CHELMSFORD City hope they can spring a surprise on league leaders Eastleigh this Saturday and do their own chances of Skrill South survival the power of good as they anxiously look over their shoulders at the teams below them in the table.
The Hampshire club are firm favourites for automatic promotion with only a handful of matches remaining.
In contrast, Mark Hawkes’ Clarets have survival on their minds after a busy week featuring away games at Boreham Wood, Basingstoke Town and Bishop’s Stortford. They have five games left to secure the points they need.
Saturday’s 3.07pm kick-off at Melbourne is crucial for City, who enjoyed a purple patch under Hawkes’ stewardship when he was appointed late last year. Recent results have been disappointing.
The Boreham Wood encounter was a true spectacle for the neutral spectator, although the 4-3 defeat at Meadow Park gave cause for concern for the away spectators.
Hawkes made four changes to the starting line-up as Justin Miller, Joe Ward, Michael Cheek and Nicky Nicolau were replaced by Mark Haines, Sam Long, Rob Edmans and Tom Davis. But it was the worst possible start for Chelmsford when Junior Morias sprinted down the wing and cut the ball back to Lee Angol who slammed home from close range on just two minutes.
The Clarets needed only five minutes to generate an equaliser in fortunate fashion. Matthew Lock sent a free kick goalwards from 15 yards inside Boreham Wood’s half and it deceived everyone in the box, including keeper James Russell, as it dropped under the crossbar.
On 15 minutes, Wood were in front again, taking advantage of hesitant defending as Angol raced through and his beat City custodian Carl Pentney. Things got worse for the visitors eight minutes prior to the break when Matthew Whichelow’s shot was turned into his own net by Haines.
Three minutes later, former Clarets right-back Ben Nunn was guilty of bringing down skipper Mark Hughes in the penalty area, leaving Christian Smith to take responsibility for slotting home the spot kick to give his team hope heading into the interval at 3-2. A second-half change of formation followed, but City fell two goals behind again.
Whichelow made use of space on the right-hand side, powering forward before unleashing a fantastic drive into the top corner on 58 minutes. Chelmsford replied to make it 4-3 seven minutes from time when Luke Callander headed home Lock’s dead ball at the far post.
This left Chelmsford scouring the fixture list to see where their next points were coming from.
Following the Eastleigh match they have four games left, including trips to Staines Town and Weston-super-Mare. Perhaps more crucial, though, are the home clashes with strugglers Tonbridge Angels and Gosport Borough.