euphoria at an unlikely victory at Aldershot on Saturday
was not allowed to endure as they were brought back
down to earth on this Bank Holiday Monday by Cheshire
neighbours Macclesfield. It was hard to see how another
win might be secured with all four strikers side-lined
Jon McCarthy stuck with the
eleven that finished the match against the Shots with
the exception of goalkeeper Conor Mitchell who was away
on international duty with Northern Ireland. Alex Lynch
replaced him. Akintunde, one of the inured four made
it to the bench, as did assistant manager Tom Shaw.
The Silkmen settled first in
the warm and sun-soaked Swansway stadium then City retaliated
with a couple of crosses which threatened – one
from either wing. But Macc broke swiftly and with three
or four passes were in the penalty area. Tyrone Marsh
span and crossed and Mitch Hancox had timed his run
perfectly to glance a header into the far corner. The
Blues were facing an uphill struggle after only eight
minutes. Perhaps jaded after the exertions on Saturday
– Macclesfield, having played on Friday had had
an extra day to recover – Chester seemed second
to every ball and were crowded out in possession Macclesfield’s
high press forced City to hit the ball long and, despite
valiant efforts from Dawson as makeshift centre forward,
it couldn’t be made to stick. Mahon had an effort
well wide from distance but City did not create many
The same could be said of the
visitors too until Toure headed over from close range
when he should have scored and then, just before the
break Durrell dispossessed Rowe-Turner and cut to the
by-line, only for Turnbull to intercept and clear his
cross from in front of the goal.
City upped the tempo slightly
after half time and began to show encouraging signs.
Dawson had a shot well-wide but Kingsley James, playing
in a more forward role, cut in from the left and fired
a shot on target which was beaten away by Jalal. But
Macclesfield won a couple of corners following Rowe-Turner’s
booking for fouling Toure. The visiting fans were giving
their former captain Andy Halls dogs abuse as he lined
up in front of them to defend it. Durrell’s kick
from the left was swept in to the roof of the net by
defender Kennedy and the Silkmen had doubled the advantage.
In a seemingly desperate last
throw of the dice Chester brought on Matty Waters for
Joyce and Akintunde for Chapell and re-arranged to throw
Astles up front and move Dawson back in to midfield.
Waters filled in at left back and Rowe-Turner moved
inside to centre back. Astles got the crowd going for
a while with some deceptive footwork and shielded the
ball well. City began to look a little more threatening
but equally insecure at the back as Macc broke quickly.
Mahon saw half-hearted appeals
for a penalty waved away and then shot too high after
a mazy run. James might have scored a couple of times
near the end. First he anticipated Mahon’s lofted
pass and beat Jalal to it only to lift the ball over
the bar as well as the keeper. Then he didn’t
connect well enough with Dawson’s superb free
kick and headed wide. Macclesfield too had chances to
make the win more emphatic but Marsh headed against
the bar and Hancox burst through only to shoot over.
Chester had wilted in the sunshine. By contrast the
Silkmen seemed to have more energy and organisation.
Having no recognised striker
fit clearly hampered City but it meant that the whole
performance was tired and shapeless. Boos of frustration
rang out at the final whistle. Then Astles came over
and the players began to be applauded for their efforts.
It is still early in the season but the poor home form
of last season will cast a long shadow until Chester
can at last get this particular monkey off their back.
Jon McCarthy thanked the fans for creating a good atmosphere
for much of the game – what he and they would
all give for a convincing home win. First
Chester must hit the road again
to struggling Torquay at the weekend and then the re-arranged
game against Solihull Moors on Tuesday. Had the latter
gone ahead as planned then City may well have got off
to a flying start and the resulting momentum led to
a much more positive start to the season. On such fine
lines does confidence and anxiety balance.
26 August Aldershot
Town 1 Chester 2
Football Conference National
Attendance: 2,056 (118 Chester) Half Time: 1-0
Booked: Turnbull, Akintunde, Halls.
