ended their Northern Premier League season in style,
with an emphatic 4-0 victory over Marine and a hat-trick
from striker Chris Simm.
The fixture started on a poignant note with a minute’s
applause to mark the tragic death of seven-year-old
supporter Ciaran Geddes.
The team’s following performance would have made
young Ciaran proud as they controlled the game from
start to finish and ensured they ended the season a
remarkable 17 points ahead of runners-up, Northwich
John Danby was back in the Chester line-up, along with
Christian Smith and Alex Brown, replacing Matt Glennon,
Liam Brownhill and Antoni Sarcevic.
Brown had a lively game and had a shot cleared off the
line not long after kick-off. Soon after, Simm managed
to beat the offside trap, but his opening salvo was
easily saved by the Marine goalkeeper.
Simm was back in action soon after, playing his part
in the opening goal. He collected a pass from Robbie
Booth and unselfishly passed to Marc Williams, who had
no trouble putting the Blues ahead.
With Chester now on 99 goals scored in the season, it
was Simm’s turn to hit home the 100th goal on
the 39th minute. It was another Simm-Williams combination,
when Williams provided a good cross for Simm to head
home and double the scoreline.
And Simm then marked the centenary of goals with a fittingly
fantastic 25-yard shot into the corner. There was nothing
the Marine ‘keeper could have done to stop Chester
going 3-0 up.
By now the Blues were simply in the different class
from their opponents, who, admittedly, had nothing to
play for in this game. So when half-time came, Chester
fans were confidently relishing the delight of a season
ending with the Blues on top of the league on 100 points.
Marine weren’t without their chances, but the
Chester defence were resolute throughout and Danby was
only really called into making one good save. And by
then, the Blues were 4-0 up and coasting.
The fourth goal had been scored by that man Simm –
who became the first Chester player to score a hat-trick
in the 2011-12 season. And it was another quality goal,
when Simm collected a good ball from substitute Levi
Mackin, before hitting another thunderous strike into
the back of the net.
Chester hadn’t quite finished when Mattie McGinn
came inches close to scoring a fifth goal inside stoppage
time. His long-range strike would have been a fitting
end to the season, but it just crashed onto the crossbar
and went over.
That was just moments before the referee blew his whistle
to bring an end to an excellent season from Neil Young's
team. The Chester fans whose nerves had been shredded
at Garforth a year ago, were then rewarded with a trophy
presentation atop a stage, complete with Champagne and
blue-and-white paper streamers flying.
The team attempted to run the circuit of the pitch to
thank the faithful supporters, but they didn’t
quite make all sides of the ground when the exuberant
fans in the Harry Mac broke ranks and ran onto the field.
So it was cue the pitch invasion and a chance for everyone
to have their photo taken with their favourite championship
hero. It's been a great season to be a Chester fan,
now when does the 2012-13 season kick-off?
turned in a performance worthy of their champions status
as they dominated for much of this encounter to complete
the double over Chorley.
Neil Young made no less than five changes, some enforced,
from the side that beat Mickleover Sports on Saturday.
Iain Howard , Robbie Booth, Wes Baynes, Michael Taylor
and Levi Mackin all made the starting X1 in place of
Michael Wilde, Liam Brownhill, Christian Smith, Antoni
Sarcevic and Alex brown.
The Blues, kicking towards their 800+
supporters in the opening half made a dream start opening
the scoring after just six minutes as Robbie Booth’s
pass saw Chris Simm run through on goal, he rounded
‘keeper Russ Saunders and saw his goalbound shot
from a narrow angle cleared from the line by a defender
but the ball ran straight to the in rushing Howard who
scored with ease from a couple of yards.
Chester were bossing the early stages
and Marc Williams saw a header flash wide following
Howard’s cross. The woodwork came to the rescue
of The Magpies as Mackin was unlucky to see his long
range effort cannon back from the corner of the post
and crossbar to safety.
It wasn’t until midway through
the opening half before Chorley registered their first
effort as Matt Walwyn sent a shot wide from long range.
Andy Teague then sent a shot over from close range as
the Chester defence failed to clear their lines.
Seven minutes before the break Marc
Williams almost added a second when his swerving long
range shot hit the bar with Saunders well beaten. At
the other end, just two minutes later, Matt Glennon
made a great save to deny Walwyn and Michael Taylor
cleared the lines as Steve Foster homed in on the loose
Chorley saw a bit more of the possession
after the break. Ince blazed a free kick over the bar
and manager Flitcroft introduced John Cunliffe as the
home side looked to get on level terms.
Chester still created chances at the
other end though as Simm saw a shot fly wide following
a through ball from Marc Williams. The Blues finally
doubled their advantage on 67 minutes as Marc Williams
pounced at the back post after Wes Baynes’ near
post corner had been flicked on by Taylor.
