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Spennymoor Town (A) | Hereford (H) | Blyth Spartans (H) | Tadcaster Albion (A) FAC2RQ | Boston United (A) | Nantwich Town (H) FAC3RQ
Saturday 30 September
Chester 2 Nantwich Town 1
FA Cup Third Round Qualifying
Attendance: 2,162 Half Time: 0-0
Booked: Taylor, Roberts.

Chester: Stanway, Sparrow (Coates 57), Burke, Williams, Taylor, Roberts, Glendon, Weeks, Whitehouse, Maguire (Caton 67), Evans (Thomas 46). Subs not used: Davies, Daly, Heywood.
Nantwich Town: Moloney, Connolly, Bircumshaw (Heath 78), Okome, Butler, Hewitt, A.Ali, Harrison, Evans, Kay. Subs not used: Thompson, Speare, M.Ali, Edwards, Sinnott, Holden.
Referee: Oliver Noonan.

Nantwich came within seconds of forcing a replay in this FA Cup tie but were thwarted when Charlie Caton hammered a left foot shot through a thicket of defenders and into the back of the net. The Dabbers had contested strongly and given City little time to dwell on the ball all game. As Weeks’ corner fell to Caton he held off a defender to fire the winner and Chester into the next round.

The visitors and their supporters were up for the challenge after disposing of another NLN side, Banbury, in the previous round. They pressed with energy during the first half. The vastly experienced Byron Harrison proved a handful up front and Kai Evans had made no secret of his desire to get on the scoresheet before the match. His overenthusiasm in the tackle led him to be the first into the referee’s notebook for a foul on Burke.

Both sides were reduced to shots from distance in the first half. Hewitt fired wide for the visitors after Chester failed to clear the ball under pressure while Glendon saw his effort deflected wide after a strong run by Connor Evans.

Evans was replaced by Adam Thomas after the break to add some more experience to City’s attack. As the half wore on the Blues began to dominate and increase the threat on the Dabbers’ goal. Kieran Coates came on and his intelligent runs and link up play with Weeks down the right began to offer some openings. Whitehouse got on the end of an excellent cross but could not find the contact to direct the ball on goal. Then another spell of pressure culminated in Roberts picking up the loose ball and powering a shot towards the bottom left hand corner of Scott Moloney’s goal which the Nantwich ‘keeper just succeeded in tipping round the foot of the post.

From the resultant corner, though, Burke headed magnificently home to give Chester the lead. City fans remembered his dramatic equaliser at Oldham last year and dreamed of more glory in the Cup. But Nantwich, managed by former City captain Paul Carden, were not going down without a battle. In the aftermath of the goal the visitors brought on substitute Connor Heath to bolster their attack.

Heath it was who equalised for them with barely five minutes of normal time remaining. After a collision of players on City’s left when, if anything, Williams appeared to be barged into, the referee bemusingly dropped the ball for Nantwich to sweep it towards goal. Chester defended a couple of resulting crosses but from the third Heath headed in despite Stanway’s valiant efforts to keep it out.

The Dabbers had their tails up and a couple of minutes later the ball fell to Heath again in the six yard box but Stanway was able to beat his goal-bound shot away. And so as the four minutes of stoppage time ticked away, Thomas forced another corner on City’s right and Caton was there to thump home a dramatic last gasp winner. Relief all round, shattered dreams in the away section but both sets of supporters stayed to applaud the efforts of their teams at the end.

Colin Mansley

Picture © Rick Matthews

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Saturday 23 September
Boston United 1 Chester 0
National League North
Attendance: 1,600 (111 Chester) Half Time: 0-0
Booked: Edwards, Roberts, Williams.
Sent-off: Edwards

Boston United: Gregory, Knowles, Bostwick, Nicholson, Hill, Ward, Richards, Woods, Martin (Thorndike 66), Kelsey Mooney, Jimmy Knowles. Subs not used: Gyasi, McLintock, Essien, Wilson.
Chester: Stanway, Sparrow, Williams, Edwards, Taylor, Roberts, Weeks, Murray (Glendon 73), Whitehouse, Caton (Evans 37), Thomas (Burke 60). Subs not used: Coates, Maguire.
Referee: Jack Hall.

It was a tale of two penalties as Chester were beaten 1-0 at Boston United. An early booking for Liam Edwards was to prove costly later in the game, there were few chances in a stale first half through Iwan Murray did have the ball in the net but saw his effort ruled out by referee Jake Hall following a slight challenge by Charlie Carton on Pilgrims 'keeper Gregory.

Five minutes into the second period Chester were handed a great chance to open the scoring as Tyler Knowles caught substitute Connor Evans (on for the injured Caton). Hall pointed to the spot, up stepped Declan Weeks but Gregory saved his effort.

