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Monday 31 August
Chester 1 Guiseley 1
Football Conference Premier
Attendance: 2,304 Half Time 0-0
Booked: Rooney, Hobson, Richards.

Chester: Worsnop, Kay, Rooney, Hunt, Sharps, Thomson (Peers 76), Heneghan, Higgins, Chapell (Shaw 76), Hobson (Mahon 23), Richards. Subs not used: Forth, Tonge.
Guiseley: Drench, Toulson, Lowe, Thompson (Boshell 68), Parker, Atkinson, Brooksby, Dickinson (Craddock 61), Hatfield, Lawlor, Boshell (Boyes 68). Subs not used: Lockwood, Atkinson.
Referee: Joseph Johnson.

A makeshift Blues side stuttered to a feeble draw to Guiseley. George was injured and Shaw dropped to the bench. Heneghan returned but not to a back three as some might have guessed but instead took his place in midfield. It was a role that did not suit him and he struggled to get a foothold in the play.

The formation was further disrupted on 23 minutes when centre forward Hobson – still revelling in the injury time winner at Moss Rose a couple of days ago had to retire hurt after turning his ankle in the warm up. Mahon replaced him but played in midfield and George Thomson was left to fill the lone striker’s role – but in all truth he was isolated from the ball most of the afternoon.

City tried to press down the flanks but could not maintain sustained pressure on the visitors’ goal because they could not hold on to the ball long enough and were sloppy in possession. Instead it was the Lions of Guiseley who played the passing game that City fans are used to seeing the home side play. But neither goal came under much threat.

The game spurted to life midway through the second half when, following a corner, Danny Lowe was adjudged to have handled the ball. It undoubtedly made contact with his arm but was only debatably intentional. Nevertheless the referee, in consultation with his linesman awarded it and Rooney converted the spot kick coolly.

Chester were lifted for a while and looked to increase their lead. Kane Richards, who was one bright spot in the City line up – went through on the left and cut in to the box. He went down under challenge from the defender in his wake only to see the referee book him for diving. It looked more of a penalty than the one that had been given – these things even up.

Guiseley were still smarting from the original spot kick and plugged away at an equaliser. They had one effort ruled out for offside but, with six minutes remaining, substitute Adam Boyes had the simple task of notching a goal when a cross rebounded back to him across goal. It was disappointing for the City faithful but no less than the visitors deserved. Rooney came forward in the dying embers of the match to try to snatch a win from the jaws of a draw but his shot cum cross was deflected away from the goal by substitute Tom Peers.

Captain Sharps was deserving of his man of the match award – but in general it was a flat afternoon after the euphoria of a late away win on Saturday. Chester’s squad – which we all know to be small – is perhaps looking a bit threadbare now that they are carrying some injuries. It was brilliant news then that the crowd funder appeal, which closed today, had exceeded its target of £20,000. It gives Steve Burr a bit more leeway as he looks to boost playing numbers.

Colin Mansley

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Saturday 29 August
Macclesfield Town 1 Chester 2
Football Conference Premier
Attendance: 2,062 (819 Chester) Half Time 0-0
Booked: Higgins.

Macclesfield Town: Branagan, Halls, Byrne, Pilkington, Diagne, Lewis, Rowe (Turnbull 80), Whitehead, Whitaker, Dennis (Holroyd 73), Sampson. Subs not used: Bailey-Jones, Cowan, Jalal.
Chester: Worsnop, Higgins, Kay, Sharps, Hunt, George, Shaw (Thomson 60), Rooney, Chapell (Richards 60), Hobson, Mahon (Peers 78). Subs: Forth, Tonge.
Referee: Adrian Holmes (Castleford).

A last minute equaliser from substitute Tom Peers and a stoppage time winner from Craig Hobson make for a happy return to Moss Rose for Blues boss Steve Burr.

Burr was forced to make two changes to the side beaten at Woking last week, Ben Heneghan was ruled out through suspension and Ross Hannah through injury, in came Craig Mahon and Michael Kay.

Both sides cancelled each other out in a scrappy first half with the home side creating the better chances. Jon Worsnop was forced into saves to deny Danny Whitehead’s long range effort and Danny Whitaker. Earlier both Jordon Chapell and Craig Hobson had a sight of goal both putting their efforts wide.

The Silkmen broke the deadlock seven minutes after the break as Whitehead's shot passed through a crowded penalty past Worsnop and in at the far post.

