Chester progressed to the first round of the FA Trophy
with a hard fought and deserved win at Southern Premier
League side Stourbridge. A gusty swirling wind made conditions
difficult at the War Memorial Athletic Ground but it was
Chester who adapted the better in the opening period with
the wind at their backs.
Around 500 supporters made the trip the the Black Country
housed in two temporary seated stands at each end of the
ground, the gap in between being occupied by the cricket
wicket on this three sided ground.
With both sides on form it was always
going to be a tight game with chances were at a premium.
The home side created the first opening with Nathan
Bennett heading over from an in swinging corner.
Chester did have the ball in the net
after eight minutes though as Michael Powell crashed
home a powerful shot from the edge of the box only to
have his effort ruled out by the linesman’s flag,
presumable for another player encroaching offside.
Shortly before the break the home
side had a great chance to take the lead. A slip by
George Horan let striker Ryan Rowe through on goal but
he sent a weak shot straight at the out rushing John
Danby much to the relief of the Chester fans in the
At the other end Matty McNeil flicked
a header over and Iain Howard drilled a cross right
across the box but no one could add the finishing touch.
Within minutes of the restart Powell sent in another
powerful shot that Solly in the Stour goal was well
positioned to parry away.
Rowe had another opportunity ten minutes
after the break chasing through onto a long through
ball but, with Danby back peddling, he couldn’t
keep his lob shot from the edge of the box down and
it sailed high and wide on the wind.
The first goal was always going to
be crucial and it was the Blues who finally broke the
deadlock on 68 minutes when the home side failed, with
three attempts, to clear the danger before the ball
fell to the lively Howard who drilled the ball home
past Solly from the left.
The home side, managed by former City
player Gary Hackett, pushed forward for an equaliser
but it was Chester who found the net again to seal victory
with ten minutes remaining. Ashley Baynes’ corner
was half cleared to Christian Smith, his ball back into
the danger zone found McNeil who poked the ball over
the line despite a desperate goal-line clearance the
linesman indicated the ball had crossed the line.
crept to the top of the table with this unconvincing
win over Ashton.
These sides had already met twice this season in cup
competitions, and as City had won them both, there may
have been a danger of complacency. But Chester certainly
set about their task in business-like manner and pinned
the visitors back into their own half for long periods.
Ellison had a hat trick of chances to give the Blues
the lead but had no luck. The closest call came when
his first time strike hit the post after McNeil had
nodded the ball down.
City finally made the breakthrough when Brownhill, seeing
plenty of the ball on the right, carried it forward
and instead of crossing let fly from thirty yards. His
shot flew low into the far corner of the net beyond
Smith’s full stretch drive. It was a wonderful
goal with which to open his Chester account and Brownhill
was clearly delighted. He was still glad-handing with
colleagues by the time Ashton restarted.
The match had been so one-sided up to now it seemed
certain that the second half would lead to a procession
of City attacks. But it proved not to be the case as
Ashton shored up their defence and, if anything, brought
the game to Chester. Armardi – introduced as a
sub after half time – proved a handful down the
left and pinned Brownhull back compared with the first
half. With more luck they might even have bagged an
equaliser – Madeley came closest when he finished
a sweeping move down the right with a downward header
that Danby did well to parry on the rebound. Central
defender Melling also headed over when well placed.
The Blues had chances too but all too often the final
pass was misplaced; set pieces were wasted and a frustrating
half was endured. City defended deeply and often left
no one upfield when defending a corner. In the dying
minutes Howard ran almost the length of the pitch with
the ball as Chester broke away but Smith blocked his
shot and the agony for City fans continued for the four
minutes of stoppage time until the final whistle.
What went wrong with City in the second half it was
hard to say but they made heavy weather of this win.
Perhaps it was fatigue; or nerves as the top of the
league beckoned. Robbie Booth was certainly missed,
as was Simm’s energy but in the end Chester did
enough to edge out the victory in front of another impressive
crowd of over two thousand.
The Gladiators came to Deva, battle commenced and the
spectators were treated to an absorbing encounter. In
the end Chester appeared to have won quite comfortably
but this was harsh on Matlock.
City were buoyed by the return of Antoni Sarcevic, signed
in the last couple of days from Crewe. But on the other
hand Baynes was injured in the warm up and Simm also injured
was not in the line up either.
Matlock made the play-offs last year and showed that they
were no mugs, passing the ball around well and looked
to be a solid unit. Booth had an early sighter for Chester
but shot wide after a good run. Then the visitors retaliated
when their blonde central defender saw an opening on the
edge of the box but also shot wide.
Gradually City turned up the pressure as the Gladiators
defended deeply and in numbers. Good work on the left
saw a McGinn cross cleared out to the right. From there
Brownhill launched another cross deep to the far post
where McNeil leapt to nod in off the bar. McNeil had already
proved a handful for the opposition with his deceptive
ability to hold the ball and lay it off constructively.
Later he combined brilliantly with Brownhill who was unfortunate
to see his shot rebound off the foot of the post.
McNeil doubled City’s advantage shortly after the
break when he did really well to hold two defenders off
as he controlled the ball in the box and then tickled
it past a wrong-footed keeper.
Matlock refused to give in and had plenty of possession
without making any clear cut chances – Taylor and
Horan stood firm in the centre of defence and they were
well protected by a combative midfield in which Brown,
Powell and Sarcevic in particular worked strenuously to
wrest the ball back. As the game wore on the result seemed
inevitable but the introduction of fresh legs in the form
of Howard, Holden and Wilde gave City increasing momentum
going forward. Howard went close with a couple of efforts
– one wide and one great save from Kennedy –
but then Holden burst through and clipped a superb chip
over Kennedy which came down off the underside of the
bar. First reactions were that it had rebounded to safety
but the linesman indicated it had crossed the line and
as a roar rose from the main stand we turned to see him
haring back for the re-start.
The coup de gras was delivered a couple of minutes later
by Michael Wilde. His majestic header from Howard’s
deep cross was worth the price of admission on its own.
City’s fiftieth league goal of the season announced
that Wilde was back with a vengeance.
Gridlock ensued in the roads around the Exacta Stadium
afterwards but at least those who had stayed to the end
had the memory of two excellent goals to savour as they
joined the melee of Christmas shoppers.
paid the price of missing some great chances as they were
beaten for the second time this season at Keys Park as
Hednesford Town knocked the Blues out of the Doodson Cup.
To make matters worse the Blues will also miss the services
of George Horan for possibly four matches after the captain
received his second red card of the season.
Neil Young made no fewer than seven changes from the
side that won at the weekend, in came Adam Judge, Wes
Baynes, Joe Ormrod, Christian Smith, Joe Holt, Iain
Howard and James Ellison at the expense of John Danby,
Michael Taylor, Alex Brown, Michael Powell, Liam Brownhill,
Chris Simm and Matty McNeil.
On a cold evening it was the home
side who opened brightly and created a decent chance
in the opening minute as Mark Danks shot wide from a
Nick Wellecomme. Chester responded and Robbie Boots
saw had efforts on goal, the first was comfortably saved
by Dan Crane in the home goal and the other effort from
a Baynes cross was headed wide.
Both sides were reduced to ten men
on 14 minutes as Horan and Wellecomme were shown straight
red cards after an altercation on the edge of the box
as the players lined up for a free-kick. The argy bargy
appeared to continue as the two players left down the
Booth saw an effort deflected wide
before Danks opened the scoring for Hednesford in the
19th minute from close range. Ormrod, a product of the
Blues youth team, came close to equalising on the half
hour with a 20-yarder that slipped just past the post
and Howard saw another long-range effort miss the post
Five minutes before the interval Ellison
saw two efforts go narrowly wide, before the Blues got
their deserved equaliser in the 41st minute as Booth
headed home Howard’s pinpoint cross.
Having fought well to get back into
the game the Blues conceded a sloppy second three minutes
after the restart as Danks was given far too much time
and space to convert Kyle Hayne’s cross from six
Chester responded with a Luke Holden
effort that Crane gathered at ease and Matty McGinn
sent a shot wide in the 65th minute. At the other end
Danks went close to completing his hat-trick but Judge
was well positioned to gather the goalbound effort.
The Blues had a great chance to equalise
15 minutes from time as Booth played in Howard but the
midfielder shot wide of the mark. Despite once again
creating plenty of chances, the Blues were made to pay
for their lack of finishing as substitute Amani Allen
scored Hednesford’s third goal deep into stoppage
time to book the Staffordshire sides place in the fourth
12 November Whitby Town 0 Chester 4
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League
Attendance: 652 Half Time 0-3
Booked: Holden. Whitby Town: Campbell, Lyth, White, Burgess,
Robinson, Martin, Hawkins (Williams 69), McTiernan, Smith,
Tymon (Faichney 55), Leeson. Subs not used: Blackford,
Hassan, Courtney. Chester: Danby,
Brownhill, Horan, Taylor, McGinn, Booth, Powell, Brown
(Wright 78), Holden (Howard 53), Simm (Ellison 62), McNeil.
