Full time: St Albans City 2-1 Chelmsford City
Chelmsford City fell to a frustrating defeat on Saturday, at the hands of St Albans City. The Clarets’ afternoon at Clarence Park began perfectly when Callum Watts put his side ahead in the 12th minute. 10 minutes later though, Simpson’s side were reduced to ten men and conceded a penalty, which Shaun Jeffers dispatched. The 10-men City side defended resolutely for the remainder of proceedings, but a late strike from Ryan Blackman was enough to secure three points for the Saints.
Jacob Marsden was forced into the first save of the afternoon, when he denied Shaun Jeffers from point blank range in the 10th minute.
Marsden’s stop proved to be even more fruitful moments later, when the Clarets launched an attack of their own which culminated in Ody Alfa delivering a dangerous cross from the left-hand side, into the St Albans penalty box. Alfa’s cross was neatly controlled by the chest of Callum Watts, setting himself up to volley the ball into the bottom corner of the Saints’ net, giving the Clarets a 12th minute lead.
Chelmsford’s lead lasted less than 10 minutes though, with Shaun Jeffers levelling the score through a penalty kick in the 24th minute. Referee Richard Eley pointed to the spot after he judged Luke Jenkins to have made a last-man foul on Jeffers. As the furthest Chelmsford man back, Jenkins was forced to attempt a goal-saving clearance as St Albans delivered a looping cross, looking to capitalise as Jacob Marsden was caught off of his goal line.
Jeffers challenged Jenkins as he looked to connect with the high cross towards goal, and subsequently went down under pressure from the defender, with Eley deeming the contact made by Jenkins to have been a red card offence. Jeffers stepped up to dispatch the spot kick in the 24th minute, sending Marsden the wrong way.
Having gone a man down, the Clarets were forced to defend in numbers for the remainder of the game, and were able to successfully limit clear cut chances for the Saints.
Ibby Akanbi was played through on goal in the 48th minute via a long ball over the top of the Clarets’ defence, but Marsden was alert to the former Tonbridge man’s effort and produced a strong save.
A dangerous cross from George Hoddle caused a scramble at the backpost in the 57th minute, which was diverted towards Akanbi, who found himself just a few yards from goal. Somehow, his effort from close range flew over the crossbar.
The Clarets had a chance of their own in the 72nd minute, when Jermaine Francis burst through on goal after showing sublime control to bring down a long ball forward. Francis sped ahead of the chasing Saints defenders and unleashed a shot, but McNamara kept his concentration and parried Francis’ effort away.
Despite this scare, the hosts continued to pile players forward with time in the game running out. David Noble’s side got their reward for this in the 84th minute, when Ryan Blackman fired a powerful shot from the edge of the box into the roof of the net. George Hoddle provided the assist for Blackman, following some good play in the penalty area with his back to goal, which allowed him to tee up the goalscorer.
The Clarets pushed as much as they could for a late equaliser after going behind, but couldn’t make some late free kicks count, consigning Simpson’s side to their first away defeat since October.
St Albans City XI: McNamara (GK), James (Morrall 62), Brown, Smith, Blackman, Rasulo, Partington ©, Hutchinson (Weiss 82), Akanbi (Hamid 62), Hoddle, Jeffers.
Unused substitutes: Harvest, Gauthier.
Yellow cards: None.
Chelmsford City XI: Marsden (GK), Barnum-Bobb © (Jones 85), Jenkins, Barbrook Castiglione; Ochieng, Watts, Ruff; Francis, Alfa (James 77), Hockey (Winfield 66).
Unused substitutes: Wordsworth, Carruthers.
Yellow cards: None.
Red cards: Luke Jenkins.
Report by Jake Dixon