was agony for Chester who were beaten by an injury time
goal at Maidstone United to slip back into the bottom
Manager Marcus Bignot was forced into a change to the
side that recorded a win over Barrow in midweek with Andy
Halls coming in for the injured Tom Shaw in midfield.
Chester had the first chance of the game as early as the
second minute as Ross hannah found Reece Hall-Johnson
who surged into the box before pulling the ball back for
Lucas Dawson who shot wide.
Zavron Hines then went close twice for the home side seeing
his shot parried by Alex Lynch before shooting the rebound
over from 12 yards.
The home side were getting on top and Delano Sam-Yorke
headed just over when well placed.
Both Hannah and Dawson saw long range efforts drift wide
before Jordan Archer saw an effort from the edge of the
box blocked by Alex Wynter.
The last action of the half saw Stuart Lewis hit the post
for the Stones with the ball bouncing back into the grateful
arms of Lynch.
Joe Pigott saw a free-kick curl just wide as Maidstone
continued to press after the break. Sam-Yorke saw an effort
blocked by Ryan Astles and Jamar Loza headed straight
at Lynch to waste a great chance for the home side.
There was seven minutes of added
time and as the game entered the 95th minute a corner
was only half cleared by the Chester rearguard and defender
Alex Finney found space to shoot home through a crowd
of players from 12 yards out to secure the three points
for the home side.
Bignot had recruited a couple of new signings since the
weekend: both called Jordan. Jordan Archer from Stourbridge
and under the nose of Tranmere Rovers who were reported
to be interested in him – he went straight into
the side as a striker. Jordan Gough, signed from Telford,
replaced Lathaniel Rowe-Turner at left back.
Visitors Barrow are also struggling this season and arrived
just two places and one point above the Blues. Turnbull
and Hannah returned to City’s starting line-up to
face the club they were both playing for last season.
Marcus Bignot’s brother Paul was named in the Barrow
City began brightly and moved the ball with pace and purpose,
soon forcing the Bluebirds on to the back foot. Dawson
picked a delightful through ball for Archer and the new
boy went through to stroke the ball past Dixon and open
his account for Chester. The Blues revelled in their new
found bravado and pressed for a second. Barrow were given
little space on the ball as City closed them down as a
team. James tenaciously took the ball off an opponent
and fed a lively looking Hannah who cut inside and shot
but straight at Dixon. Again James picked the ball up
in midfield and threaded it forward for Archer –
to whom the ball seemed to be sticking securely all night.
He laid it back for Gough. His cross in to the box came
out to Hall-Johnson who smashed it first time low into
the back of the net. Another Chester account was opened
and City were two goals to the good.
The Blues maintained their dominance for the rest of the
half and might, with a little more luck, have added to
their advantage. Astles went closest when he saw his powerful
header blocked on the line. Then as the referee’s
board went up to indicate two minutes of added time, the
Blues’ hard won advantage evaporated. First a deceptive
ball over the top allowed Yussuf to steal half a yard
on Hall-Johnson and the Barrow forward prodded it past
the onrushing Lynch and in to the net. Almost as soonas
the Bluebirds had got one goal back they were level. Another
long punt forward skidded off the head of McCombe, Astles
failed to connect and Byron Harrison was through to net
a second. To lose one goal in first half stoppage time
would be considered unfortunate - but TWO, to quote Lady
Bracknell – was careless. And it reflected cruelly
on City’s otherwise uplifting display.
If anything, after the break Barrow emerged stronger –
having cashed in their get out of jail free card. They
enjoyed more possession than they had managed and City
faded somewhat. Shaw, in his enthusiasm for tackling the
opposition was treading on thin ice after his yellow card
and was replaced by Zanzala. As the last quarter of an
hour approached both sides refreshed their forward lines
– White took Hannah’s place for the Blues
and Barrow took off Yussuf for Panayiotou. The latter
went mightily close to giving Barrow the lead as his looping
header shaved the far post.
