CHELMSFORD City manager Rod Stringer held mixed emotions after the Clarets produced a superb performance to hold Tranmere Rovers to a 1-1 FA Trophy third round draw at Prenton Park.
Robbie Willmott had fired City into a first-half lead, only for Cole Stockton to save the Birkenhead club's blushes. Speaking after the match, Stringer said: “I think everyone could see how hard we worked. It was the performance of the season if I’m being honest.
“It was enjoyable, a very good game of football, huge respect to both teams. What with the opposition we were up against, it was a tough game. We all had mixed emotions at full-time because we thought we’d done enough to win the tie.
“I only recall Ross Fitzsimmons making one save early in the game. To play the way we have and feel that we were the team in the ascendancy at the time they scored, should explain how we feel.”
The Clarets chief continued: “Tranmere changed their shape three times in an attempt to get back into the game. That suggests that we have played well enough to keep them on the back foot.
“It would have been easy to think that their equaliser would come as a bit of a blow to us and would spur them on. However, we galvanised ourselves and forced a replay.”
Stringer pointed out the resilience shown by his charges, despite being depleted due to injury and unavailability, adding: “Mark Haines was forced off through injury after about twenty minutes so we had to switch Max Porter to a central defensive position, with Max Cornhill coming into the midfield. Considering we had to go there and make those changes, with very little in the way of cover because players were cup-tied, was fantastic. I was proud of the lads for digging in so deep.
“Tranmere Rovers have a whole team of top quality players. But on the day our boys were incredible, every single one of them played above their level. It was just a shame we couldn't keep the clean sheet that would have got us over the line.
“We played pretty well on the day. But come Wednesday, we will have to see what legs we’ve got left and match the efforts we displayed at Prenton Park.”
Stringer has urged the people of Chelmsford and surrounding areas to turn out in force and back his charges in Wednesday evening’s FA Trophy third round replay against Tranmere Rovers at the Melbourne Stadium.
Stringer believes a raucous replay atmosphere could help the team reach the next stage of the competition.
The Clarets boss said: “We took a great following up to Tranmere, they really got behind us, he said. “We know that our supporters will turn up in force on Wednesday night. However, we need the fans to bring their friends and family along to the Melbourne Stadium to give us that extra lift. It is very important to myself, the staff and players and we fully appreciate everyone's efforts.
“The team have done the City proud with this result. We are having a decent season so it would be great if our supporters could spread the word and get the whole of Chelmsford behind us for what is one of the biggest games in the club's recent history. It would be great to see the ground packed like it was for the FA Cup game with Colchester United a few years ago.”
The FA Trophy third round replay between Chelmsford City and Tranmere Rovers will take place at the Melbourne Stadium on Wednesday, February 8 (7:30pm) with the admission prices set as follows: