two previous postponements, the two teams finally met
to decide who would travel to Premier League side Chasetown
in the third round of the Challenge Cup.
Blues manager Neil Young made five changes from the side
beaten at the weekend with top striker Michael Wilde,
who like others in the squad has been suffering the effect
of recent flu starting on the bench.
had the better of what chances there were in the opening
stages of the tie but once again failed to produce a
killer instinct in front of goal to make their chances
count. They thought they’d taken the lead midway
through the first half as Rob Hopley crossed the ball
in to Robbie Booth, he skipped past a defender and played
the ball into Kyle Wilson who slotted the ball home
from close range only to see his effort ruled out for
Five minutes later the ball was in the net at the other
end. Chris Sanna had no chance as Alan Nagington smashed
home an unstoppable shot past him from the angle after
being fed a cross from Jordan Johnson.
Chester almost snatched an equaliser as Booth lobbed
goalkeeper Daniel Read only to see his effort stray
just past the post. Hopley saw two efforts missed before
Stuart Jones was unlucky to seen an effort cleared off
the line following a Chris Williams corner.
Any thoughts of a quick reply after the break were denied
as the home side doubled their advantage on 49 minutes
as Wayne Teague headed over Sanna after perfecting meeting
a Johnson cross.
Young made a series of substitutions with Steven Beck,
on at the the break for Hopley, forcing Read into a
save. But the Blues were unable to claw their way back
and the scoreline could have been worse had Williams
not been well placed to clear a Nagington effort off
the line to deny the home side.
Chester gave a ring rusty performance against a plucky
Radcliffe side and paid the price by surrendering all
three points to the visitors.
The tone was set early on when City might have scored
twice in the opening couple of minutes. First Howard spun
and crossed for Wilde to flick the ball goalwards. Veteran
keeper Culkin made a last ditch save. The from a long
throw which was flicked on, the goal beckoned for Wilson
but he volleyed well over.
After this early flurry Chester struggled to control the
game. Instead it was the visitors who seemed better organised.
Radcliffe also showed a superior work rate and were often
quicker to the second ball and swift to close down a City
player in possession. Howard in particular seemed a marked
man and was denied any space whatsoever. Sherlock flattened
him as he barged him off the ball and was later booked
for a subsequent offence.
When Borough did take the lead it was courtesy of an absolute
gift from Sanna (Should that be Santa?). Having earlier
fumbled a ball and got away with it, he inexplicably pushed
a low, curling but otherwise innocuous cross at the feet
of Kelly who couldn’t fail to score. Perhaps Sanna resembles
Robert Green in more than just appearance?
As half time approached Wilson beat the offside trap to
find himself one on one with the keeper. Culkin saved
the forward’s side-footed shot. A few minutes later Wilson
atoned with an exquisite cross for Wilde to plant a header
into the top corner.
Britain’s Got Talent hopeful Scott Davies sang Cry
me a River at half time and it was City fans crying all
the way home after the second half. True, City could easily
have won this game had the ball fell kindly for them but
their play continued to be error strewn and open to the
counter attack. From one such, Radcliffe took the lead
for a second time. Full marks to Alistair Brown whose
rasping shot from thirty yards beat Sanna hands down but
there wasn’t a City player within a country mile of him
to close him down.
Connolly came on to replace the weary McCarthy and from
his crisply taken corner on the left, Wilde raced to the
near post to flick home a perfect header. A fine goal
– reminiscent of the one that Ravanelli – The White Feather
– scored against us for Middlesbrough in the cup in 96/97.
Surely now Chester would go on to claim the win we thought.
They tried but too often the final ball was lacking or
a defender’s body blocked the way. And Borough kept on
searching for a winner too. They probably should have
scored when substitute Brooks put the ball wide with the
goal at his mercy. Deep into injury time Stuart Jones’
header from City’s umpteenth corner flashed just wide
of the post. Then City were exposed at the back again
as Roscoe chased a wide ball and cut inside to tee up
Mark Jones to score from the edge of the box.
The result knocked some of the glitter off City’s Christmas
celebrations as they rued the absence of suspended captain
Horan and Sarcevic, recently recalled by Crewe Alex.