five straight defeats, Chester’s season is up
and running following a sensational 2-0 victory at arch-rivals
Wrexham, their first league win at The Racecourse since
1978. Captain for the day Paul Linwood led from the
front, heading the Blues in front after just five minutes,
and the Turner twins combined as Lewis added a second
decisive goal following Nathan’s persistent work,
to seal the victory.
The Blues defence was boosted
with the arrival of Danny Higginbotham in the week and
his presence was one of three changes made by Neil Young
who also recalled John Danby and Linwood. Making way
for the trio were George Horan, Lee Pugh and Martin
Chester, roared on by a bussed-in
following of around 800, started well with Lewis Turner
seeing a shot blocked after meeting Ben Mills’
cross with a fine volley. Less than a minute later though
the Blues, in purple, grabbed the lead. A free-kick
on the right went sent over by Jordan Laidler to be
met by the head of Linwood who powered an unstoppable
effort past Joslain Mayebi in the home goal at the Kop
Twelve minutes later the Chester
support was in dreamland as the Turner twins combined
to add the second goal. Receiving the ball from a throw-in
Nathan Turner took it to the byline before turning past
Robbie Evans, he pulled the ball back to Lewis who poked
it home inside the near post from eight yards out.
At the other end Wrexham, came
more into the game and forced some corners but the determined
Chester defence, learning from their failings in the
opening matches, dealt with the set pieces without too
There were loud appeals for
a penalty by the home support on 32 minutes as Linwood
charged down a Bradley Reid shot after a corner had
found him at the far post but referee Wayne Barrett
waved play-on to the relief of the away support behind
Substitute Junior N’Tame,
on for the injured Mark Creighton, found himself unmarked
from another Wrexham corner but he sent his header wide
and Danby saved from Brett Ormerod as the half drew
to an end.
Wrexham upped the pressure after
the restart forcing several corners. Rob Ogleby was
a header go just over and the same played shot well
wide as The Dragons looked to reduce the deficit, but
despite forcing a large number of corners, Danby was
Manager Neil Young made two changes
bringing on Aidan Chippenndale and Gareth Seddon for
Higginbotham and Alex Titchiner both of whom had played
a major role.
Seven minutes from time Chester
were reduced to ten men after substitute Ashley Williams
was shown a straight red card for pushing Reid in the
face, the midfielder could have no complaints about
the decision and now faces a three match ban. Despite
the numerical disadvantage, Chester
held firm until the end for the remaining minutes to
secure their first win and clean sheet of the season.
26 August Chester
1 Forest Green Rovers 2
Attendance: 2,083 (91 Forest Green Rovers) Half Time 0-1
Booked: Laidler, McIntyre, Pugh.
Fearon, L.Turner, Kay, Horan, Pugh, N.Turner,
Harrison, McIntyre, Laidler (Lindfield 68), Titchiner
(Reed 78), Mills. Subs not used: A.Williams, Linwood,
Chippendale. Forest Green Rovers:
Russell, Hodgkiss, Stokes, Bangura, Bennett,
Norwood, Klukowski, Wright (Barnes-Home 68), Oshodi,
Barry (Vieira 90), Kelly. Subs not used: Asafu-Adjaye,
Bulman, Williams. Referee:
Anthony Blackhouse (Brampton).
Chester’s woeful inability to defend set pieces
continued at home to Forest Green Rovers this afternoon.
Pugh’s miscued clearance missed the top corner
of the City goal but conceded a corner on six minutes.
Burly ex-Wrexham forward Danny Wright nodded home with
ease from the kick.
City after a feisty start in
which Tichener went close had the wind taken out of
their sails. Gradually they recovered and began to ruffle
the visitors. Ben Mills put himself about to good effect
and Tichener chased the ball down well but Russell in
the Rovers goal was hardly tested.
Forest Green, with their wealthy
backing have been described as the “Man City of
the Conference”. It’s a shame they didn’t
bring similar levels of support. Though they brought
three coaches – at least half of the occupants
must have gone shopping instead of watching the match.
Tempers began to fray as City’s
frustration got the better of them. Pugh was booked
for scything down Wright, and Laidler quickly followed
for a trip. Chester fans, were frustrated too by the
ref’s seeming leniency to several robust challenges
from the visitors.
Rovers, whose lurid shirts matched
the ball boys’ “day glo” tabards exactly,
almost doubled their lead following Laidler’s
caution as a free kick to the far post was flicked on
and Bennett failed to ram home the loose ball.
