home campaign concluded with a blank scoresheet against
play-off bound Brackley Town. The visitors impressed in
the first half especially as they dominated the Blues
who were fortunate to reach the interval with their goal
Howson and Grand partnered one another in central defence
after Livesey was injured in the warm up and struggled
at times to cope with the immense physical challenge of
Ndlovu. The Brackley forward turned his man and got through
to shoot fiercely at Shenton who did well to parry the
effort to safety. The visitors won a number of corners
and seemed to be trying out several training ground manoeuvres
which City did well to repel.
Panic stations ensued when referee Elliot Swallow awarded
an indirect free kick on the edge of Chester’s six-yard
box for dangerous play. It was all bodies on the goal
line as Chester’s wall stood firm after Brackley’s
first attempt was disallowed as a false start.
The Saints had an even better chance to break the deadlock
when Mahon clipped Shepherd Murombedzi’s heels in
the penalty area and the referee pointed to the spot.
To rub salt into Mahon’s wounds, aggrieved at conceding
such a soft penalty, he was booked as well. Byrne stepped
up confidently and then scooped the ball over the bar
– much to the delighted approval of those in the
Harry Mac. Should their play-offs have to be decided on
sport kicks the thought of this one might come back to
Somehow City escaped until half time but Brackley had
been quicker of mind and body all over the pitch. Although
City looked a little bit more resilient at the start of
the second half they were still decidedly lacking in pace
and continued to make negligible impact on an assured
On the hour mark, however, three subs were introduced
all at once and City’s tempo began to lift. McKenna
and Green began to run purposefully across the park, with
the ball at their feet and the Blues attacking ideas livened
up. Howson blazed a howitzer well wide from distance after
one of McKenna’s mazy runs. Green left his marker
behind with a Cruyff turn and crossed to the far post,
just beyond the head of Waring. Dudley’s drag back
just failed to come off on the edge of the area which
would have capped a great move.
Green lost his way on one foray into the box but with
the full-time whistle approaching launched a venomous
effort at the end of a good move with McKenna which Lewis
partially saved. Howson failed to connect with the rebound
before Waring was given offside. The Exiles, match sponsors
today, chose Gary Roberts as their man of the match –
he worked tirelessly in the midfield battle. Shenton could
not have been far behind, though, he had one of his best
days in the Chester goal.
City’s outside chance of making the play-offs evaporated
with that Green effort but at least they had given a livelier
account against very solid opposition for the last half
an hour of the match. Their efforts were reflected in
the warm applause the players received at the end of the
match. The appreciation showed by those who stayed no
doubt a reflection that, after the traumas of last season,
some sense of stability had been restored this time –
and the though they may have fallen short of the play-offs
this season, some foundations have been laid for the future.
were thrashed 6-0 by Stockport who headed to the top of
the table as the Blues slipped to tenth following this
The Blues started badly and were a goal behing in the
opening ten minutes as a Scott Duxbury cross evaded Matty
Waters at the far post where Adam Thomas headed back for
ex-Blue Nyall Bell to tap home from close range.
Ten minutes later the Hatters doubled their lead through
Sam Walker whose low shot took a deflection to take it
past Grant Shenton in the home goal. As a contest the
game was over on the half hour as the visitors grabbed
their third goal. A mix-up between Simon Grand and Danny
Livesey allowing Bell to run through on goal and score
with easy past Shenton.
Chester rarely threatened though Ben Hinchcliffe was called
into action making a fine save to deny Livesey who headed
a Craig Mahon cross goalwards.
The Blues management made changes bringing on George Waring
and Steve Howson but to little effect as Darren Stephenson
side footed home Stockport’s fourth goal moments
after Bell just failed to complete his hat-trick.
Walker added the fifth goal from the penalty spot after
Sean McAllister had fouled Stephenson, and the misery
was completed at the death with substitute Jordan Keane
scoring the sixth goal from long range.