With the home side beginning to gain the upper hand, manager Burr made changes bringing on George Thomson and Kane Richards. John Rooney saw a well executed free-kick cleared off the line and Thomson went close a minute after coming on when he also saw an effort cleared from the line by Neil Byrne.

With time running out another Rooney free-kick was swung into the area and the loose ball was prodded home by Peers. Not content with a point in the fourth and final minute of stoppage time Worsnop found Hobson with a long clearance, the Blues striker turned on the edge of the box to shoot into the bottom right corner of the net to send the 800 Chester supporters on the terrace behind the goal and in the corner of the stand wild.

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Saturday 22 August
Woking 5 Chester 2
Football Conference Premier
Attendance: 1,503 Half Time 1-0
Sent-off: Heneghan.

Woking: Cole, Caprice, Saah, Murtagh , Arthur, Yakubu, Ricketts (Poku 78), Jones, Goddard (Andrade 56), Daniel (Pattie 78), Holman. Subs not used: Newton, Hamann.
Chester: Worsnop, Higgins, Heneghan, Shaw (Tonge 53), Hunt, Sharps, Rooney, George, Chapell (Kay 52), Hobson, Hannah (Mahon 16). Subs not used: Forth, Thomson.
Referee: Mark Pottage (Dorset).

An afternoon that didn't start very well for Chester and their fans – with road and rail problems affecting many people heading to Kingfield – didn't end as they wanted either, with the Blues being on the wrong end of a 5-2 scoreline.

The team didn’t reach the ground until gone 2pm, which could hardly have helped preparations on an afternoon which saw the thermometer nudging towards 30°c.

Chester actually started the brightest of the two teams, as they shot towards Woking’s small covered terrace, with a good atmosphere created by those travelling Blues who were able to get to the ground in time for kick-off.

Ross Hannah, who was struggling with an injury, came off on the 16th minute to be replaced by Craig Mahon. By that stage, both sides had only had half chances, with Jordan Chapell shooting one over the bar for Chester.

But the game changed soon after that when Ben Heneghan was red-carded after a foul in the box on Dan Holman. Although I was right at the other end, I’m assured it was a definite sending-off offence, with the possibility of handball even being involved in the incident.

John Goddard netted a good penalty and, with Chester losing their defensive talisman, it looked unlikely they would reply. Craig Hobson actually came close to levelling matters up when he found himself in a one-on-one with Cards’ keeper Jake Cole. But Hobson almost seemed to assume he was offside and failed to capitalise on the opportunity.

Woking looked increasingly likely to score again just before half-time, with one ball being cleared off the Chester line and another shot heading over the bar.

Just as the Chester fans were settling into their seats in Woking’s incongruous stand for the second half, the home side did find the net. It was a well-taken goal by Holman and left the 10-man Blues with little hope of a result. It really was game over just six minutes later when a well-struck free kick from Kadell Daniel found the far corner to make it 3-0 to the Cards.

Chester didn’t roll over and die, however. In fact they notched up their 500th competitive goal since they were reformed when a John Rooney corner was passed back to him. His great cross found Michael Kay’s header and respectability was restored to the scoreline.

But Woking’s Joey Jones smashed another shot past Jon Worsnop on the 76th minute to put the home side back in the driving seat. For the neutral, there really were some great goals scored in this match.

In fact, the goalscoring display was far from over after Chester won a free kick in the danger area. Up stepped John Rooney to score another sublime goal as his strike dipped into the corner past Cole on the 89th minute.

There were four minutes of injury time in which it was no surprise that yet another goal was scored. It was Woking’s turn again when QPR loanee Ben Pattie lobbed the ball over Worsnop to finish the scoreline at 5-2 to the hosts.

Sue Choularton

Picture © Rick Matthews (Chester Leader)

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Wednesday 18 August
Chester 1 Cheltenham Town 1
Football Conference Premier
Attendance: 2,304 Half Time 1-0
Booked: Mahon.

Chester: Worsnop, Higgins, Heneghan, Sharps, Hunt, George, Shaw, Rooney (Hobson 72), Chapell, Hannah, Mahon (Thomson 83). Subs not used: Forth, Tonge, Kay.
Cheltenham Town: Town: Phillips, Barthram, Downes, Parslow, McLennan, Storer, Pell, Waters (Hall 42), Munns, Wright, Morgan-Smith. Subs not used: Kitscha, Hanks, Bowen, Cooke.
Referee: Richard Wigglesworth (Doncaster).