The play became even more fragmented
and fretful after the break. Forest Green manager Hockaday
blamed the state of the pitch for being “too sticky”
but neither side played the ball around much. As with
other games this season this was a predominantly physical
encounter and City were struggling in most areas. Horan
received lengthy treatment after being grappled to the
floor by Bennett. Oshodi was finally booked following
a clattering challenge on Mills and the referee seemed
on the verge of losing control as more squaring up took
place at an FGR free kick.
Danger man Barnes-Homer replaced
Wright for Rovers and took just five minutes to open
his account and double the advantage for forest Green
when he headed home at the far post from a corner.
City replied by throwing on
Lindfield and Reed and grabbed a lifeline when, following
a McIntyre free kick the ball broke free in the area.
Oshodi’s clearing header went backwards and Millis
nipped in to nod over Russell. It was just reward for
City’s efforts but did little in the end to alter
the result of the game. Chester once again were comfortably
It’s been a torrid start
to the season for all concerned at the club and difficult
to see what can be done to turn fortunes around. Neil
Young hopes to sign another central defender before
next Saturday’s derby at the Racecourse. They
certainly need to learn to defend corners better and
build from the back.
pointless season continued after their outing at Kidderminster
saw them lose 3-1 despite a more determined performance
against one of the League favourites.
Neil Young make four changes, including leaving captain
George Horan on the bench and putting new Sunderland
loan-signing Jordan Laidler in the starting line-up.
The Blues were supported by 396 travelling fans making
themselves well heard in the terrace behind the goal,
and creating an encouraging atmosphere for the away
side. It was a game that really did have a familiar
feel about it.
Chester started brightly enough, but didn’t really
have a serious attempt on goal until an Alex Titchiner
shot was saved by goalkeeper Daniel Lewis. Then came
another all-too familiar occurrence – when Kevin
McIntyre left the ball thinking it was going out for
a goalkick. But the referee signalled for a corner and
Josh Dowling was unmarked when his header found the
Chester were the caught napping on the 44th minute when
a poor clearance fell to a Kidderminster player, who
passed for Marvin Johnson to make it 2-0 to the home
But the Blues fans soon had their own goal to cheer
when a Lewis Turner cross found the head of Danny Harrison
and he registered Chester FC’s first goal in the
Conference Premier with just seconds left for half-time.
It was then we discovered there’d been a few changes
at Aggborough since our last visit. There was no more
vast stir fry on offer in the catering huts –
instead it was more traditional fayre of soup and cottage
pie. A bit too warming for summer!
The first 20 minutes or so of the second half saw few
– if any chances – for either side. Young
left it until the 75th minute before making a change,
when he bought on Ben Mills for Gareth Seddon. Mills
seemed to have more of a presence, but didn’t
come any nearer to scoring.
Jamie Reed replaced Laidler on the 80th minute and new
loanee Aidan Chippendale was given his chance on the
86th minute. Chester pressed forward for a point, and
just when everyone was forward, Kidderminster scored
their third goal. A great through pass split the Chester
defence and Joe Lolley scored with the almost the last
kick of the game.
While there’s no doubt that Harriers deserved
to win, it was another scoreline which made the Chester
performance sound worse than it really was. The Blues
do seem to be finding their feet in the Conference,
but it seems to be taking a while for them to secure
that first win. The fans may have to remain patient
for some time yet.
suffered their third straight defeat of the season as
two second half goals from Woking, reduced to ten men
at the time, were enough to inflict another home reverse.
Defender Michael Kay missed
the game through suspension and Blues manager Neil Young
made three changes from the squad beaten at home to
Hereford in midweek. In came Jamie Reed, Craig Mahon
and on-loan striker Alex Titchiner at the expense of
Martin Fearon, Marc Williams and Ben Mills.
After a slow start the first
chance of the game went to the visitors who saw Mark
Ricketts rob Jason Jarrett of possession and send Freddie
Ladapo through one-on-one with John Danby, but the Chester
shot stopper came out on top. A long-range effort from
Kevin Betsy skimmed past Danby's post as Woking continued
to press the Chester defence.
As the half wore on Chester
came more into it and both Craig Lindfield and Gareth
Seddon were unable to control the ball following nathan
Turner through balls. On the stroke of half time the
visitors were reduced to ten men as Josh Payne, who
had just seen an effort fly wide, received a straight
red card following an altercation with Nathan Turner.
Gareth Seddon saw a header hit
the post just after the restart with defender Paul Linwood
sending his follow-up effort high over the bar.
Despite their one man disadvantage
Woking took the lead in the 58th minute. as Gavin Williams
picked up a Kevin Betsy, pass and sent a superb 25-yarder
into the corner of the net, giving Danby no chance.
