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Warrington Town (A) | Rushall Olympic (H) | Gloucester City (H) | Buxton (H) | Bishop’s Stortford (H) | Chorley (A) | King’s Lynn Town (A)
Saturday 27 January
King’s Lynn Town 0 Chester 0
National League North
Attendance: 847 Half Time: 0-0
Booked: -.

King’s Lynn Town: Jones, Ronan, McFadden, Taylor, Coulson, Hargreaves, Walker (Margetts 78), Morrison, Crowe, Devonport (Hughes 90), Cybulski (Castro 78). Subs not used: Rogers, Dixon-Hodge.
Stanway, Okeke (Taylor 68), Burke, Williams, Woodthorpe, Whitehouse, Glendon, Weeks, Daly (Heywood 68), Peers, Caton. Subs not used: Windsor, Norton, Hall.
Referee: R.Eley.

In a game of very few chances Chester picked up another point on the road following this goalless draw at The Walks.

It was a quiet start with both sides canceling each other out, the Blues did have one early chance as Nathan Woodthorpe threaded a pass across the box for Charlie Caton but the striker was unable to convert at the far post.

Another dangerous Woodthorpe cross was claimed by Paul Jones in the Linnet’s goal and moments later George Glendon saw an effort deflected for a corner.

Just short of the hour mark Lynn missed an opportunity to open the scoring as a long ball saw Greg Taylor head through on goal but Wyll Stanway held his ground to save well.

Jones produced a great save to deny glendon ten minutes from time he was also in the right place to make saves from Caton and Elliott Whitehouse in the dying moments of the game as the points ere finally shared.

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Tuesday 23 January
Chorley 0 Chester 2
National League North
Attendance: 1,231 (303 Chester) Half Time: 0-2
Booked: Williams, Whitehouse.

Chorley: Urwin, Henley (Blakeman 68), Ellis, Smith, Wilson, Calveley, Nolan (Shenton 74), Whitehouse, Ubaezuonu, Sampson, Johnson (Maguire 55). Subs not used: Doumbouya, Drench.
Stanway, Woodthorpe, Weeks, Burke, Williams, Peers (Norton 90+4), Glendon, Caton, Whitehouse, Daly (Taylor 62), Roberts (Heywood 90). Subs not used: Hall, Okeke.
Referee: Oliver Noonan.

Tom Peers struck twice in the first half to bring three points from a windy Victory Park.

Chester got off to the perfect start, taking jut five minutes to open the scoring. A mistake from Adam Henley allowed Charlie Caton to step in and square the ball for Peers to slot it past Matt Urwin in the Magpies goal.

Caton almost added a second but his well struck effort was well saved by Urwin. It wasn't until’midway through the half before Wyll Stanway was called into action saving from a Jack Sampson header.

Elliott Whitehouse forced a fine double save from Urwin as Chester continued to press.

Backed by an away support of just over 300, Chester doubled their lead on 38 minutes as Peers sent in a 20-yard shot that just evaded Urwin’s efforts to find the bottom corner of the net.

Chester continued to dictate in the second period, Harrison Burke headed just wide from a corner. It wasn't all one way though with Stanway saving from a Billy Whitehouse header, despite a late flurry from the home side the Chester defence held firm for another clean sheet and three more valuable points.

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| Match highlights [YouTube]

Saturday 20 January
Chester 2 Bishop’s Stortford 0
National League North
Attendance: 1,988 Half Time: 0-0
Booked: Burke.

Chester: Stanway, Okeke, Roberts, Williams, Burke, Taylor, Whitehouse, Daly (Norton 75), Weeks, Glendon, Hall (Caton 61). Subs not used: Woodthorpe, Heywood, Clarke.
Bishop’s Stortford:
Giddens, Haines, Di Troud, Thomas, Robbins (Olufemi 46), Beadle, Crichlow, Foxley, Sow (Burnett 38), Charles, Greene (Oke 66). Subs not used: Godfronne, Alexander.
Referee: Harry Jones.