The only goal of the game came in the 56th minute, Edwards brought down Keaton Ward in the box, a second yellow card saw the defender dismissed, and Martin Wood duly dispatched the penalty past Wyll Stanway.

Chester brought on Harrison Burke and George Glendon and pressed for an equaliser but the home defence held firm. Boston saw a second goal through Kelsey Mooney flagged offside in the dying stages of the game.

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Saturday 16 September
Tadcaster Albion 1 Chester 3
FA Cup Second Round Qualifying
Attendance: 777 Half Time: 1-0
Booked: Whitehouse.

Tadcaster Albion: Elliott, Owen, McDaid, Qualter, Holmes, Morris, Kitchen, Crosby, Greenway (Ibrahimi 82), Norman (Stephens 75), Kay (Stewart 85). Subs not used: Hardcastle, Roper, Slater, Hines.
Chester: Stanway, Taylor (Coates 73), Weeks, Burke, Glendon (Maguire 82), Caton, Whitehouse, Thomas (Evans 90+2), Sparrow, Murray, Edwards. Subs not used: Davies, Williams, Daly, Heywood.
Referee: D.Rogers.

Chester booked a home tie with Nantwich Town after coming form behind to win at Tadcaster Albion in their televised Second Round Qualifying match.

Blues manager Calum McIntyre made four changes to the side that defeated Blyth Spartans seven days ago, Matty Williams, Kieran Coates, and Connor Evans started on the bench while Kevin Roberts had to be withdrawn from the starting squad just prior to kick-off. In to the starting X1 came Harrison Burke, Joel Taylor, George Glendon and Adam Thomas.

Chester started brightly with plenty of controlled possession, holding the ball for long periods without testing Taddy goalkeeper Chris Elliott, signed on an emergency loan 24 hours earlier from Leeds United.

The home side had already gone close through a breakaway when on 20 minutes Joe Crosby dispossed Elliott Whitehouse before racing through past three Blues defenders, he slipped the bal through to Kieran Greenway who coolly slotted the ball past Wyll Stanway to give the hosts a shock lead.

The Blues looked to bounce back and had two efforts before the break, Charlie Caton glanced a header inches wide of the post following a pulled back Thomas cross before Iwan Murray blazed a shot over from 12 yards after being set up with a great pull-back from Tom Sparrow down the right.

Just four minutes after the restart Murray made amends for his earlier miss when he drew Chester level smashing home the equaliser after chesting down and controlling Sparrow’s deep cross.

A misplaced George Glendon pass saw Oliver Norman race through on goal but he could only shoot straight at Stanway who saved to keep Chester level.

With six minutes remaining Chester took the lead as Burke met Murray’s left wing corner to power an unstoppable header past Elliott and a Taddy defender on the line.

The match was wrapped up in the final minute with a long ball forward being flicked on by a defender for Caton to race through on goal, compose himself with one touch of the ball before firing past Elliott into the far corner of the net.

Picture © Rick Matthews

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Saturday 9 September
Chester 2 Blyth Spartans 1
National League North
Attendance: 2,010 (90 Blyth Spartans) Half Time: 0-0
Booked: Weeks, Williams.

Chester: Stanway, Weeks, Williams, Caton (Maguire 82), Whitehouse, Evans (Thomas 51), Sparrow, Murray, Coates (Taylor 87), Roberts, Edwards Subs not used: Burke, Daly.
Blyth Spartans: Mitchell, Evans (Hooper 68), Liddle, Clark, Cousin-Dawson, Bodenham, Hickey, O’Donnell (Oliver 68), Forbes, Main, McGowan. Subs not used: Aitken, Shaw, Arnison.
Referee: Lee Hible.

Blyth seemed set to prove that history repeats itself as they, like Hereford on Tuesday, equalised with their first shot on target with only six minutes to go. A well-worked opening ended with substitute JJ Hooper side-footing his finish precisely into the bottom corner. Elliot Forbes hadn’t read the script however as he volleyed high, wide and handsome when unmarked at the far post from a corner.

Instead it was Elliott Whitehouse who sent keeper Mitchell the wrong way from the penalty spot who completed the scoring and a welcome 2-1 win for City. The kick was awarded when Whitehouse himself was knocked to the ground challenging for the ball in the air. The Blues survived the ensuing seven minutes of added time to settle nerves around the Deva and give their fans a lift after appearing to stumble towards a draw.

It was a much changed Blues team from the eleven that began on Tuesday. Back came Liam Edwards in defence where Tom Sparrow made his debut at right back. Coates, surprisingly moved to the left side, whilst Evans and Caton started up front. Glendon, injured on Tuesday, was replaced by Murray. Playing with two forwards gave City a different feel as Weeks and others hit balls over the top of the Spartans’ defensive line for Evans and Caton to chase. Blues were caught offside a number of times as they sought to breakthrough but there was a liveliness about their attacking which seemed to increase in intensity as half-time approached. A slick exchange with Murray led to Caton firing narrowly wide – City’s best effort as they attacked the Harry Mac.