Aldershot Town: Cole, Alexander, Oyeleke,
McClure, de Havilland, Okojie (Rendell 70), Kellerman
(Fenelon 70), Rowe, Arthur (Arnold 78), Reynolds, Taylor.
Subs not used: Lyons-Foster, Smith. Chester: Mitchell, Halls, Rowe-Turner,
Astles, McCombe, James, Turnbull, Davies (Joyce 46), Mahon,
Dawson, Akintunde (Chapell 46). Subs not used: Lynch,
Waters, Crawford. Referee: Gary Parsons.
expect if you scroll through these pages, you’ll
find many instances of me reporting the proverbial “game
of two halves”. Well, this time I really mean
Chester fans arrived for this game
more in hope than expectation, with Aldershot being
unbeaten at home all season and much of last season
as well. Meanwhile the Blues hadn’t notched up
three points since they visited Torquay on April Fools’
Day and were missing three injured strikers.
The first half of the game went to
form in the glorious sunshine, with Aldershot hitting
the woodwork three times and Chester not encroaching
once into their opponents’ box.
It was no surprise when the home side
went ahead on the 34th minute. Lively teenage midfielder
Jim Kellerman laid on a good pass to Matt McClure and
he had no trouble slotting the ball past fellow Northern
Ireland u-21 international, Conor Mitchell.
Lone Chester striker James Akintunde
looked to have picked up an injury in the first half
and it was no surprise to see him replaced for the second
45. Replacement Jordan Chapell went on to have one of
his better performances and anonymous Liam Davies was
also replaced at half-time by Wade Joyce.
Chester seemed a changed side right
from the re-start and a Wade Joyce corner led to them
netting an equaliser. The corner came to Craig Mahon,
who was fouled in the box. The resultant penalty was
well-taken by Lucas Dawson to put the visitors back
on level terms.
Aldershot pressed forward, but
Mitchell had the better of each shot. Chester had their
own strike of the crossbar with 10 minutes’ remaining,
giving the travelling 118 fans a vision of an unlikely
three points. Sure enough, the ball fell well for the
Blues, and a pass from Chapell to Kingsley James saw
him score a remarkable 82nd minute winner. If only the
team could bottle the feeling of that second half and
take it to the Deva Stadium with them.
last minute goal from the visitors denied Chester a point
after they had come back from conceding two first half
There was less than five minutes on the clock before Sutton
opened the scoring as Craig Dundas broke down the right
with pace before crossing for Louis John to beat Conor
Mitchell from the edge of the box. It was one-way traffic
as Sutton continued to press Chester down the wings with
the home side pegged back and defending deep.
Chester were forced into a change
midway through the half with Ross Hannah limping off
with a hamstring problem to be replaced by Jordan Chapell.
Sutton continued to press as Tommy Wright dragged a
shot wide of the target from a good opening.
As half-time approached Sutton
doubled their lead, Wright latched onto a through ball,
advanced on goal before shooting past Mitchell at the
Just before the break Chester
grabbed a lifeline as Ryan Astles saw a header from
a corner blocked with the ball falling to Craig Mahon
who controlled the ball before sending a 20-yarder past
the diving Jamie Butler into the corner of the net.
Five minutes after the restart
Sutton had the ball in the net again but Nicky Bailey's
spectacular 30-yard effort was ruled out as the linesman
deemed it had been touched in on the way by an offside
Chester were spurred into action
as James Akintunde's cross was met by Kingsley James
who steered his effort just wide of goal. Just after
the hour mark Chester did draw level. A smart move involving
Lathaniel Rowe-Turner and James set up Lucas Dawson
who found the bottom corner of the net from 20 yards
Chester, looking for their first
home win since November, pressed for an unlikely winner
with Rowe-Turner doing well to create some space before
firing a shot wide of goal on 80 minutes.
