Non League Daily

Supporter Blog: Improved season ahead for Clarets (Matthew Lee)

With the upcoming Vanarama National League South league fast approaching: I look ahead to the new season and see where Chelmsford City could improve on from last season and look at fan’s opinions on the team writes Clarets fan Matthew Lee

Chelmsford’s top goal scorer for the 2014/15 season Michael Cheek confirmed midway through May that he would be leaving Melbourne Park for Braintree Town Football Club – Chelmsford’s biggest rivals.

Since being with the club for only a season and a half many would view his move as a good for his career, especially since he joined from Heybridge Swifts who were playing in the Ryman North. Regular attending fan Kieran Stock said despite being gutted for us he is pleased for them, like most fans would be.

As a footballer’s career is short lived you have to take the chances you are given. So as he is performing at a higher level. “I won’t pretend not too be disappointed he went to Braintree though. I’d have preferred it to be somewhere else.”

Another departure from the City squad is Joe Ward who impressed since being brought into the first team in Mark Hawkes’ opening games as manager and has since earned himself trials with West Ham United and Brighton. He was eventually offered terms at Brighton for an undisclosed fee which was estimated to be around the £20K mark.

Kieran believes that Ward is “a dedicated lad though and will hopefully improve as a player.” Similar to when Ipswich sold Darren Bent, they had an add-on which meant that from any future transfers the club would receive 10% of the profit. This is a good transfer method as it means if you’re player improves drastically and suddenly in 5-10 years’ time gets signed by a big premier league side for a multi-million pound deal then the original club that found him will earn money. However despite his transfer away from Chelmsford, it is a great success for our Academy and Mark Hawkes.

I personally believe that the position that we played best in was in midfield. When Lee Sawyer and Mark Hughes were fully fit and on form we had a commanding midfield. “They had so much energy and hassled opponents into mistakes before starting new moves.” Another plus is that with Harry Morgan coming through the Academy ranks we have a young, promising midfielder who could play an integral part in future seasons, however I believe we shouldn’t expect too much, too soon.

Kieran and I both agreed that one of the main things that Chelmsford would need to improve in ahead of the new season is our defence. Kieran said: “We conceded so many goals last year and a lot of them were due to either individual or collective errors. The big frustration was how many goals we conceded from set pieces.”

With an average of 1.8 goals conceded per match most would say this is due to the constant rotations of our centre back pairing of Mark Haines, Marvin Ekpiteta and Yado Mambo and another reason for the sheer amount of goals being scored would be because of the change in keeper. One place I believe we really would need to improve in for the season is having a permanent goalkeeper who can be commanding from his box whilst also having some competition for places in defence.

With the new signings of Ashley Timms (goalkeeper) and Ashley Miller (full back). With Ashley Miller being signed he will bring much needed experience and quality for the defensive line. In total Chelmsford lost 23 of their 56 games all season and conceded 71 goals in just the league competition.

When I spoke to Kieran he spoke about who he wanted to see join the club. “I wanted to sign a proper left footed wide man as I think we lacked that last year. Often it was a righty [right winger] playing on the left.” That has already been corrected though with the news that Charlie Henry has joined. “I’d like to see a centre back in the mould of Adam Tann brought in (not necessary him given he’s getting a bit on now).”

Maybe ex-Claret Kenny Clark could be a good addition to the defensive setup as he is a commanding character who can also pop up for corners and grab some goals too. “I feel [Mark] Haines is at his best when he has an organiser next to him.” I agree with this and seeing as Yado Mambo has left we are now relying on Marvin Ekpiteta however I believe he is slightly too young to be commanding our defence. “We could also do with a commanding forward up front.”

A similar player to Luke Callander is Nathan Elder who is only 30 years old and is currently playing for Tonbridge Angels. He is a big and strong character who is also commanding in the air and happens to have plenty of experience. “In his days at Billericay he was a constant menace against us. I feel he’d form a great partnership with Bricknell.”

Carrying on with the topic of Billy Bricknell and strikers, I believe he will prove his quality yet again for us. When he left there was some immature behaviour from our fans and also from Billy in responding to the goading on Twitter.

“He said some silly things which only made it worse”

It was all very unsavoury as Billy had not done anything wrong in a Chelmsford City shirt to warrant the stick he received. “It’s good though that hasn’t put him off returning to the club.” As one of my favourite players when I was younger I am happy to see him return. He is a busy player who searches for the ball and makes chances for his team mates.

Looking at his record for Ebbsfleet and Dover he scores a decent amount of goals but it’s often in streaks. “He is constantly on the move and getting involved in play when he isn’t scoring he still offers something to the team.” A bit similar to Michael Cheek, as mentioned above though I’d want to see a big striker signed to play alongside him.

“He’s not short but you don’t really want him jumping to challenge big centre backs as that’s not his game and it would be a waste of his best attributes.”

So overall I believe that Chelmsford have started to make a good team for the season however they still have a couple of places where Mark Hawkes will need to change. Moreover this though I suspect Chelmsford will finish near the play-off places, probably just a few points off.

This will be an improvement from where we finished two seasons ago – 17th placed after an extremely poor start to the season under Dean Holdsworth and a terrific rescue effort from Mark Hawkes– and last season where we finished tenth, 14 points behind the final play-off place.

Writer: Matthew Lee

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