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Saturday 31 August
Spennymoor Town 2 Chester 1
National League North
Attendance: 1,049 Half Time: 0-1
Booked: Glendon, Livesey, Griffiths, Burton.
Sent-off: Livesey.

Spennymoor Town: Gould, Magnay, Brogan, Chandler, Buddle (Williams 46), Curtis, McKenna, Ramshaw (Ward 59), Taylor, Anderson, Johnson (Boyes 75). Subs not used: Roberts, Cogdon.
Chester: Griffiths, K.Roberts, Livesey, Grand, Taylor, Glendon, Burton, Jackson, Dudley (Murray 81), Asante (Mahon 85), Hughes (Waring 69). Subs not used: Morgan, Elliott.
Referee: Dean Hulme.

Chester took an early lead through Akwasi Asante, but saw Danny Livesey controversially sent-off before conceding two second half goals at the Brewery Field.

The Blues made a bright start and took the lead on seven minutes as Matty Hughes flicked on a long clearance from Simon Grand to Asante who advanced and rounded the ‘keeper Matt Gould before slotting the ball home.

Grand headed over a Joel Taylor cross as Chester pushed for a second goal. Just before half-time Livesey received a booking for dissent after conceding a free-kick in which he had to leave the pitch for treatment to a head wound. He was then shown a second yellow card for returning to the pitch without referee Dean Hulme’s consent.

Five minutes after the restart Moors were level as Andrew Johnson’s long range effort squirmed through the legs of goalkeeper Russell Griffiths into the net.

A fine one-two with Asante saw striking partner Anthony Dudley go close as his effort came back off the post. With the game deep in stoppage time the home side grabbed all three points as Adam Boyes saw an effort saved by Griffiths only for Glen Taylor to score the rebound from close range.

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Monday 26 August
Chester 4 Hereford 1
National League North
Attendance: 2,573 (423 Hereford) Half Time: 2-0
Booked: -

Chester: Griffiths, K.Roberts, Grand, Livesey, Taylor, Burton, Stopforth (Murray 74), Jackson, Dudley, Asante (Waring 64), Hughes (Elliott 64). Subs not used: Waters, Mahon.
Hereford: Hall, Thomas, Hodgkiss, Maye, Cullinane-Liburd, Gowling, Nicholson (Owen-Evans 46), Jagger Cane, Symons (Styche 69), Liburd (Hanley 46), Ash. Subs not used: Pope, O’Sullivan.
Referee: Kristian Silcock.

On a balmy Bank Holiday Monday Chester proved too hot for Hereford as they turned in one of their best displays for many months. Not only was it an impressive result, the performance from start to finish was blistering as the Blues demolished the Bulls.

There were two changes to the side which had won so professionally at Kidderminster two days previously. Gary Roberts picked up a knock towards the end of the Harriers game and was replaced by club captain Scott Burton. Akwasi Asante started for the first time this season as George Waring dropped to the bench.

Chester pressed towards the Clock End against the visitors, clad in an AC Milan style strip (There all resemblance with the Serie A side ended) and Asante was brought down on the left. City produced a training ground routine from the free kick which led to Hughes’s floated cross being headed on to the bar by Kevin Roberts.

Five minutes later Asante gave City the lead at the end of a sweet move. Dudley lofted a clever little pass out to Joel Taylor who motored towards goal and then squared the ball to Hughes on the edge of the box. His shot on the turn was parried by Brandon Hall but fell to Asante who bludgeoned it home off a defender.

City had their tails up and continued to sweep forward. Taylor caused mayhem down the left as he dribbled deep into the penalty area – his subsequent cross was scrambled away. Next Asante turned a defender with a headed knock-on down the right, he passed inside to Hughes who moved it swiftly on to Dudley, in space, on the left. Dudley cut in and caressed a shot inside the far post and City were two goals to the good.

Hereford tried to respond but their attacks foundered on the twin rocks of Livesey and Grand. Symons, back in Hereford’s side after a lay off could not make his ample presence felt. Blues defenders were first to every corner to head the ball clear. City came closest to scoring the third goal when Taylor ran on to a free ball and hammered a long range effort which Hall did well to beat away.

The visitors threw on a couple of subs immediately after the half-time interval to try to inject some momentum into their performance and began by pressing forward. But City were able to rebuff their attacks and hit them on the counter. A perfectly weighted ball over the top from Burton gave Jackson something to run onto. He outpaced his marker and raced to the by-line, pulling back a pinpoint ball to Asante who smashed it home from just inside the area.

