Chelmsford City 2
FA Cup second qualifying round
DESPITE some late jitters Chelmsford City have secured a safe passage through the next round of the FA Cup.
The Clarets beat lower league Leatherhead 2-1 thanks to a brace either side of half time from player/assistant manager Dave Rainford.
Although the hosts dominated for long periods a late strike against the run of play by Leatherhead's Tom Bradbrook threatened to upset what had seemed like a comfortable afternoon at Melbourne Park.
But the onslaught never materialised and City made it through to Monday's draw for the next round as they look to match their efforts from the two previous seasons where they have made the second round proper.
"I think they've scored with their only shot at goal really," City manager Glenn Pennyfather said afterwards.
"I know that makes everything a little bit edgy for the last five minutes but we dominated the game but in reality we should have won it by five or six goals."
The Clarets boss was full of praise for double goal-scorer Rainford who's struggled to get in to the starting line-up this term after being named a member of the backroom staff in the close season.
The former City captain scored the opening goal of the game with a header from a Jordan Parkes cross on 35 minutes. Then he scored a superb 25-yard free kick in the 68th minute to double the advantage. "All credit to David," said Pennyfather. "He's come in to day and he's still trying to stake a claim to be in the team."
The only sour note of the afternoon was that Mark Haines had to hobble of injured in the first half with a serious looking ankle problem. It required David Bridges to drop back to centre half and Jordan Parkes moving in to midfield and Richard Brindley to right back.
"The boy's come down and stood straight on his ankle so he's in quite a lot of discomfort with it. That's four centre backs we've got out – it must be something to do with our defenders!"
City made three changes to the side that beat Weston-super-Mare last Saturday. In came Rainford, Craig Parker and Ishmael Welsh for the injured Jamie Slabber Anthony Church was suspended and Craig Calver dropped to the bench.
A dull first half was livened up when Parkes swung in a perfect cross and Rainford, standing on the penalty spot, guided a header in to the far corner past a static Matt Reed in the Leatherhead goal.
That was the only real goalmouth action of a tepid first half as Leatherhead looked to contain Chelmsford.
Thankfully the second period was a much more vibrant affair.
Parkes fired an early warning shot with a thunderous left-footed drive that grazed the crossbar before Rainford stung the palms of Reed with a driven effort at goal.
Then on the hour the former City skipper headed over the bar from a Parkes cross as City desperately searched for the cushion of a second goal.
They didn't have to wait too long.
After Rainford was fouled on the edge of the box he tried to take a quick free kick that sailed well over the bar but referee David Woolford ordered a re-take and the midfielder curled in a sumptuous effort in to the top left hand corner.
With that goal coming on 68 minutes it looked to be game over. But with six minutes remaining Greg Andrew scampered down the right and substitute Bradbrook was unmarked and swept home from close range.
It set pulses racing and Jerry Nnamani nearly completed the comeback for Leatherhead but his close-range header went over.