Full time: Tonbridge Angels 1-1 Chelmsford City.
Chelmsford City were held to a frustrating draw against a 10-man Tonbridge Angels side on Saturday afternoon at Longmead Stadium. The Clarets went behind to a Scott Wagstaff close range strike in the opening 10 minutes, but equalised before half time through Luke Jenkins after Jay Saunders’ side had gone a man down. Despite enjoying the majority of the possession in the second half, the Clarets couldn’t find a way through the Angels’ stubborn defence and were forced to settle for a point.
Former AFC Wimbledon midfielder Wagstaff opened the scoring for Tonbridge from close-range, after being first to connect with Josh Oluwayemi’s save. The Clarets keeper could only parry a long-range effort from Jordan Higgs, with the Portsmouth loanee’s stop falling into the path of Scott Wagstaff, who tapped in the rebounded stop from close range in the 8th minute.
Less than 7 minutes after taking the lead though, the hosts were reduced to 10-men after centre back Ben Swift was handed a straight red card by referee Ayrton Hursey in the 14th minute. Jermaine Francis stole a loose ball in the Tonbridge half and charged towards goal, with Swift tripping the Grenada international on the edge of the box.
Mohammed Bettamer’s shot from the resultant free kick hit the Tonbridge wall, but Simpson’s men continued to probe. Despite not instantly seizing upon their man advantage here, the Clarets took the game to the hosts by delivering an array of high balls and crosses into the Angels’ box, resulting in a plethora of City corners in the opening 30 minutes.
The Clarets finally made one of these situations count in the 33rd minute when Luke Jenkins, returning from suspension today, rose to highest to get a touch on Ben Brookes’ corner and guide it into the bottom corner of the Tonbridge goal.
After going in at half time all-square, Robbie Simpson made two changes at the break as he replaced Callum Jones and Henry Ochieng with Charlie Ruff and Samir Carruthers. Ruff nearly made an instant impact with a curling effort in the 51st minute which went just wide of the post. Ipswich loanee Finley Barbrook, making his first Clarets start, went close 20 minutes later with a similar curling effort struck from the edge of the box, which again went agonisingly wide of the post.
The Clarets went even closer a matter of minutes later, when Samir Carruthers’s free kick struck the crossbar. Bettamer won the free kick after being brought down by Wagstaff, with Carruthers then stepping up and hitting a near perfect strike which beat Tonbridge keeper Henly, but not the woodwork.
City couldn’t find a late winner in the final 20 minutes, but Simpson’s men still extended their unbeaten league run to five games and have climbed to 10th in the National League South after today’s stalemate. The Clarets return Kent on Tuesday for a clash at Princes Park against Dartford.
Tonbridge Angels XI: Henly (GK), Fielding, Gard (Greenidge 63), Swift, Higgs, Hinds, Sutcliffe, Meade, Wagstaff ©, Shields, Fish.
Yellow cards: Wagstaff, Greenidge
Red cards: Swift
Chelmsford City XI: Oluwayemi (GK), Barnum-Bobb ©, Jenkins, James, Brookes, Ochieng (Ruff 45), Barbrook, Alfa (Obiero 85), Francis, Bettamer, Jones (Carruthers 45).
Yellow cards: Ochieng, Ruff.
Words by Jake Dixon
Cover Image by Roger Robinson Photography