FC Halifax Town:
Glennon, M.Roberts, K.Roberts, McManus, Bolton, Jackson
(Marshall 49), Smith (Peniket 45), Schofield, Boden, Maynard,
Hatfield. Subs not used: Senior, Williams, Pearson.
Chester: Worsnop, Heneghan, Brown, Charnock,
Touray, Menagh, Rooney, James, Hobson (Peers 71), McConville,
Richards (Mahon 82). Subs not used: C.Roberts, Kay, Riley. Referee: John Brooks (Melton Mowbray).
put the disappointing Boxing Day display behind them as
they ran out winners at The Shay. Manager Steve Burr made
two changes to the side beaten by Altrincham, in came
Jamie Menagh and Ben Heneghan at the expense of Michael
Kay and Craig Mahon both of whom took their place on the
The Blues got off to a great
start taking the lead in the seventh minute as Kane
Richards crossed from the left for skipper Matty Brown
to head past former Blue Matt Glennon in the home goal.
Chester were coping better with
the tricky conditions and saw a shot from Sean McConville
fly wide before Kane Richards missed the target with
a header following good build up work from John Rooney.
Jon Worsnop was called into
action in the 25th minute racing out to prevent Lois
Maynard latching onto a through ball. Worsnop was called
into action again to deny Jamie Jackson before Will
Hatfield fired wide for the Shaymen.
McConville and Menagh set up
Graig Hobson with a chance to add a second but the Blues
striker fluffed his chance. As the match approached
half-time both Kieran Charnock and Brown saw far post
headers fly inches wide and Hobson saw an overhead kick
clear the bar. The last chance of the half came from
James Bolton who came close to an equaliser with a 20-yarder
that flew just over the Blues bar.
Minutest after the restart Halifax went close as Maynard
saw a deflected shot go straight at Worsnop. The Shaymen
came more into the game and Marc Roberts headed wide
when well placed from a corner.
McConville forced a fine save
from Glennon and Brown saw a header hit the post before
Ibou Touray was well placed to clear a Richard Peniket
effort from under the bar to preserve the slender lead.
Ten minutes from time Scott
McManus missed a great chance to level as he headed
when unmarked over from a Danny Schofield cross. The
home side were made to pay for the miss four minutes
later as Menagh broke down the right and crossed, the
ball was met with a flying header from substitute Tom
Peers who scored a memorable first senior goal for the
club and secure the first win in seven matches for the
26 December Chester 0 Altrincham 2
Football Conference Premier
Attendance: 2,569 (301 Altrincham) Half Time 0-1
Worsnop, Kay, Brown, Charnock (Heneghan 65), Touray, Rooney,
James, Mahon (Menagh 65), McConville (Riley 78), Richards,
Hobson. Subs not used: Roberts, Peers.
Altrincham: Coburn, Densmore, Marshall, Havern,
Griffin, Cavanagh, Moult, Lawrie, Richman, Crowther (Clee
69), Perry (Leather 90). Subs not used: Gillespie, Wilkinson,
Parton. Referee: Darren England (Barnsley).
truth be told, the only things I’ll remember from
this Boxing Day Cheshire derby was the chance to share
Christmas greetings with fellow Chester fans and the heavy
second half snowfall that added to the festive atmosphere.
was no other seasonal joy for me as Chester’s
lacklustre performance around both penalty boxes led
to them losing 2-0 to a team that were sitting below
them in the Conference table.
As the rain pelted down in the first
half hour, the best opportunities for the home side
came from a couple of corners. One of them resulted
in the closest they came to scoring all afternoon when
an Altrincham defender was well-placed on the line to
head the ball over the bar.
But it was Alty who found the net
first when a good freekick found the head of unmarked
Tom Marshall. He put the visitors 1-0 up with relative
ease on the 25th minute.
Chester missed out on a real chance
when Kingsley James appeared to be fouled in the box
as he controlled the ball in readiness for a strike.
But referee Darren England denied the Blues a penalty
to leave Altrincham ahead at the break.
