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Bradford Park Avenue (H) | Brackley Town (A)
Saturday 7 May
Brackley Town 0 Chester 0
National League North
Attendance: 955 (133 Chester) Half Time: 0-0
Booked: Sargent.

Brackley Town: Lewis, Myles, Lopes, Murombedzi, Lomas, Cullinane-Liburd, Prosser, Richards, Mitford (Lowe 65), Gordon (Ndlovu 65), Walker (Armson 81). Subs not used: Worby, Rolt.
Chester: Stanway, Roberts, Grand, Weeks, Livesey, Glendon, Stephenson, Burke, Dackers (Sargent 65), Heywood, Simmonds. Subs not used: Gray, Fitzpatrick, Williams, Roache.
Referee: Jamie O’Connor.

Danny Livesey made his 100th, and final start for Chester, and there was a senior debut for Ollie Heywood as the Blues completed their season with a draw at second placed Brackley Town.

Manager Steve Watson took charge for the final time and was forced into one change as Okera Simmonds replaced on-loan Rob Apter who was recalled by his parent club Blackpool.

After a very consistent season that saw them sit in the top three places for most of it, The Saints had already assured themselves of second place and home advantage in the play-off semi-final’s, as a result the game had little riding on it with supporters enjoying an end of season party atmosphere.

The home side enjoyed more of the possession, and many corners, in the opening stages without really threatening Wyll Stanway in the Blues goal. When the young ‘keeper was called into action blocking a Tre Mitford effort the ball fell to Jordan Richards whose shot on goal was deflected for another flag-kick.

Chester went close twice in the dying stages of the first half as Simmonds shot straight at Danny Lewis in the brackley goal before Heywood saw an effort clear the crossbar by not much!

Stanway pulled off a fine save to deny Fabio Lopes early in the second period before pulling off another save to prevent substitute Matt Lowe from opening the scoring. Livesey was well placed to clear an effort off the line from substitute Lee Ndlovu with 20 minutes remaining.

Up the other end Simmonds had Chester’s only real late effort of note seeing his volley well saved following a George Glendon free-kick.

The closing minutes belonged to Stanway who produced two fine saves to deny both Jimmy Armson and Lowe and secure Chester’s point and a third successive clean sheet to end the season.

Picture © Rick Matthews

Final League Table | Match photographs |
Match highlights [YouTube]
Monday 2 May
Chester 4 Bradford (Park Avenue) 0
National League North
Attendance: 1,899 Half Time: 1-0
Booked: -.

Chester: Stanway, Roberts, Livesey (Williams 88), Grand, Fitzpatrick, Burke (Sargent 85), Weeks, Glendon, Apter, Dackers (Simmonds 71), Stephenson. Subs not used: Gray, Roache.
Bradford (Park Avenue): Sykes-Kenworthy, Ross, Hinds, Odunston, Havern, Fielding (Windass 75), Knight, Toulson, Dockerty (Clee 70), Johnson, Hopper (Mottley-Henry 55). Subs not used: Hall, Ragan.
Referee: M.Corlett.

The Blues and Steve Watson signed off the home campaign in style at the Deva as they thrashed Bradford PA 4-0.

It could have begun horribly however when Kev Roberts scuffed a back pass to Stanway and Lewis Knight latched on to it for the visitors. But Stanway advanced and blocked the forward’s shot on the edge of his area. Roberts shortly made amends as he beat Johnson down the right and crossed. The ball looped up off a defender and was headed on by Glendon. Dackers shielded it for Apter to strike inside the left post to give City the lead.

Earlier in Watson’s tenure, Chester had run rings round Bradford at the Horsfall Stadium only to contrive to lose the game one-nil. The Blues were in no mood to be as profligate this time and Danny Livesey, making his swansong at the Deva having announced his retirement earlier, had the ball in the net soon afterwards. It was disallowed for a push on a defender however and the score remained 1-0 at half-time with Chester having had most of the attacking play. But Avenue had pressed City’s defenders high up the field and threatened as the ball was passed around the back on a bumpy and at times unpredictable pitch.

City did indeed double their lead six minutes into the second half after Dackers found Apter on the right. The winger’s shot was saved by Sykes-Kenworthy but Roberts, lurking in unfamiliar territory, tapped the rebound home.

After this Avenue capitulated as City came forward again and again and might have had a bag full of goals along with the two more that they did manage. Apter had a field day and should have added to his tally when he dribbled through almost the whole Bradford defence. Livesey finished a move by striking a shot that the keeper deflected on to the crossbar. Weeks in particular gave a masterclass of midfield play. As he picked his way into the Bradford area and shot, his effort was blocked on the line and Dackers, as the ball ran loose, scored City’s third.

Weeks was not to be denied a mention on the scoresheet though. He added a fourth when Stephenson crossed from the left and he saw his first shot saved before picking up the loose ball and walking it into the net from a tight angle.

The match ended in carnival atmosphere as the Harry Mac chanted that if Livesey scored they would be on the pitch. Danny had to be content not with a goal but a standing ovation and the Man of the Match award as he was withdrawn a couple of minutes before the final whistle to bring down the curtain on his Deva Stadium playing days.

As the final whistle went, first children and then all and sundry went on to the pitch to salute the players. Dackers was surrounded with youngsters seeking selfies with him whilst Stephenson was enveloped by a posse singing his song. It was a bitter-sweet ending given the uncertainty caused by the news this week that Watson will not be staying at the Deva after this season. Perhaps this was the last we would see in blue and white stripes of many of these players, no-one knows at the moment. At least what has been in many ways a disappointing campaign ended at home in the sun with a good win.

Only a trip to Brackley on Saturday awaits – with nothing important on the line – Gateshead secured the championship today.

Colin Mansley

Picture © Rick Matthews

League table after this match | Match photographs | Match highlights [YouTube]




































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