Chelmsford City‘s decade-long wait for a League Essex Derby victory over Braintree Town came to an end with an entertaining 4-1 Boxing Day victory at Melbourne Park.
The Clarets had been without a league victory over their arch Essex rivals for almost eleven years, a run stretching back to April 2009 when the County Town side were last victorious over the Iron in a competitive fixture.
Robbie Simpson netted his fourth goal in as many games to open the scoring before Chris Whelpdale headed home a second for the Clarets three minutes later.
Tyler Christian-Law reduced the deficit before a spell of Braintree dominance was cut short by further City conversions by a Shaun Jeffers penalty and another Whelpdale strike.
Chelmsford could have won by an even larger margin had Simpson and Jeffers not had attempts ruled out by the match officials.
Despite having avoided a heavier defeat, Iron boss George Borg claimed the scoreline flattered Chelmsford City.
“I just think we are a very young side,” he said. “We’re playing against one of the favourites for the league and they are all experienced players.
“But we worked hard and I think 4-1 flattered them. At 2-1 we got back in it, we had them on the ropes. I decided to open the game up, instead of three at the back, I went with 4-3-3 and shortly afterwards they got the third goal when we had a great chance from a freekick.
“Obviously I’m disappointed we lost – there’s no fun when you lose, especially 4-1, but the result flattered them.”
Rod Stringer made two changes from the side that lost at Chippenham Town as Billy Knott and Jonny Giles replaced Elliot Omozusi and Jeffers.
The incoming duo almost repaid their manager’s trust when Knott combined with Giles through an excellent cross to the far post – after Simpson had sent the former away on the left-wing – but Giles sent an acrobatic effort over the crossbar.
More chances followed but Tom Knowles was unable to convert after twisting and turning against Dan Matsuzaka; the winger then dragged a low strike wide moments later.
Braintree should have capitalised on City’s sloppiness when Rhys Murrell-Williamson’s effort fell to Lucas Kirkpatrick; the central midfielder’s first-time volley was turned round the post for a corner by Laurie Walker – Steve Sheehan headed narrowly over from the result set-piece.
City were forced into an early substitution when Knott was forced off through injury; Chez Isaac replaced the midfielder.
After dominating most of the first half, Chelmsford were made to wait until four minutes before the interval to break the deadlock.
Knowles delivered a weak right-footed corner, which seemed a comfortable clearance for the first defender, but Simpson popped up to nod the ball into the ground and past Iron ‘keeper Brozowski.
Whelpdale doubled the home side’s lead in first-half stoppage time. Reeling onto a beautiful arching cross from Bradley Stevenson, Whelpdale rose at the far-post to finish comfortably from close range.
Stringer’s side felt they should have been three goals ahead on 50 minutes when Simpson bundled a corner over the line; however, the match officials denied the striker a fifth goal in four games.
Less than a minute later, the visitors pulled a goal back courtesy of a blistering counter-attack.
Driving forward immediately from Giles’ poorly executed corner, the visitors burst forward before Murrell-Williamson tucked Christian-Law into the box; the central midfielder managed to squeeze the ball between Walker and the post.
Both sides made substitutions shortly after the hour-mark; Jeffers replaced Stevenson and former Claret Jordan Chiedozie came on for Christian Frimpong in a tactical change by Borg.
Chelmsford had another goal disallowed on 20 minutes. Giles’ corner was flicked on by a header inside the box and, after Jeffers hammered home the rebound, the referees denied City a third.
Jeffers came close again when he brought a long-ball from Walker down just outside the penalty area. He shifted past his marker but shot into Brozowski’s arms.
Despite the tactical change, Borg’s side were unable to claw themselves level as Whelpdale scored his second, and Chelmsford’s third, with a powerful deflected shot.
Substitute Jeffers added to City’s tally with a late penalty, sending Brozowski the wrong way to secure victory and end Chelmsford’s long-running wait for a Derby Day victory over Braintree Town.
Chelmsford City: Walker, Shaw, Church, Chambers, Cascaval, Giles, Knott (Isaac 24), Whelpdale, Stevenson (Jeffers 65), Knowles, Simpson (Lita 80).
Unused Substitutes: Ndaba, Kyei.
Braintree Town: Brozowski, Ocran, Green, Frimpong (Chiedozie 63), Sheehan, Matsuzaka, Christian-Law, Kirkpatrick, Murrell-Williamson, Cerulli, Gardiner-Smith.
Unused Substitutes: Hinds-Cadette, Johnson, Stone, Barker.