added time goal from Tom Shaw rescues a point for Chester
after an amazing final ten minutes that saw four goals
scored. Manager Steve Burr made a couple of changes
from the side beaten at home by Barrow on Saturday,
with goalkeeper Jon Worsnop replacing Tony Thompson
and Ryan Astles returned to defence following suspension
in place of Ian Sharps.
Chester started the game well with
Ryan Higgins heading just wide on five minutes and
John Rooney saw an effort saved from close range by
Steven Drench in the home goal as Chester pressed.
Drench was in action again pushing a long range Hannah
effort just wide on ten minutes.
A lively start to the game saw Gavin
Rothery slide the ball just past the post at the home
side replied to Chester’s bright opening. Worsnop
made a smart save to deny a long-range goalbound effort
from James Hurst. Hurst then saw another effort cleared
off the line by Shaw moments later.
Chester took the lead on 39 minutes
as Ryan Lloyd sent an inch-perfect through ball for
Hannah who shot over Drench to find the net in front
of the travelling support. The Blues almost doubled
their lead just before the break as Ben Heneghan headed
over when well placed.
Guiseley started the second period
well, Heneghan was on hand to head clear a dangerous
cross and Worsnop gathered a 20-yard effort from Rothery.
Guiseley equalised on 74 minutes as Emile Sinclair
headed home past Worsnop. James Alibi was sent though
by Hannah but the striker failed to control the ball
and the chance was gone.
With nine minutes remaining Will
Hatfield poked home from close range after an Astles
mistake to give Guiseley a 2-1 advantage. Kane Richards
was immediately brought on for Alibi and within just
two minutes had brought Chester level scoring through
a crowded penalty area.
The home side looked to have
pinched all three points when the unmarked Sinclair
scored his second from close range to give the home
side a 3-2 lead in the 90th minute. But with added
time running out Shaw was on hand to equalise as a
loose ball from a Chester corner wasn’t cleared
by the home defence.
taking a first half lead through Ross Hannah, a third
successive defeat leaves Chester sitting six points
uncomfortably above the relegation zone.
Rain and a swirling wind made conditions
difficult as both side took time to adapt. James Alibi
saw an effort blocked before Barrow almost took an
early lead as Jordan Williams saw an effort crash
back from the crossbar with Tony Thompson in the Blues
goal beaten on 15 minutes.
Chester took the lead eight minutes
before the break as the Barrow defence failed to clear
a corner and leading scorer Ross Hannah steered the
loose ball home from close range. A smart save from
the legs of Joel Dixon in the Bluebirds goal prevented
Hannah from doubling the lead in the stroke of half-time.
Barrow started the second period
on the front foot and a timely tackle from Ian Sharps
prevented an Andy Cook run through on goal. On 55
minutes the equaliser came as Williams picked up a
loose ball and attacked down the left, cutting inside
to beat Ryan Higgins before bending a shot past Thompson.
Barrow looked the stronger side
as Chester found themselves on the back foot and it
seemed inevitable when Barrow took the lead as Williams
scored his second goal with a well taken 20 yarder
Chester responded with a couple
of efforts as Hannah shot just wide from long range
and Tom Shaw saw an effort ruled out for offside after
a John Rooney free-kick wasn’t cleared by the
A chorus of boos greeted the
players and management as they left the pitch following
this latest defeat with assistant manager Jon McCarthy
blaming individual errors for the loss.
was a disappointing display from Chester who had Ryan
Astles sent-off as Wrexham ran out convincing winners
at the Racecourse Ground.
Wrexham started stronger with Tony Thompson called into
action to save from Robbie Evans early on and were denied
by the woodwork as Connor Jennings hit the bar from
close range after Thompson had saved an Jamal Fyfield
Chester were forced into an early change with Craig
Mahon replacing the injured Jordan Chapell. The Blues
were on the back foot for most of the opening half though
Danny O’Brien did force a save from Rhys Taylor
in a rare attack on goal.
Manny Smith saw a free header fly
over the bar from Lee Fowler’s corner as Wrexham
continued to press. Thompson gathered a shot from
Jennings after good build-up work by Mark Carrington
while at the end Ross Hannah saw another long-range
effort saved as the sides left the field at half-time
0-0 with Chester the happier of the two sides with
James Alibi sent a header just wide
at the opening of the second period before the Blues
fell behind in the 65th minute. A misplaced Mahon
pass was picked up by the opposition midfield and
Kayden Jackson was sent through on goal only to be
fouled by Astles was received a red card. Jennings
placed his spot-kick just out of the reach of Thompson
to open the scoring.
Former Blue Sean Newton headed over
as Wrexham looked to double their lead. The second
goal duly arrived on 77 minutes as Jackson and Jennings
combined again with Jackson shooting smartly past
Thompson. Six minutes later Evans put the game beyond
Chester adding a third from close range following
Jackson’s right wing cross.