Caton did break the deadlock ten minutes into the second half. City’s first counter attack broke down but then Weeks picked up the loose ball and threaded it through to find Caton’s intelligent run and the young forward fired home first time. Thomas had replaced Evans shortly after the break and Chester carried more threat as they probed for a second goal. Weeks was a constant nuisance to the Spartans as they tried to play out of defence, he pressed and intercepted to great effect.

Caton’s pace also worried the visitors but after he pulled up with ten minutes to go he was replaced by Maguire. This was when Blyth – with shirts reflecting the yellow and red of the Northumbrian flag -also introduced a couple of subs including extra forward Hooper whose late equaliser threatened to take a point back to the North East. City rallied though and the fine margins that Calum McIntyre talked about following the Hereford game turned in favour of the Blues today.

Colin Mansley

Picture © Rick Matthews

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Tuesday 5 September
Chester 1 Hereford 2
National League North
Attendance: 2,272 Half Time: 1-0
Booked: -.

Chester: Stanway, Coates, Burke, Williams, Heywood, Roberts, Glendon (Murray 50), Weeks, Whitehouse, Maguire (Caton 61), Hall. Subs not used: Evans, Sparrow, Edwards.
Hereford: Pond, Skinner, Livingstone (Arthur 73), Teixeria, Downing, Babos, Ryley (Stanley 61), Singh (Mendes 73), Southern, Rooney, Cameroon. Subs not used: Cranston, Hewlett.
Referee: Luis Griffiths.

Beware the wounded animal! The Bulls came to this fixture on the back of four consecutive defeats and desperate to get some kind of result against the Blues. A below par performance from Chester allowed the visitors to snatch an unlikely victory from the jaws of defeat in the final minutes.

The Blues made a couple of changes from the team that earned a credible draw at Spennymoor at the weekend: Burke returned from suspension with Edwards dropping to the bench and Maguire started in place of Murray. Chester had the better of the first half and led courtesy of a penalty coolly despatched by Declan Weeks despite the attempts to psyche him out by the Hereford keeper. The break-through had arrived when a long ball over the top invited Coates to raid down the right. As he cut into the penalty area he was scythed down by Livingstone.

Blues could not capitalise further on their dominance. Hall blazed over the bar and Roberts saw his follow-up shot cleared off the line after Hall’s effort was deflected. Hereford managed little in the way of openings though they persisted in firing the ball wide for Livingstone on the left but his early crosses proved fruitless.

The Bulls defended well, however and proved resilient as Chester searched for a second goal after half time. Blues won a succession of corners but still could not fashion a shooting chance. A cross from Whitehouse flashed across the goal but drew not contact from either Hall or Caton, on as a sub for Maguire. Weeks and Coates worked an opening down the right but again, the cross was cut out before it could be converted. Whitehouse did manage a shot but it was deflected wide.

As the game wore on, Hereford introduced subs who, ultimately, changed the outcome of the game. First Stanley and then Arthur and Mendes added energy to the Bulls going forward as they threw caution to the wind. As City defended they struggled to find an out-ball to relieve the pressure and, already weakened by Glendon going off, seemed to flag in the closing stages. With five minutes remaining a cross to the far post found Mendes with time and space to trap the ball and fire it into the roof of the net. Worse was to follow for City with two minutes of the ninety left as Teixeria ran towards goal and unleashed a shot which arrowed into the top corner from thirty yards out. It was an audacious effort and threw an already vociferously awakened away support into chaotic ecstasy, and even drew a smattering of applause from the Harry Mac.

The result was a harsh one to take for Chester, after spending so much of the game ahead but they were made to pay for an inability to finish the game off – partly due to the resilience of the visitors’ defending and their use of substitutes to run at City. Chester now must learn from defeat and prepare to face a buoyant Blyth Spartans at home on Saturday.

Colin Mansley

Picture © Rick Matthews

Latest table | More photographs | Match highlights [YouTube]

Saturday 2 September
Spennymoor Town 1 Chester 1
National League North
Attendance: 1,245 Half Time: 0-0
Booked: Roberts, Weeks, Stanway.

Spennymoor Town: Montgomery, Mbeka, Pollock, Staunton, Popoola (Harris 83), Ross, Fielding (McKeown 83), Doherty (Gallacher 79), Greenfield, Ramshaw, Taylor. Subs not used: Curtis, Ferguson.
Chester: Stanway, Coates (Thomas 82), Williams, Edwards, Heywood, Roberts, Glendon, Weeks, Whitehouse, Murray (Maguire 54), Evans (Caton 71). Subs not used: Goodson, Daly.
Referee: E.Swallow.

Charlie Caton returns from injury with a goal for the Blues who are pegged back by Moors three minutes from time.

Picture © Rick Matthews

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