Chelmsford City 1-4 Tranmere Rovers
Brian Jeeves reporting from the Melbourne Stadium
CHELMSFORD City’s Buildbase FA Trophy run came to its conclusion as National League Promotion hopefuls, Tranmere Rovers, produced an impressive display to win this third round replay by four goals to one at the Melbourne Stadium.
Chelmsford made one change to the starting eleven that had pulled up trees in the initial tie four days previous. Phil Roberts came in for Chris Dickson, while Mark Haines passed a late fitness test.
Tranmere manager, Micky Mellon, made seven changes from the side that had been held at Prenton Park. Nevertheless, the former Football League outfit were still regarded favourites to progress against their lower ranked opponents.
And it was Haines who went close to opening the scoring in the opening minutes. However, the Clarets midfielder was a whisker away from making a telling contact to Robbie Willmott’s troublesome dead-ball in from the right.
Indeed, Chelmsford seemed to be enjoying the better of the early exchanges, with Phil Roberts offering the Rovers rearguard plenty to think about, while Willmott continued to display a threat, particularly from set-plays, which has become something of a fortay with the former Newport County man this season.
Tranmere eventually responded, Adam Buxton’s fizzing free-kick had Clarets goalkeeper, Ross Fitzsimons scrambling across his goal and somewhat relieved to see the effort drift just the wrong side of an upright.
Meanwhile, Roberts almosts seized on some hesitant defending, only a last-gasp tackle from Rovers keeper, Scott Davies, rectified the situation as the Clarets continued to look the more likely.
However, the Clarets were unable to make their pressure pay and on the half-hour, mark Rovers took the lead. Jake Kirby raced clear and showed composure to round Fitzsimons and roll the ball into an empty net. And before Chelmsford could respond their troubles deepened. Haines inadvertently turned the ball into his own net following a crisp delivery from Steve Jennings.
Bagasan Graham cleared off the line from Cole Stockton as Tranmere looked to kill the contest before the break, while Shaun Jeffers fired into Davies midriff as the Clarets desperately searched for a foothold in the tie. However, as the first half drew to its conclusion, Rovers added a third. Ritchie Sutton nodded beyond the stranded Fitzsimons, much to the dismay of the expectant home crowd.
The Clarets returned for the second period clearly with a flea in their ear, Willmott’s free-kick was narrowly off target, while Michael Ihiekwe scrambled away as Roberts looked to profit at the far post. Soon after, Roberts was wayward after a sustained period of Clarets pressure.
Chelmsford offered their fans some hope when substitute, Elliott Buchanan thundered home from close range, this after the Rovers had failed to clear a flag-kick from Willmott.
Sensing their opportunity Ashley Miller forced Davies into a great stop to prevent the home side reducing the arrears further. But before they could make any further headway, Jay Harris picked out Kirby who raced clear to add his second and Tranmere’s fourth of the evening.
To their credit, Chelmsford refused to throw the towel in. Anthony Church wasn’t far away with an angled header back across goal, while Buchanan’s overhead kick was off target. However, it was the impressive Rovers who progressed and set up a home tie with Barrow in the last eight of the competition.
Chelmsford City now tur their attention back to the National League South promotion race, facing St Albans City at the Melbourne Stadium on Saturday, February 11 (3pm).
Chelmsford City: Ross Fitzsimons Ashley Miller (Matt Young 86’), Bagasan Graham, Max Porter (Daniel Blanchett 46’), Chris Bush, Mark Haines, Robbie Willmott, Anthony Church, Shaun Jeffers, Phil Roberts (Elliott Buchanan 58’), Josh Rees Subs not used: Luke Daley, Chris Dickson
Booked: Phil Roberts (Foul), Ashley Miller (Foul), Josh Rees (Foul)
Goals: Elliott Buchanan 62’
Tranmere Rovers: Scott Davies, Lois Maynard, Andy Mangan, Jay Harris, Adam Buxton, Ritchie Sutton, Jake Kirby, Steve Jennings, Cole Stockton, Lee Vaughan, Michael Ihiekwe Subs not used: Iain Turner, Adam Meeki, Adam Dawson, Eddie Clarke, Tom Coughan
Goals: Jake Kirby 30’, 70’, Mark Haines (own-goal) 34’, Ritchie Sutton 43
Referee: David Rock
Assistants: Andrew Williams and Daniel Simpson
Fourth Official: Michael Robertson-Tant
Reaction to follow…….