the fine victory over Darlington on Saturday, Chester
named an unchanged side for the visit to Gateshead.
The Blues started well following the long journey north,
John Johnston saw an early shot go just wide before
another effort moments later from the same played was
saved by Brad James in the home goal.
Russell Griffiths was called into action to push away
a Jordan Preston effort as the Heed came to life. Anthony
Dudley set Johnston up for another effort on goal with
the Blues forward forcing James into another save to
keep the scores level.
If Chester had the better of a scrappy first half it
was a different story after the break. After a succession
of corners the home side opened the scoring on 65 minutes.
Barrow slipped a pass to Jordan Preston who curled a
fine shot past Griffiths giving the ‘keeper no
Joel Taylor saw an effort saved before Chester conceded
a second goal on 74 minutes as Ruairi Keating headed
home from another corner. The Blues brought on three
substitutes two minutes later but were unable to mount
any threat on a very disappointing night in the north
signing John Johnston went straight in to Chester’s
side today and helped them to a convincing win against
The Quakers had been moving up the table ever since
their defeat of the Blues under dodgy floodlights back
in early December, going on to win six of the seven
matches since including, impressively, at York. So they
took the field dressed as a team of Dennis the Menaces
in their red and black hoops full of confidence. The
Blues, on the other hand had been suffering a bit of
a wobble on the road with defeat in the Trophy to Royston
and a goalless stalemate at Leamington.
Chester began on the front foot as a long throw from
Taylor caused confusion in the visitors’ box.
Johnston fired the loose ball narrowly wide. Darlington
showed their abilities to move the ball around quickly
and City were grateful when Campbell was caught offside
when through. Taylor whipped in a great cross from the
left but Asante couldn’t reach it as the game
developed an end to end quality. Then Jackson picked
up a loose ball on the halfway line and put his head
down to run at goal from a central position. He was
pushed a little to the right but then unleashed a powerful
cross shot which found the far corner. It was a superb
individual goal and gave City a much needed fillip.
The visitors responded with an attack which saw a lofted
ball from the left going over the last Chester defender
but also beyond the blind-side run of Donowa. The game
continued to be hard fought with Gary Roberts employing
plenty of his guile in midfield and Stopforth working
hard alongside him to make sure City were quickest to
the second ball. Johnston too was making an industrious
debut, tackling back to help in defence as well as lively
going forward. When he tried a nutmeg on the edge of
his own box, however, it nearly came unstuck as Darlington
pressed for an equaliser. City’s defending though
was top notch as they blocked a flurry of shots that
On the stroke of half time Grand had a great chance
to increase the lead as he knocked the ball over a defender
and waited for it to come down. Alas not quite long
enough and his snatched volley blazed over the bar.
Not long after the break City scored twice in a few
minutes to take the game away from the Quakers. First
Taylor’s right wing cross eluded everyone except
Asante who gleefully stabbed it home from a couple of
yards. Then after Jackson had run rings round Jordan
Watson and won a free kick, Taylor’s curling delivery
was met by Livesey’s stooping header for Chester’s
third goal of the afternoon.
Livesey’s bravery resulted in a head wound for
which he received lengthy treatment and another Terry
Butcher-esque headband. He resumed playing but was replaced
by Jones towards the end.
The Blues continued to dominate and started to play
a bit. Johnston set up Gary Roberts for a shot from
outside the box and Elliott tipped it round the post.
At the other end City continued to defend heroically
with every effort to block Darlo’s shots. Grand
inadvertently blocked a goal-bound effort from Dudley
at the other end, and was even given offside for his
This welcome result was greeted warmly at the final
whistle. Two difficult trips to Gateshead and York lie
ahead next week so the gathering of three points now
gives a bit of breathing space in City’s quest
18 January Leamington
0 Chester 0 National
Attendance: 865 Half Time: 0-0
Leamington: Weaver, English, Morley,
Clarke, Mace, Lane, Anderson, Maycock, Bremang, Edwards,
Taylor (Dunbar 90). Subs not used: Gittings, Murphy, McFarlane,
Martin. Chester: Griffiths, K.Roberts, Taylor,
Grand, Jones, Livesey, Jackson, G.Roberts, Dudley, Glendon
(Asante 64), Stopforth. Subs not used: Burton, Elliott,
Ngwatala, Hughes. Referee: Scott Simpson.
fans hoping for a response from the team after last Saturday’s
disappointing exit from the FA Trophy at the hands of
Royston town were largely let down by this visit to Leamington.
If it was Chester’s
game plan to return with a point, then it could be chalked
up as a success. But it was a scrappy affair and the
Blues were in danger of returning north with nothing
again to show for their travels.