Chester fought out an entertaining draw with Cheltenham Town, finding their feet in non-League football after their relegation last season. Determined to make a swift return they have recruited widely in the summer, fielding eleven debutants in their first game at Lincoln.

It was Blues’ new arrival Ross Hannah though who earned early plaudits by controlling the ball won in midfield by Luke George and then cutting in from the right along the edge of the penalty area before driving a fierce shot past Phillips into the visitors’ net. It was a real touch of class which lit up the evening and Hannah’s performance throughout was good enough to earn him the man of the match award. He did blot his copybook slightly however when he latched on to a wayward backpass after half an hour but screwed his shot wide with only the keeper to beat.

It looked like City would rue that missed opportunity immediately as the Robins’ next attack saw Wright nod a cross from the right back across goal only for Waters – with the net at his mercy – hook the ball narrowly over the crossbar.

Hannah did have the ball in the net again just before half time as City counter attacked swiftly but he was ruled offside and Blues went into the break just one goal to the good. It was not long into the second half, however before Chester conceded their first goal of the season and they did so in the most calamitous of ways. First Cheltenham forced a throw on the right as City dithered at the back and then a miscued sky-high clearance by Hunt gave enough time for Worsnop to dash off his line and miss his punch completely on the edge of the box. Storer was on hand to equalise.

For large periods of the second half the momentum was with the visitors as they passed the ball around more quickly and City could not maintain the same grip they enjoyed earlier. Barthram on the right of midfield saw a lot of the ball and was allowed to run towards goal unchallenged only to see his shot crash upwards off the bar. Blues did manage some response though and the best effort of the half came when Hannah won the ball outside the area and hammered a great shot towards goal. Phillips was alive to it and tipped it round the post.

As Chester seemed to be losing ground in midfield, Hobson replaced Rooney for the last quarter of an hour and his aerial presence caused problems even for the Robins’ tall rearguard.

In the end, a draw was probably a fair result, though on another day Hannah might have had a hat trick. For a spell in the first half City were up to the dizzy heights of third in the league while they were in front. At the end they settled for a respectable seventh.

Colin Mansley

Picture © Rick Matthews (Chester Leader)

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Saturday 15 August
Dover Athletic 0 Chester 0
Football Conference Premier
Attendance: 801 Half Time 0-0
Booked: George, Hobson, Hannah.

Dover Athletic: Walker, Magri (Wynter 65), Orlu, Ofori-Acheampong, Raggett, Grimes, Sterling, Bellamy, Deverdics, Payne, Miller (Diallo 72). Subs not used: Young, Parkinson, Rafferty.
Chester: Worsnop, Higgins, Heneghan, Sharps, Hunt, Chapell (Thomson 72), Shaw, George, Mahon (Hobson 61), Rooney, Hannah. Subs not used: Kay, Forth, Tonge.
Referee: Constantine Hatzidakis.

A third clean sheet for the Blues defence who had to battle hard to earn a point from the Crabble. Chester manager Steve Burr named an unchanged side from the one that claimed three points at The Shay on Tuesday night.

Ross Hannah tried an ambitious long range effort in the opening minutes that failed to test Mitch Walker in the home goal. At the other end Jon Worsnop was called into action as he saved well low down to deny Ricky MIller after he's cut in from the left and shot from the edge of the box.

Ben Heneghan forced a save from Walker before Luke George made a great challenge to deny Stefan Payne a clear chance of goal before the forward blazed the loose ball over as the Whites pressed.

Hannah was denied the opening goal by the Dover woodwork as the Blues forward latched onto a through ball before sending in a shot that came back form the bar.

The final effort of the bar fell to Duane Ofori-Acheampong who shot over Worsnop’s bar after he'd shake off a Ryan Higgins challenge.

Johnny Hunt did well to clear a Ricky Miller effort off the goal line and over the bar to safety after the home forward had chipped an effort over the advancing Worsnop. The resulting corner was put wide by Jamie Grimes.

With the home side getting on top Miller missed another good chance shooting tamely at Worsnop having been set up by Payne.

Craig Hobson replaced Craig Mahon and the striker almost got on the scoresheet after heading a Tom Shaw cross onto the bar. The Blues hit the bar for a third time in the closing stages as a Heneghan cross was deflected onto the woodwork.

