Chelmsford City seal play-off berth with win
Chelmsford City came from a goal down to beat Maidenhead 3-1 and secure their place in the Blue Square Bet South play-offs.
The Clarets dominated the first half but after Anthony Cook blazed wide of an open goal, they were stunned by Martel Powell’s opener six minutes before half-time.
Donovan Simmonds brought the Clarets level five minutes later, and Cook then had a penalty saved before Michael Bakare netted to put the home side ahead.
And the points were sealed in stoppage time after Cook won another spot-kick and this time he converted.
Chelmsford were almost caught out inside three minutes when Harry Pritchard played in David Pratt, but his left-foot shot was fairly comfortable for Danzelle St Louis Hamilton.
But the home side soon had a chance of their own when Justin Miller’s superb inswinging cross from the right went all the way to Bakare at the back post, but Billy Lumley made a good low save.
A City corner then caused panic in the Maidenhead box, but the visitors scrambled clear, before Cook whistled a free-kick just past the post after David Bridges had been fouled 20 yards out.
The Clarets were still pressing hard and Simmonds almost broke the deadlock on 23 minutes when he expertly took Cook’s cross round Lumley with his first touch but the visitors got defenders back on the line to block his shot.
Simmonds was then involved in a great breakaway move, exchanging passes with Bridges before haring down the wing, but his cross was miscontrolled by Bakare.
Maidenhead had their best spell just after the half-hour, but City stood strong and then really should have taken the lead.
Bakare drilled a low shot from the left side of the box which Lumley parried out as far as Cook, six yards out with the goal gaping, yet he somehow blasted it wide.
And he was made to pay for that miss six minutes before the interval when Powell blasted Maidenhead in front. Jack Ainsley’s clearance was blocked by Pratt – who was on the floor – and fell perfectly for Powell, who thumped an unstoppable shot into the top corner.
But five minutes later the Clarets were back on terms when Miller’s long throw found its way to Simmonds at the back post and he slammed home his second league goal of the season.
City had a golden opportunity to go in front five minutes into the second half when Bakare played in Cook and he tried to skip around Lumley, but was caught by the keeper.
Referee Antony Coggins had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and booked the keeper. Cook picked himself up to take the penalty, had to respot the ball and never looked confident, drilling the ball low straight down the middle and it was kept out by Lumley’s feet.
It wasn’t Cook’s night as soon after a volley – the hardest of the three efforts of note he had – was also kept out by Lumley.
And the same player was again denied by the keeper just before the hour-mark, eventually getting on the end of Bakare’s cross but Lumley blocked at his near post.
Maidenhead were not in the final third much, but when they were they looked dangerous. Pratt crossed low for Joe Tabiri but his shot just went over the top.
The Clarets continued to press and after a corner was cleared, Mark Haines crossed from the right and although Lumley could only parry it, his defence were able to hack clear.
Cook almost turned provider when his free-kick found Miller, but he was always stretching for it and headed narrowly wide.
Again, Maidenhead showed how dangerous they were on the break when Pratt was played in and arrowed a shot towards the top corner which St Louis Hamilton did very well to tip over.
Chelmsford continued to press and finally got the breakthrough 16 minutes from time. Bridges’ deep corner was headed back across goal to Bakare and his first header was brilliantly saved, his second effort was blocked but he ran in to smash home at the third time of asking.
The home side noticeably sat back after getting the crucial goal, and the visibly tiring Edmans was struggling to hold the ball up, inviting a touch of pressure from the away side – and Chris Flood forced St Louis Hamilton into a save from 25 yards, before Haines blocked another shot from the same player.
Flood was always dangerous for the visitors and he then had a free-kick from 25 yards which went just wide of the target as Maidenhead looked for the leveller.
But Cook finally made amends deep into stoppage time when he burst into the box and was brought down again. Kyle Vassell rolled the ball home but the referee had already given the penalty. Cook eventually persuaded his team-mates to let him take it and this time he smacked it home to put the seal on the win.