Full time: Worthing 2-3 Chelmsford City
Chelmsford City showed their clinical side on Saturday at the Sussex Transport Community Stadium, with goals from Freddie Hockey, Charlie Ruff, and Jermaine Francis earning the Clarets a fourth consecutive league win from a tough test against fellow promotion-chasers Worthing.
City went ahead in the opening minute following their first attack of the game, with Charlie Ruff’s through ball picking out the run of Freddie Hockey behind the Rebels’ defence. Hockey beat the offside trap and kept his cool, slotting the ball underneath debutant goalkeeper Josh Jeffries to give his side the lead.
The Clarets were in dreamland when Ruff turned from provider to goal-scorer in the 18th minute to put City 2-0 ahead, completing a well-worked Chelmsford move. Finley Barbrook picked the ball up in midfield and sprayed an accurate cross-field pass to Jermaine Francis, who then took the ball to the byline as he drove at Worthing defender Kane Wills. Francis then delivered a low cross which was palmed away by Jeffries, but only into the path of Ruff who converted a simple tap-in.
Worthing halved the deficit before half time, when Ollie Pearce scored his 17th league goal of the season. Pearce rose highest after the ball was crossed into the box from the right-hand side, with his header across goal clipping the woodwork then bouncing over the line and into the back of the net.
Eventual goalscorer Jermaine Francis tormented Kane Wills during the opening 45 minutes, and Worthing boss Adam Hinschelwood made a tactical change to start the second half, as Wills switched sides with Joe Felix, who was given the responsibility of containing Francis.
Despite the change, Francis continued to cause the rebels problems and won an 82nd minute corner at the expense of Felix, which led to the Clarets’ third goal of the afternoon. Worthing headed away the initial City delivery, but the clearance fell into the path of Barbrook, who struck a fierce shot from outside of the box which cannoned off the woodwork.
Ben Brookes then picked the ball up in the aftermath of Barbrook’s shot, and delivered a cross which found Clarets captain Dave Winfield at the back post. Winfield guided a header across goal into the path of Francis, whose strike found its way past the onrushing Rebels defenders and into the Worthing goal.
Francis’ 83rd minute strike helped alleviate any final surge of Worthing pressure late on in the game, helping the Clarets to see the game out comfortably. However, the hosts earned a last-gasp consolation goal when Pearce scored his second goal of the afternoon, powerfully finishing a free-kick taken on the edge of the box.
Virtually straight after Pearce’s strike hit the back of the net though, the referee called time on proceedings, ensuring Robbie Simpson’s side could return home to Essex with maximum points.
The Clarets have risen above the Rebels in the National League South table following their win at the Sussex Transport Community Stadium, and now sit 3rd in the standings ahead of a break from league action next weekend, with attention set to turn to an FA Trophy tie against Wealdstone.
Worthing XI: Jeffries (GK), Colbran ©, Wills, Luer (Starkey 71’), Robinson (Cashman 65’), Pearce, Sorondo, Rye, Chadwick, Luque (Wheeler 65’), Felix.
Unused substitutes: Rees, Jeanes.
Yellow cards: Chadwick, Robinson, Pearce.
Chelmsford City XI: Gray (GK); Castiglione, Jenkins, Winfield ©, Brookes; Watts (Ochieng 71’), Barbrook; Francis, Ruff, Carruthers (Alfa 76’); Hockey (Wordsworth 87’).
Unused substitutes: Barnum-Bobb, Jones.
Yellow cards: Watts, Francis, Winfield.
Report by Jake Dixon