Subs not used: Smith, Baynes. Referee:
Matthew Dicicco (Middlesbrough).
overnight stay in Middlesbrough (not at the referee’s!)
gave the management and squad the best possible preparation
for their first visit to Whitby Town. Around four hundred
Blues fans were at the Turnbull Ground to cheer on the
side with many of them also making a weekend of the trip
to North Yorkshire.
started strong and could have taken the lead on three
or four occasions in the opening minutes. The game was
in the first minute when striker Chris Simm put the
ball wide of the target when facing a one-on-one with
Whitby ‘keeper David Campbell following Matty
McNeil’s clinical pass that sprung the offside
Two minutes later Campbell was in
the action again denying Luke Holden a goal saving well
from the on-loan winger to concede a corner which resulted
in a Michael powell header being cleared off the line.
McNeill and Simm made a complete hash
of another opportunity before the deadlock was finally
broken in the 14th minute as Holden drove the ball home
from 12 yards following a McNeil pass for his first
goal for the club.
The home side had hardly got out of
their own half in the opening period but John Danby
was forced into a good save to deny Jeff Smith, whose
free-kick looked to be heading into the top corner.
Holden may perhaps have been fortunate
to stay on the pitch minutes later after a late challenge
produced a yellow card and not a red the home fans wanted.
Chester doubled their lead on 27 minutes
following a challenge on Simm by Mark Robinson in the
Chester box. The home players though Simm had gone to
ground a little too easily but referee Matthew Dicicco
pointed to the spot and McGinn converted his seventh
penalty kick of the season.
Danby produced another good save to
deny Callum Martin whose cross-shot was heading for
the far post before McGinn added his second and Chester’s
third nine minutes from the break curling in a wonderful
shot past Campbell after intercepting a poor pass from
the home defence.
Following the break the home
side created one or two chances, Alex White curled a
shot wide on 48 minutes but it was the visitors who
were forcing the better clear-cut opportunities.
Simm saw another one-on-one go to waste while Robbie
Booth also tested Campbell from distance. White was
well placed to clear an effort off the line from substitute
Howard but the midfielder wasn’t to be denied
four minutes from time turning the ball home following
a fine run past Ashley Lyth and cross from fellow substitute
a spirited second half fightback Chester exited the
Cheshire Senior Cup at the second round stage. Manager
Neil Young made four changes from the side that beat
Stafford Rangers on Saturday including a first appearance
of the season for Adam Judge in goal and a starting
place for loan signing Luke Holden.
The game was only three minutes old
when Celtic, who are managed for former City boss Jim
Harvey, took the lead as Craig Hobson sent an unstoppable
shot past Judge from 18 yards. Worse was to follow with
midfielder Michael Powell hobbling off after picking
up a leg injury.
The Blue Square North side doubled
their lead midway through the half with Stephen Brogan
scoring from close range after a Connor Jennings cross
found him unmarked ten yards from goal.
Joel Bembo-Leta almost headed a third
for the home side, sending his effort inches wide, before
Chester had loud appeals for a penalty turned down after
a foul on Chris Simm by ‘keeper Craig MacGillivray.
Chester’s best opportunity of
the half fell to Iain Howard who forced a good save
from MacGillivray after good set-up work from Holden.
Following the break MacGillivray was
called into action again saving from a Christian Smith
header. Robbie Booth sent a header wide and George Horan
saw an effort cleared off the line as Chester pressed.
Holden saw a long range effort go straight at MacGillivray.
At the other end substitute Dennis Sherriff saw a header
bounce off the bar.
Howard was denied by a great MacGillivray
double save before Booth brought Chester back into the
match with eight minutes remaining, turning in a Liam
Chester pressed for an equaliser in
the closing minutes with Wes Baynes sending a volley
over and Michael Taylor missing a great chance in stoppage
time from three yards following a Horan lay-off.
Chester saw off a determined effort from Stafford Rangers
to progress to the next round of the Trophy and secure
an away trip to either Kendal in the Lake District or
the Glassboys of Stourbridge in the West Midlands.
The Blues seemed weary after their midweek exertions at
Bradford and slow to get going. Thompson had an early
chance for the visitors but cut back onto his favoured
left foot and was tackled, only for Kinsella to follow
up and blaze over the bar. Rangers were keen to avenge
the defeat inflicted upon them by City last month. Their
chances were restricted mainly to set pieces however and
Danby was hardly troubled.
