Olympic (H) | Burscough
(A) | Hednesford
Town (A) | FC
United of Manchester (H) | Stocksbridge
Park Steels (H) | Nantwich Town
29 August Nantwich Town 4 Chester 1
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League
Attendance: 1,561 Half Time 1-0
Booked: Horan, Powell.Sent-Off:
Horan. Nantwich Town:
Brain, Moss, Bailey, Flynn, Lowe, Worrall, Kelly (Prince
74), Cooke, Carter, Mills (Adaggio 90), Lennon (Campbell
90). Subs not used: Hendricks-Hamilton, Jack. Chester: Danby, Brownhill (Booth 70),
Horan, Smith, McGinn, Baynes, Stones (Howard 57), Powell,
Wright, Rainford, McNeil (Simm 59). Subs not used: Taylor,
Reed. Referee: Richard Bartlett (Cheshire).
was certainly not the result anyone predicted –
how could two rip-roaring performances against FCUM and
Stocksbridge be turned into a dismal display at Nantwich?
It was certainly not through lack of support – as
more than 1,000 Chester fans turned up in their droves
to witness this all-Cheshire bank holiday derby.
From the outset, no neutral would have predicted that
the match would result in a 4-1 home victory. For the
first 20 minutes, Chester piled on the pressure as they
attacked towards their fans.
Nantwich’s goalkeeper Johnny Brain, veteran of 200
Football League appearances with Port Vale, Macclesfield
and Walsall, had to do so much shouting that his voice
soon became hoarse.
But Chester, who had Chris Simm and Iain Howard on the
bench after they failed to arrive in time for the team-sheet
being handed in, failed to come close before the action
switched to the other end.
Michael Powell dwelled on the ball in midfield on the
29th minute before it was snatched back by Nantwich. A
neat pass to striker Ben Mills saw him complete the move
with a good strike past John Danby.
But the travelling fans didn’t seem rattled by the
home lead and Jamie Rainford had his best chance of the
day soon after. He had a great shot which was spectacularly
tipped over the bar by Brain.
Neil Young made no changes at half-time, and the match
started swinging in the direction of the hosts when George
Horan pulled the shirt of Dabbers’ Sean Cooke as
he ran towards the box. The foul looked to have taken
place outside the area, but referee Richard Bartlett blew
for a penalty.
To make matters worse, ex-Chester City player Darren Moss
argued that Horan was the last defender. Referee Bartlett
then issued a second yellow card to Horan, so he was sent
off with just ten minutes of the second half gone. Mills
struck a good penalty to make it 2-0 to Nantwich.
Howard then came on to replace Greg Stones, who'd looked
out-of-position all match in midfield. Soon after, Simm
replaced Matt McNeil, who’d had a lacklusture game.
But the changes made no real difference to the team’s
performance and Nantwich made it 3-0 when Michael Lennon
ran through to score. A Christian Smith consolation goal
a minute later was barely noticed, or supported, by the
disconsulate travelling fans.
Some of the Chester supporters now started making their
excuses and those who did leave early didn’t miss
much. Nantwich’s Liam Prince scored their fourth
on the 85th minute when Chester had given up any hope
of sneaking an unlikely point.
Nantwich, who featured another ex-Chester player, Jimmy
Kelly, had ran the show for at least an hour of the match
– with Kelly one of their star performers. The Chester
team must have wished they could have left early as well
as some of their fans. They’ll be hoping to see
a return of their home form when it’s back to Chester
to face North Ferriby United on Saturday.
27 August Chester 5 Stocksbridge Park
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League
Attendance: 2,040 Half Time 2-1
Booked: Powell, Howard. Chester:
Danby, Brownhill, Horan (Taylor 80) Smith, McGinn, Booth
(Baynes 68), Powell, Howard, Wright, Simm, McNeil (Rainford
77). Subs not used: Stones, Reed. Stocksbridge Park Steels: Scott, Lloyd,
Haigh, Lovell, Davies, Marrison (Joynes 90), Riordan (Adam
46), Telling, Blythen (Thomas 65), Glarvey, Ward. Subs
not used: Ellis, Schofield. Referee: David O’Rourke (Liverpool).
Chester built on their midweek win as they turned on the
style against Stocksbridge Park Steels and gathered momentum
with a handsome victory.
From the word go City played good football and their crisp
passing play was soon running rings round the Steels.
McNeil’s close control belied his height throughout
the game and he combined well with Booth to set Simm free
down the right. Simm checked, beat the full back and waited
to roll the perfect pass for the oncoming Howard who drilled
it in to the net for City’s opener. A few minutes
later Simm cut on from the left and let fly with a beauty
only to see his shot tipped round the post at full stretch
Danby was relatively untroubled in the City goal but there
were still a few jittery moments in defence as Steels
floated free kicks to the far post. And Chester were caught
napping when they allowed their visitors to equalise from
a contentious corner. A defender’s clearance passed
out near the corner flag and the linesman awarded a throw
in but was overruled by the referee after Steels players
appealed. The near post kick from the right was only half
cleared and Marrison latched on to the loose ball to swivel
and drive it home.