It was all too much for some of the visiting fans who streamed out of the away end in droves, pausing only to take their flags (Proclaiming their loyalty) with them. City seemed likely to score every time they came forward. Hughes broke from the half way line and sent the ball past Hall with a stunning top corner finish only to see the linesman’s flag raised. Manager Jonno, standing behind and in line with the official went apoplectic at the decision.

Asante who had occupied both Hereford centre halves – often at the same time – all afternoon and they still couldn’t get the ball off him was withdrawn to a standing ovation. So too Matty Hughes who had run the defenders ragged. On came Waring and Elliott and they took up the baton as Chester continued to attack. The only fly in the ointment for City was Stopforth receiving what looked like a hefty injury as he challenged for a fifty-fifty ball. He tried to run it off but broke down and had to limp off (The referee made him walk round the pitch in front of the Harry Mac when he had started, for some reason, to go round the Hereford end of the ground). Iwan Murray darted on to replace him.

Murray combined well with Jackson and Roberts down the right and from the latter’s cross Elliot miscued in front of goal and Waring stuck out a leg to stab it home. Waring’s leg, was, however offside. But within minutes Elliott scored a much more difficult chance as he glanced home Roberts’ cross with style and celebrated with the gusto that his first goal for City deserved.

Jackson burst clear as Chester launched another wave of attacks but his fierce shot was parried by Hall, with Elliott, in the clear, calling for it to be squared for him. Then as the match went into its dying embers Herford had a couple of shots which Griffiths saved well. From a resultant corner, Taylor’s misdirected header looped up and into the goal mouth where Cullinane-Liburd nodded a consolation for the visitors.

Still City tried to add a fifth in stoppage time and only desperate defending denied Jackson from notching the goal his attacking play richly merited. Nothing - not even Lupus losing his head in the half-time penalty shoot-out - could take the gloss off what had been a majestic performance by the Blues and a holiday weekend in which they had banked maximum points.

Colin Mansley

Picture © Rick Matthews

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Saturday 24 August
Kidderminster Harriers 0 Chester 1
National League North
Attendance: 1,710 (378 Chester) Half Time: 0-1
Booked: Hughes, Taylor, Stopforth.

Kidderminster Harriers: Gregory, Austin, Davidson (Scott 71), R Williams, Moyo, Johnson, Weeks (Prosser 28), Butterfield, Chambers, E Williams, Peniket. Subs not used: Mountjoy, Higginson, Lowth.
Chester: Griffiths, Grand, Livesey, K.Roberts, Taylor, Jackson, G.Roberts, Stopforth, Dudley (Burton 88), Hughes (Mahon 77), Waring (Asante 75). Subs not used: Waters, Elliott.
Referee: Richard Aspinall.

Kidderminster is always a great day out for Chester fans, with an arguably unrivalled combination of a fantastic food, ale and a proper ground with an atmospheric-creating stand. But this one was extra special as for the first time in 14 years, the Blues played well and grabbed a deserved victory!

To add to the treat for the travelling 378 supporters it was a glorious day for a Bank Holiday Saturday and they were rewarded by seeing Matty Hughes score the only goal of the game, and his first of the season, right in front of them.

It was no less than an unchanged Chester were due at that stage of the game. Despite the sizzling temperatures, the yellow-clad visitors set off at a frenetic pace with Joel Taylor looking like he wanted to make a good impression on the return to his former club. “Why didn't you do long throws like that when you were with us”, quipped one Harriers’ supporter as he fired an early throw-in towards the Chester box. Anthony Dudley had a chance to give Chester an early lead from that throw, but failed to find the net.

Soon after, Chester goalkeeper Russ Griffiths saved a couple of Kidderminster chances, and continued to have an impressive game. Not long after, Chester came close to scoring with a Matty Hughes’ strike which was cleared off the line by a Harriers’ defender.

But Hughes did get his name on the scoresheet on the 27th minute. A great pass from Brad Jackson saw the ever-threatening forward hit an unstoppable ball past the Kidderminster goalkeeper to put the visitors ahead.

The rest of the half was at a steadier pace, with water breaks being taken and Chester not having a serious threat on goal until the whistle was blown for half-time.

The second half was nowhere near as memorable as the first 45 minutes. Akwasi Asante put on a decent showing when he replaced George Waring on the 75th minute, with matchwinner Hughes being replaced by Craig Mahon just a few minutes later.

Kidderminster’s best chance of the game came when a strange clearance from Griffiths landed right at the feet of striker Ashley Chambers. With an open goal in front of him he proceeded to hit the ball wide right in front of the noisy travelling army.

