Chelmsford boss ‘shell-shocked’ after play-off loss

CHELMSFORD City manager Glenn Pennyfather admits he was left ‘shell-shocked’ after his side were defeated 4-1 by Ebbsfleet United in the opening home leg of their Blue Square South play-off semi-final.

Blue Square South

Play-off semi-final 1st leg

Chelmsford City 1 Ebbsfleet Utd 4

CHELMSFORD City manager Glenn Pennyfather admits he was left ‘shell-shocked’ after his side were defeated 4-1 by Ebbsfleet United in the opening home leg of their Blue Square South play-off semi-final.


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The result leaves the Essex side – whose Melbourne Stadium was packed out with 1,701 spectators – needing a monumental comeback in the return leg on Sunday if they are to avoid play-off heartache for the third successive season.

“I’m a bit shell-shocked,” said Pennyfather. “We just didn’t turn up. We used up a lot of energy getting here and tonight it was like there was nothing left in the tank.”

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The Clarets are attempting to join Essex neighbours Braintree Town in promotion to the non-league top-flight and, despite his disappointment, Pennyfather refuses to write off his side’s chances of progression.

He said: “We scored three against them at their place earlier in the season (3-2 win), so who knows? We’ve just got to throw caution to the wind because football can change very quickly.”

After an even start to the match, Ebbsfleet – the team with the division’s best away record – scored twice within a four minute spell.

The 21st minute opener came after the home defence failed to deal with a long ball over the top and West drilled the loose ball under on-loan Colchester United keeper Carl Pentney.

A second quickly followed when Shakes got the better of left-back Kurt Robinson, his shot across goal clipped a defender’s heels, enabling the alert West to complete his brace.

Chelmsford were rocking and very lucky not to be reduced to 10 men in the 41st minute when Sami El-Abd, having misjudged a long ball over the top, tugged back striker Calum Willock in the box.

The linesman furiously flagged, but an eager Willock jumped to his feet and shot at the keeper with the referee happy that advantage had been played.

The hosts had barely mustered a shot but from nowhere halved the deficit just before the half-time whistle with the simplest of goals, Ricky Modeste looping in a header at the near post straight from right-back Craig Stone’s long throw.

Clarets boss Glenn Pennyfather brought on 20-goal club captain Dave Rainford and defender Rob Swaine at the break and the changes transformed the Essex side.

However, after Rainford and Wayne Gray both tested the keeper during a dominant spell, Chelmsford were hit with two late sucker punches.

In the 77th minute Modeste gave the ball away in the right-back position, Derek Duncan sent in a super cross and Shakes glanced a fine header inside the far post.

The striker completed his brace three minutes from time after the home side switched off to allow him through one-on-one.

CHELMSFORD CITY (4-4-2): Pentney; Nunn, Haines, El-Abd (Swaine 46), Robinson; Modeste, Tann (cpt) Rainford (46, capt), Martin, Ake; Gray, Chaaban (Bricknell 73).

Unused Subs: Ladapo, Batchford.

EBBSFLEET UTD (4-3-3): Hawkes; Stone, Easton, Lorraine (cpt), Duncan; Marawa, Phipp (Fakinos 88), Carew; Shakes, Willock, West (Erskine 89).

Unused Subs: Howe, Pooley, Ginty.

Booked: Duncan (52).

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