With the game entering three
minutes of added time Sutton grabbed the winning goal
as substitute Kieran Cadogan latched onto a through
ball before lobbing over Mitchell.
came away from Victoria Park with a hard earned point
after being under pressure for long periods from a home
side that hit the woodwork on three occasions.
Manager Jon McCarthy brought in James Akintunde to partner
Ross Hannah up front with Harry White dropping to the
bench, and it was Akintunde who gave Chester the perfect
start with a goal in the opening minute. Scott Harrison’s
attempt at a back pass fell well short of Scott Loach
in the home goal and was intercepted by Hannah, the striker
saw his shot partially saved but Akintunde was on hand
to slam home the rebound.
struck back immediately with Ryan Donaldson forcing
a double save from Conor Mitchell in the blues goal.
Chester through they's added a second goal as Hannah
turned to fire home from a Paul Turnbull flick on only
for the effort to be ruled out for offside.
Chester had Lathaniel Rowe-Turner to thank for a last
ditch tackle that denied Ryan Donaldson midway through
the half. Moments later Nicky Deverdics hit the crossbar
with Jake Cassidy putting the rebound wide as the home
side continued to press.
Deverdics hit the crossbar again with
an effort from 20 yards as Chester’s goal led
a charmed life as the half wore on.
Lucas Dawson saw an effort saved early
in the second period as Chester looked to grab a second
but it was the home side who came closest to scoring
as full back Carl Magnay saw an effort rattle the woodwork
before rebounding out to safety.
The home side eventually found an
equaliser on 71 minutes. Magnay crossed deep into the
box and Cassidy and Mitchell both went for the ball
with the former Airbus striker winning the contest.
Hartlepool now pushed for the winner
and Mitchell denied Conor Newton’s shot from the
edge of the box but the Blues defence held out for a
third successive draw.
12 August Chester
0 FC Halifax Town 0
Football Conference National
Attendance: 2,082 Half Time: 0-0
Chester: Mitchell, Halls, Rowe-Turner,
McCombe, Astles, Mahon (Chapell 79), James, Turnbull,
Dawson, Hannah, White (Akintunde 68). Subs not used: Lynch,
Davies, Joyce. FC Halifax Town: Johnson, Wilde, Brown,
Garner, Kosylo (MacDonald 56), Hotte, Denton, Oliver,
Dixon (Morgan 73), Duckworth (McManus 46), Charles. Subs
not used: Nicholson, Tomlinson. Referee: Peter Gibbons.
Chester’s second home
match of the season was against another of the newly promoted
teams FC Halifax Town, both teams had to be content with
a point following a lacklustre bore draw.
Manager Jon McCarthy made one change from Saturday’s
starting X1 with Ross Hannah coming in for James Akintunde
who dropped to the bench.
Shaymen had the first of the few opportunities in the
game as Bohan Dixon, an ex-trialist with Chester, shot
wide from outside the box, not troubling Conor Mitchell
in the home goal. At the other end, Hannah put through
by Kingsley James dragged an effort wide when through
Mitchell came out to claim a Matty
Kosylo effort and Ryan Astles was well placed to clear
a Denton header off the line at the back post. Chester's
last effort of the half as Harry White won a free-kick
just outside the area though Hannah curled the effort
over the bar. John McCombe ensured the sides went in
level after his last ditch tackle prevented Nathan Hotte
a run through on goal.
Chester started the second half well
as Hannah found Andy Halls whose shot went just wide.
On 60 minutes Halifax substitute MacDonald beat Rowe-Turner
and saw his cross evade Mitchell and bounce back from
McCombe saw a flick header from
a free-kick drift just wide as both sides looked for
a late winner. Dion Charles went close two minutes form
time as his shot on goal was deflected over, and as
the game entered the final minute Akintunde linked up
well with Hannah before seeing his shot on target tipped
round the post by Sam Johnson in the Halifax goal.
