My long-awaited trip to Telford for my first glimpse of
the Bernie & Jonno Chester FC team ended up following
a familiar pattern – a cracking boozer on the doorstep
of the ground, a great behind-the-goal atmosphere and
then a let down on the pitch.
After my appetite for the 2018-19
season was whetted in the excellent Cock Hotel as I
caught up with the summer activities of fellow Chester
fans, it was a real blow that the team went behind inside
just 15 minutes.
It was an unusual opening goal as
after goalkeeper Grant Shenton made a poor clearance
he initially redeemed himself with an excellent stop.
But the ball rebounded out to Telford's James McQuilkin
and the ball hit the woodwork before finding the net.
Memories of last season flooded back
just four minutes later when Amari Morgan-Smith won
the ball and had no problem making it 2-0 to the home
side. It looked like Chester had a mountain to climb
at this stage and their best chance of the first half
fell to Craig Mahon, but his attempt went wide.
Chester seemed to step up a gear in
the second half and Mahon, playing in a midfield role,
was the most dominant man in yellow. However, just when
Chester looked to be coming back into it, they went
3-0 down on the 76th minute. In typical fashion, Chester
lost the ball after winning a corner when it was hit
upfield to dangerman Daniel Udoh, once on loan at Chester.
He took his chance well and it was ‘game over’
for the visitors.
A 85th minute consolation goal for
Chester came in the shape of a Simon Grand header from
another corner. The referee took a while to decide the
ball had crossed the line, giving the 535 away fans
at least something to cheer.
Following the full-time whistle,
most of the Chester squad came down towards the away
fans behind the goal – shaking a few hands as
they trooped off the field. There were a few angry words
exchanged on both sides, and thankfully there's a long
way to go in this season yet.
After a promising start to the campaign Chester were brought
straight back down to earth suffering their worst defeat
in 0ver 60 years when they were thrashed at Blyth Spartans.
The home side took the lead on 14 minutes when a poor
backpass from Dominic Smalley was intercepted by Dan Maguire
who beat Grant Shelton from close range. Four minutes
later it was 2-0 as a ball over the top of the Blues defence
found Jarrett Rivers and his cross was converted by defender
Chester were all at sea and the home side added a third
goal on the half hour as Jamie Holmes shot past Shenton
following good build up play down the left.
Ten minutes into the second period Sean Reid headed home
from a corner giving Shenton no chance to make it 4-0.
Chester were the reduced to ten men as captain on the
day Gary Roberts was shown a straight red card for what
was deemed a late tackle by referee Richard Aspinall.
From the resulting free-kick Blyth made it 5-0 as Steve
Howson turned the ball into his own net after the Blues
defence had failed to clear the danger. Adam Wrightson
added a sixth as a rampant Blyth cut through the Blues
defence at will.
Chester pulled a consolation goal back through Gary Stopworth
on 71 minutes, the midfielder firing past Peter Jameson
from the edge of the box.
Nathan Buddle added a seventh soon after and the rout
was completed in stoppage time when Maguire scored with
ease from close range.
Chester followed up their opening day point with a deserved
victory at Curzon Ashton just two days later. Goals from
Simon Grand, Anthony Dudley and John Pritchard brought
the three points back from the Tameside Stadium.
The Blues, who had named an unchanged side from Saturday,
almost fell behind on 10 minutes as Cameron McJannet’s
through ball caught out the defence and found Chris Sharpe
who shot wide when a goal looked certain.
It was half way through the opening period before Chester
had their first real look at goal as Shaun Tuton’s
cross was cleared to Gary Stopworth who forced a save
from Cameron Mason in the home goal.
Chester took the lead from the resulting corner as Grand
headed home John Pritchard’s cross from close range.
The Blues soon doubled their lead as Gary Roberts, instrumental
in midfield, sent Dudley through on goal and the on-loan
striker gave Mason no chance.
The Blues maintained their lead at the break thanks to
a Grant Shenton save that denied Joe Guest two minutes
before the interval.
On the hour mark Chester added a third to wrap up the
points. Good work from Dudley set up Roberts and Dominic
Smalley whose cross was met by Pritchard, the ball hitting
the net via a deflection.
The points were shared as Chester and Spennymoor started
the season with a stalemate at the Deva. Chester had the
better of the first half but faded a little after the
No fewer than ten new signings started for the Blues as
the new season under joint managers Anthony Johnson and
Bernard Morley got underway in front of a crowd of over
2,000. Scott Burton missed out through injury so Gary
Roberts took the captain’s armband.
After an early Dan Mooney strike drifted wide The Blues
forced the first real chance midway through the half as
Anthony Dudley split the visitors defence with a perfect
path to Mooney, he struggled to control the ball but found
Dudley who fired just wide from 20 yards.
Chester saw Gary Roberts curl a free-kick just over the
bar and Mooney again was in the action sending a shot
just over on the half hour as Chester pressed.
Ten minutes before the break Spennymoor almost took the
lead as Rob Ramshaw burst through only for his effort
that looked goalbound to be cleared by Danny Livesey for
the second period Matthew Gould in the Spennymoor goal
did well to save a Shaun Tuton 20-yard effort, the same
striker saw another good effort fly just wide of the
post moments later.
At the other end, Glen Taylor forced a close range save
from Gary Shenton and Stephen Brogan chipped an effort
over the bar after latching on to a ball sent over the
top of the Chester defence.
Chances were coming at both ends as Dudley saw an effort
bounce back from the underside of the bar and with eight
minutes remaining Gould produced a top-class save to
deny John Pritchard whose effort was heading into the
The last effort of the game came two minutes from time
as Dudley turned his marker to shoot low but straight