Not long after the re-start, the rain
turned to heavy snow and Chester made promising threats
during the opening spell. Craig Hobson had shot which
was well off-target, followed by a couple of disappointing
Chester corners. But it was a corner for Altrincham
which finished the game off for the Blues. Chester failed
to clear the ball and it came to Gianluca Havern who
headed for home on the hour mark.
By now the snow was falling thick
and fast, not making it easy for any of the players.
Ben Heneghan replaced Keiron Charnock, while Jamie Menagh
came on for Crain Mahon. Menagh looked lively, but the
two-goal deficit was too much to overcome. Hobson had
another chance, but he was no match for Alty goalkeeper
A last throw of the die came with
Wayne Riley making a rare appearance with around 13 minutes
left to play. He was largely anonymous though, and it
was so cold that it was almost a relief for everyone when
the full-time whistle blew.
22 December Chester
1 AFC Telford United 1
(After Extra Time, Telford win 4-3 on penalties)
FA Trophy Round One Replay
Attendance: 898 (88 AFC Telford) Half Time 1-0, Full Time
and Telford met for the fourth time in recent weeks to
fit this FA Trophy replay in to the busy pre-Christmas
schedule. It was match which arguably neither side wanted
with plenty of games coming up over the holiday period.
But the Trophy is a non-League club’s best chance
of a Wembley appearance at its climax and brings in an
extra source of income as teams progress through the rounds.
So City fielded as full strength a side as they could
muster, given Gareth Roberts’ suspension and Kane
Richards’ ineligibility, as they made real efforts
to reach the next round and a trip to Fylde. They began
brightly enough with Rooney firing just wide and Heneghan’s
header wide of the mark too. Chester found plenty of room
down the right as the Bucks’ defence seemed to flounder.
It was Heneghan stealing in again at the far post who
side-footed the ball home to give City the lead.
Blues continued to dominate during the first period and
Heneghan appeared to double both his and City’s
tally when he latched on to Rooney’s pass and steered
the ball past Hedge into the goal. The linesman’s
flag was raised however and the goal ruled out. Offside
decisions continued to frustrate Blues – Mahon was
the leading but not only culprit as they were caught out
over and over again.
Chester went into the break
a goal to the good but Telford were still in the game
– a second goal was needed to secure victory and
it continued to elude City. The Bucks, seeking to impress
newly appointed manager Steve Kittrick, who watched
the game from the stand, upped their tempo in the second
half and began to have more of the possession as Chester
became increasingly leg weary.
Within minutes of being introduced as sub, former Blues
striker Tony Gray – hat trick hero of Telford’s
most recent game (A 3-4 defeat to Eastleigh) had contrived
an equaliser. His shot took a deflection off Sam Smith
and squirmed past Worsnop. It was scruffy but effective
and enough to secure extra time and possible penalties
– which the die-hard supporters felt in their
bones to be inevitable.
Menagh and then Kingsley James went closest for City
in the second period of extra time – both flashed
the ball across the face of the goal from either wing.
At the other end Gray elected to pass when he might
have shot for Telford’s best chance at goal.
The players congregated in the centre circle to participate
in the ensuing penalty shoot-out. Blues went first with
Menagh scoring confidently. But James – ironically
the only City player to score from a normal penalty
this season – saw his reasonable effort well saved
at the foot of the left hand post by Hedge. Smith gave
Blues fans hope when he blazed well over the bar but
young Tom Peers saw City’s fifth penalty saved
in identical circumstances to James’. It was left
to Cooke to score the Bucks’ final pen which took
It was a huge disappointment to the club and the die-hard
fans who turned out but City had to accept that their
tilt at the Trophy was over for another season. It seemed
to be weariness and lack of a cutting edge which had
brought about their collective demise. It was not so
much the sudden death of the penalty shoot-out as the
slow death of City hopes as the Blues faded and went
off the boil as the game wore on.
20 December Barnet 3 Chester 0
Football Conference Premier
Attendance: 1,946 (191 Chester) Half Time 1-0
Booked: Heneghan, Charnock, Mahon. Sent-off: G.Roberts.
Chester performance was not as bad as the scoreline reflected
and it could have been a different result had new signing
Kane Richards not been declared offside when he netted
the ball on 16 minutes.
At that stage in the game, it had
been a fairly even encounter, with Sean McConville missing
a close range header which seemed easier to score than
head over the bar.