On a day when many other games were postponed, Chester’s pitch passed a couple of inspections as Bishop’s Stortford travelled up for this reverse of the opening day fixture. Back in August City got off to a slow start against the newly promoted hosts and slipped to a 0-2 defeat. On this occasion the visitors arrived bottom of the league but fresh from a 6-1 victory against National League Aldershot in the FA Trophy last Saturday.

Chester were without Tom Peers today and Ewan Murray was also injured. Kole Hall and Reece Daly replaced them. Jid Okeke, signed on loan from Stockport made his debut for the injured Kieran Coates.

City suffered an early scare when Kevin Roberts was caught in possession and the ball squared to Kane Crichlow. Last week’s hero with five goals against Aldershot could not hit the target this time and blazed wastefully over the bar. Roberts was then in action at the other end of the pitch as he had two efforts in quick succession blocked on the line. Hall swept Weeks’ near-post corner towards goal only to see it scrambled away via the post. The home side dominated and pinned Bishop’s Stortford back. Both Taylor and Okeke were instrumental as City looked to hit both wing backs with raking balls as they hugged the touchline.

Weeks set up Hall for a great shooting chance but the forward’s attempt lacked the power to beat Giddens. Then Taylor took advantage of a mix up to loft the ball over the ‘keeper towards goal but Di Trolio retreated to head clear. For all their dominance Chester had nothing to show for it as the match reached the break goalless.

Okeke continued to threaten down the right with his willingness to push forward and take on defenders as City continued where they had left off. Within ten minutes of half-time they were ahead after Glendon picked up the ball in midfield and found Weeks on the right. When the ball came back to Glendon, via Hall, he was able to pick his spot and give City the lead.

Blues continued to be on top and looked for a second goal. Weeks saw his close range shot saved by Giddens as they continued to turn the screw. Caton came on to replace Hall but still City couldn’t add another. The visitors continued to stay in the game and almost equalised when Jack Thomas saw his snap shot hit the post and Stanway gratefully collected the rebound.

Norton replaced Daly and, as the game neared its end he met Taylor’s cross sweetly – only to be foiled by Giddens tipping the ball over the bar. Chester then won a series of free kicks in the corner as they wound the clock down deep into injury time. But a foul on the left gave Bishop’s Stortford one last chance to launch the ball into the box.

They threw everyone forward, including Giddens, Burke headed the cross away and it fell into the path of Norton who covered the length of the pitch at breakneck speed and with just a couple of touches propelled the ball forward into the gaping goal vacated by Giddens. It was the last meaningful action of the game but Norton’s first senior goal – much celebrated by the Cestrians on the Harry Mac.

City moved up to fourth in the table as a result but Calum McIntyre dismissed any resting on laurels. His mind was now set on next Tuesday’s tricky trip to Chorley.

Colin Mansley

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Tuesday 16 January
Chester 0 Buxton 1
National League North
Attendance: 1,612 (43 Buxton) Half Time: 0-1
Booked: Roberts.

Chester: Stanway, Coates, Roberts, Williams, Burke, Taylor, Whitehouse, Murray (Hall 62), Weeks, Glendon, Peers (Norton 71). Subs not used: Woodthorpe, Daly, Clarke.
Young, Brown, Shiels, Kirby, Elliott, Osbourne (McKeown 87), Minihan, Mottley-Henry (Granite 83), Brogan, Weston (Wright 79), Hunt. Subs not used: De Girolamo, Horbury.
Referee: Benjamin Tomlinson.

A bitterly cold evening saw Chester stumble to a third defeat in four as they were frustrated by Buxton.

After a bright opening minute Matty Williams’ clearance was charged down by Mottley-Henry. The winger charged forward and his cross was flicked on to Osborne on the far post whose shot found the back of the net off Stanway’s attempt to block. The goal changed the nature of City’s task and the game as Cal McIntyre admitted afterwards.

Chester pressed forwards hopefully and created one or two half-chances but nothing clear cut. Whitehouse shot from distance to draw a good save from Young and Murray broke on the left but his cross-shot just eluded Peers at the far post. Coates and Peers combined down the right with the wing back’s effort on goal being scrambled clear. The Blues had clearly been working on new corner routines but they were still unable to breach the massed and determined Bucks’ defences. The visitors also provided a danger on the break with Mottley-Henry’s shot being parried at full stretch by Stanway.

