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Alfreton Town (A) | Brackley Town (H) | Hereford (H) | Peterborough Sports (A) | AFC Fylde (H) | Curzon Ashton (A)
Monday 29 August
Curzon Ashton 1 Chester 2
National League North
Attendance: 812 Half Time: 0-1
Booked: -.

Curzon Ashton: Renshaw, Richards, Poscha, Matthews, Hampson, Barton (Waring 79), Walker (Mahon 75), Hall, Hayhurst (Lowe 68), Hancock, Peers. Subs not used: Dimaio, Hobson.
Tyrer, Coates, Williams, Kenyon, Coulton, Devine, Burke, Murray (Hall 74), Thomas (Lynch 62), Stephenson, Willoughby (Edwards 87). Subs not used: Morgan, Heywood.
Referee: S.Taylor.

Chester made a welcome return to winning ways as goals from Alex Kenyon and Kurt Willoughby brought three points from the Tameside Stadium on the Bank Holiday Monday.

It was a slow opening to the match with neither side troubling the other, Iwan Murray with the only effort of note but that failed to trouble the Nash ‘keeper Chris Renshaw.

Midway through the half Chester opened the scoring. Murray's corner was met by Adam Thomas and his header across goal from Kenyon to head home from five yards out. Renshaw prevented Darren Stephenson from adding a second minutes later with a smart save to deny the Chester man.

Harry Tyrer had little to do in the first half as he watched a Ryan Hall effort sail over his bar just before half-time. Nash started the second half more brightly and seven minutes in drew level. Former Chester player Tom Peers was well placed to head home Will Hayhurst’s cross past Tyrer.

Backed by a good following from Chester, the Blues re-took the lead on 68 minutes. Kieran Coates’ through ball saw Stephenson race through on goal before he squared to the unmarked Willoughby who dispatched his third goal of the season.

Not content with their lead, Chester pushed for a third and only some smart saves from Renshaw denied Kole Hall and Stephenson late in the game.

Picture © Rick Matthews

League Table | Match photographs
Saturday 27 August
Chester 0 AFC Fylde 1
National League North
Attendance: 1,774 (54 Fylde) Half Time: 0-0
Booked: -.
Sent-off: Thomas, Lynch.

Chester: Tyrer, Coulton, Weeks (Burke 56), Kenyon, Willoughby (Stephenson 59), Thomas, Devine, Coates, Lynch, Hall (Heywood 70), Edwards. Subs not used: Morgan, Murray.
AFC Fylde:
Neal, Morrison, Whitmore, Bird, Cranston, Barrett (Rowe 66), Philliskirk, Weston, Patten (Osborne 46), Haughton, Holmes (Rowley 46). Subs not used: Obi, Walker.
Referee: Stuart Morland.

As the second half commenced, referee Stuart Moreland carefully counted the number of players on the pitch. In first half stoppage time he had dismissed one from either side and now Fylde were bringing on two substitutes. The man in the middle made sure it was ten against ten.

A fairly uneventful first forty-five had erupted when Pierce Bird came flying in to the tackle with Thomas, narrowly avoiding demolishing his standing leg. The Chester winger reacted and tossed the ball at Bird’s back as he retreated. A melee ensued involving just about all the outfield players and the referee, after consulting with his assistant, issued red cards to Thomas and Bird as a consequence.

There had been little in the way of goalmouth action. Fylde played a pressing game, always in City’s faces, sticking tight to their opponents. Chester were, for the most part matching them but neither could create much to threaten to score. Weeks saw a shot sail wide while Willoughby went closest when Neal spilled his ambitious free-kick from distance.

Neal couldn’t hold Weeks’ effort at the beginning of the second period as City’s skipper worked a short corner and cut in from the left to shoot. It was Weeks’ last action of the game. He was caught by a late challenge from Cranston as he made the attempt on goal. Cranston’s challenge went unnoticed and unpunished but soon it was his turn to be caught by a wayward boot. Lynch’s hack brought him down as he broke away with the ball and Mr Moreland reduced Chester to nine.

Calum McIntyre was forced to reconfigure the side and withdrew Willoughby for Stephenson and later Hall for Heywood as the Blues were obliged to dig in and try to hang on for a point. The game became an exercise of attack versus defence as the Coasters swept the ball out wide and launched crosses into the box but City, holding a narrow formation held firm.

Then, with quarter of an hour to go, a cross from the right took a deflection and looped up at the far post for Philliskirk to head in. Ironically Fylde relaxed in intensity after this and allowed nine-man City back into the game. Coulton had a shot wide of one post and Coates saw a curling effort swish past the other. Kenyon turned and shot as the ball fell loose at a corner only to see his goal-bound effort charged down desperately. The referee waved away claims for handball.