Video replays later showed the offside
decision against Richards was at best dubious when he
struck a perfect lob over the head of Barnet goalkeeper,
Graham Stack. The well-travelled shot-stopper then made
a couple of good saves from a Matty Brown header followed
by a Richards’ pounce
onto the rebound.
Barnet's first proper chance of the
afternoon led to them going ahead when John Akinde collected
a poor back pass from Kingsley James before drilling
the ball home past Jon Worsnop. Chester striker Craig
Hobson had a weak header saved before half-time and
Richards, who made a confident debut following his signing
from Ilkeston, was also in the thick of the action again.
Not long after the re-start, another Hobson header hit
the crossbar. But it was all over for the Blues on the
52nd minute when defender Gareth Roberts was given a
straight red card for apparently elbowing Luisma Villa.
The Spaniard made the most of the encounter, but there
was no real doubt over the referee’s
decision this time.
Barnet were now on the offensive and
made their pressure count on the hour mark when Charlie
MacDonald put them two-up. Worsnop was then called on
to make a couple of good saves, but could do nothing
about Curtis Weston’s
shot on the 80th minute to give top-of-the-table Barnet
the start they wanted for their Christmas campaign.
hopes of progressing to a home tie against Middlesbrough
disappeared with a squib as damp as the evening. The rain
never ceased all night and Barnsley, having learned their
lesson from the first tie, were equally unrelenting in
their grip on this game.
The Tykes were well organised and determined and took
control of this replay early on. Hemmings and Jennings
threatened but it was Berry who had the first shot in
earnest with Kay doing well to throw himself in its way.
But after surviving this scare the Blues were not so fortunate
when another Berry shot hit Brown and fell kindly for
Hemmings to pick his spot and score the first goal of
Gareth Roberts, looked the pick of City’s defence
as he battled tenaciously at left back. He picked the
pocket of a dawdling Devante Cole as he watched the ball
to the touchline. Roberts cleared it from under his nose.
More crucially he raced across to rob Hemmings of possession
as he bore down on goal in a Barnsley counter attack.
Later, as James was deprived of the ball in a tight spot,
Worsnop – playing in a mask to protect his cheekbone
- had to dive full stretch to tip away Hourihane’s
City were not having much joy holding on to the ball,
Barnsley pressed high up the pitch and with the midfield
having to come back in search of the ball they often had
to resort to the long ball towards the isolated Hobson.
The lone Blues forward got little change out of Barnsley’s
centre-backs but he got little support. A change of boots
after half time seemed to bring better results from City’s
number nineteen and briefly after the break Chester began
Kay combined well down the right and managed a couple
of step-overs before his cross came to no avail. He crossed
again only for Henneghan to be pipped to it by a defender.
Rooney put the ball back in and Henneghan went close but
the referee had blown up for a push by Hobson. Minutes
later Kay was booked for sliding over enthusiastically
into a challenge in the Tykes’ penalty box with
Just after the hour mark, Barnsley caught City napping
from a free-kick. Cole dummied a pass which left Kay exposed
on the right and Jennings had space to shoot in to the
far corner. City replied with Hobson glancing a header
narrowly over the bar and Brown went close with another
header. But the tie was finally put to bed when Jennings
cut in again from the left and brushed aside three defenders
before curling his shot inside the same far post as his
earlier effort. It was a well-crafted goal but disappointing
from a defensive point of view and somewhat harsh on the
As the game wound down a plastic bottle appeared to be
thrown towards Roberts and he seemed reluctant to give
it to the referee, he then seemed to pick something off
the floor and give it to a Barnsley player who put it
in his mouth. Was it a gum shield or even his false teeth
we wondered? Later we discovered that Gareth “Jaffa
Cake” Roberts was thrown and distributed a packet
City were not disgraced but knew that their main chance
to win had come in the first match. With the element of
surprise removed, the Tykes produced a professional performance
to win this game. Blues were still roundly applauded for
bringing their opponents from two leagues above back to
Chester and earning extra revenue from the replay and
the television rights. The word went around that a new
signing was being made in the morning to strengthen the
playing squad. Colin Mansley
13 December AFC
Telford United 1 Chester 1
FA Trophy Round One
Attendance: 776 Half Time 1-1
Booked: Kay, Charnock.