But then Chester began to rally and find a second wind.
They forced a succession of corners. From one James shot
narrowly over the bar. From another Zanzala’s header
was scrambled off the line. Then in the second minute
of stoppage time a long ball forward from Astles was flicked
on by Bell. Zanzala latched on to it, held off a defender,
cut inside another but then saw his shot from six yards
blocked by Joel Dixon. A fantastic save. Another corner
resulted and this time Zanzala drifted to the far post
only to see his header deflected off the upright and away
to safety after another scramble. It looked as though
the three points had eluded City until deep into stoppage
time, Zanzala laid the ball back to Gough. His far post
cross was hacked clear to the edge of the area and Dawson
ran on to it to strike a skimming shot through a thicket
of legs and into the back of the net.
Chester fans, so used to being on the receiving end of
a sucker punch themselves, went delirious in celebration
of the winner. Ecstasy abounded. Manager Marcus Bignot
too ran wildly down the touchline – albeit in the
wrong direction. There was just time for him to receive
a ticking off from referee Joe Johnson and for Barrow
to kick off before the final whistle blew on a memorable
It was the first time Chester had beaten Barrow since
April 1971. Alan Tarbuck – here this evening –
was one of the Chester scorers on that occasion. He will
have enjoyed this one almost as much.
Storm Brian whirled about the stadium, Chester and Boreham
Wood began a war of attrition. The ball was in and out
along the touchline below the main stand for the first
fifteen minutes or so – neither side able to prise
it away against the wind and witch to the other wing.
It made for tedious viewing but to be fair it must have
been even more difficult to play in.
When the ball did visit the west side of the pitch Lathaniel
Rowe-Turner scooped the ball back from just around the
half-way line to concede an unlikely corner. It was almost
inevitable that it would lead to a goal and Jeffers duly
obliged when he headed in direct from the highly-rated
Andrade’s kick. With City’s already fragile
confidence shaken worse was to follow after a few more
minutes. Although both teams struggled to control the
ball in the conditions, when it did come down the visitors
seemed surer of touch and more fleet of foot. An astute
ball by Murtagh out to the right split two Blues players
and found Kane Smith on the overlap. His cross was met
on the slide by Astles but he only succeeded in teeing
up Andrade to score The Wood’s second.
In Chester’s sporadic attacking during the first
half, Chapell had found room to drift a couple of promising
crosses from the left but he was withdrawn at the break
and replaced by Hannah. The Blues began to look more capable
as an attacking force. Bell replaced Harry White and,
with a quarter of an hour to go capitalised on some tentative
defending to bring down a Kingsley James cross and fire
a sweet left foot shot past Grant Smith.
The Dark Blues were back in the game but could not carve
out a clear chance to equalise. Shaw and James shot wide
but that was as close as they got to earning a draw. Reece
Hall-Johnson made his debut on loan from Grimsby and made
a lively fist of things at right back – so much
so that he was awarded Chester’s Man of the Match
by the sponsors
Brian continued to blow but the wind had gone out of City’s
went out of the FA Cup at the 4th Qualifying Round stage
for the third season in a row, but this defeat at Kidderminster
had to be the most disappointing of them all.
It was hard to find a highlight from
a dismal afternoon at the Aggborough Stadium, even the
home side's famous pies ran out well before kick-off,
as most of the travelling 522 fans seemed to want to
sample some tasty fayre.
It certainly wasn’t a feast
of football for the Chester fans, who were making themselves
heard right from the off. Their side’s two best
chances were unchallenged headers for Kingsley James
and John McCombe, but they were well off target.
Kidderminster were simply the best
in every area of the park, belying their status as a
mid-table Conference North team. They were a tad lucky
with their opening goal when a shot cannoned off the
post on the 19th minute right to unmarked Emmanuel Sonupe,
who had no trouble finding the net.
Chester failed to respond to the challenge
and it was hard to think of many of their passes finding
the man, let alone giving them a chance to score. There
was one change at half-time when Matty Waters was replaced
by Jordan Chapell, but there was no marked improvement
in team performance in the second half.