To have rescued a draw would have been a bonus in the circumstances but proved a bridge too far for a plucky City side. Likely suspensions for Thomas and Lynch will add to the pressure in a week’s time but the loss of Weeks to injury may be the bigger blow. As McIntyre said after the game it makes the match on Bank Holiday Monday at Curzon Ashton take on greater significance as the Blues have now, albeit narrowly, lost three on the run.

Colin Mansley

Picture © Rick Matthews

League Table | Match photographs

Saturday 20 August
Peterborough Sports 3 Chester 2
National League North
Attendance: 392 Half Time: 2-1
Booked: Stephenson, Coates.

Peterborough Sports: Crook, R.Jones, Bazeley, Fryatt, Fox, Kennedy, Barker (Kaba Sherif 57), Hilliard (McCammon 84), Gash, Sembie-Ferris (Marsh Brown 79), Nicholson. Subs not used: Jarvis, M.Jones.
Tyrer, Coates, Burke, Williams, Morgan (Heywood 52), Kenyon, Devine (Lynch 63), Weeks, Thomas (Murray 77), Willoughby, Stephenson. Subs not used: Dudley, Edwards.
Referee: James Bancroft.

The last time Chester visited Peterborough it was to visit the more famous team in the city – Peterborough United. But this match was against Peterborough Sports, a team few City fans had heard of until their promotion to the National League North at the end of last season.

While the Sports’ Bee Arena and the London Road home of Posh may be less than three miles apart, they are light years away in terms of facilities and atmosphere.

Arriving early for possibly the lowliest ground I’ve ever seen Chester visit for a league game, the dedicated away fans’ car park was yet to open, but there was still room in the tiny home parking area and the friendly stewards were happy for us to use it.

As police advice led to this being the first ever segregated game for Peterborough Sports, there was no access to the small clubhouse apart from a quick programme purchase. But we’d already decided on a pre-match meet-up at the Oakham Brewery Tap in the city, so were grateful for the handy bus stop to take us away from the Bee Arena for the time being.

Travelling Chester fans will be no strangers to a day where the pub, beer and company are better than the 90 minutes of football, and this proved to be another of those occasions.

Fuelled by Thai food and real ale, it was back to Peterborough Sports where segregation meant frisking and searching before entry. Strict security meant taking in your own food was frowned on, as was sporting a Rangers FC shirt! Entry to the away end involved paying by cash at a marquee.

Darren Stephenson started the match instead of Anthony Dudley, with Adam Thomas returning to replace Kole Hall. But the team had barely got used to the unfamiliar surroundings and bobbly pitch when they went behind. Chester’s on-loan goalkeeper Harry Tyrer made a great reflex save to stop a header from Connor Kennedy. But Tyrer couldn’t hold onto the ball and well-travelled striker Michael Gash was on hand to pass to Jordan Nicholson, who put the hosts ahead on eight minutes.

Most of the next 20 minutes saw what action there was take place in the away end. At this stage, the game had the feeling of a pre-season friendly. But the friendly atmosphere didn’t last when the Turbines won a controversial 30th minute penalty after Harrison Burke was pulled up for a foul on Kennedy.

The Chester fans in the Colin Day stand were on the spot to point out to the referee that not only was the foul a dubious decision, but it didn’t even look to have taken place in the penalty area. Their protests were to no avail, and although Tyrer saved Gash’s penalty strike, he again couldn’t hold onto the ball and Gash scored on the rebound.

Chester didn’t look like a defeated team at this stage and the Bee Arena woke up when Thomas put the ball into the net, only to be adjudged offside. However, the travelling fans soon made themselves heard again when Thomas did score just before half-time, after a great pass from captain Declan Weeks.

Following the re-start, the Blues’ skipper put his own name on the scoresheet with a tremendous 55th minute strike from the edge of the area to level up the score. Although this spurred Chester on, a smart move from the Turbines just after the hour mark saw Nicholson find the net again.

By now lacklusture Jamie Morgan had been replaced by Ollie Hayward. As Chester pressed for an equaliser, Joe Lynch came on for Danny Devine and Iwan Murray for Thomas. But the closest they came to scoring was when no-one could quite touch the ball from a Murray corner. Four minutes of injury time were soon eaten up and then the Turbines celebrated like they’d beaten one of football’s giants. Chester must improve when they return to their slick home pitch for the visit of AFC Flyde on Saturday.

