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Banbury United (H) | Peterborough Sports (A) | Scarborough Athletic (H) | Farsley Celtic (A) | Hereford (A) | Spennymoor Town (H)
Saturday 24 February
Chester 1 Spennymoor Town 1
National League North
Attendance: 2,312 Half Time: 1-1
Booked: Thomas.

Chester: Stanway, Burke, Williams, Roberts, Woodthorpe, Whitehouse, Glendon, Weeks, Murray (Taylor 72), Peers (Caton 68), Norton (Thomas 83). Subs not used: Coates, Edwards.
Spennymoor Town: James, Lufudu, Staunton, Mbeka, Ramshaw, Pollock, Greenfield, McKeown (Chimalilo 90), Dolan, Ndjoli (Harris 32), Shrimpton. Subs not used: Fielding, Shanks, Ledger.
Referee: TBA.

Chester take the lead through Christian Norton but are held at home by Spennymoor.

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Tuesday 20 February
Hereford 1 Chester 1
National League North
Attendance: 2,270 (207 Chester) Half Time: 0-1
Booked: Stanway, Burke, Williams, Robetrs, Whitehouse, Glendon, Peers.
Sent-off: Weeks.

Hereford: Pond, Skinner, Hudson, Teixeira (Lyden 69), Downing, Babos, Cowley, Williams, Mendes, Cameron, Howkins. Subs not used: Kouhyar, Southern, Rooney, Phillips.
Stanway, Burke, Williams, Roberts, Woodthorpe, Whitehouse, Glendon, Weeks, Murray (Heywood 61), Tollitt, Peers. Subs uot used: Norton, Hall, Okeke, Edwards.
Referee: L.Corbett.

Honours even after a game of two halves at Edgar Street.

Picture © Rick Matthews

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Saturday 17 February
Farsley Celtic 1 Chester 2
National League North
Attendance: 959 Half Time: 1-0
Booked: Woodthorpe, Weeks.

Farsley Celtic: Leban, Assenso, Smith (Rowe 79), Evans (Adewoju 79), Atkinson, Allan, Turner, Atkinson, Donaldson, Coulson, Leverett. Subs not used: Watson, Wilson, Silva.
Stanway, Okeke (Heywood 82), Burke, Roberts, Woodthorpe, Whitehouse, Murray, Glendon, Weeks, Tollitt (Norton 75), Peers. Subs not used: Taylor, Hall, Edwards.
Referee: G.Thomas.

Goals from Ben Tollitt and Elliott Whitehouse complete a second half combeack at The Citadel.

Picture © Rick Matthews

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Saturday 10 February
Chester 3 Scarborough Athletic 0
National League North
Attendance: 2,158 (195 Scarborough) Half Time: 1-0
Booked: Murray.

Chester: Stanway, Woodthorpe, Roberts, Williams, Burke, Whitehouse, Glendon, Weeks, Murray (Tollitt 61), Norton (Caton 54), Peers. Subs not used: Taylor, Hall, Okeke.
Scarborough Athletic:
Whitley, Weledji, Maloney, Thornton, Gooda, McHale (Tear 78), Purver (Mulhern 61), Green (Rutledge 61), Colville, Wiles, Brown. Subs not used: Cracknell, Sukar.
Referee: Darren Rogers.

After three consecutive draws the Blues needed to get back to winning ways. They duly obliged against play-off rivals Scarborough, leapfrogging them into third place in the table.

New loan signing Ben Tollitt lined up on the bench while Norton partnered Peers up front. Kev Roberts made a welcome return after injury to the back line. Chester began on the front foot and pushed the visitors back for the first dozen minutes at the end of which they had taken the lead. Elliott Whitehouse scored his second penalty in as many matches following his late goal at Peterborough on Tuesday to rescue a point. This one was awarded when Roberts’ half-volley from a corner was fended away by a defender’s elbow.

Blues continued to dominate and showed some lovely approach play but not too many clear cut chances as a result. Norton’s pace and movement off the ball and Murray’s quickness of touch added to Chester’s attacking élan. Purver was booked for bringing down the latter from behind. Another attacking flurry culminated in Weeks’ spectacular shot arcing narrowly wide of the right hand upright.

Gradually, the Seadogs got a foothold in the game and the first half finished with the visitors dominating and knocking at the door of Chester’s defence. They forced a succession of corners as they pinned City back and as the ball was recirculated from one of them Weledji headed Maloney’s cross goal-wards but Stanway tipped it over the bar.

Ten minutes or so after the break Chester introduced more firepower into the attack as first Caton came on to replace Norton – who’d seen a half-volley dip wide of the post – shortly followed by Tollitt who came on for Murray. The Oldham loanee made an almost instant impact as he helped the ball through to Peers. It seemed like Gooda was shepherding the ball out but Peers picked his pocket and crossed into the danger area. Keeper Whitley palmed it away but only as far as Glendon who dispatched the ball into the back of the net.

The second goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of Scarborough and give City a second wind. Tollitt fired a couple of venomous strikes in at goal as he hit the ground running. Defender Thornton was shown a second yellow card after he nudged Caton into the sidelines to prevent a counter attack. Burke had the ball in the net following up from one of Tollitt’s half-saved efforts but was ruled offside. Then in stoppage time Tollitt’s pass found Glendon whose teasing cross was walked in to the net by Peers at the far post.

