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Altrincham (A) | Leamington (H) | Darlington (A) | Chorley (H)
Saturday 30 March
Chester 0 Chorley 0
Conference National North
Attendance: 1,979 Half Time: 0-0
Booked: -.

Chester: Shenton, Waters, Grand, Livesey, Jackson, Mooney (McKenna 68), Mahon (Green 80), McAllister, Roberts, Dudley, Asante (Waring 74). Subs not used: Marsh-Hughes, Howson.
Chorley: Urwin, Challoner, Blakeman, Teague, Leather (McGurk 71), Meppen-Walter, O’Keefe (Jordan 90), Cottrell, Carver, Tuton (Almond 60), Newby. Subs not used: Anson, Eccles.
Referee: Steven Copeland.

Chances were few and far between as for the second time this season leaders Chorley and Chester fought out a goalless draw.

It was a fairly even opening that saw both defences working hard to keep out their opponents with strikers Anthony Dudley and Akwasi Asante both finding it hard to break through a stubborn Chorley rearguard.

The first save of the game came from Grant Shenton who comfortably kept out Elliot Newby’s effort. Chester’s first effort on goal came following a quick free-kick that saw Asante’s shot partially saved with Craig Mahon’s follow-up effort blocked.

Chester sparked into life, Gary Roberts saw a 25-yarder go over wide and Mahon sent a long range effort just wide following a good run minutes before half-time.

Chorley came closest to breaking the deadlock early in the second period, Marcus Carver broke free of the Blues defence, beat the oncoming Shenton and prodded the ball past the ‘keeper but just wide of the post.

The Blues created a couple of efforts themselves with Dudley forcing a save from Matt Unwin and Simon Grand seeing a header from a Roberts free-kick just clear the bar.

The game petered out to a stalemate, under most circumstanced the Blues would have been happy holding the leaders but the Blues need as many points as possible if they're to make the play-off’s and may feel this was two dropped.

Picture � Rick Matthews

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Wednesday 27 March
Darlington 0 Chester 1
Conference National North
Attendance: 1,116 Half Time: 0-1
Booked: Grand, Jackson.

Darlington: Turner, Trotman, Galbraith, T.Elliott, Ainge, Holness, Nicholson, Palmer, Saunders, Kneeshaw, Thompson. Subs not used: Bascome, Maddison, Henshall, Jackson, C.Elliott.
Chester: Shenton, Waters, Jackson, Livesey, Grand, Mahon (Mooney 78), McKenna (Murray 78), McAllister, Roberts, Asante (Waring 71), Dudley. Subs not used: Howson, Marsh-Hughes.
Referee: Adam Williamson.

Chester kept their play-off hopes alive with a 1-0 victory at Darlington to complete the double over the Quakers.

The Blues started brightly with Akwasi Asante, Ben McKenna and Bradley Jackson all having efforts on target. It wasn't all Chester though as Grant Shenton produced a fine save to deny Simon Ainge at the other end, tipping his goalbound header over the bar.

Matty Waters tested Jake Turner in the home goal with a fine strike from 25 yards before Asante’s poor touch denied him a goalscoring chance after good build-up work from Sean McAllister.

The only goal of the game came on 40 minutes from a free-kick. Gary Roberts passed the ball to Anthony Dudley, he set-up Akwasi Asanti whose mis-hit shot found Simon Grand at the far post who headed home from close-range.

Darlington started the second period strongly and Chester hade Shenton to thank for pulling off a series of fine saves to deny the hosts. The Blues brought on George Waring for the tiring Asanti as Darlo continued to press.

Ten minutes from time Shenton pulled off another great save to deny Harvey Saunders and preserve the clean sheet and take away three precious away points.

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Saturday 9 March
Chester 1 Leamington 1
Conference National North
Attendance: 1,983 Half Time: 0-0
Booked: McAllister, Waring.

Chester: Shenton, Jackson, Howson, Livesey, Waters, McAllister, Roberts, Mahon, McKenna, Asante (Waring 66), Dudley. Subs not used: Mooney, Marsh-Hughes, Noble, Grand.
Leamington: Breeden, English, Gudger, Clarke, Hood, Mace, J.Murphy, Flannagan, Bishop, Obeng (B.Murphy 88), Hodge (Wilding 76). Subs not used: Lane, Sweeney, Newey.
Referee: Andy Sykes.

It’s two points dropped as Chester squandered the lead against ten man Leamington.

The Blues made three changes from the side well beaten at Altrincham last week, in came Sean McAllister, Akwasi Asante and Ben McKenna for the suspended captain Scott Burton, Dan Mooney and George Waring.

In a game Chester had to win it was the Brakes who started better with Colby Bishop shooting just over the bar in the opening five minutes.

The match was short on quality, Steve Howson saw two headers miss the target and Asanta saw another header loop wide in a rare chance on goal. Grant Shenton produced the save of the half to deny Jordan Murphy whose effort from ten yards looked certain to find the net.

Two minutes after the restart Chester opened the scoring. Matty Waters broke down the left and crossed into the box, it was dummied by Anthony Dudley for McKenna to steer the ball into the bottom of the net.

The game began to open up and Bishop saw a header flash just over the bar as Brakes looked to get back on level terms.

Craig Mahon forced a double save from Tony Breeden and Gary Roberts saw a long range effort curl just wide of Breeden’s post.

Eleven minutes from time Leamington were reduced to ten men when Murphy was sent-off after receiving a second yellow card for a foul on Waters.

Despite their man advantage Chester were unable to hold on to their lead and seven minutes from time conceded an equaliser as the Blues defence failed to clear and Ahmed Obeng found space to beat Shenton from the edge of the box.

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Saturday 2 March
Altrincham 4 Chester 0
Conference National North
Attendance: 1,714 Half Time: 0-0
Booked: Burton.
Sent-Off: Burton.

Altrincham: Thompson, White, Hampson, Jones, Hannigan, Moult (Richman 85), Johnston, Williams, Pigott (Hulme 67), Hancock, Ceesay (Dolan 75). Subs not used: Densmore, Drench.
Chester: Shenton, Waters, Jackson, Howson, Livesey, Roberts, Burton, Mooney (McKenna 65), Mahon (McAllister 72), Dudley, Waring (Marsh-Hughes 83). Subs not used: Grand, Asante.
Referee: Andrew Kitchen.

Despite an encouraging first half, Chester see captain Scott Burton sent-off after the break and go on to concede four goals to play-off rivals Altrincham.

Chester started well and had the first real effort on goal after ten minutes as Dan Mooney's long range effort was parried away by Tony Thompson in the Alty goal. Both Mooney and Craig Mahon were enjoying plenty of possession but despite this the Blues were finding it difficult to create any clear cut chances.

The Blues defence were quick to close down any threat from the home side in the opening period as the sides left the field at half-time.

Five minutes after the restart Burton was shown a second yellow card and given his marching orders following a heavy tackle on Sean Williams.

Just 60 seconds later Chester conceded the opening goal as Josh Hancock probed down the left before crossing for Joe Piggott to slide the ball past Grant Shenton and over the line.

Chester were reeling and conceded again 12 minutes later as John Johnston crossed from the byeline for Hancock to score from 15 yards out.

The game was well and truly over on 70 minutes as Altrincham grabbed a third goal when Jake Moult’s header was dropped by Shenton, the ball falling to Hancock who notched his second of the game from close range.

The rout was completed in the final minute as Johnston powered a shot past Shenton from the edge of the box.

Picture © Rick Matthews

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