Sue Choularton

Picture © Rick Matthews

League Table | Match photographs

Tuesday 16 August
Chester 0 Hereford 1
National League North
Attendance: 2,237 (201 Hereford) Half Time: 0-0
Booked: -.

Chester: Tyrer, Weeks, Burke, Kenyon, Willoughby, Dudley (Stephenson 58), Devine (Lynch 68), Williams, Coates, Hall, Heywood. Subs not used: Stanway, Murray, Daly.
Wade, Hodgkiss, Evans, Haines, Lilly, Thompson-Sommers, McLean, Lloyd (Hanson 67), Pinchard (Pendley 90), Storey, Barnett (Amadi-Holloway 69). Subs not used: Klukowski, Latty-Fairweather.
Referee: Dale Baines.

An entertaining affair under the lights at the Deva enthralled the crowd of over 2,000. To the last kick the result was in doubt but it went the way of the visitors in the end as Hereford chalked up their first win of the season and inflicted City’s first defeat.

Most of the clear-cut chances came in the first period with Chester having the lion’s share. The Bulls went closest first, however as McLean’s curving run beat the offside flag and gave him the chance to bear down on goal. Tyrer did well to steer him wide of the goal as he searched for a shooting opportunity. Then Hall and Willoughby combined well to set Dudley through but he could not get his shot past the advancing Wade as defenders raced to close him down. From the resulting corner a clever move by Weeks set up a shooting chance for Willoughby but the ball sat up high and the striker volleyed wide of the target.

Next the chances fell to Hall as he headed wide when well placed on the end of Weeks’ free kick and a few minutes later received a superb raking pass forward from deep by Willoughby. As Hall raced into the box he fell under pressure and the referee waved away appeals for a penalty. In between this brace of opportunities Weeks was narrowly wide with a dipping effort from the left.

A feature of the match was the tenacity with which Hereford defended. They were quick to close Chester down around the box and put pressure on the Blues. In the second half they narrowed their shape and made it harder for City to find ways through the middle. Kieran Coates gave a storming performance at right back and became increasingly influential in attack. His ball into the box found Willoughby’s run and his shot from the angle was save by the flailing leg of the keeper. Dudley was withdrawn for Stephenson as Blues continued to forage on the right and exert pressure for the breakthrough.

Lynch replaced Devine and injected energy into City’s play. He came close to deceiving Wade with a delightful chipped shot on the run which the ‘keeper back-pedalled to flip over. With little more than five minutes remaining City struggled to clear their lines as Storey’s deflected shot was tipped away by Tyrer. McLean recycled it back into play and a squared pass outside the box set up a long range shooting opportunity for centre-back Haines who let fly with an unstoppable effort just inside Tyrer’s left hand post.

It seemed as if, in such a tightly fought encounter, a single goal would be decisive. Yet there was still an opportunity for Williams to score as the ball fell to him in the Bulls’ box in the dying moments. But under intense pressure, Williams could not get his effort on goal.

Luke Haines had been suffering from cramp moments before he scored and was booked within the first few minutes of the match for pulling back Weeks when he burst clear. In the end he became the match winner for the Bulls to cap a gritty defensive display. In scoring the only goal of the game from distance he repeated the feat of last season’s match between the two teams at Edgar Street.

The result was harsh on Chester and team and supporters applauded each other after the whistle. They couldn’t find the key this evening to unlock a stubborn Hereford defence but it was a performance full of promise. It looks to be a highly competitive league this season which has yet to take shape and find a pattern.

Colin Mansley

Picture © Rick Matthews

League Table | Match photographs

Saturday 13 August
Chester 2 Brackley Town 0
National League North
Attendance: 1,633 Half Time: 2-1
Booked: Weeks.

Chester: Tyrer, Coulton (Heywood 45), Weeks, Burke, Kenyon, Willoughby, Dudley (Stephenson 59), Devine, Williams, Coates, Hall (Thomas 87). Subs not used: Stanway, Murray.
Brackley Town:
Lewis, Carline, Walker, Murombedzi, Cullinane-Liburd, Dean, Calder (Putz 73), Armson (Lopes 73), Stead, Makama (York 55), Richards. Subs not used: Jones, Massey.
Referee: Richard Holmes.

Chester got their home League campaign off to a great start with a blistering beginning to match the baking temperatures at the Deva. The Blues were 2-0 up after just twenty-one minutes and despite resilience from Brackley in the second half, kept a tight grip on the game to bag three points.

