Town (H) |
Chester 0 Brackley
National League North Play-Off
Attendance: 4,479 (242 Brackley Town) Half Time: 0-0
Booked: Caton, Whitehouse, Weeks.
Chester: Tyrer, Brown, Weeks, Willoughby,
Dudley (Hall 72), Williams, Coates, Earl (Burke 61), Caton,
Whitehouse, Edwards. Subs not used: Kenyon, Nmai, Murray.
Brackley Town: Lewis, Carline, Calder,
Murombedzi, Walker, Cullinane-Liburd, Matwasa (Amantchi
76), Bates, Robinson, Stead, Richards. Subs not used:
Rooney, York, Woods, Smart.
Referee: Dale Baines.
fantastic season sadly ended in the most dismal way possible,
with a 1-0 defeat against Brackley Town in the National
League North play-off semi-final.
A sold-out Deva Stadium crowd of nearly
4,500, a terrific pre-match atmosphere and glorious
weather seemed to set the scene for the Blues to continue
their form and secure their spot in the play-off final.
But the players didn’t seem
to have read the script and it was a disappointing start
to the match, despite ‘King’ Kurt Willoughby
making his return to the starting X1 from injury.
Brackley’s height made them
a strong presence throughout and Chester didn’t seem
to play to their own strengths, with the ball being
in the air for much of the game.
The game didn’t really get going until
the last 25 minutes of the first half, with Chester’s
first serious attempt on goal coming with a free-kick
from captain Declan Weeks, which was cleared by Brackley
for a corner.
Brackley’s first real opportunity
in the opening 45 minutes then came to their well-travelled
striker Theo Robinson, who signed from Hartlepool in
April. But while he registered a shot on target, it
was easily held by Harry Tyrer.
Then just a few minutes before half-time
whistle was blown, much of the Deva Stadium thought
Willoughby had put the ball in the net with a terrific
header which went just wide of the post.
The Chester fans, though still nervy,
thought it would be ‘business as usual’
in the second half. The loud home crowd were creating
a fever pitch atmosphere, and the Blues did seem to
respond to their support.
Willoughby was soon into action, getting
into the box to pass to Anthony Dudley. But his strike
was parried by Brackley goalkeeper Danny Lewis, with
Charlie Caton failing to capitalise on the rebound.
Soon after, Brackley’s Robinson gave
Tyrer a stronger test, with the Everton loanee diving
to keep his strike away. Tyrer, who went on to be named
Chester’s man-of-the-match, was called on again to make
another good save from Cosmos Matwasa. Later he dived
to the top corner to make a top drawer stop from Jordan
But there was action at the other
end too, with Caton bringing on a save from Lewis and
Elliott Whitehouse having a shot which blazed over the
crossbar. Chester also won a corner from a Willoughby
strike, but the Blues still couldn’t get near the net.
And it was Brackley who broke the
deadlock on the 79th minute with an excellent pass to
George Carline, who found himself in plenty of space
on the right. His shot came from 20 yards out, and Tyrer
couldn’t do anything about it as the ball went into
the bottom corner.
Chester piled forward for the closing
spell, but they couldn’t find a way through the
rock-solid Brackley defence and even with five minutes
of added time, there was nothing they could do.
To double the disappointment
for Chester fans, a tiny minority of supporters in the
home end went onto the pitch at full-time to confront
the celebrating 242 Brackley supporters. But no-one
could deny that their team deserved their home final
tie against Kidderminster Harriers.
© Rick Matthews
photographs | Match