Chelmsford City FCSt Albans City
1 - 1Full Time
Chelmsford City and St Albans City played out a hard-fought 1-1 draw in the season opener at a baking hot Melbourne Stadium.
It was a tale of two second-half goals as Kyran Wiltshire gave the away side the lead with a strike from the edge of the box after City had cleared a free-kick. City equalised with 13 minutes remaining when debutant Devonte Aransibia fired in a spectacular long-range strike so that both ‘City’s’ would share the spoils in the season opener.
Robbie Simpson kept the same eleven that defeated Wealdstone in their final pre-season outing the previous Saturday which meant that he gave starting debuts to Arsenal loanee keeper Ovie Ejeheri, and midfielders Devonte Aransibia, Liam Trotter and Charlie Ruff. Jazzi Barnum-Bobb made his first City appearance since April 2019 after returning to the club and Callum Jones played for City for the first time since August 30th last year after almost a year out with injury. St Albans gave Chez Isaac a debut at the ground where the last time he played he would have been walking into the home dressing room!
The first chance of the game fell to Isaac when after St Albans intercepted a City throw-in, Shaun Jeffers played in Isaac but his tame shot was straight at Ovie Ejeheri in the City goal. St Albans could have taken the lead when a booming free-kick from Michael Johnson in the St Albans goal was headed past his own keeper by Ade Oluwo but Eduino Vaz thankfully cleared the ball off the line to preserve the 0-0 scoreline. Vaz slid into the net which meant that later in the game, the referee spotted that the net required repair which meant that Vaz had to piggy-back on kitman Gary Kay’s back to tie the net back together!
After a shaky start, City began to move the game more into their favour as the first half wore on but they didn’t have a meaningful chance until first-half stoppage time. Devonte Aransibia’s free-kick found the head of Liam Trotter whose diving header was palmed away by Johnson in the St Albans goal.
Chelmsford started the second half in lively fashion and after Simeon Jackson had won the ball back in midfield, Charlie Ruff’s incisive pass found Callum Jones down the right-hand channel but his chipped effort went wide of the left-hand post.
However, after Ade Oluwo was adjudged to have fouled half-time sub Chris Paul, St Albans took the lead from the resulting free-kick. Chez Isaac’s lofted ball found the head of a Chelmsford defender but the resulting loose ball was fired home by Kyran Wiltshire from the edge of the area. Wiltshire had previously netted at Melbourne for Oxford City back in 2019.
Clarets’ manager Robbie Simpson immediately after the goal introduced debutant Harry Lodovica in place of Charlie Ruff. And it almost paid dividends minutes later when the big forward won a free-kick on the right wing. Whilst the initial delivery was headed away, Jazzi Barnum-Bobb swung in a delicious cross which was headed straight at the keeper by Tom Blackwell.
City eventually equalised just as the game ticked into the final quarter of an hour. After Ade Oluwo broke forward, he found substitute Khale Da Costa who’s first touches in the game supplied Devonte Aransibia. The midfielder turned Chris Paul and fired in an unstoppable left footed drive into the bottom corner from over 20 yards out. 1-1.
The final chance for either side to win it came for Chelmsford about 5 minutes from the end of normal time. A lofted free-kick found the head of Ade Oluwo and he nodded forward for fellow central defender Cameron James to volley agonisingly wide, despite falling backwards in the process of shooting, and the opening game of the season ended in a score draw.
Chelmsford City: Ejeheri (GK), Barnum-Bobb, Oluwo, James, Vaz, Aransibia, Trotter, Ruff (Lodovica 62), Jones (Da Costa 77), Jackson © (Ochieng 90+3), Blackwell
Unused Substitutes: Hockey, Norton
Bookings: Vaz 33, James 90
Goal: Aransibia 77
St Albans City: Johnson, Moore, Adebiyi, Mukena, Townsend-West, Isaac, Wiltshire (Dawson 85), Neal, Banton, Weiss (Paul 46), Jeffers ©
Unused Substitutes: Clark, Sole, Lankshear
Bookings: Dawson 85
Goal: Wiltshire 61
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