Chelmsford knocked out of Essex Senior Cup

CONCORD Rangers knocked Chelmsford City out of the Essex Senior Cup for the second year running as former Clarets striker Jason Hallett came back to haunt his old club with two goals in normal time.

The striker then converted a sudden death penalty in the shoot-out which saw the Beachboys victorious, 6-5 on spot kicks.

Rangers battled their way to the semi-finals alongside Grays Athletic and AFC Hornchurch, moving ahead on 12 minutes thanks to Hallett’s first.

City turned the game around when David Rainford scored a 38th-minute free kick, before Ishmael Welsh headed them ahead three minutes later. Hallett and Tony Stokes swung the pendulum the other way in the second half until Kyle Vassell’s leveller in injury time forced the eventual shootout.

Pennyfather named a strong line-up on paper against the third-placed Ryman League Premier Division side, but it was a former Chelmsford player who made the first impact.

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Nicky Cowley’s accurate pass supplied ex-Clarets striker Hallett and sent him through on goal. He rounded goalkeeper Stuart Searle and made it 1-0.

The visitors had not started badly, producing some useful attacking manoeuvres at times, and the half hour mark saw Vassell lay the ball off to Sam Corcoran down the right, whose shot was deflected wide by Concord centre-half John Easterford.

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City were getting plenty of deliveries into the box but it was a dead ball which drew them level, Rainford brilliantly planting a free kick over the defensive wall and in off the post.

Just two minutes later, the match turned fully in Chelmsford’s favour, a Justin Miller cross picking out the head of Welsh who nodded into the net to make it 2-1.

Hallett then missed a superb opportunity for his and Concord’s second goal a minute before the interval, nipping round Searle again but this time spooning over the crossbar.

Both teams showed intent to score in the opening sequences of the second period to no avail, though there was always an undertone of more goals.

And so it proved on 64 minutes. The hosts replied to a spell of City pressure with a goal of their own, Hallett again sprinting through to finish one-on-one past Searle and put his team back level.

David Bridges headed agonisingly off-target for the Clarets nine minutes later, then there was further anguish when Stokes, on for Harry Elmes half-way through the match, got on the end of Danny Spendlove’s deep, left wing centre to head home a third at the far post. That had looked like clinching the tie with only nine minutes left.

Defender Kenny Clark tried his best to rescue the situation for Chelmsford five minutes from time, bringing a fine save from goalkeeper Lovelock with a bullet strike, and Concord tried to run down time in the opposite corners. Yet, from one crucial counter-attack on 91 minutes, Vassell overlapped on the break and squared the match up at 3-3.

With no extra time in the Senior Cup, and after both sides converted four penalties without a hitch, Anthony Cook had City’s fifth saved, but Cowley couldn’t be the hero as he missed for Rangers.

Vassell and Spendlove then netted for the visitors and hosts respectively but, when Bridges’ effort clattered a post, Hallett made no mistake to put Rangers through.

City jumped to fifth thanks to a defeat for Weston-super-Mare in the Blue Square Bet South elsewhere.

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