Dorchester TOWN 1
CHELMSFORD CITY 2
Slabber 32, Tann 45
DESPITE a spirited second-half show, Dorchester Town were unable to prevent a third straight defeat in Blue Square Bet South.
After a fairly even start, play-off chasing Chelmsford took control in the latter third of the opening period to open up a two-goal cushion – courtesy of debutant Jamie Slabber and defender Adam Tann.
Alan Knight’s half-time team-talk appeared to have the desired effect as the Magpies responded with Ryan Dovell’s fourth goal of the season.
But try as they might, the home side were unable to force a dramatic equaliser – Jake Smeeton unfortunate to see a late effort bounce off the woodwork. Jamie Gleeson and Neil Martin were both recalled as the Magpies made two changes from the dismal display at rock-bottom Thurrock.
Sam Malsom and Max Worsfold were the two to make way with Dovell moving from midfield to partner Tom Nichols up top.
City meanwhile, gave debuts to new signings Slabber, who has joined from Eastleigh in a £7,500 deal, and goalkeeper Conor Gough, who is on loan from Charlton Ath-letic.
And it was the former who created the first opening of the night seven minutes in.
After collecting Aiden Palmer’s throw from the left, Slabber turned his man with ease and fired in a fierce cross that connected with strike partner Cliff Akurang but fell wide of goal.
Dorchester responded to that early scare and only smart defending from Palmer prevented Nichols latching on to Kyle Critchell’s through pass.
The opening half was very much a war of attrition but the Magpies almost shot themselves in the foot at the midway stage.
Smeeton lost possession deep in his own half, allowing Akurang to burst into the box. But rather than tee up Slabber for a simple finish, the former Weymouth forward went for goal from an acute angle and was thwarted by Alan Walker-Harris.
The home gloveman was forced into action for a second time mom-ents later, keeping out Slabber’s far post header, before Nick Crittenden had the visiting defence on the ropes with a couple of dangerous deliveries that culminated in Mar-tin’s appeals for a penalty being waved away by referee Adam Bromley.
The left winger was again cursing the man in the black just past the half-hour as City took the lead.
Another slip from Smeeton brought Chelmsford on the attack and although Akurang appeared to foul Martin on the right side of the penalty area, the visiting striker was allowed to play on and he crossed for ex-Tottenham man Slabber to nod past a helpless Walker-Harris.
Akurang was proving a real handful for the home defence and again he played a major role as the Clarets doubled their advantage on the stroke of half-time.
The away number nine was denied by a decent save from Walker-Harris but from the resulting corner, taken by Palmer, Kenny Clark’s header was blocked in front of goal and Tann lashed home the rebound.
For all the danger he posed in the first period, Akurang spurned a glorious opportunity to put the game out of sight 11 minutes into the restart, blazing Slabber’s flick-on over the top.
Dorchester had been struggling to create any clear-cut chances and were often restricted to efforts from range – one of which saw Dovell clear the bar by a couple of yards after cutting inside Tann.
But once they got the ball on the deck, patient build-up play brought a lifeline for the hosts.
A series of passes saw the Magpies gradually advance towards goal before Nichols slipped his man and drilled in a low effort that Gough could only parry into the path of the onrushing Dovell, who found the roof of the net.
Chelmsford’s two-goal advantage was so nearly restored just four minutes later though.
Having conceded three penalties in his last three outings, skipper Mark Jermyn was inches away from continuing that run as he brought down substitute Ricky Modeste on the periphery of his own box.
Warren Whitely struck the free-kick through a crowd of bodies but fortunately for the home faithful, Nathan Walker was in the right place to clear off the line.
Crittenden and Smeeton then went close at the other end before City were denied a spot-kick as captain David Rainford went down under the attentions of Walker – much to the disgust of visiting boss Glenn Pennyfather.
Heading into the final 10 minutes, Slabber should have made the points safe when he stole a march on Jermyn but skied his subsequent shot.
And he was almost punished six minutes from the end. However, after seeing Nichols race on to Critchell’s threaded pass, Gough got a vital touch to force the home striker wide of danger.
Dorchester continued to probe in the dying moments and came within a whisker of snatching a late equaliser.
Smeeton tried his luck from distance and although a City midfielder got a touch on the ball, the deflection took it over Gough but on to the crossbar.
Magpies: Walker-Harris, Critchell, Smeeton, Jermyn, N Walker, Gleeson, Crittenden, Nicholls, Nichols, Dovell, Martin (Malsom 63). Subs not used: Bell, Worsfold, Way, S Walker.
Clarets: Gough, Nunn, Palmer, Tann, Clark, Rainford, Whitely, Slabber (Ibe 90), Akurang, Cornhill, Osborn (Modeste 58). Subs not used: Corcoran, Haines, Parker.