Buxton sat in as the game progressed and Chester found it increasingly difficult to probe forward as they passed the ball across the back. Going long didn’t work as an option either with the Bucks defence aerially dominant. Weeks did find Glendon for a rare glimpse at goal but as the skipper pulled the trigger his leg seemed to go from under him and the referee gave the defender the benefit of the doubt despite appeals for a City penalty. Otherwise Chester were reduced to increasingly frantic efforts from distance – both Whitehouse and Hall failed to hit the target.

Blues grew increasingly ragged as the game wore on and might have been caught on the break a couple of times near the end. Despite seven minutes additional time the frustration continued to the final whistle as Buxton ran the clock down and clung on to the win that early goal had given them.

Colin Mansley

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Saturday 13 January
Chester 3 Gloucester City 0
National League North
Attendance: 2,233 (34 Gloucester) Half Time: 1-0
Booked: -.

Chester: Stanway, Taylor, Weeks, Burke, Williams (Woodthorpe 82), Peers (Hall 68), Glendon, Whitehouse, Murray (Daly 87), Coates, Roberts. Subs not used: Windsor, Norton.
Gloucester City:
Jeacock, Leeson (Leggitt 83), Ram, Richards-Everton, Reckford (Santos 67), Hanks, Pinchard (Durrell 83), Emmett, McGrory, Rowe, Beresford. Subs not used: Hamilton, Smile.
Referee: Luis Griffiths.

Chester eventually ran out comfortable winners against a struggling Gloucester side to notch their first goals and first points of the calendar year.

Blues’ fans were boosted with the news of the return of Tom Peers after injury. He went straight in to the starting line-up and soon made his presence felt. Chester looked much more threatening going forward with Peers’ ability to hold the ball up and bring those around him into play. The home side nearly took the lead in the first couple of minutes when Coates’ cross from the right was almost turned into his own net by Ram’s diving header clear. Peers worked an opening to shoot from the right and his shot went agonisingly wide of the far post.

Despite their dominance Chester looked as they would go into the break goalless until a short corner routine on the left led to Murray drilling a shot just inside the near post for City’s first goal of the New Year. After the break Blues ratcheted up the intensity as they sensed a second goal. Glendon took the ball into the box and beat a defender only to knock his shot narrowly wide. But moments later Peers latched on to a through ball, held off a defender and fired precisely in off the far post to double the Blues’ lead.

Shortly after this Glendon swept home a third after Coates’ cross was touched on by Peers. Blues were by now rampant with Weeks and Murray buzzing around busily. It was a much more fluid display from the team as a whole with Burke and Williams bringing the ball forward from defence and Coates and Taylor getting plenty of joy on the flanks. City visibly grew in confidence after they had taken the lead.

Visitors Gloucester were overwhelmed despite one or two touches of brilliance from their debutant Teddy Rowe, newly on loan from Aston Villa. With the win looking secure, Peers was withdrawn with twenty minutes to go. And in the final few minutes Nathan Woodthorpe made his debut after recall from his loan to Marine and Daly came on to replace Murray – the embodiment of perpetual motion. Hall almost added a fourth goal as he flashed a shot past the far post but the scoring was over for now.

Blues are back in action again on Tuesday with another re-arranged game – against Buxton – they will hope to carry on from where they left off today.

Colin Mansley

Picture © Rick Matthews

Latest table | Match highlights [YouTube]

Saturday 6 January
Chester 0 Rushall Olympic 1
National League North
Attendance: 2,233 (26 Rushall) Half Time: 0-1
Booked: Coates.

Chester: Stanway, Coates, Edwards, Williams, Burke, Roberts, Whitehouse (Murray 54), Weeks, Glendon, Hall, Windsor (Taylor 46). Subs not used: Beswick, Norton, Daly.
Rushall Olympic:
Weaver, Green, Hudson, Fletcher, Brown, Browne, McLintock (Nkalambi-Masidi 69), Moore (Edge 72), Waldron, Clarke, Sullivan (Calvalho-Landell 86)l. Subs not used: Singh, Coyle.
Referee: James Bancroft.

