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Vital Wins On Wet Night For Clarets & Stones

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Two games in the Vanarama National League South on Monday night and both were described as being `proper` matches in difficult, wet conditions.

At Melbourne Stadium, Chelmsford City hosted second-bottom Whitehawk looking to consolidate their place in the top seven.

And the crowd certainly had value for money, with three penalties, six goals and a red card!

However, prior to kick-off there was a minute’s silence for the recent passing of long-term Clarets` supporter Dennis White.

And it took only 4 minutes for City to dedicate a goal in his memory when the Hawks failed to clear a deep free-kick and the ball fell to Michael Spillane, who volleyed past visiting `keeper Daniel Wilks and into the bottom corner.

Nine minutes later and it was 2-0 with the first spot-kick award of the evening when Phil Roberts found himself in acres of space inside the area but was dragged down and the referee wasted no time by pointing to the spot and Scott Fenwick stepped up to beat Wilks.

But the Hawks were back in it after 25 minutes when a corner was headed back across the area for Nathaniel Pinney to score.

And 5 minutes later, the visitors were back on level terms when they caught City on the counter-attack and Gold Omotayo fired low past Sam Beasant from the edge of the area.

So all to play for in the second half, but only 11 minutes in, the Hawks suffered a massive blow when they lost Osa Obamwonyi to a second yellow in 3 minutes after a reckless challenge on Shaun Batt.

The Clarets finally got themselves back in front on the 74-minute mark when Spillane struck a free-kick into the Hawks` wall and the referee immediately pointed to the spot for handball.

Fenwick`s spot-kick beat Wilks but hit the post and just had enough power to trickle over the line.

A minute later, Beasant preserved City`s lead with a fine save to deny sub Zach Fagan.

And then 2 minutes into stoppage time, City made the points safe when they were awarded a third penalty of the match when Bagasan Graham was brought down in the area and Fenwick completed his hat-trick of spot-kicks.

The win lifts Chelmsford up to fourth, five points clear of eighth-placed neighbours Braintree Town.

The evening`s other game saw Wealdstone look to maintain their outside hopes of mounting a play-off push with a 3-1 success against another relegation-threatened outfit, Hungerford Town, at Bulpit Lane.

Had this game been played earlier in the season, then it`s likely it wouldn`t have gone ahead as the pitch was extremely wet. But games need to be played now unless the situation is ridiculous and, as at Chelmsford, the conditions made for a very entertaining encounter.

It took the Stones just 3 minutes to take the lead when a free-kick out wide from Danny Green seemed to have gone straight in, although Dan Fitchett did a `Harry Kane` and was certain he got the final touch!

Visiting goalkeeper Jonathan North came to his side`s rescue when he saved well from both Lewis Leigh-Gilchrist and Scott Rees with 15 minutes gone.

However, the visitors doubled their lead 8 minutes before half-time when Matty Whichelow set up Ryan Sellers, who unleashed a terrific shot past Hungerford `keeper Oliver Davies.

Fans from both sides were fully expecting the officials to come out and check the pitch at some point during the break, but they didn`t and the game continued, and just 6 minutes into the second half, the Crusaders were back in the game when a cross was converted at far post by Alfie Kilgour.

But 20 minutes from time, Wealdstone virtually killed the game off when they were awarded a penalty after good work from Whichelow led to David Pratt being caught from behind and Green converted the spot-kick low to the keeper`s right.

Hungerford almost pulled one back late on, but Sellers managed to clear off the line from sub Louis Soares.

The win lifts Wealdstone to eleventh in the table, still eight points adrift of the top seven, so would need slip ups from teams above them if they are to mount a challenge, while Hungerford remain fourth-bottom, with an eight-point cushion over third-bottom Poole Town.

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