Steve Burr made a host of changes rom the side that
lost at Eastleigh with only Danny O’Brien, Ryan
Astles and Ryan Higgins keeping their places in the
Chester created a number of chances in the opening half
with Kane Richards, John Rooney and Craig Hobson all
coming close to opening the scoring. Former Chester
‘keeper Iain Turner made a good save to deny Hobson
from scoring with a header following an O’Brien
The only goal of the game game came on a breakaway 15
minutes from time by Jonny Margetts who was put through
on goal by Cole Stockton to shoot past Jon Worsnop and
book a final tie with Stockport County.
Even the most optimistic
fan must have thought it highly unlikely that Chester
would repeat their midweek goal fest and the sight of
Eastleigh’s bobbly and bare pitch must have confirmed
their opinion that this was not going to be an afternoon
of silky football.
But the travelling army of an estimated
175 away fans did have their hopes raised within the
first 10 minutes when Ryan Higgins rode several challenges
before making a great run into the box followed by
a good cross to Ross Hannah. The Chester striker made
no mistake in finding the net, but he was declared
to be offside and it remained 0-0. It was certainly
a close decision and it wasn't the last time that
referee David Rock found himself at centre stage.
Minutes later there was nearly a
goal at the other end, but Eastleigh’s
Luke Coulson could only rattle the crossbar with a
powerful shot from outside the box.
For a significant spell of the first
half, Chester's goal was under siege, with goalkeeper
Tony Thompson putting on a star performance to deny
the home side. At the other end, James Alabi had the
ball in the net, but the offside whistle had blown
well before he took aim. In fact, the Chester frontline
were caught offside on several occasions through the
The opening minutes of the second
half saw Eastleigh denied again – this time
by some great blocks by defenders Ryan Astles and
Ben Heneghan. Soon after, a fantastic one-on-one save
by Thompson kept Chester in the game.
The home side’s
fortune changed on the 68th minute when Astles tusseled
in the box with an Eastleigh player, earning himself
a yellow card and handing the Spitfires a penalty.
On-loan Matt Tubbs stepped up to chip the ball home,
despite Thompson diving the right way.
Craig Mahon was a tricky presence
when he came on to replace Danny O’Brien,
but Chester didn’t
look seriously likely to score until Craig Hobson
came on, replacing James Alabi on the 87th minute.
Hannah had a good chance, but headed the ball over
the crossbar. And Tom Shaw came even closer when he
blasted the ball over.
With five minutes of stoppage time,
Chester still couldn’t
find the net and a Tubbs’
strike also blazed over the bar. So when referee Rock
blew the full-time whistle we hadn’t
had another 10-goal thriller, although I don’t
expect we’ll get
another of those this season!
I was on holiday in Plymouth the last time Chester won
8-2 (Against Peterborough United in 1972) I was so grateful
to witness this unbelievable performance as the Blues
shot the visitors to pieces.
Pre-match expectations were not high after City failed
to beat Bromley at the weekend and the pressure on this
as a “must-win” game had increased. Neil
Turner on the radio warned that Aldershot were a difficult
team to break down with experienced centre backs and
a good goalkeeper and may well try to catch Chester
on the break.
Blues fielded the same team in 4-4-2 formation that
drew with Bromley on Saturday. They made a bright start
with Chapell setting Higgins free on the right and his
menacing cross was cleared for a corner. Chapell delivered
the kick beautifully and Sam Hughes met it in the six
yard box to volley his first league goal for the Blues.
The Shots countered and looked dangerous as they moved
the ball about quickly and found plenty of space on
either wing. Experienced striker Lafayette was fouled
twice in quick succession and earned free kicks in a
threatening area around the edge of the penalty area.
As the second one broke down Chester swept forward on
the counter attack themselves. Hannah laid a great header
off to Danny O’Brien on the right and he went
on a run to cut inside and feed the ball through to
Alabi who slid in to score a second past the on-rushing
Two-nil after only thirteen minutes. But we are Chester
supporters – that meant there was still plenty
of time for it all to go wrong. Sure enough after a
spell of concerted pressure, Lafayette curled in a fine
effort from just outside the area to halve the arrears.
City came forward again and Hunt had a goal disallowed
for offside. As another Aldershot move broke up Heneghan
curled an exquisite long ball round the Shots’
centre back which fell invitingly into the path of Alabi.
The burly forward slid the ball past Smith to restore
the two-goal cushion. Three minutes later Hughes headed
home another superbly delivered Chapell corner to make
Still there was time for Alabi to complete his hat trick
before half time which he duly did when latching on
to Hannah’s pass and flicking the ball past Smith.
And then in first half added time Alabi iced the cake
further with a supremely executed lob having been put
through from a long ball down the left by Ryan Astles.