The Chester fans who found their way
to one of the most isolated ground you’ll come
across were heartened to hear that Akwasi Asante was
on the bench. Matty Waters and Matty Hughes were replaced
in the starting line-up by Joel Taylor and Danny Livesey.
While the initial action was at Leamington’s
end, with Chester shooting into the bright winter sunshine,
the Brakes made no real impression in the opening spell.
As Chester tried to threaten cap-clad Leamington goal
keeper Jake Weaver, they won four corners in a row.
But the defence always had the better of them, and when
the half time whistle blew the closest Chester had come
to scoring was from a Livesey header tipped over the
crossbar by Weaver.
The second half was a more lively
encounter with Taylor twice coming close to finding
the net for Chester. Anthony Dudley also had a strike,
which was held onto by Weaver. Asante did come onto
the field on the 64th minute, but he mainly made a nuisance
of himself without being a serious goal threat.
Leamington thought they had notched
up a goal when Jack Edwards put the ball in the net,
but it was disallowed for off-side. Another Chester
second-half chance came with a Gary Roberts’ free
kick, but Livesey headed the ball over the bar.
The home side had Chester nerves jangling
as the game drew to a close, but it ended honours even.
Not only did this result mean Chester have still never
won against Leamington but – on a personal note
– it left this Exile with a sorry record of three
post-Christmas Chester matches without even a goal for
match will have to go down as one of my worst ever Chester
match experiences – with the dismal performance
only being tempered by a new ground to ‘tick off’,
a welcoming set of home supporters and a chance to catch
up with some fellow southern-based Exiles.
Garden Walk home of Royston Town sits on a quiet estate
on the edge of town, just a short stroll away from the
Exiles’ pre-match meeting point where younger
fans were talking carelessly about the Blues being only
four ties from Wembley.
But long-standing Chester fans knew
better, and as we walked into the compact ground, with
its tiny stand, small covered terraced and sloping pitch,
there was a feeling that anything could happen. However,
I’m not sure anyone would have predicted a 3-0
win for the Crows!
In truth the result in this FA Trophy
second round match was no more than the Southern League
Premier Central team deserved. The home side started
the game in confident fashion, and any outsider would
have found it impossible to pick which team was the
highest in the football pyramid.
Chester were without injured strikers
Akwasi Asante and George Waring, and didn’t seem
to have a game plan to threaten the goal without them.
It was Royston who seemed likeliest to score first,
with Russ Griffiths make a good save to deny Gus Scott-Morriss
in the opening spell.
The wind started picking up and both
sides had a couple of wild strikes over the bar before
Chester’s best chance of the game came to Anthony
Dudley. A good cross from Brad Jackson fell well for
Dudley who was just a few yards out. But goalkeeper
Harry Smart parried his strike out, and Matty Waters
couldn’t find the net with the rebound.
Just before the referee blew for half-time,
Chester defender James Jones did well to head a Royston
strike off the line to keep the scores level as the
two sets of supporters, making up the crowd of 818,
swapped ends during the interval.
There was very little action for the
travelling fans to see at close hand in the second half,
with Royston captain Matt Bateman scoring with a header
on 51st minute. Soon after another header –
this time from Josh Castiglione –
made it 2-0 for the hosts. There can be no excuses
for Chester, who had the wind behind them in the second
half, but barely seemed to advance the ball in the right
Chester made a double substitution
on the 67th minute, with Danny Elliott coming on for
Matty Hughes and Joel Taylor replacing Gary Stopforth.
Soon after, academy graduate Will Goodwin made his senior
debut when he replaced Waters.
But as a contingent of the Chester
fans were enjoying a spot of banter with the Royston
youngsters who were sitting in stand behind the goal,
the match went out of reach of the visitors. Bateman
found himself in space again to score his second headed
goal and end Chester’s Wembley dream for another
I’m sure there’ll be another
healthy away following when the Blues travel to Leamington
on Saturday, but the travelling fans will be expecting
a response to this defeat with a better performance
– to be honest,
they can hardly do any worse!
7 January Chester
1 Stockport Town 0
Cheshire Senior Cup Round 2
Attendance: 321 Half Time: 0-0
Danny Elliott scores a 55th
minute winner as Chester progress in the Cheshire Senior
4 January Guiseley
0 Chester 1 National
Attendance: 1,029 Half Time: 0-1
Booked: Hughes, Stopforth.
Guiseley: Dewhurst, McNally, Nicholson,
Jones, Bencherif, Digie, Felix (Newall 90), Cantrill (Smith
46), Sang, Soleman, Johnson (Shaw 69). Subs not used:
Barkers, Clayton. Chester: Griffiths, Grand, Jones, Waters,
K.Roberts, Stopforth, G.Roberts, Jackson, Dudley (Taylor
84), Asante (Waring 61), Hughes (Glendon 84). Subs not
used: Ngwatala, Elliott. Referee: Andy Sykes.
from their victory over Southport on new Year’s
Day, Chester named an unchanged side for the visit to
Guiseley and made a bright start at Nethermoor. Anthony
Dudley and James Jones both saw early efforts on goal
before Jones opened the scoring after just 11 minutes.