City’s forward attempts were repeatedly hampered
by Simm’s falling into the offside trap but when
he broke through he proved threatening. First he homed
in on goal from the right. His powerful shot was half
stopped by Alcock and span invitingly across goal. Wright
coming in at the far post seemed certain to score but
knocked his shot agonisingly wide. Simm then tried his
luck on the left, cutting in to let fly with a shot across
goal which went narrowly past the far upright.
Then, on the stroke of half time, Simm took advantage
of hesitation between a couple of Rangers defenders and
took the ball off them into the penalty area. The onrushing
Alcock then caught Simm with his trailing leg and was
penalised with a spot kick and a yellow card. Before the
kick could be taken Simm was also cautioned for pushing
a defender as they toed the line at the edge of the box.
McGinn scored with confidence and City went into the break
Within six minutes of half time Chester doubled their
lead and found some breathing space. Wright burst through
on the left. His shot was parried by Alcock. Simm dived
to head in the rebound but this was blocked, though the
ball fell kindly for Booth to tap it home.
Stafford, encouraged by the tireless chanting of their
away support, fought hard to get back in the game but
City held them at bay. Powell was indefatigable in midfield
– he never stopped running and closing down. Smith,
languid by comparison sprayed the ball around to good
effect. As the game wore on Chester tinkered with the
forward line. Holden came on for Wright and showed promise
on both wings – sending over a couple of venomous
crosses and covering a lot of ground. Later the new boy
played more centrally as Simm was withdrawn and Howard
came on. Howard nearly added a third from Holden’s
cross in the closing minutes. His volley just crept past
McGinn, Powell and Smith were all unfortunate to be booked
in the second half as referee Jonathan Hunt went on a
yellow card spree but this apart, City will be pleased
with this result and the prospect of the next round on
Saturday 26th November.
2 November Bradford Park Avenue 2 Chester
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League
Attendance: 604 Half Time 1-0
Bradford Park Avenue: Lamb, Clayton,
Drury, O'Brien (Ahmed 68), Iqbal, Riley, Daly, Hotte,
Marshall (Law 81), Savory, Boshell (Greaves 68). Subs
not used: Knowles, Noteman. Chester: Danby, Brownhill, Horan, Taylor,
McGinn, Booth, Brown (Baynes 90), Powell, Howard, McNeil
(Wilde 74), Simm (Rainford 74). Subs not used: Wright,
Smith. Referee: Paul Cook (Hull). The
Blues missed the opportunity to go top of the league after
losing in difficult conditions to a last-gasp Adnan Ahmed
goal at Bradford Park Avenue. Manager Neil Young made
five changes from the side that drew with Frickley at
the weekend recalling Liam Brownhill, Robbie Booth, Alex
Brown, Matty McNeil and Chris Simm to the starting X1.
Continuous rain made the pitch difficult with playing
slipping and sliding on the greasy surface. The first
attempt fell to Avenue’s Rob O’Brien but his
effort from 25 yards sailed high over the bar. Bradford
‘keeper John Lamb did well to block an attempted
chip by Booth and recovered
just in time to deny McNeil’s effort from the rebound.
A mistake by John Danby gave James
Riley a scoring chance but captain George Horan was
well placed to clear from the line. Booth missed a good
opportunity to open the scoring on 28 minutes after
picking up Simm’s clever lay-off the midfielder
with just Lamb to beat blasted high and wide from 15
The hosts opened the scoring four
minutes before the break when the Chester defence failed
to clear a Nicky Boshall corner leaving Richard Marshall
to flick the ball past Danby from close range. The Blues
responded well and almost produced an instant reply,
Matty McGinn saw a 25-yarder go straight to Lamb, and
in stoppage time Horan saw a header go agonisingly just
wide of goal following an Iain Howard cross.
Chester started the second half well
with Michael Powell steering a header from Brownhill’s
cross just wide. The equaliser came on 51 minutes as
a pin-point cross field pass from Howard found Booth
who controlled the ball before shooting past Lamb from
20 yards. Simm missed an opportunity to give the Blues
the lead as he failed to connect from close range following
good build-up work from Brown and Booth.
Young made a double substitution introducing
forwards Michael Wilde and Jamie Rainford for McNeil
and Simm. Rainford was soon in the action volleying
a great chance wide from close range then forcing a
good save from Lamb after a smart turn and shot.
Five minutes from time Dandy made
a great save to deny a point-blank Tom Greaves effort
and moments late Howard saw a great shot cannon off
Four minutes of stoppage time
were added and with one remaining Bradford scored the
winner as former Tranmere Rovers player Ahmed sent an
unstoppable 18-yarder past Danby into the top corner.