Chelmsford City 6 Hayes and Yeading 2

First published in Local Sport

CHELMSFORD City's demolition of seventh-placed Hayes & Yeading United showed evidence of six or seven months of fine tuning according to Manager Glenn Pennyfather, who watched as Jamie Slabber netted a hat-trick, Kyle Vassell scored two and Omer Riza added a sixth to see the Clarets move up to fourth place.

An injury to goalkeeper Stuart Searle after just a dozen minutes caused concern as he had to be replaced by outfield player Anthony Cook.

But Chelmsford took a 2-1 lead into the interval as Hayes midfielder Jamie Hand initially levelled the scores with a penalty but was sent off late in the first half for a second booking.

City ran riot in the second period, with Kudus Oyenuga's consolation the only offering from the visitors.

Glenn explained: "What just happened there is what we've been building towards for six or seven months.

"There's a belief and a pattern and we're getting somewhere near the way I'd like us to play all of the time. We like to mix and match our systems sometimes but the players have to be good enough to make them work, and they definitely were today."

"We've added people to the squad who can score goals, which takes the pressure off Jamie a little.

"Omer is one quality player who sets himself such high standards and he sparked a lot of things off for us in the game this afternoon. It was tough to pick a man of the match because every player could justifiably have won it today."

The Clarets were initially unchanged from the side which defeated Dorchester Town 4-0 the previous Monday, although Pennyfather would soon be forced into a radical tactical switch.

Hayes defender Pedro 'Pele' Monteiro followed through on goalkeeper Searle when the pair rushed to meet a ball and the latter had to be taken straight to hospital. With no spare custodian on the bench, Chelmsford called upon winger Cook to don the gloves.

Within seconds of the restart the hosts should then have opened the scoring as a terrible backpass from Monteiro gifted Riza with a clear opening but, when he attempted to square the ball inside to Slabber, a defender intervened.

However, the pairing fared better on 24 minutes, Riza getting over a volley which crashed onto the underside of the crossbar and into the path of Slabber, who knocked it into the empty net.

That advantage lasted just six minutes. A hopeful ball across from the right flank bounced through a crowded penalty area and, according to Referee Paul Harris, a City player's arm.

Hayes' former Chelmsford midfielder Hand took responsibility for the spot kick and he struck powerfully into the corner past the helpless stand-in gloveman.

Cook had played in goal during emergencies for the Clarets before, and he showed why he'd been selected on 33 minutes when he confidently collected a long-range John Goddard shot.

Then Chelmsford showed their intent at the other end to re-gain their lead, Riza being held in the penalty area before Slabber converted from the spot five minutes before half time.

After the break Cook was called into action again, and once more he didn't let the team down as he got behind another 63rd-minute effort from Goddard on the edge of the area.

Within a minute, the Clarets built a cushion and Cook provided the assist. His long ball from deep found Vassell, who beat the offside trap, lobbed Hall and walked the ball into the net.

Cook was determined to play his part in the proceedings and he certainly did that on 66 minutes, rushing from his goal to make a crucial intervention with Luke Williams ready to pull the trigger.

It was perfect timing, too, because what could have been a one-goal margin became a lead of three goals as Riza dribbled in from the right for City and laid the ball on a plate for Slabber, who completed his hat-trick to make it 4-1 in the 70th minute.

Slabber was then withdrawn from the field to a standing ovation as new permanent signing Rob Edmans entered the fray, and he came close to making it five but he couldn't twist his body enough to get a decent connection on Donovan Simmonds' centre.

Nevertheless, Chelmsford did make it five with ten minutes left, Edmans and Riza taking swipes at a loose ball before Vassell claimed his second of the match from a few yards out.

The home supporters could hardly believe what they were seeing as City ruthlessly ripped into their opponents, going 6-1 up after just two more minutes courtesy of Riza, who rammed into the net when he was slipped clean through by Vassell.

Hayes substitute Oyenuga scrambled home their second a couple of minutes from the end, but it was too late.

There was no spoiling the atmosphere as Chelmsford moved up into fourth position in the table, and Glenn reacted: "We've got no distractions now, and it didn't surprise me that we've scored four and six in our last two games because I know what we're capable of.

"We have talks right the way through the season so we can maintain our focus.

"Even in the games we've lost we've been in contention for the points, barring Hayes away. After that match the players didn't need a motivational talk.

"They got one, but they will have felt today that they owed Hayes one and had a point to prove to themselves. We've shown at times that we can roll our sleeves up when we need to."

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