The goal only appeared to be denying the inevitable as
City continued to go forward with assurance. They seemed
fitter than their opponents too – one break away
by City left at least three of the Steels red-faced as
well as red shirted, doubled up and gasping for breath.
City forged ahead again courtesy of McGinn’s driven
free kick from wide right which flew round the wall and
into the far corner. Soon after the break the game was
taken further away from the Steels as Wright broke through
on the left and pulled the ball back into the path of
Powell who hammered it into the net despite the ‘keeper
getting a considerable touch on it.
Steels battled gamely on and looked increasingly lively
up front after the introduction of substitutes Adam and
later Blythen. The former was particularly unfortunate
not to score when his effort rebounded off the bar and
was scrambled away to safety.
But City had the bulk of the chances and perhaps should
have added more to their tally. Smith should have scored
at the far post but glanced his header wide. Horan hit
the bar with his header from a corner. It was left to
Powell to add another when he headed home from Baynes’
Rainford came on for Booth and did well but over anxious
to score himself – his shot to the near post was
gathered by Scott and his mazy run ended with a last ditch
tackle on the edge of the box. Simm showed the way in
the last minute as he sprung the offside trap and deftly
squared for Wright to score with a left footed clip past
the ‘keeper. Simm was rightly awarded man of the
match for his indefatigable running and brilliant link
up play. He combined well with McNeil who deserved his
standing ovation when withdrawn just before the end. Howard
too had a good all round match in the middle of the park.
City fans will be hoping that they continue where they
left off on Monday in the Cheshire derby with Nantwich.
24 August Chester 2 FC United of Manchester
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League
Attendance: 3,219 Half Time 3-0
Booked: Brownhill, Simm, McGinn. Chester:
Danby, Brownhill, Horan, Smith, McGinn, Booth (Baynes
87), Powell, Brown, Wright (Howard 64), Simm (Reed 83),
McNeil. Subs not used: Rainford, Taylor. FC United of Manchester:
Spencer, Battersby, Jones, Stott, Neville, Carr (Roca
38), Cottrell, Platt (Grimshaw 73), Wolfenden, Deegan
(Torpey 38), Norton. Subs not used: Metcalfe, Chadwick. Referee: Jonathan Hunt (Liverpool).
was like stepping back in time at the Exacta as 3,219
passionate fans roared on their teams as they battled
it out in an exciting encounter that would have been
a credit to the Football League.
Visitors FC United of Manchester brought along an away
following of around 600 – giving an atmosphere
that some could hardly remember, and the players may
rarely have encountered.
But both fan-owned clubs rose to the challenge, with
FCUM having the first real chance as a shot went wide
of John Danby’s post in front of the Harry Mac
Before long, Chester’s new signing, Matty McGinn
made his presence felt when his long-throw weapon was
unleashed in the opening spell. His first attempt of
many found the head of George Horan, forcing a save
from FCUM ‘keeper James Spencer.
The FCUM Number 1 had a brief spell at Chester City
earlier in his career, but that was not enough to make
him feel comfortable when he had to face a 15th minute
penalty after Chris Simm was fouled in the box. That
man McGinn stepped up to take the spot-kick and it was
1-0 to Chester.
Chester continued to heap on the pressure, with the
crossbar coming to Spencer’s rescue on at least
one occasion. FCUM were clearly as rattled as the woodwork
and manager Karl Marginson made a double substitution
on the 38th minute.
The Mancunians barely had chance to get used to their
new formation when a great Matt McNeil volley gave the
Blues a 2-0 lead before half-time. And Chester nearly
had a three goal half-time advantage when Simm did all
the hard work in rounding Spencer before falling over
in front of the net and somehow failing to score.
The atmosphere got even better as darkness came with
the second half, and both sides had chances saved in
the opening spell. But, as the game got more physical,
diminutive referee Jonathan Hunt issued cards on both
sides. Simm was unlucky to be yellow-carded for returning
to the pitch before he had permission after being up-ended
by an FCUM player.
The Chester fans urged on their team for a much-needed
third as it looked increasingly likely that FCUM would
score on the break. And that’s just what happened
after the Reds won a corner. Mike Norton scored for
them – cueing a ‘retro’ goal celebration
as a toilet roll was impressively thrown into the night
sky and classically unfurled itself onto the pitch.
Mark Reed came on as an 83rd minute Chester substitute,
replacing Simm, and he did his best to harry the FCUM
defenders. But it was a very nervy closing spell for
the home faithful before they were rewarded with a welcome
suffered a double blow at Keys Park going down to their
first defeat of the season, and losing influential midfielder
Ashley Williams with a shoulder injury that looks likely
to keep him out of the side until Christmas.