Several visits of the physio resulted in five minutes of injury time, but Chester managed to hang on to remain undefeated. For a number of Blues' fans the post-match Bathams ale in the highly-recommended King & Castle pub tasted sweeter than ever, with some grabbing a celebratory ‘take-out’ for the journey home.

Sue Choularton

Picture © Rick Matthews

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Saturday 17 August
Chester 4 Gloucester City 0
National League North
Attendance: 1,612 Half Time: 2-0
Booked: Taylor.

Chester: Griffiths, Grand, Livesey, K.Roberts, Taylor, Jackson, G.Roberts, Stopforth, Dudley (Mahon 72), Hughes (Asante 66), Waring (Elliott 72). Subs not used: Burton, Jones.
Gloucester City: Jeacock, Thomas, Harper, Hamilton (Richards 80), Avery, Knowles, Parker, Hanks, Kotwica (Spruce 68), Robert, Russe. Subs not used: Hainault, Smith.
Referee: Richard Aspinall.

On a sunny afternoon, Chester made the brightest of starts against Gloucester. Blues began by kicking off into the right wing corner and the visitors could not get it away. The ball was rolled back to Livesey on the half way line and his speculative long ball – what Eddie Waring would have called an “up and under” swirled above Jeacock and dropped straight into the goal by his far post. Gloucester had not got the ball out of their own half in the first minute and Chester were a goal to the good.

A few minutes later it was two as Matty Hughes – making his first start of the season – trapped a high ball, turned and fed it to Waring who was running through on goal. He stroked a left footed shot past Jeacock and into the other corner. Gloucester wondered what had hit them and Blues fans thought “how are we going to hold on for another eighty five minutes?”

Last Tuesday the Tigers had recovered from a two-goal deficit to win away at Kidderminster and brought an impressive away record with them to the Deva. Gloucester’s existence has been nomadic since floods forced them out of Meadow Park in 2007. They did respond as half time approached with Fabien Robert’s shot clipping the bar. But Chester had been dominant – out-tigering the Tigers in midfield and Hughes, whose fluid mobility had added a new dimension to the Blues going forward, really ought to have capped a fine first half display when put through by Gary Roberts but finessed his shot just wide of the post.

Shortly into the second half Hughes was through again – latching on to a long ball from Grand – this time his shot was parried by Jeacock to Waring who passed sideways to Jackson. The winger took a touch and then drilled the ball in for Chester’s third.

Gloucester continued to battle on but were lightweight in attack due to the absence of the experienced Marlon Jackson. Hanks let fly with a good effort that Griffiths did well to turn over the bar. Hughes was replaced to a standing ovation by Asante. Later, Elliott and Mahon came on too.

In the dying moments a quickly taken free kick caught Gloucester on the hop and Elliott was brought down at the by-line resulting in a penalty. Asante grabbed the ball and thumped it firmly into the corner – repeating the timing and the manner of his equaliser on Tuesday night.

It had been a perfect “retro day” for the Chester faithful – many of them sporting shirts from yesteryear. Today’s performance gave them another batch of good memories to put in the collection.

Colin Mansley

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Tuesday 13 August
Kettering Town 1 Chester 1
National League North
Attendance: 973 Half Time: 0-0
Booked: Waring, Stopforth, Asante, Grand.

Kettering Town: White, Stohrer, Skarz, Graham, Cartwright, Richens, Meikle, Kennedy, Nti, Hodge, Kelly. Subs not used: O’Connor, Solkhon, Milnes, Carta, Brighton.
Chester: Griffiths, K.Roberts, Taylor, Grand, Livesey, G.Roberts, Stopforth, Mahon (Hughes 64), Jackson, Dudley (Asante 73), Waring (Elliott 64). Subs not used: Burton, Waters.
Referee: Sam Mulhall.

Substitute Akwasi Asante rescued a point for Chester with a stoppage time penalty after the Blues had fallen behind through another own goal at Latimer Park.

The opening period was a cagy one of few chances, it wasn’t until the 16th minute that Chester created their first opening with Anthony Dudley hitting over following a flick-on by Simon Grand.

Managers Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley made a double substitution nine minutes into the second period, bringing on Matty Hughes and Danny Elliott for Craig Mahon and George Waring as they looked to create more openings.

Six minutes later though Chester found themselves a goal behind as Gary Roberts inadvertently diverted Lindon Meikle’s cross past Russ Griffiths into his own net.