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Tuesday 11 August
FC Halifax Town 0 Chester 1
Football Conference Premier
Attendance: 1,732 (495 Chester) Half Time 0-1
Booked: -.

FC Halifax Town: Glennon, Bolton, Hutchison, Whitehouse (Hughes 59), James, McManus, Bencherif, Hibbs, MacDonald (Hattersley 46), Burrow (Bishop 86), Tuton. Subs not used: Porter, Roberts.
Chester: Worsnop, Sharps, Higgins, Shaw, Hunt, Heneghan, George, Rooney, Mahon (Kay 85), Chapell (Thomson 89), Hannah (Peers 94). Subs not used: Forth, Tonge.
Referee: Wayne Barratt (Bromsgrove).

Chester followed their home win over Braintree Town on Saturday with three more points and another clean sheet as their unbeaten start to the season continued with an entertaining victory at The Shay.

An ankle injury to Craig Hobson meant that Craig Mahon started in an otherwise unchanged line-up. Jordan Burrow almost opened the scoring for the home side in the opening minutes heading wide of Jon Worsnop’s post.

Burrow had another sniff of a chance moments later but Ryan Higgins was on hand to clear the danger. Chester’s best chance of the opening period came on 20 minutes when Josh MacDonald deflected a Higgins centre that former Blue Matt Glennon in the home goal did well to push round the post.

Ben Heneghan rose to meet a Mahon cross to head just over as Chester came more into the game. Mahon shot wide, Ross Hannah forced a save from Glennon and skipper Ian Sharps headed wide before Chester opened the scoring on 34 minutes.

Jordan Chapell scored the all important goal picking up a loose ball outside the box and sending in a shot that took a deflection off Graham Hutchison to give Glennon no chance to the delight of the near 500 away following.

Hutchison and Jake Hibbs both headed over the bar as Halifax unsuccessfully pushed for an equaliser before the break.

Hannah pushed a header wide at the start of the second period having met an inswinging John Rooney free kick. Rooney himself forced a good save our of Glennon following a free kick for the edge of the box.

Danny Hattersley had the ball in the net for Halifax but referee Wayne Barratt ruled the effort out for offside after consulting one of his assistants. James Bolton saw two efforts saved by Worsnop as the home side pressed.

The Chester rearguard stood firm under home pressure in the final period before producing a couple of late efforts themselves that saw Glennon palm a Hannah header over the bar and Chapell send a shot into the side netting before Barratt blew for full time.

Picture © Rick Matthews (Chester Leader)

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Saturday 8 August
Chester 1 Braintree Town 0
Football Conference Premier
Attendance: 2,256 Half Time 1-0
Booked: Shaw, Heneghan.

Chester: Worsnop, Higgins, Heneghan, Sharps, Hunt, George, Shaw (Mahon 64), Rooney, Chapell (Tonge 88), Hannah, Hobson (Peers 69). Subs not used: Forth, Thomson.
Braintree Town: Norris, Brundle (Walker 87), Clerima, Fry, Habergham, Miles (Cheek 69), Davis, Woodyard (Marks 81), Isaac, Akinola, Sparkes. Subs not used: Paine, Phillips.
Referee: Ollie Yates (Staffordshire).

No fewer than six playes made their debuts in the opening match of the new season and it took just four minutes for one of the summer signings, Johnny Hunt, to score the only goal of the game to seal the three points.
Hunt picked up the ball from a John Rooney short corner, turned three defenders before firing home from the edge of the box for a fine individual goal.

The Iron hit back form their early setback with Jon Worsnop forced into a couple of saves and captain Ian Sharps heading clear under pressure from the visitors.

Ross Hannah went close to doubling the lead on 15 minutes as his shot which beat ‘keeper Will Norris was cleared off the line by Remy Clerima. Craig Hobson fired wide from a good position, and Norris also denied Rooney just before the interval with a fine save from a trademark free-kick from the Blues midfielder.

Worsnop produced a great save to deny Dan Sparkes an equaliser as Braintree pushed for an equaliser in the second period.

The nearest Chester came to adding a second was an effort from Jordan Chapell that rattled the crossbar. The woodwork also denied John Rooney who also saw a 20-yarded come back from the bar.

Sparkes just failed to make contact with a teasing cross as Braintree pushed for an equaliser, but Cheste weren’t to be denied their first home win in three attempts against the Essex Side.

Picture © Rick Matthews (Chester Leader)

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