With two minutes remaining Matt
Glennon was on hand to make a superb save to deny Cunliffe’s
goalbound strike and preserve another clean sheet for
14 April Mickleover
Sports 1 Chester 3
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League
Attendance: 660 Half Time 0-1
Mickleover Sports: Clarke, Ramsey-Dickson,
Hoyle, Walshe (Nwadike 74), McAughtrie, Wood, Graves,
Simpson (Farthing 80), Ashton, Guy (Smythe 74), Steadman.
Subs not used: Moon, Smith. Chester: Glennon, Brownhill, Horan,
Smith (Howard 71), McGinn, A.Williams, Brown (Mackin 60),
Sarcevic, M.Williams, Wilde, Simm (Booth 57). Subs not
used: Danby, Wright. Referee: Stuart England.
from Chris Simm, Robbie Booth and Iain Howard give Chester
three more points at Mickleover Sports. With the championship
sewn-up and the pressure off manager Neil Young made changes
to the side that drew with Northwich. In came Christian
Smith, Liam Brownhill, Ashley Williams and Chris Simm
who replaced Michael Taylor, Iain Howard, Wes Baynes and
The champions were given a guard of honour by the Mickleover
players as they took to the Raygar Stadium pitch. The
game started quietly with the home side having the opening
effort on 16 minutes when John Guy hit the post with a
free kick from the edge of the box. A minute later though
the Blues opened the scoring. Matty McGinn robbed Kristian
Ramsay of the ball on the edge of the box, he set up Antoni
Sarcevic who hit an inviting left-wing cross for Simm
to head home from close range.
The Blues pushed for a second. Alex Brown saw a 25-yarder
saved by Damon Clarke at the second attempt in the home
goal, and Sarcevic should have done better in the 34th
minute after being set up by good Alex Brown and Simm
play only for the midfielder to blaze the ball over from
Two minutes before
the break Michael Wilde missed a great opportunity to
double the lead heading Brownhill’s cross wide
from close range. The Blues almost paid for this mistake
in first half stoppage time when John Guy failed to
make a proper contact from a Karl Ashton throw in and
Matt Glennon saved.
Spurred by their chance at the end
of the first period, Mickleover carried on the pressure
after the break and Guy saw an effort cleared over the
bar by Brown four minutes after the restart.
Marc Williams saw an effort blocked
in the area after he latched onto a punched Clarke clearance.
Young made some substitutions and one of those Robbie
Booth, on for Simm, started and finished the move that
gave Chester a two goal advantage. The midfielder had
shot just wide on the post following a mazy run but
was on hand a minute later to score from close range
following a Sarcevic cross.
Booth saw another effort deflected
wide and Clarke was well placed to save a powerful Marc
Williams shot in the 72nd minute. With two minutes remaining
Mickleover pulled a goal back as Karl Ashton’s
shot from twelve yards went in off the post.
Chester wrapped up the points
in the last minute as Iain Howard scored the goal of
the game. Sarcevic passed to Howard who played a neat
one-two with Marc Williams before shooting powerfully
past Clarke for his eleventh goal of the season.
McGinn’s spectacular goal five minutes from time
secured the one point Chester needed to claim the title
and sparked prolonged celebrations at the Exacta Stadium
and on into the city.
McGinn, licensed to push further forward after Brownhill
came on for Sarcevic in the seventy-seventh minute, cut
in from the left and struck a sweet left-footed strike
into the far corner. For all long-suffering Cestrians
it was a sight to behold and remember always. I was right
in line with the flight of the ball as it beat the despairing
dive of the ‘keeper and when it hit the back of
the net I swear you would have been able to hear the roar
back to the City centre and beyond – who knows –
even as far a field as Widnes?
My feet didn’t touch the ground for the next few
minutes as the Harry Mac Terrace became a mass of riotous
joy and City played out the remaining minutes of the match
to make sure that the title was won. True, Michael Wilde
might even have notched a winning goal in that time, but
it mattered not when the final whistle blew and the game
City’s Cheshire rivals Northwich were the only team
capable of catching Chester after the weekend’s
results and proved doughty opponents once again. The Vics
played the better football and frustrated City without
creating a lot of scoring opportunities. It was a game
dominated by defences and City were rarely given the chance
to play the ball on the ground. When they did Brown and
Powell combined brilliantly and Sarcevic swept forward
but his touch let him down and the glimmer of a chance
No one was too disappointed with nil-nil at half time
as a point was all City needed but then Vics took the
lead shortly after the break. Horan and Clarke tangled
under a high ball and the referee awarded a free kick
Northwich's way. Field floated the ball to the far post
and Collins rose to head it across goal. The ball hit
the post and everyone seemed to hesitate for split second
before Armstrong popped up to head it home.
City hit back straight away and forced a corner –
there still seemed plenty of time to go but the anxious
tension began to be ratcheted up and the time dripped
relentlessly away until it looked like City would have
to claim the point they needed from another of the remaining
three matches. Neil Young freshened things up by throwing
on Booth and Simm. Only a last ditch block by Collins
prevented the latter from firing an equaliser. Horan’s
header from the following corner was cleared off the line
by a pair of defenders.