Fifteen minutes from time the Poppies were awarded a penalty after Gary Stopforth had fouled in the area. To the relief of the Blues supporters, Daniel Nti’s spot-kick hit the post.

Moments later the home side were reduced to ten men after Marcus Kelly received a second yellow card.

With the game entering added time Hughes was fouled inside the area and Asante stepped up to send Paul White the wrong way from the penalty spot to equalise.

Picture © Rick Matthews

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Saturday 10 August
Chester 2 Farsley Celtic 1
National League North
Attendance: 1,601 Half Time: 0-0
Booked: Livesey, Waring.

Chester: Griffiths, Grand, Livesey, K.Roberts, Taylor, Mahon (Hughes 83), Stopforth, G.Roberts (Burton 57), Jackson, Waring, Dudley (Elliott 84). Subs not used: Morgan, Waters.
Farsley Celtic: Wynne, Richards, Baldwin, Higgins, Ellis, B.Atkinson (Parkin 63), C.Atkinson, Walton (Syers 75), Spencer, Cartman (Walker 63), Hayhurst. Subs not used: Trenerry, Boateng.
Referee: Michael Barlow.

Farsley Celtic’s first visit to Chester began with a swirling wind reverberating around the stadium. In a lively first half, the unbeaten and newly promoted side in green hoops with socks to match moved the ball around intelligently and openly. A raking ball out to Farsley’s right looked to have been caught by the wind but full-back Richards did well to keep it in and then cross dangerously.

City had to concentrate to defend and were nearly undone by hesitation a couple of times. Livesey had to issue a wake-up call. Later Griffiths couldn’t decide whether to stick or twist as the ball approached his goal. Ellis tried to capitalise by prodding the loose ball past him but – after a scramble Griffiths grabbed the loose ball – only to receive a whack on the head from Spencer’s boot. The Celtic forward was booked and made sure to apologise to Griffiths as they left the field at half time.

At the other end it was Blues who went closest to opening the scoring in the first half. Livesey’s header from Gary Roberts’ inviting cross crashed against the cross bar. Kevin Roberts glanced a header from a right wing corner against the post.

The teams emerged from the break to the strains of “I am the resurrection” by the Stone Roses – a reference to both clubs going into liquidation at the same time in 2010 and reforming to thrive again. Within a minute of the second half Chester went ahead. Waring and Higgins tangled for the ball and it fell loose to Jackson who crashed it into the back of the net from the corner of the six yard box.

Chester settled into a rhythm and began to dominate. Farsley struggled to play from the back as City pressed them. Stopforth latched onto a hurried clearance and set Jackson through on the right. He drilled it across to an unmarked Waring who steadied himself before side footing it past Wynne with all the precision of a snooker shot – which Waring then re-enacted with the corner flag.

In between the goals Gary Roberts picked up a strain and was replaced by Burton. City continued to play in fluid style with both Jackson and Taylor providing real threat down the wings.

Farsley, buoyed by a couple of substitutions, refused to give up however and when Livesey conceded a free kick on the edge of the area after his swirling clearance had returned the ball back to him, Griffiths was called upon to make a fine save from Hayhurst’s left footed effort. Walker, one of the Celtic subs proved to be a thorn in Chester’s side and Blues were pushed back more and more. Burton made a reckless challenge on Hayhurst and conceded a penalty. Hayhurst picked himself to convert – sending Griffiths the wrong way.

Richards sent another free kick over and home fans began to fret. As Celtic won a free kick on their left (Despite everyone around urging City not to concede a foul) they launched one last salvo into the box. City cleared and broke quickly with Jackson (By now Man of the Match) again. His shot was parried by Wynne and fell to Elliott – on as a sub – on the edge of the box. He snatched his chance and scooped it over the bar. That proved to be the end of the action as City made harder work of holding on for a first win of the season than they should have done.

Colin Mansley

Picture © Rick Matthews

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Tuesday 6 August
Chester 1 Altrincham 1
National League North
Attendance: 2,153 Half Time: 0-1
Booked: Waring, Grand.

Chester: Griffiths, Taylor, K.Roberts, Livesey, Grand, Stopforth, Jackson, G.Roberts, Dudley, Elliott (Mahon 60), Waring. Subs not used: T.Roberts, Burton, Waters, Morgan.
Altrincham: Drench, White, Hampson, Jones, Hannigan, Branson, Johnston, Williams, Hulme, Harrop (Mullarkey 89), Walters (Peers 68). Subs not used: Richman, Densmore, Thompson.
Referee: Richard Holmes.

