a few minutes, treated by Dave Lawson. Eventually, Tom Blackwell and Harry Lodovica came on, to help carry Freddie off, and down the tunnel. Worry for Chelmsford fans as the youngster hobbled off. Leandro Sain was the only winner, as he was sent on by Robbie for his debut. With play resuming, the penalty was not given but the resulting goal kick brought a massive chance for Chelmsford. Alfie Gilbey was played through, managing to beat the offside trap and be 1 on 1 with Wray. The keeper managed to close the angle, and get big to make a great, crucial save for Heybridge. In the final 5 minutes, 2 more chances came for Chelmsford. Firstly, the Trialist found himself some space before he was able to for Wray into a good save, as he tipped over the bar. From the corner, James flicked the ball back across goal, where captain Winfield fired his effort over the bar. With the full 90 up we were into the added 6 minutes. After 4 minutes had been played, Heybridge converted a chance. A free kick was delivered in and Callum Taylor, on second attempt, managed to fire past Marsden and draw Heybridge level at the dead. There was not long to play after the goal, seeing the referee end the game and send us to
FULL TIME: HSFC 1-1 CCFC
With the scores only just level, thanks to Heybridge’s late equaliser, we were heading to penalties. Simeon Jackson stepped up first, seeing his effort saved, 0-0 still. Heybridge took the opportunity and made it 1-0. James Blanchfield stepped up and blasted home, 1-1. It was another composed penalty by Heybridge, making it 2-1. Cameron James pulled us level again, 2-2. Heybridge’s third followed suit, making it 3-2. After coming on at half time, the Trialist was cool and composed, making it 3-3. Marsden heroics were next as he made a great save, to bring Chelmsford back into the tie, 3-3. TJ Bramble was up next but saw his effort saved, 3-3. Marsden repeated history, saving another Heybridge penalty, 3-3. Youngster Alfie Gilbey was up next, but he sent his effort over the bar, 3-3. With the pressure constantly ramping up, Marsden guessed right but Heybridge’s penalty was dragged wide. Leandro Sain had the ball on the spot and stepped up to see his effort saved. Finally, Heybridge put the game to bed, scoring their 7th penalty and booking their place in the Tolleshunt D’Arcy memorial cup final, against Wivenhoe Town.
FULL TIME: HSFC 5-4 CCFC (4-3 on penalties)
Marsden (GK), James, Winfield, Lodovica (Gilbey 63’), Jackson, Blackwell (Hockey 63’ (Sain 78’)), McGregor (Trialist 46’), Blanchfield, Norton, Wilkes, Bramble
Unused subs: Simpson
Goals: Jackson 62
Cautions: Blanchfield 45+1
Wray (GK), Brampton (Henry 46’), Noble (Carter 46’), Gordon (C), Sartain, Taylor, Boswell (Harvey 50’), Jones, Price, Mochalski (Humbles 81’), Faulkner
Unused subs: Whitney
Goals: Taylor 90+4
Cautions: Carter 74, Price 90+4
Words by Josh Lowe