National League South
Chelmsford City 4 Hampton & Richmond Borough 1
JOHN CHUBB at The Melbourne Community Stadium
Chelmsford manager Rod Stringer’s side were clearly fired up for their new league campaign, following an impressive pre-season build up which saw them win all 7 of the friendlies they took part in, scoring 31 goals and conceding only two in the process, as they scored a convincing opening day victory against Hampton & Richmond.
City applied a lot of pressure in the opening moments and in only the second minute, striker Sam Higgins – making his second league debut for the club following his close season return from East Thurrock United – put in a cross after receiving a through ball from Ollie Muldoon, which Hampton’s right back Tom Jelly attempted to clear over the bar but unfortunately for him, he instead crashed the ball into the top corner of goalkeeper Laurie Walker’s net to make it 1-0 to the home team.
Higgins again created danger in the fifth minute, with a ball across the face of the goal but no-one was on the receiving end on this occasion.
Then after 9 minutes, Rod Stringer’s side doubled their lead when Tom Wraight turned inside a defender and slotted the ball under Walker to make it 2-0.
Muldoon had a chance a minute later which went wide, then on 11 minutes Chris Whelpdale had a strong effort on target, which was well stopped by Walker in the Beavers’ goal.
The visitors’ first real chance of the game did not arrive until the 19th minute when Tyrell Miller-Rodney managed a decent drive through the Clarets back four, but his effort was pushed onto the post by debutant goalkeeper Carl Pentney before rebounding off the goalkeeper’s back for a corner.
Hampton then won a corner on 25 minutes which was met by their former Billericay Town centre half Dean Inman at the far post, but his header went wide.
The game lost some of its initial pace, hardly surprising given the fairly humid conditions but City had another opportunity to extend their lead six minutes before half time, Whelpdale going close with a looping header but the scoreline remained at 2-0 going into the break.
Just after the restart Chelmsford had the first chance of the second half, the lively Wraight nodding a downward header just wide to the right of Walker from Eliott Omozusi’s cross.
But the visitors created a decent chance in the 53rd minute, after James Ewington somehow kept the ball in play and crossed for Miller-Rodney, whose close-range effort was pushed away by Pentney.
Then in the 55th minute Muldoon was knocked to the floor by Hampton’s Ed Cook, and referee Jack Packman had no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot. Higgins stepped up to take the kick, but it wasn’t the strongest of efforts and Walker pushed it away.
But only a minute later that was forgotten, as Wraight rose to head the ball past the Beavers keeper for his second goal and City’s third of the afternoon.
The home team were seemingly now in full command, but they were caught napping in the 65th minute when Hampton snatched a goal back via Tyrone Leathwaite to make it 3-1.
With 8 minutes remaining Clarets’ Jamar Loza – one of the other players making their league debut for the home side – cleverly turned inside Cook. Then the ex-Norwich City and Southend United forward beat another visiting defender before he teed up the ball for fellow substitute Chez Isaac who fired in a low shot from outside the box, but it was caught by Walker.
After the match entered injury time home captain Anthony Church missed a great chance, but seconds later in the 93rd minute City’s third sub Andy Fennell made an excellent run into the area and slotted the ball past Walker to make it 4-1 on his debut, and round off an excellent first 90 minutes of the season for Chelmsford.
Chelmsford City: Carl Pentney, Eliot Omozusi, Frazer Shaw (Andy Fennell 86), Anthony Church, Michael Spillane, Adrian Cascaval, Shaun Jeffers, Sam Higgins (Chez Isaac 73), Chris Whelpdale (Jamar Loza 64), Tom Wraight, Oliver Muldoon.
Hampton & Richmond: Laurie Walker, Tom Jelly, Ruaridh Donaldson (Ryan Hill 78), Dean Inman, Ed Cook, Charlie Fox, Sam Deadfield (Danilo Orsi-Dadomo (69), Louis Stead, James Ewington (Louie Soares 69), Tyrone Leathwaite, Tyrell Miller-Rodney.