AFC Telford United:
Hall, Higgins, Grogan, McDonald (Smith 59), Brownill,
Hancock, Poku, Platt (Barnett 14), Todd, Deacey, Farrell.
Subs not used: Hedge, Gray, Cooke.
Chester: Worsnop, Kay (Peers 57), Brown (Touray
65), Charnock, G.Roberts, Heneghan, James, Rooney, Mahon,
McConville (Menagh 82), Oates. Subs not used: C.Roberts,
Hobson. Referee: Jason Whiteley (Leeds).
Telford United and Chester will have to meet for the fourth
time this season after this first round FA Trophy match
ended in a draw. Manager Steve Burr made one change from
the side that drew at Barnsley recalling Rhys Oates and
dropping Craig Hobson to the bench. A protective mask
enabled Jon Worsnop to carry on in goal after he suffered
a cheekbone injury at Oakwell.
started well and almost took the lead in the eighth
minute as Sean McConville saw a fine run end with his
curling shot bouncing back off the crossbar with goalkeeper
Freddy Hall well beaten.
The Blues didn’t have long to wait for the opening
goal though as they were awarded a penalty on 12 minutes
after Mike Grogan had tripped Craig Mahon in the box.
Up stepped Kingsley James to send Hall the wrong way
in converting the spot-kick.
McConville almost doubled the lead rounding the defence
and seeing his shot trickle just wide of the far post
on 20 minutes.
Telford began to come more into
the game and found themselves on level terms just
before the half hour as a well worked one-two saw Jordan
Deacey slot the ball past Worsnop from close range.
Oates and John Rooney both saw long
range efforts test Hall but the score remained 1-1 at
Ten minutes after the restart Charlie
Barnett saw an effort cleared off the line by Gareth
Roberts as the home side pressed. Manager Steve Burr
made a couple of changes as Chester looked to win the
Substitute Tom Peers, Oates
and Rooney both missed good chances to score but the
best effort in the final minute fell to Telford as a
snap shot was pushed round the post by Worsnop to ensure
the sides must replay at Chester just before Christmas.
This was a day to remember to all the 2,143 Chester fans
who made the trip to Barnsley’s Oakwell Stadium
as they cheered their team onto an impressive draw and
into the hat for the FA Cup Third Round.
put on such a passionate performance that they were
unlucky not to win the game outright as their League
One opponents looked uncomfortable each time the Blues
came forward and there was even a shout that a first
half Craig Hobson header had crossed the line.
One of the heroes of the game emerged
not long after kick off when Jon Worsnop was struck
in the face by the trailing boot of Barnsley’s
Brad Abbott. It looked doubtful that he could carry
on, but after attention from the physio and a check
from the doctor he was allowed to stay on the field.
It later emerged that he played for 85 minutes with
a double cheekbone fracture.
He was soon called into action to
make a save from Kane Hemmings, and the Blues fans heaved
a sigh of relief as he dived low and held onto the ball.
Attention soon turned to the other end when a Craig
Mahon strike was parried onto the crossbar by Barnsley
goalkeeper Ross Turnbull.
Then came the Hobson header that a
couple of the Chester players pleaded had crossed the
line, but referee Darren Handley said Reds’ defender
Joe Dudgeon had cleared it in time. Not long after that,
it was Chester’s turn for a good clearance when
Keiron Charnock stopped a goal-bound shot from Marcello
Half-time came with the comforting
knowledge that Chester often put on a better performance
in the second half and this time they had the added
advantages of shooting towards a stand of raucous Chester
supporters with the biting South Yorkshire wind behind
And so it was no surprise the Chester
took the second half by the throat, with fearless Craig
Mahon running at the retreating Barnsley defenders almost
from the off. With less than five minutes gone, he collected
a good pass, jinked into the box and had his strike
saved by Turnbull.
At the other end, Worsnop was called
into action to stop a Leroy Lita strike. But many of
Barnsley’s chances went nowhere near the goal.
