1:03pm Wednesday 17th April 2013
CHELMSFORD City's ability to change tactically to adjust to different circumstances during a game pleased Manager Glenn Pennyfather as a superb pair of first-half Jamie Slabber strikes helped to propel the Clarets up to fourth in the Blue Square Bet South table courtesy of a 2-1 victory over Tonbridge Angels.
Glenn's team were two goals in front at the interval after Slabber converted twice to put his side in the driving seat.
Tonbridge markedly improved in the second half but they couldn't breach a resolute defence until a minute before the end through a Mikel Suarez tap-in. Pennyfather believes that was down to a change in approach by their opponents.
City moved above Weston-super-Mare on the night, and he said: "The result is all-important. After Saturday's exertions at Eastbourne - on as heavy a pitch as we're going to play on this year - the boys' recoveries have been brilliant and a testament to their fitness levels.
"It was another big game for us and it was crucial that we got the right result."
"In the second half we had to show another side, and we did that. We dug in and could have added to the score if we'd have shown a little more composure, but the most important thing was the result.
"We were disappointed to concede right at the end because it made for a nervy last couple of minutes, but we're delighted with the three points."
David Bridges was added to the centre of midfield to replace David Rainford in one of two changes to the side which beat Eastbourne Borough 2-1, with Michael Bakare also coming in for Rob Edmans in the attacking positions.
It was Angels who threatened first when an in-swinging 6th-minute cross picked out Mark Lovell in the box and his first-time volley was cracked over goalkeeper Danzelle St Louis-Hamilton's crossbar.
Then it was Chelmsford's turn to register an attempt through Bakare on 12 minutes, who showed persistence to rob a defender of the ball on the edge of the area before advancing on the left and striking across the face of goal.
From that same side within a minute, Aiden Palmer sent in a wicked delivery to Slabber, who was on hand to accurately glance across custodian Lee Worgan and inside the far post for the opener.
Shortly afterwards Max Cornhill controlled on his chest and charged through the away midfield before moving to the right and laying off to the overlapping Anthony Cook on the corner of the penalty box, but an awkward bounce meant Cook's volley was spooned off-target. Angels retained a threat, meanwhile, with a succession of corners and long throws which kept the City defence busy, plus a penalty appeal when Frannie Collin went to ground.
Though Slabber was in predatory mood, nearly grabbing his second on 22 minutes following a skilful Palmer run and a cross which was stood up to the far post where the Clarets' top scorer nodded over.
Then, from a similar range ten yards out at an angle on the right, Justin Miller's initial shot looped up and down to Slabber, who excellently adjusted his body to hook inside the near post off the underside of the crossbar and double the lead.
David Ijaha went closer than initially anticipated from 40 yards for the visitors three minutes before half time, though Glenn was satisfied with his side's position at that stage. "I felt in the first half we were excellent, and dominated the game," he assessed.
"We were 2-0 up and it could possibly have been more, but we were well worth our two-goal lead."
"They were magnificent finishes by Jamie Slabber - proving what I think that he's the best finisher in this league. The second half was always going to be a different game because their ears would be ringing from Tommy Warrilow.
"They came out and had a real go, and rightly so because they're fighting for their lives at the wrong end of the table. They changed their shape and matched us up a bit more."
Left-back Danny Walder was the unlikely source of Tonbridge's early second half attacks, heading straight at St Louis-Hamilton from a corner on 52 minutes then chipping over having rounded him a dozen minutes later.
The 69th minute also saw Ollie Schulz getting involved, striking into the floor and straight at City's custodian moments before another header wide from Lovell, as he connected with Nathan Green's centre.
Chelmsford were struggling to generate many of their own opportunities though they remained fairly comfortable with their cushion until the final ten minutes.
One powerful strike brought a block out of the supreme St Louis-Hamilton, who soon had to get down again to make another brilliant point-blank save to deny a Suarez thumper.
Nevertheless Tonbridge's regular presence in the Chelmsford half paid off on 89 minutes as a rare moment of panic in the Clarets' goalmouth saw them fail to deal with a right-wing delivery and Suarez picked up the pieces with a low finish from a few yards.
Three minutes into injury time Inaki Calvo could have ran further with the ball instead of attempting an unsuccessful lob which careered wide, though City's work was already done.
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