City began with wingers Stephenson and Thomas on the bench but the front three of Dudley, Hall and Willoughby although sounding like a firm of solicitors, proved a potent strike force. Willoughby had the first meaningful effort when his direct free kick evaded the wall and cannoned back into play off the foot of the post. Kole Hall gave City the lead with a goal all of his own making. He won possession then beat two defenders to give himself the opportunity to tuck the ball into the net past the advancing Lewis in goal. Barely ten minutes later, Dudley rode a challenge and passed to Willoughby in yards of space. Chester’s number nine had time to pick his spot just inside Lewis’s left hand post.

Brackley’s consistency over the last few seasons had been built upon not conceding many goals. So for City to be two up so early in the game was promising – but they had led by the same score last week at Alfreton only to concede late-on for a draw. After a mid-half drinks break Brackley did get into the game more and Shep Murombedzi became increasingly influential in midfield. They forced a number of corners but City were well marshalled and defended well. The Blues ended the half on the attack with Weeks’ deflected effort parried round the post by Lewis.

Left back Coulton was withdrawn at half-time presumably because of injury. Ollie Heywood deputised. The Saints put the Blues under the cosh, launching more long throws and corners into the box. Again City stood firm. It looked like Brackley might get back in the game when Stead took advantage of a slip by Burke but Williams made a superb recovery tackle and Tyrer retrieved the ball. Both Burke and Williams defended like tigers throughout and took a fair number of knocks for their troubles.

Stephenson came on to replace Dudley as City sought to strengthen their grip on the game. Despite a couple of half-chances for the visitors the Blues managed the game well and might have added a third towards the end. Some superb footwork by Hall down the right allowed Weeks to square for Devine to shoot but the debutant’s shot was blocked by a last ditch defender. Hall then saw appeals for a penalty waved away by referee Mr Holmes. The experienced Alex Kenyon – a steadying presence especially in the second half - could not believe his eyes, judging by his body language to the referee.

The afternoon had begun with a carnival atmosphere – music and drinks outside the Blues Bar in the baking sunshine. Big Lupus supervised some football darts and for those with any appetite in the oppressive heat there were doughnuts and loaded fries on offer too. The pitch looked restored to great nick and the stray drops from the sprinklers that watered the goal mouths provided welcome relief on the Harry Mac terraces.

To the delight of the home faithful the mood continued into the game and after. The vocal support was consistently strong and the bond between players and fans was strengthened further in the celebrations at the final whistle. City had beaten Brackley at home for the first time.

Colin Mansley

Picture © Rick Matthews

League Table | Match photographs
| Match highlights [YouTube]
Saturday 6 August
Alfreton Town 2 Chester 2
National League North
Attendance: 724 Half Time: 1-2
Booked: Tyrer, Heywood, Weeks.

Alfreton Town: Willis, Clackstone, Preston (Witham 64), Cantrill, Smith, Wiley, F.Preston, Branson (Lund 72), Denton, Southwell (Dockerty 80), Hobson. Subs not used: Askew, Wilder.
Tyrer, Weeks, Burke, Kenyon, Willoughby, Thomas (Stephenson 46), Roberts (Coulton 39), Williams, Lynch (Dudley 84), Hall, Heywood. Subs not used: Stanway, Murray.
Referee: B.Wyatt.

Chester were backed by a large away following, accounting for around half the crowd, as the new season got underway at the Impact Arena. It was the home side that started on the front foot with debutant Harry Tyrer in goal making a fine save to deny Dayle Southwell in the opening five minutes.

Down the other end, moments away, Kurt Willoughby found himself in a one-on-one with Alfreton goalkeeper George Willis who did well to deny the Blues striker. On 17 minutes Chester opened the scoring as Willoughby glanced home a perfect incoming left wing cross from Declan Weeks.

Six minutes later Chester doubled their lead and once again Weeks was the provider this time setting up Joe Lynch who sent an unstoppable volley past Willis.

The Blues were pegged back as summer signing Tom Denton headed home from close range following Dwayne Wiley’s header back across goal following a corner.

Chester were forced into a change as Kevin Roberts was taken off with an injury to be replaced by loans signing Lewis Coulton. Willoughby almost added a third just before the break but he was inches away form connecting to Kole Hall’s cross.

Substitute Lewis Whitham went close for the home side, firing over in the 75th minute and the same played also missed from close range finding himself through with just Tyrer to beat.

The home pressure finally paid off in the second minute of added time as Denton headed an inswinging cross goalwards. Tyrer made a save on the line only for the assistant referee to adjudge the ball had crossed the line.

Picture © Rick Matthews

League Table | Match photographs | Match highlights [YouTube]























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