After a hard earned point at Boston Chester began their home campaign this season against another side expected to do well – our near neighbours , Altrincham. The visitors from the other end of the M56 took to the field in a kit described on the teamsheet as “grey, grey, grey.” It was enlivened only with a red and white sash across the shirt.

The game kicked off on a warm night with Grand’s long ball into the far corner. Waring rose to meet it challenged by Hampson with the latter ending up in a heap on the ground as a result. The visiting fans, under whose nose it occurred, screamed at the referee to send Chester’s number nine off. But Mr Holmes, tall enough to look at Waring eye to eye, admonished him only with a yellow card.

It was a cagey opening with Chester, all in blue, having the lion’s share of possession. But on eleven minutes Blues were undone. Dudley’s headed layoff in midfield ran loose, Johnston picked it up and ran into space and towards the Chester goal at speed. Cutting to the by-line his low cross was met at the near post by the unfortunate Livesey who crashed it into the roof of his own net.

Chester were able to respond almost immediately to a similar setback at Boston but this time their efforts drew a blank. Elliott had a pot shot from the edge of the area which was dealt with comfortably by the keeper. Too often for the home crowd’s liking, Chester’s moves broke down with a misplaced pass or being a bit too predictable. As Altrincham broke away again Grand was booked for a scything tackle on Harrop. Again the Alty players and fans pressurised the referee for more.

Griffiths hardly had a shot to contend with yet Alty maintained their lead at half time. When City got the opportunity to run at the Robins’ defence the prospects of a goal seemed greater. Bradley Jackson offering Blues their most consistent threat down the right.

As the second half wore on and the clock was run down by the visitors it seemed like they would frustrate Chester once again. Mahon was brought on for Elliott in the hope of correcting Chester’s misfiring attack. He crossed dangerously into the box but beyond Waring.

Deep into the four minutes of added time (Much of it accrued by Alty’s time-wasting tactics) Joel Taylor wiped the ball with a bath towel before launching a throw from the right into the penalty area. The ball was half cleared to Gary Roberts on the edge of the box who lashed a shot goal-wards. It deflected off a defender’s shin to send it past a despairing keeper and the home faithful into delerium.

Overall a draw was probably a fair result in a hard fought and competitive game of few chances – with both sides cancelling each other out to a large extent. But as the clock ticked down it looked less and less likely until Gary Roberts’ inspired intervention.

Colin Mansley

Picture © Rick Matthews

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Saturday 3 August
Boston United 1 Chester 1
National League North
Attendance: 1,393 (223 Chester) Half Time: 1-1
Booked: Jackson, Elliott, G.Roberts.

Boston United: Crook, Middleton, Whittle, Thanoj (Green 75), Ainge, Shiels, Platt, Abbott, Wright (Tuton 67), Thewlis (Walker 84), Rollins. Subs not used: Jackson, Willis.
Chester: Griffiths, K.Roberts, Livesey, Grand, Taylor, Jackson (Mahon 63), G.Roberts, Stopforth, Elliott (Burton 79), Dudley, Waring (Hughes 79). Subs not used: Waters, Morgan.
Referee: Aaron Bannister.

Chester picked up a well deserved point from Boston United through a George Waring equaliser towards the end of the first period.

Managers Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley opted for a back four of Danny Livesey, Simon Grand, Joel Taylor and Kevin Roberts.

Just over 200 fans made the trip to York Street and they saw Chester have the better of the opening exchanges. Just two minutes were on the clock when Anthony Dudley was sent through by Waring only to see his effort blocked by home ‘keeper Peter Crook.

Summer signing danny Elliott also forced Crook into a save as the Blues looked for an early goal.

Seven minutes before the break the Pilgrims took the lead as Jordan Thewlis effort on goal sliced off defender Simon Grand and past Russ Griffiths giving the Chester shot-stopper no chance.

Chester responded and within 60 second were level as Bradley Jackson’s cross was headed powerfully home by Waring. Despite plenty of possession the Blues were finding it hard to crack a determined home rearguard.

Jay Rollins missed an opportunity to give the home side the lead early in the second half heading wide with just Russell to beat. At the other end an long Joel Taylor throw-in caused problems for the home defence with the ball finding Dudley 20 yards out only for the striker to fire wide of goal. The game was becoming more scrappy as time passed by.

If Chester had had the better of the first half, it was the home side that dominated in the second. Chester brought on Craig Mahon, Scott Burton and Matty Hughes and despite late pressure from a last minute corner.

Picture © Rick Matthews

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