Hoping for a positive reaction to New Year’s Day defeat at Warrington, the Blues were disappointed to lose for the first time at home since September on their return to the Leap 76 Stadium. Visitors Rushall Olympic produced a well-organised and effective performance as they dominated play in the first half when they scored the decisive lone goal.

Chester struggled to find any rhythm going forward. Their best effort was Whitehouse’s header straight at ‘keeper Weaver from Windsor’s chipped cross. Hall showed glimpses of getting behind the Pics’ defence on a couple of occasions but was swiftly crowded out. The visitors in contrast enjoyed better possession and played with purpose that threatened to hurt the Blues.

Experienced centre forward Waldron cut in from the right and shot which Stanway parried at full stretch and had to pick himself up quickly to save a follow-up effort. On the half hour Waldron broke again from the right and Stanway just turned his reverse shot round his left hand post. From the resulting corner Pics took the lead that their play had been threatening. Rico Browne, making only his second appearance on loan from Birmingham City, headed home unchallenged.

Manager McIntyre made a change at the break, replacing Windsor with Joel Taylor. Rushall were still diligent in allowing City little room to dwell on the ball. Whitehouse was forced off ten minutes into the second period following an accidental collision with Kevin Roberts – Murray his replacement.

Roberts’ volley on target from the edge of the area on seventy minutes was easily gathered by Weaver and City were vulnerable to counter attacks as they strove for an equaliser. Stanway had to be alert to tip a dangerous shot from Fletcher over the bar.

Burke was encouraged to play further forward as City’s efforts intensified. His header set up a shooting opportunity for Hall – but Brown’s last ditch block thwarted his goal-bound effort. A catalogue of Pics players found their way into the referee’s notebook – as a consequence of increasingly desperate defending and time-wasting. In added time City’s attempts to rescue a point climaxed with a deflected shot by Coates and, in the dying seconds, Weaver was left sprawling by Taylor’s shot but managed to do just enough to distract Roberts from scoring from the rebound when he seemed certain to score.

Chester could not be faulted for effort but were deservedly beaten on the day by opponents whose play belied their lowly league position. The Blues will be hoping that some of their injured forwards will be fit again soon to boost their jaded attacking threat in the nest three fixtures – all at home.

Colin Mansley

Picture © Rick Matthews

Latest table | More photographs | Match highlights [YouTube]
Monday 1 January
Warrington Town 1 Chester 0
National League North
Attendance: 2,000 (400 Chester) Half Time: 1-0
Booked: -.

Warrington Town: Atherton, White, Hannigan, Harris, Woods (Walker 82), Williams, Amis, Buckley-Ricketts (Clarke 90), Duggan, Wisdom, Grivosti (McDonald 73). Subs not used: Goudie, Dixon.
Stanway, Coates, Edwards (Taylor 71), Williams, Burke, Roberts, Whitehouse, Weeks, Murray (Windsor 60), Hall, Norton (Glendon 46). Subs not used: Calderbank-Park, Sparrow.
Referee: W.Davis.

It wasn’t the best of starts to the new year as Chester began 2024 with a defeat at neighbours Warrington Town which ended the Blues' eight game unbeaten run.

There was a sell out crowd at Cantilever Park to see the second match between the sides in a week and they had only just taken their places when the Yellows opened the scoring on four minutes. Home captain Josh Amis took advantage of hesitancy in the Blues defence to score from close range.

Warrington almost doubled their advantage eight minutes later but a fine save from Wyll Stanway denied Matty Grivosti. Chester, who enjoyed plenty of possession were unable to create anything of note to test Atherton in the home goal, Elliott Whitehouse dragging the only effort of note wide.

Stanway was called into action again this time to deny Amis his second goal from close range as the home side continued to apply the pressure during the opening half that saw a Connor Woods effort hit the post.

Chester brought on captain George Glendon at half-time in an effort to gain more control of the midfield but the only chance of note came midway through the half with Whitehouse heading a Kieran Coates cross wide.

Harrison Burke cleared an Amis effort off the line with Stanway beaten late on as the hosts comfortably held out for the three points.

Picture © Rick Matthews

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