Things went from bad to worse
four minutes later as Joe McNerney doubled Woking’s
lead heading home John Nutter’s cross from six
Aaron Howe was well placed to
save a header from substitute Titchiner as Chester looked
to get back in the game. Seddon also saw an effort clawed
away by Howe and Kevin McIntyre saw a free kick come
back off the bar in the closing minutes but the visitors
comfortably held out to claim their first three points
of the season.
Kay was sent off on his home debut as goals either side
of the break saw Chester suffer defeat at the hands
of Hereford United.
Manager Neil Young made three changes
from the side that started the season at Barnet on Saturday.
In came Marc Williams, brothers Lewis and Nathan Turner
at the expense of Jamie Reed, Jason Jarrett and Paul
Linwood who all started on the bench.
Chester, attacking the home end, started
brightly creating two opportunities. Craig Lindfield
shot over from long range and Craig Mahon headed onto
the roof of the net following good work from Lewis Turner.
Nathan Turner then produced a comfortable save from
Rhys Evans in the Bulls goal.
Chris Bush forced a save from John
Danby who needed two attempts to gather his effort before
Michael Kay was booked for a foul on Dan Walker. Sam
Smith put the the ball in the net for the visitors soon
after, after Michael Rankine had beaten George Horan,
but saw his effort ruled out for offside.
Lindfield should have done better
eight minutes before the break but took too long over
a goalscoring opportunity and Danny Leadbitter blocked
Hereford took the lead in first half
added-time. A corner from Rob Purdie sailed over the
Blues defence to Luke Graham who looped a header over
John Danby into the net.
Worse was to follow five minutes after
the restart as Kay received his second yellow card of
the game for another foul on Dan Walker. The resulting
free-kick from Kingsley James was turned home by Smith.
Young rang the changes bringing on
Linwood, Reed and Jarrett (for Mahon, Williams and Lindfield)
and Reed only just missed connecting with a Kevin Mcintyre
cross as Chester tried to reduce the arrears.
The Bulls who almost added a third
moments after McIntyre found himself in the referee’s
book. Chris Bush’s long-range effort was spilled
by Danby but Smith could only turn the loose ball onto
Hereford looked the more likely
to score in the closing stages with both Rankine and
Chris Bush forcing fine fingertip saves from Danby.
this was it – the Blues really were back! All the
800 Chester fans making their way to Barnet’s smart
new stadium, aptly-named The Hive, had a real sense of
anticipation with their team about to make their debut
on the national football scene.
The travelling supporters certainly went out of their
way all afternoon to make back their team, and it seemed
to have the desired effect for the first 30 minutes. Chester
arguably had the best of the opening spell, with chances
for both Gareth Seddon and Danny Harrison.
The billiard table playing surface certainly made for
good football and it was great to see Chester and Barnet,
managed by ex-Dutch star Edgar Davids, trying to pass
the ball around the park.
Barnet’s tricky Keanu Marsh-Brown was their standout
player in the first half. And he laid on a good cross
for Curtis Weston, followed by a shot himself. But Marsh-Brown,
who was marking his birthday, was not able to make an
early start to his celebrations as John Danby was able
to parry his strike away.
Seddon had another shot, following a Kevin McIntyre throw-in,
but it was easily managed by Barnet’s much-travelled
goalkeeper, Graham Stack. Some of the Chester midfield
were looking like they were a bit be-dazzled by the impressive
surroundings of Barnet’s new home. Jason Jarrett
started well, but later was often caught a yard off the
pace by the full-timers.
Come the second half, and the full-time footballers soon
gained the upper hand. In fact, it was 1-0 to Barnet inside
a minute when the Chester defence were caught napping.
A good move by Barnet resulted in Luke Gambin slotting
it into the corner of the net.
The Chester support didn’t quieten though, and a
number of blue smoke bombs found their way onto the pitch
to add to the atmosphere. Chester were shooting towards
their fans by now, but never quite had the killer shot
The closest they came was when a Paul Linwood header was
cleared off the line by a stretching Stack with nearly
an hour on the clock. And not long after, the action was
at the other end again when Jake Hyde found himself on
the end of a good cross to put the home side 2-0 up.
There was no way back for the Blues, who were actually
clad in their new purple away kit, on the 73rd minute
when Hyde did well to lift the ball over Danby into the
net. Chester did have another chance to score with a goalmouth
scramble towards the end of the game, and it was a shame
the away fans did not get a consolation for their vocal
support. But the score remained at 3-0.
This was Chester’s welcome to the Conference, and
I’m sure they learned a lot from it. We must hope
the lessons will soon bear fruit, and their fabulous support
stays with them in the meantime.