CHELMSFORD City’s management duo, Mark Hawkes and Steve Smith, want to see the Clarets “fighting it out at the right end of the table” next season after making sure of the club’s Skrill South status with a game to spare.
A 1-0 win over Gosport Borough at home last week meant the 2-0 defeat at Weston-super-Mare on Saturday, the final game of the season, meant little to the bigger picture. It also prompted the club to offer manager Hawkes and his assistant Smith a new deal to see them lead the Clarets for another twelve months.
The pairing rescued Chelmsford from a terrible scenario in November following Dean Holdsworth’s departure as the team languished in the lower reaches of the table.
On Saturday, both teams knew they were playing for pride at the Woodspring Stadium and there was a carnival atmosphere among the away supporters, many of whom took the opportunity for an end-of-season weekend away in Somerset. Ultimately it was Weston who prevailed to cap an excellent campaign which saw them safely ensconced in mid-table.
Aaron Greene and Mark Haines both had early attempts at goal for the visitors to no avail, and it was Weston who claimed the points through goals from Craig Laird in the first half and Dayle Grubb on the hour mark. Despite the defeat, the Clarets finished the season in 17th position as Dorchester Town, Tonbridge Angels and Hayes & Yeading United were relegated.
Chelmsford’s safety had already been secured following the single-goal victory against Gosport, and they did so in heroic fashion. With so much at stake, and news filtering through that main rivals Maidenhead United were rattling in the goals elsewhere at Havant & Waterlooville, nerves grew on the terraces as the Clarets were locked at 0-0.
City knew they had to at least equal Maidenhead’s result to guarantee their safety and there was a huge sense of relief when their goal arrived on 59 minutes. Callander’s refusal to give up on possession saw him ride several challenges and provide Ward, whose drive from an angle on the right rapped the inside of the far post before careering inside the other. There were limited chances for both teams for the remainder of the game but City stood firm to ensure their survival.
After the match, the players walked over to the supporters to show their appreciation and boss Hawkes was lifted into the air like a trophy as he enjoyed celebrating a mission accomplished.
Now preparations begin for what should be a more comfortable campaign in 2014/15, but not before the Clarets hand out their Player of the Year awards on Saturday evening at the clubhouse.