Braintree see off City to book final berth

Brian Jeeves
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Chelmsford City v Braintree Town – Essex Senior Cup Semi-Final – Melbourne Community Stadium – Report

Chelmsford City 0-1 Braintree Town

By Dave Bishop

Braintree Town reached their first Essex Senior Cup Final since their 2-1 loss to Concord Rangers in 2014 after former Claret Matt Rush’s twenty-third-minute strike saw the Iron through to a momentous 1-0 win over local rivals Chelmsford City in a hard-fought and often physical encounter at the Melbourne Community Stadium.

Both managers made changes to their line-ups following Saturday’s fixtures – Robbie Simpson bringing Reece Grant, Simeon Jackson, Tom Blackwell, Khale Da Costa and Kai Yearn into the side after their 1-0 home loss to Ebbsfleet United, whilst Angelo Harrop gave Chris Regis, Alfie Matthews, Joe Boachie and Rush starts in place of Gene Kennedy, Aaron Blair, Alfie Pavey and Jack Turner following their 1-0 win at Farnborough.

Chelmsford started well and with only six minutes gone, Canadian international Simeon Jackson had a good opportunity to put the home side 1-0 up when got on the end of Tom Blackwell’s cross – only to direct his header straight into Jack Sims’ hands.

Shortly after, John White was adjudged to have handled and from the resulting free kick, Blackwell struck the ball inches wide of the post from twenty-five yards out.

Midway through the first half, Rush jinked through the Clarets’ defence before firing home past Jacob Marsden from just outside the area to put the Iron into the lead.

Kai Yearn went close for Chelmsford just before the half-hour mark when his thirty-yard piledriver found it’s way through a crowd of bodies into the arms of the perfectly positioned Sims.

After receiving the ball from Baris Altintop’s throw-in, Matthews fired a curling shot just over the crossbar in stoppage time to finish an entertaining half with Braintree going into the break a goal to the good.

The Iron won themselves an immediate free kick at the start of the second half, only for Matthews’ cross to be skied high over the crossbar by Kyron Farrell.

Just short of the hour mark, the tricky Blackwell went close for Chelmsford once again when he headed Jazzi Barnum-Bobb’s cross inches past the post and almost directly after, Matthews had another opportunity for Braintree – only for his shot to be hit directly at Marsden, who saved well.

Barnum-Bobb almost gifted Braintree a goal when with Marsden out of position, his back pass seemed to be hurtling towards the wide-open net only for the keeper to recover and scramble the ball off the line at the last moment to save his defender’s blushes.

With the Clarets pushing forward for an equaliser, Jackson’s bicycle kick from Yearns cross went fractionally wide of the post near the end and keeper Marsden – up for the final corner of the game, headed over the bar from close range in stoppage time.

The Iron closed the game out to extend their run of eleven games without defeat and book their place in the Essex Senior Cup Final, to play against either Concord Rangers or Hornchurch at Colchester United’s JobServe Community Stadium on Tuesday, March 21. 

Chelmsford City: Marsden, James, Barnum-Bobb, Trotter, Yearn, Jackson (Capt.) Blackwell, Da Costa (Yila 63’) Johnson, Grant (Jones 36’) Krasniqi (Hockey 82’) Subs not used: Folivi, Norton

Braintree Town: Sims, Davies, Farrell, Regis, White (Capt.) Clements, Rush (Reynolds 78’) Payne, Boachie (Njoku 62’) Matthews (Pavey 63’) Altintop Subs not used: Niemczycki

Referee: Lloyd Wood

Assistant Referees: Daniel Cook and Joe Gray

Attendance: 943     

Brian Jeeves