Matty Waters cross from the right found Jones at the far
post and he headed past Marcus Dewhurst into the Guiseley
net to give the Blues the perfect start.
Chester, by and large, were having the better of a scrappy
first half though Guiseley created chances with Simon
Grand blocking the best effort from Gabriel Johnson.
Grand almost doubled the lead heading onto the crossbar
following another dangerous Waters corner.
second half started slowly, Dewburts cleared a Dudley
effort off the line, the striker followed that up minutes
later wit a curling shot just over the bar.
Gary Roberts sent Bradley Jackson through with a fine
pass but Jackson’s effort was deflected just wide.
The home side finished strong and it took two superb
challenges from gary Roberts and Kevin Roberts to deny
the home side a late equaliser.
1 January Chester
4 Southport 0 National
Attendance: 1,928 Half Time: 1-0
Chester: Griffiths, K.Roberts, Grand,
Jones, Waters, Stopforth, G.Roberts (Ngwatala 74), Dudley,
Jackson (Waring 83), Asante, Hughes (Elliott 78). Subs
not used: Morgan, Taylor. Southport: Albinson, Mohammed, Doyle
(Homson-Smith 13), Winnard, Astles, Morgan (Correia 59),
Benjamin, Wood, Green, Sampson, Ogle. Subs not used: Woods,
Oliver, Bauress. Referee: John Kenny.
New Year dawned but the playlist at the 1885 Arena was
decidedly retro. The Seekers, Rolling Stones and Freddie
and the Dreamers serenaded sets of both supporters
as they took their places for the return leg of the Boxing
Day fixture which City had rather surprisingly won 3-1.
In between Chester had come unstuck at home to Curzon
Ashton who took the points back to Greater Manchester
with them. So what kind of performance would it turn out
to be today?
Five changes to the previous line up were made including
a welcome return of Brad Jackson whose attacking prowess
was sorely missed on Saturday. He it was who provided
an early chance for Asante. After powering down the right
he crossed for the Chester number nine to glance a header
narrowly wide. In the process Southport’s left back
Doyle was injured and had to be replaced by Homson-Smith.
Griffiths had to be alert to deny Sampson early on as
he broke into the box. The City custodian saved at his
feet. Then Devarn Green deceived Waters down the right
and passed inside to Morgan who helped it on but Homson-Smith
scooped his shot over the bar.
Hughes did well and forced a save from Albinson who conceded
a corner. Waters took it from the right and after being
told to move the ball back a couple of inches by the linesman
whipped a cross into the box. Albinson got both hands
to it but it continued to the far post where Grand nodded
into the gaping net to open the scoring.
Southport replied with a stinging shot from a direct free
kick just outside the box. Griffiths punched it away from
just under the bar and the ball went for a throw in. After
the break City came forward urgently and pressed home
their advantage after Jackson had won another corner on
the right. Again Waters took it (And again the linesman
got him to roll the ball back). Gary Roberts picked up
the clearance and worked it back to Jackson sitting deep.
His ball forward found Asante who touched it to Dudley
and he in turn found Hughes. The latter’s shot was
saved a full stretch by Albinson but Asante was quickest
to anticipate and knocked in the rebound for Chester’s
City were well on top now and forced a succession of corners.
Asante had a shot blocked as Southport defended desperately.
Then saw another shot saved as the Blues swept forward
through Jackson again. Dudley’s intelligent ball
put Asante through once more but Albinson recovered well
to deny him as the rampant centre forward tried to steer
the ball round him to finish.
Jackson sat deep once again from another Waters corner
and the ball was worked back to him via Stopforth, allowing
him to run at the defence and cross to the far post for
Jones. His header down was picked up and thumped home
by Dudley lurking on the edge of the box. The game was
now firmly in City’s grasp.
Jackson then crashed a shot against the foot of the post
as City came forward relentlessly and Dudley went close
a couple of times as Chester picked the Sandgrounders
apart with ease.
Chester’s fourth and final goal came from another
corner on the right. The ball came back out to Waters
whose cross into the box was picked up by Asante. With
his back to goal the strong centre-forward held off a
couple of defenders to turn and shoot into the corner.
His celebrations spoke volumes about how much he was enjoying
himself. He was denied a hat trick as his header from
another corner was headed off the line and Grand’s
follow-up was parried by Albinson.
As far as City fans were concerned it was the perfect
start to the New Year and they went home feeling glad
all over as the Dave Clark Five and the rest of the Sixties
playlist rang around again.