Chelmsford City go so close to causing FA Cup upset against Macclesfield Town

A FASHION designer by day, Chelmsford City midfielder Max Cornhill almost stitched League Two Macclesfield up a treat.

The 24-year-old sent the majority of the 2,919 crowd inside Melbourne Park wild with his first-half strike and went agonisingly close at the death to producing a vintage Claret FA Cup upset.

As it was, Tony Diagne’s acrobatic second half volley gave the Silkmen another chance to progress into the third round and a home tie with Premier League Bolton, in a replay a week on Tuesday, as Cornhill’s header with just two minutes left on the clock went the wrong side of the woodwork.

“My header was close but not close enough,” said Cornhill who works for fashion label Members Only, in Rainham, which supplies high street shops such as H&M and Primark.

“Macclesfield started the game off strong but we found our way into the game with the goal and I thought we had the beating of them.

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“We have just got to take it to the replay now and see what happens.”

Cornhill gave the Clarets the lead 10 minutes before the break, firing the ball emphatically into the net after Shaun Brisley failed to clear Justin Miller’s long- range effort.

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“I did not have much time to think about it,” said the Dagenham-born midfielder. “I just hit it and did not see it go in, I was already away celebrating.

“It took me about 10 minutes to get my breath back after the goal and I am just glad the lads threw me on the floor as I ran off.”

The goal represented Chelmsford’s first real goalscoring opportunity as, apart from Miller’s cross-shot being tipped over easily by Veiga and Cornhill heading over from a free-kick, Macclesfield implemented a tactic that was working a treat.

The Silkmen, with several players over six foot in their team, won corner after corner and also utilised Jon Bateson’s long throw to bombard Chelmsford’s penalty area.

Vinny Mukendi (twice) and Sam Wedgbury both spurned decent heading chances from set-plays but, ironically, it was from open-play that the professional outfit missed their best opportunity of the half.

Colin Daniel’s blistering pace took him away from the Chelmsford back-line down the right and after powering into the box, his cut-back was perfect for Matt Hamshaw, but the winger totally miskicked his effort with the goal at his mercy.

Clarets goalkeeper Stuart Searle also did well in the first half, saving comfortably from Hamshaw’s shot before tipping over the same player’s dipping corner.

But the goal lifted Melbourne Park and it was no surprise that Glenn Pennyfather’s men started the second half the brighter team.

Sam Corcoran darted in from wide on the right and beat three men but was denied a classic FA Cup strike when Veiga smothered his shot from 12 yards. In the 57th minute, the hosts almost killed the game off but when Aiden Palmer’s long-range volley seemed to be heading for the top corner, Kezie Ibe inexplicably diverted the ball over the bar.

The visitors levelled in the 64th minute when, after a heroic performance by the Clarets’ rearguard and keeper Searle until that point, a long throw from Bateson was missed by everyone apart from Diagne at the back post, who twisted his body beautifully to volley home from four yards.

After that, both sides had chances to win the game outright. Searle denied George Donnelly close in, Silkmen skipper Nat Brown headed over from a corner and Donnelly fluffed another chance, having run free, by firing into the side-netting.

At the other end, Ibe, Kenny Clark and Bury St Edmunds-based Craig Parker headed over from corners, before man of the moment Cornhill failed to seal a giant-killing, his close-range header going wide.

Clarets manager Glenn Pennyfather said afterwards: “The equaliser was out of character for us.

“The back four have kept clean sheet after clean sheet this season but we are not used to playing teams that play as fast and probably, as direct, as Macclesfield did.”

Chelmsford are back in league action tonight when they entertain Maidenhead United at Melbourne Park tonight, 7.45pm.

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