It was no wonder the Chester fans were justified in
chanting: “Football League, you’re having
As Chester continued to press forward,
Charnock found himself with a free header in the area,
but he squandered the opportunity and somehow the score
remained 0-0. However, the Blue fans went momentarily
wild when Sean McConville put the ball in the back of
the net. But it was wishful thinking as both he and
Ben Heneghan were clearly in an offside position.
Worsnop made another excellent save
in the last 10 minutes and Barnsley also had another
chance that went just wide. This was one of those 0-0
encounters that had as much goalmouth action as the
3-2 win at Dartford.
Mahon’s eyecatching display
continued as he rampaged into the Barnsley box in the
game's dying minutes. His strike just dipped over the
bar to deny Chester the win they deserved. By now Chester
nerves were jangling, but Matty Brown stood firm in
injury time to clear a ball off the line. A last minute
Barnsley goal would have been cruel on Chester, and
the referee blew his whistle just as the ball was cleared
Barnsley slumped off to a booing set
of home fans, while the Chester team and bench were
straight over to applaud the travelling army –
the biggest away following at Oakwell so far this season.
If Chester can replicate that performance in the reply,
then they’ll be into Round Three. We can only
dream about what will happen next.
Blues ground out what proved to be a comfortable victory
in the end as they scored two second half goals to beat
bottom of the table Telford and move themselves firmly
into mid table.
The Bucks had held Grimsby to a draw at the weekend and
started the game the brighter of the two sides tonight
as they strove to play catch-up with the rest of the Conference.
Godfrey Poku was the most influential midfielder as the
visitors drove forward towards the Clock End. He it was
whose effort was deflected upwards and over the bar on
to the roof of the net – Worsnop was either completely
deceived by the flight of the ball or the coolest customer
in the stadium as he watched it drop to safety. The visitors
also included Karl Ledsham in midfield, on loan from Lincoln,
he had scored twice for Southport in the eventful draw
at the Deva last season.
City had lost disappointingly away at Nuneaton but welcomed
back Kingsley James from suspension. Gradually Chester
began to see more of the ball and wrest control of the
game from the Bucks. Hughes initially had little joy against
the impressive Higgins at right back. But when Hughes
and Mahon switched wings they began to make more headway.
The Fleetwood loanee teamed up well with Kay a couple
of times as the Blues began to exert pressure down the
McConville’s claims for a penalty were waved away
by referee Wigglesworth as he deemed the Chester forward
to have gone down too easily. More mystifying was his
denial of a spot kick when Rooney’s goal bound shot
clearly hit Grogan’s left hand and away to safety.
It was noticeable the linesman in particular gave every
contentious handball that occurred to City after that.
City’s best and brightest moment of the half ended
with Mahon shooting narrowly wide from the edge of the
box through a crowd of players.
Freddy Hall, given a warm reception in the Telford goal
had a lucky escape when his throw out rebounded off a
defender’s legs but did not fall kindly for Rhys
Oates and was scrambled clear.
Telford changed things around at the break and brought
on midfielder Hancock to replace former Skelmersdale and
Southport centre back Akrigg. The tactic appeared to have
backfired when a good move early in the second half saw
McConville win a corner on the right which he proceeded
to take himself. From his delivery Matty Brown rose to
nod in the first goal of the evening.
Kay, rightly, and Mahon, inexplicably, were booked by
referee Wigglesworth in as many minutes but City’s
rhythm was undisturbed. McConville and Hughes combined
well but Hall pulled off a tremendous save from the winger’s
shot. Blues finally got the second goal they craved when
Oates latched on to a through ball and his pace worried
Hall into hurrying his clearance only to see it canon
back off a defender and back into the net. A scruffy goal
but Chester weren’t complaining.
Telford rarely threatened and when Sean Cooke ballooned
his free kick over the bar from a threatening position
on the edge of the area we began to sense that City might
hold on for the three points. After the disappointment
of last weekend, this result was all important.
Now for a brief respite Chester can concentrate on the
FA Cup on Sunday and dream about making progress towards
the trophy that was on display – albeit temporarily
– in the club shop before tonight’s match.
City fans took pictures of it with their phones and were
told by security guards to look but “Don’t
touch”. We wondered who will be getting their hands
on it next May.