It was a pleasing win which promises much but Calum McIntyre refused to get carried away with it afterwards neither calling attention to the league table nor getting drawn into fist-pumping by the Harry Mac. He knows that only building on the result in the remaining fixtures will be enough to secure a play-off place.

Colin Mansley

Picture © Rick Matthews

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Tuesday 6 February
Peterborough Sports 1 Chester 1
National League North
Attendance: 213 Half Time: 0-0
Booked: Heywood, Glendon, Peers.

Peterborough Sports: Crook, Ahui, Fryatt, Fowkes, McCammon, Jarvis (Nicholson 79), Alban-Jones, Fox, Felix, Gash, McAuley. Subs not used: Miles, Pereira, Tootle, Johnson.
Stanway, Heywood (Murray 79), Burke, Williams, Woodthorpe, Taylor, Whitehouse, Glendon, Weeks, Caton, Peers. Subs not used: Windsor, Norton, Hall, Okeke.
Referee: Alex Sawden.

A last minute Elliott Whitehouse penalty earned a point at Peterborough Sports after the home side had themselves taken a late lead.

The extremely wet weather conditions, and a heavy pitch, made it difficult for both teams for the entire 90 minutes. Chester started well and Ollie Heywood found himself in pace after just two minutes, with Peter Crook in the home goal alert to palm away the defenders effort.

A quick breakaway from the Turbines saw Wyll Stanway called into action to stop an effort from Josh McCammon and concede a corner. The home side almost broke the deadlock as player-manager Michael Gash met a Dan Jarvis corner to head against the post.

Five minutes before the break Sports broke quickly again as Jarvis saw an effort saved by Stanway, the ball fell to Ben Fowkes whose follow-up was cleared off the line by Joel Taylor.

Stanway was busy again soon after the restart saving well from both Jarvis and Hugh Alban-Jones.

The home side broke the deadlock on 73 minutes as a Jarvis pass found the unmarked Josh McCammon who beat Stanway from just inside 20 yards.

With the game entering the final minute Chester were handed a lifeline. A short corner was crossed by Declan Weeks for Harrison Burke to meet it with a header, his effort hit the post and rebounded to Tom Peers was was subsequently fouled in the box.

Whitehouse stepped up to send Crook the wrong way to convert the spot-kick and earn a valuable point.

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Saturday 3 February
Chester 1 Banbury United 1
National League North
Attendance: 2,208 (32 Banbury) Half Time: 1-0
Booked: Whitehouse.

Chester: Stanway, Okeke, Burke, Williams, Woodthorpe, Taylor, Whitehouse, Glendon, Weeks, Caton (Hall 82), Peers. Subs not used: Windsor, Norton, Daly, Heywood.
Banbury United:
Harding, Davies, Maye, Waller, Fleming, Elliott-Wheeler (Giles 50), D’Ath, Hewitt (Fitzhugh 46), Wilson, Johnson, Maja. Subs not used: Scott, Othman, Whyman.
Referee: Charles Martland.

The 1-1 result of this entertaining match was hugely frustrating one for Chester in which they didn’t reap the rewards their creative attacking merited.

On a gloomy overcast St Werburgh’s Day, City dominated the Puritans and carved out several attempts on goal. Peers had the first shot in anger as he turned Charlie Waller and fired a shot towards the corner. Veteran keeper Jack Harding stuck out an instinctive arm to deflect it over the bar. Blues did make the breakthrough their lively start deserved when, after working the ball across from the left, Burke feinted and created space to put Glendon through on the right of the area. Chester’s captain found the far corner of the net with a clinical finish.

It seemed that this goal might be the harbinger of many more. One, Waller header on target aside, City totally dominated play for the duration of the half and went close to adding to their lead. Peers went just the wrong side of the near post cross and then from a corner. Whitehouse appeared to be wiped out in the penalty area by Waller’s challenge but only a corner ensued. Then as half time approached the Puritans’ goal survived a triple scare. Okeke crossed for Caton’s header to be cleared off the line, the rebound was again blocked before Weeks hit a screaming half volley goal-wards only to be denied by the flailing arm of Harding.

Harding, the only Banbury player who played in this fixture last season, smiled as the Harry Mac greeted him (Not very charitably) for the second half. Hewitt was replaced by FitzHugh for the visitors as they sought to tighten up after the break. They succeeded in restricting City’s shooting opportunities and ability to get behind their defence to a greater extent. And as they hung on in the game they grew in belief. The lively FitzHugh (Recently released by Leicester City) it was who won for them a game-changing penalty kick on the break. Burke seemed to have won the ball with his tackle but the compounding collision with Stanway persuaded the referee to award a spot kick. Emmanuel Maja’s stuttering run sent Stanway the wrong way and he slotted home the equaliser.

There was still time for City to respond. Burke headed Okeke’s cross narrowly wide. Then from a short corner routine, Taylor’s clever turn gave him the chance to shoot. The wing back was unlucky to see his effort cannon down off the crossbar and across the goal to safety.

The final dramatic twist of the afternoon took place deep into stoppage time as the Blues were awarded a penalty when Weeks went down under a challenge from Fleming. But Glendon’s kick was parried by Harding and scrambled clear – leaving the home following crushingly disappointed. Calum McIntyre reflected his and his team’s frustration at the two points that slipped away. It increases the pressure in what is becoming a tightly congested queue for play-off places this season.

Colin Mansley

Picture © Rick Matthews

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