As the clock ticked down, Simm got behind the Vics defence
again. He was tripped by Kearney who earned a second yellow
card and the visitors were reduced to ten men. McGinn
hit the free kick well over the bar. He was not so profligate
a few minutes later as he skipped into the gap vacated,
not so much by Kearney but by full-back Law who limped
off shortly after Northwich scored. It was astute of Young
to spot the weakness and send Brownhill on to cover for
City’s top scorer timed his goal well – just
before the Man of the Match award was announced –
so he scooped that prize too. More importantly for City,
it earned a second successive promotion and probably brought
the club to parity with where they would have ended up
before their demise under the previous regime. A significant
achievement then, and one in which the manager and players
and officials, board members and supporters of this fan-owned
club can take immense pride and satisfaction. Northwich
themselves appear to be in a similar predicament off the
field to Chester’s darkest hour two years ago –
if they are able to follow the supporters’ trust-led
path to the future I would hope that City will lend them
support. The generosity and graciousness shown by their
fans who remained in their hundreds to applaud City’s
lap of honour deserves no less.
were made to fight all the way by a determined Stocksbridge
outfit attempting to avoid relegation, but first half
goals from Chris Simm and Robbie Booth paved the way for
three more points and a ninth successive victory.
Manager Neil Young was without the
suspended Michael Wilde and started with Jerome right,
Ashley Williams and Mark Williams in place of injured
Christian Smith, Iain Howard and Wilde.
The Blues got off to a great start
and scored the opening goal as early as the sixth minute
as Simm raced on to a Booth through ball from Booth,
rounded ‘keeper Ben Scott before coolly slotting
the ball home from an acute angle.
Chester continued to press and Matty
McGinn saw a long range effort well saved by Scott but
minutes later Chester doubled their advantage. George
Horan headed back a far post Wes Baynes corner for Booth
whose shot deflected past Scott from 18 yards out into
the bottom corner of the net.
Stocksbridge responded well and Jack
Muldoon saw an effort blocked by the Blues defence and
minutes later sent another effort just over the bar.
The busy striker saw another effort blocked by Michael
Taylor as the Steels finished the half strongly.
Seven minutes into the second half
the home side reduced the arrears with a deserved goal.
Matt Glennon did well to save and effort from substitute
Scott Hogan but the Blues defence failed to clear the
resulting corner and Daryl Weston netted from ten yards.
Chester looked nervous as the home
side began to exert more and more pressure in the closing
stages but Booth had a great chance to settle the nerves
but side-footed Marc Williams pass wide from close range.
However the defence, with Horan and Taylor outstanding,
held firm to take the Blues within a point of the title.
Manager Neil Young said: “It
was all about getting the three points on the board
here. If we didn’t win here and then didn’t
win on Monday then the pressure would have been right
on. So this was a massive three points for us –
in my opinion the biggest three points of the season.”
had to dig deep to record their eighth consecutive win
as they overcome the wintry conditions and their dogged
opponents to remain eleven points clear.
Manager Neil Young made a couple of changes from the team
that beat Whitby Town on Saturday as Chris Simm and Robbie
Booth started ahead of Marc Williams, who started on the
bench, and Antoni Sarcevic.
large away following had made the trip to Cumbria and
they saw Chester kicking up the Parkside Road slope
and into the win in the opening period. Iain Howard
almost brought a dream start hitting the bar after just
two minutes following good build up play by Robbie Booth.
Wilde saw a shot deflected wide before
the home side also struck the woodwork with a 25-yarder
from Adam Farrell bouncing back into play off the crossbar.
Matt Gannon was called into action
in the ninth minute as he tipped an Ashley Dunn effort
round the post as the hosts pressed. Two minutes later
though Chester were ahead as Simm had the simplest task
of scoring from close range after being set up with
a fine pass from Booth.
Gannon produced another fine save
to keep Chester's lead as he pushed an Ashley Dunne
free kick round the post for a corner.
The windy conditions were making play
difficult but it was Kendal who had the better opportunities.
Dunne shot inches wide and Farrell saw a free kick cleared
by the Blues defence. Gannon made another important
save on the stroke of half-time denying Rory Winters
with George Horan heading clear from the resulting corner
to ensure the Blues maintained their interval lead.
Despite having the slope and wind
advantage in the second half Chester struggled to take
advantage. Ian Kilford missed a great chance to equalise
for Kendal on the hour mark, moments later Michael Powell
shot over when well placed from 15 yards.
On 70 minutes Chester doubled their
advantage as Wes Baynes' corner was glanced goalwards
by Marc Williams with Christian Smith adding the final
touch at the far post.
Kendal continued to press with
Danny Williams seeing a long range effort fly over the
bar but it was Chester who has the last word three minute
from time as substitute Ashley Williams drove the ball
home from close range under the dive of Tom Newton following
a clever back-heel pass from Michael Wilde.