The home side had won both of their opening two matches
and chalked up an impressive run of 21 victories in 26
matches before the clash with Chester, indeed you have
to look back to November 2010 for when they last tasted
a home defeat!
The Blues, once again with a large away following behind
them, remained unchanged from the side that won midweek
at Burscough. It was the visitors that started brightly
with Matt McNeil just failing to get a touch to a dangerous
Jerome Wright cross.
But the loss of Williams on 19 minutes proved a turning
point with the midfielder receiving several minutes of
treatment before being stretchered off after falling awkwardly
in a challenge.
A s the home side began to take control Cheyenne Dunkley
flashed a header against the Chester woodwork following
a free kick, the ball fell to Mark Danks who blasted over
when well placed.
Only a superb last ditch tackle from Liam Brownhill denied
Nick Wellecomme from giving the Pitmen an interval lead.
Danby was called into action
just after the restart to deny dangerman Wellecomme
again. After 66 minutes
Matt McNeil forced home ‘keeper Dan Crane into
a save following Wes Baynes’ corner.
The home side almost took the lead
when Christain Smith nearly put through his own net
with a header back to Danby that slipped just past the
With the game looking as though
it was petering our for a draw the deadlock was finally
broken two minutes from time; substitute Jamey Osborne
took advantage of some hesitant defending to turn a
loose ball home from close range after Danby had initially
denied Wellecomme with a parry.
secured their first win on the new season in style with
a great second half performance to sweep aside their opponents
The Blues made changes from the side that drew against
Rushall on Saturday with Wes Baynes and Jamie Rainford
taking their place in the starting line-up at the expense
of Robbie Booth and Chris Simm, while Alex Brown and Jerome
Wright started in place of Michael Powell and Iain Howard.
The large 650+ Chester following in the crowd didn’t
have long to wait for the first cheer of the night as
the Blues took the lead as early as the third minute when
a foul on Matt McNeil saw referee Mark Powell point to
the penalty spot and Jamie Rainford put Saturday’s
miss behind him to slot the ball past Thompson in the
Brown and Horan both went close to extending the lead
as Chester continues to take the game to their opponents
with Rainford’s hard running up front causing all
sorts of problems.
It was very much against the run of play when Chester
were pegged back with a controversial penalty on the half
hour mark. Greg Stones was adjudged to have fouled Liam
Blakeman leaving Paul Williams to send John Danby the
wrong way to level the scores. Chester continued to carry
the game to their opponents up to the break without reward.
Following the turn round Chester carried on where they
left off and were rewarded with a second goal on 63 minutes
as Jerome Wright, on his full debut, cutting in from the
right before beating Thompson with a left foot shot.
Any chance of a Burscough fightback was ended was McNeil
scored his second goal of the season taking a pass from
substitute Chris Simm before firing home. Captain George
Horan wrapped up the scoring in the final minute heading
home a Liam Brownhill cross.
eagerly awaited new season got underway but it wasn’t
to be the home win that Chester fans had hoped for.
Instead the frustrated Blues had to be content with
a point from a game that either side could have won,
though a second half penalty miss by Jamie Rainford
eventually proved costly. Manager Neil Young watched
from the stand as he served a touchline ban carried
over from last season.
Chester took just 14 minutes to break the deadlock as
summer signing Matt McNeil rose and glanced in a Greg
Stones left wing cross past ‘keeper Chris Gemmell
from close range.
A great move by Chester culminated in Robbie Booth slotting
the ball into the net from close range but to the annoyance
of the home crowd, referee Paul Mahon, called play back
for a Chester free-kick following a foul by Olympic’s
James Skedgel in the build-up.
The visitors almost produced an equaliser
as Ahmed Obeng lobbed John Danby in the Blues goal but
could only watch as his effort from just inside the
box bounced off the crossbar and out of play to the
relief of the home fans behind the goal.
Seven minutes from the break the scores
were level. A defensive mix-up following a back header
ended with Danby fouling Matt Lewis in the area, the
Rushall player picked himself up and slotted home the
resulting penalty inside the right hand post. Danby
was booked as a result of the foul.
After the break Chester pushed for the winner. Iain
Howard saw an effort crash back off the post to Chris
Simm who was unable to control the difficult rebound.
Young then made a couple of changes after the break
bringing on Alex Brown and Rainford at the expense of
Michael Powell and Simm.
With 15 minutes remaining Chester were awarded a guilt-edge
chance as Olympic’s Grant Beckett brought down
Rainford and the referee awarded the second penalty
of the game. Rainford’s effort from the spot was
well saved by Gemmell in the visitors goal.
Chester continued to press and created several half
chances that fell to Booth, McNeil and Brown and an
effort was cleared off the line by the overworked, yet
solid Rushall defence who held out for a hard-earned