Essex Senior Cup quarter-finals

A young Colchester United side were unable to halt the progress of Essex Senior Cup holders Chelmsford City into the semi-finals of this year’s competition.

The U’s had enough chances to make it through the quarter-final tie themselves but lacked the cutting edge they needed in front of goal.

Instead, it was the Clarets who went through in front of a crowd of 329 at the Weston Homes Community Stadium as Shaun Batt stepped off the bench to deliver the game’s decisive strike in the 83rd minute.

The game started with Luke Prosser as a notable inclusion in Colchester’s starting line-up as he made just his second appearance for the U’s since undergoing knee surgery in November 2016.

The U's club captain had played 45 minutes in a friendly against Leyton Orient the week before and this was a chance for him to build fitness further towards a return to first team duties.

Prosser was part of Colchester’s back line and he and his colleagues were in action early in a busy start to the game, with Chelmsford clearly intent on making their mark.

Their energy and industry was impressive in the opening minutes and they looked the more likely to open the scoring with a couple of very good chances.

In the third minute, a mistake at the back by Will Wright gifted possession to Chelmsford and the ball was quickly worked to striker Jonathan Giles, who forced Rene Gilmartin into a save that cannoned back off the bar before the U's could clear.

There was then a sight of goal for Daniel Green as he drilled in a low shot from just outside the area, but Gilmartin was able to watch it fly just wide this time.

It was an edgy start from the hosts, but they soon settled and nearly broke the deadlock themselves.

The chance came from a wonderful break from Courtney Senior from inside his own half that ended with a shot that was almost fumbled by Sam Beasant into his own net.

However, the Clarets keeper recovered just in time to make the save at the second attempt as he dived on the loose ball before it could squirm into the goal.

It started a period of composed play by the young U’s side as they began to get a hold of the game in midfield and pressed the visitors back.

The home side were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the Clarets’ box on 18 minutes after a foul on George Brown and Charlie Edge’s well-flighted attempt was only kept out by a flying save from Beasant on to the bar.

It wasn’t all one-way traffic, though, as the Clarets kept working hard and kept Colchester pinned back into their own half for spells towards the end of the half.

However, like their hosts, they lacked the necessary cutting edge in the final third that would have earned them the lead.

It meant the half ended with both knowing they had had opportunities, but had not been able to get the opening goal they wanted.

With that in mind, it was Colchester who made the stronger start after the break and they almost went ahead with a lovely effort by Senior on 50 minutes after he cut across from the left and unleashed a wonderfully-struck shot that whistled just past the post.

Edge then went closer on 68 minutes as great work in the box saw him cut a shot back from an acute angle but the ball ricocheted off the post and away.

However, while it was Colchester who had most of the possession and the better of the chances, they still couldn’t find the quality needed to break the Clarets’ resolve and the game remained finely poised heading into the latter stages.

Chelmsford’s resilience in defence was rewarded in the 83rd minute when they finally broke the deadlock.

The goal came after a slip by Edge in the middle that allowed Daniel Green to break down the right for Chelmsford and Shaun Batt was well-placed to turn in his cross to put the visitors ahead.

It was a goal that killed the U’s hopes and the Clarets were able to see out the remaining minutes despite Tarryn Allarakhia and Decarrey Sherriff both going close in the closing minutes and Chelmsford’s cup defence continued into the last four.

Colchester United: Rene Gilmartin, George Brown, JJ Wilson, Diaz Wright, Cameron James, Will Wright, Luke Prosser (Tarryn Allarakhia 67), Charley Edge, Eli Phipps (Decarrey Sherriff 67), Tariq Issa, Courtney Senior.

Subs not used: Dominic Kurasik, Callum Sturgess.