8 August Chester
1 AFC Fylde 1
Football Conference National
Attendance: 2,223 Half Time: 1-1
Chester: Mitchell, Halls, Rowe-Turner,
Astles, McCombe, James, Turnbull, Dawson, Mahon (Chapell
82), White (Bell 72), Akintunde (Hannah 64). Subs not
used: Lynch, Davies. AFC Fylde: Taylor, Montrose, Francis-Angol,
Langley, Tunnicliffe, Bond, Finley, Rowe (Hardy 82), Muldoon,
Smith, Jones. Subs not used: Lynch, Grand, Blinkhorn,
Ezwele. Referee: Daniel Middleton.
Chester got their season
underway belatedly as they entertained newly promoted
AFC Fylde. Their paths had crossed previously as City
had risen through the leagues. Now, six years later, Fylde
had risen themselves and came to the Deva having won the
National League North convincingly last season. The visitors’
tangerine away kit perhaps belied the affection of chairman
David Heythornthwaite for neighbours Blackpool.
The Coasters attacked the Harry Mac End and moved the
ball around slickly from the back. The huge figure of
Lewis Montrose, a summer signing from Stockport where
he was twice player of the season, orchestrated play in
front of the back four. The first chance fell to the visitors
as a long throw was headed out towards the edge of the
area and Sam Finley volleyed it back on to the roof of
the net. Chester responded in a game played at a fast
pace and of high quality. Akintunde was looking lively
and flicked a shot wide of the post and also beat two
defenders with a swift turn and sent a dangerous ball
across the face of the goal. His striking partner Harry
White latched on to a through ball and, holding off a
defender’s challenge dragged a shot out from under
his feet which Taylor did well to parry.
Akintunde’s close control and movement were causing
problems for Fylde and Langley saw a yellow card for demolishing
the City forward from behind. The game continued to ebb
and flow with the Coasters probing down the flanks and
moving the ball around swiftly to create space. From one
such counter attack Muldoon sped down the left and rolled
the ball across for Smith whose shot just eluded the far
post with Rowe-Turner tying himself in knots on the line
attempting to clear it. The growing threat from Fylde’s
pace was creating nervousness on the home end and soon
the plaintive cries of the North Terrace posties of “Sort
it out!” and “Get is sorted!” were to
But following another lighting quick break, Jones fed
the ball to Finley on the right and his controlled pass
was met by Muldoon to file the ball into the net from
just outside the six yard box. The timing of the goal
was a psychological blow just before the half-time break
but it was negated almost immediately as Kingsley James
carried the ball forward on the left, played a one-two
with White and then rolled it into the path of Dawson
who stroked home the equaliser.
Soon after the break Harry White dragged the ball back
to bemuse two defenders and then curled a shot narrowly
wide of the far upright. It would have been a beauty and
fitting reward for the forward who was a thorn in Fylde’s
defence all night. The Tangerines then dominated for a
spell and City struggled to get a toe on the ball.
Jon McCarthy freshened up the forward line with first
Ross Hannah – who received a rapturous welcome -
and then Nyal Bell replacing Akintunde and White respectively.
The withdrawn forwards both received standing ovations
from the impressed home faithful. Hannah tried his luck
from long distance when he saw Taylor off his line and
was clearly fired up for the occasion. At the other end
Conor Mitchell, signed on loan from Burnley just a couple
of hours before kick-off, having impressed in pre-season
friendlies, tipped a venomous shot from Finley at full
stretch round the post.
The game opened up into a grand stand finish as Chapell
came on to thread a clever pass through to Hannah who
rounded Taylor but found the angle too tight to steer
the ball into the net. Francis-Angol was cautioned for
pulling down Hannah when the Blues forward was racing
clear. From the resultant free kick, Bell went agonisingly
close to nudging the ball over the line. Chapell then
was given an opportunity to bear down on goal when Taylor
miskicked under pressure but he took one touch too many
and was closed down. Fylde too pressed for a winner but
found City’s defence resilient. It had been an absorbing
encounter with much to encourage the supporters of both
teams and a draw probably a fair result.