It wasn't long before a growing number
of the Chester fans were letting their feelings known
to their lacklustre players with chants of “what
a load of rubbish”, and this only got louder when
Kidderminster when 2-0 up through a Joe Ironside header.
It got so bad before the end of the game that several
Chester fans were joining in with the Kiddie fans chanting
“off, off, off” when the referee showed
Andy Halls a yellow card.
When the inevitable Kidderminster
victory was confirmed, there was more anger shown by
the travelling army. Manager Marcus Bignot took his
team out for a ‘dressing-down’ within earshot
of their chanting. It was at least 15 minutes after
full-time before the last of the furious Chester fans
left the ground, many of them heading straight to the
nearby off-licence or one of the excellent local hostelries
to console themselves after their early awakening from
their Wembley dream.
Lynch pulled off a series of fine saves to help Chester
grab a point at Prenton Park.
Manager Marcus Bignot made one change to his line-up
with Paul Turnbull returning to replace the injured
Lynch was called into action early on producing a superb
one handed save to deny James Norwood who picked up
on a loose Andy Halls clearance to volley at goal.
Norwood saw another header flash wide
of goal and Andy Cook almost headed in on the far post
midway through the half as the home side dominated.
Chester rarely threatened at the other end though Ross
Hannah’s left footed effort went close.
The home side appealed for a penalty
on 25 minutes as Norwoood rounded Lynch before falling
to the ground but referee Peter Wright booked the Rovers
forward for diving.
Lynch spread himself to again deny
the lively Norwood as Tranmere finished the half well
on top but with the brave Lynch denying them a goal.
Chester slowly came more into the game during the second
period as Tom Shaw saw an effort blocked and James Akintunde
saw a rising shot from outside the box just clear Scott
Lynch saved a Dylan Mottley-Henry
header as Tranmere pushed in the closing minutes. Norwood
sent a shot just wide and Ryan Astles was in the right
place to block a Connor Jennings effort which came back
off a post.
With two minutes remaining Stephen
McNulty headed wide and man-of-the-match Lynch produced
his final save to deny Gerry McDonagh.
are very much a surprise package this season and came
to Chester in sparkling form. They had won five out of
the last seven including victories over Macclesfield and
Sutton. As the game unfolded under a gibbous moon, it
was easy to see why as they started much more rapidly
than the Blues. The visitors appeared quicker to every
ball and took just a touch to control it where City players,
sluggish by comparison took two.
The Cards kept up a high energy pressing game and put
Chester under pressure whenever they were in possession.
There were a number of forced errors as a result and it
did not come against the run of play when Woking took
the lead after just ten minutes. Young’s pinpoint
cross from the right was met by Ferdinand’s precise
header just inside the post.
It got worse for City when Mahon was forced off after
a clumsy challenge from behind by Isaac. Liam Davies was
sent on as his replacement. Chester did managed to forge
a couple of opportunities. First Dawson shot straight
at the keeper from outside the area and then Baxter saved
Hannah’s effort from much closer quarters.
In the second half the Blues fought hard to get a toe-hold
in the game. Hannah went close with a header at the far
post and was then given offside as he made a second attempt
to score. More agonising for City was seeing Astles’
glancing header strike the foot of the post and roll tantalisingly
across goal before being cleared.
Within a couple of minutes of this near miss, Woking sealed
the game at the other end. Philpot raced on to Hall’s
under-hit back pass and came off better from Lynch’s
onrushing challenge. The Cards’ forward was able
to roll the ball into the empty net for a second and decisive
Understandably, the stuffing was knocked out of Chester
by this blow but they continued to make a game of it but
the Cards were resolute in defence. Although on another
evening Chester might have forced a draw there was no
denying that the visitors were slicker and quicker on
the ball than City tonight. Woking moved up to third in
the table with this win. Chester will look to raise their
game for the local derby with Tranmere at the weekend.