If the atmosphere among the home support was ecstatic
before it was febrile now as the teams came off for
their half time cuppa with City six-one up. Whilst not
making themselves hoarse singing James Alabi’s
name over and over again, the City faithful reaped the
reward of attending this fixture by busily texting friends
and relations with the incredible scoreline.
Surely the Shots would
throw caution to the wind in the second half and attack
recklessly trying to save some face? But it was City
who continued to dominate playing with all the confidence
a hatful of goals brings – they harried and pressed
and chased the ball down constantly not giving any opportunity
for Aldershot to settle on the ball.
Hannah deservedly got on the scoresheet with arguably
the best goal of the night as he lashed the ball home
from twenty five yards. Next Aldershot gave their fans
a rare chance to cheer when they did finally hit City
on the break and Dan Walker found himself clear and
beat Thompson to score their second goal.
Smith in the Shots’ goals was looking shell-shocked
but could hardly be blamed for his sides’ demise
on the evening. Only the eighth scored by Hannah could
be attributed to his mistake as he failed to hold on
to a powerful drive by O’Brien and Chester’s
top scorer turned it into the net.
As Alabi, Hughes and O’Brien were all withdrawn
to rapturous applause, one of their replacements –
Bell – had the best opportunity to add to City’s
total when his clever run made the most of Hannah’s
through ball. Smith, though, saved well from his low
City fans didn’t want the evening to end but -
as all good things do – it did and Blues fans
went off into the night to celebrate and embellish stories
of an incredible match. It was only three much needed
points, the goal difference was vastly improved, but
more importantly this was an evening to be celebrated,
re-lived and told ad nauseam into our dotage to children’s
children. Colin Mansley
5 March Chester 1 Bromley 1
Football Conference Premier
Attendance: 2,058 Half Time: 1-0
Thompson, Higgins, Heneghan, Astles, Hunt, O’Brien
(Mahon 83), Hughes, Lloyd, Chapell (Rooney 76), Alabi
(Bell 76), Hannah. Subs not used: Worsnop, Shaw. Bromley: Julian, Holland, Swaine, Francis,
Anderson, Gordon, Fuseini, Chorley (Rogers 83), Coombes
(Joseph-Dubious), Emmanuel (Goldberg 78), Cunnington.
Subs not used: May, Allassani. Referee: Steve Rushton (Staffordshire).
stuttering progess this season continued with a disappointing
draw at home to Bromley. The Ravens returned to London
with a point from their first visit to Chester as City
failed to capitalise on a number of promising openings.
On a bright but cold afternoon City began the match
attacking towards the Harry Mac End. As they came forward
the Blues got behind the visitors on the flanks several
times but the ball into the box often lacked the quality
to cause the Ravens concern. Alabi had a fine effort
from outside the area narrowly over the bar but also
contrived to stumble over the ball on a couple of other
occasions as Blues’ attacking moves broke down.
Hannah opened the scoring after quarter of an hour when
he got behind the Bromley defence to latch on to a through
ball from O’Brien. He took it to the keeper’s
right to get the ball on to his favoured left foot and
looked to have taken a touch too many until he tucked
it beneath Julian and into the net. Blues continued
to dominate but could not make it count again. Just
before the break Hannah had a glorious opportunity to
double his and Chester’s tally for the day but
struck his first-time shot just wide of the post.
Bromley, though shaky at the back were always a threat
going forward and might have equalised just before the
break but shot straight at Thompson. Early in the second
half though they did strike, courtesy of their top scorer
Emmanuel. Heneghan fouled Cunnington over on the Bromley
left, the free kick was knocked down to Emmanuel in
space in the six yard box. His shot was partially parried
by Thompson and seemed to trickle over the line in slow-motion
as City’s keeper desperately tried to retrieve
it and Swaine then followed through to make sure it
was a goal.
City’s confidence seemed to suffer from the blow
but still they had a couple of good chances to forge
back ahead. First Hunt cut in from the left but saw
his shot saved and then substitute Bell’s shot
from a similar position flashed wide of the target.
The Ravens also looked to hit City on the break and
Emmanuel went close with a lobbed effort following hesitancy
between Thompson and Hunt. As Chester advanced on one
last attack, Higgins’ cross drifted behind the
goal – it seemed to sum up a frustrating afternoon
for the Blues.
A draw was probably fair but only adds to Chester’s
growing anxiety about slipping towards the drop zone,
from which they are now five points clear. The Blues’
young team need to demonstrate the confidence of youth
if they are to bring in the victories they need to ensure
HOME WIN FOR BLUES Early goals from Kole Hall and Kurt Willoughby set Chester up for a home win over Brackley Town.Early goals from Kole Hall and Kurt Willoughby set Chester up for a home win over Brackley Town.