Chester: Hornby, Jones, Astles, Rowe-Turner,
Hall-Johnson, Dawson, James, Shaw, Gough, White (Archer
65), Hannah (Akintunde 33). Subs: Halls, Mahon, Turnbull. Guiseley: Maxted, Brown, Palmer, Lawlor,
McFadzean, Purver, Lenighan, Fondop (Odejayi 83), Harvey,
Crookes, Roberts (Correia 86): Subs not used: Niate, Holden,
Hughes. Referee: Karl Evans.
Chester still hung over from Saturday’s 4-0 thrashing
at Halifax, this was seen as another must-win game against
fellow strugglers Guiseley. Instead the theme of City’s
annus horribilis was maintained with another defeat.
Like Chester and the other teams around them the visitors
have seen a management change already this season, with
Paul Cox taking over, and a subsequent re-shuffling of
squad personnel. Guiseley’s squad numbers were even
higher than Chester’s. There was no place in the
starting line-up, or even on the bench for ex-Blue John
Rooney who seems to have fallen foul of the new regime.
Despite all the changes Guiseley arrived on a poor run
of form – their last win was in October.
Nevertheless it was the Lions who started the better on
the day and – repeating a familiar pattern –
pressed City back and began to find space in midfield
from which to attack the Blues. After only four minutes
Callum McFadzean found space and latched on to the ball
centrally, unleashing a left foot shot which flew in to
the top corner.
Blues were on the back foot and Guiseley sought to press
their advantage further. This they almost did a few minutes
later when – with City’s defence at sixes
and sevens – Gough tried to cut out a cross but
only succeeded in heading the ball against a post. Palmer
picked up the rebound and seemed certain to score from
close range but instead laid it back to Roberts, whose
shot was blocked at the last ditch by James Jones and
scrambled clear. Chester did not escape so lightly on
fifteen minutes when Astles mis-headed a high ball and
Roberts bustled past him to hit a strong finish which
Hornby could not keep out.
James Roberts’ goal celebrations were muted as he
remembered his spell here at Chester a couple of years
ago in October and November 2015 on loan from Oxford –
still his parent club. During that time his younger brother
Ben was tragically killed in a car accident and he was
granted compassionate leave for a while. Chester held
a minute’s silence in memory of Ben before the game
against Lincoln that season. It seemed the memory of that
support was not forgotten and he subdued his celebrations
out of respect.
The proverbial mountain for City to climb after conceding
two early goals got even steeper when Rowe-Turner received
a straight red card from referee Karl Evans after a reckless
challenge on Roberts. Ironically though City seemed to
play better with ten men. Perhaps it was reverting to
a flat back four or maybe Guiseley took their foot off
the gas – probably a combination of both. Hannah
pulled up with an injury and Chester’s misery was
just about complete. Akintunde replaced him though and
had City’s best chance of the match when, just before
half time he cut through on the left but could not beat
Maxted with an angled shot. The keeper’s parried
save fell agonisingly out of reach of Kingsley James.
White too, turned and shot but straight at the keeper.
After the break both sides went fairly close to scoring
- most notably when Purver saw his shot headed off the
line by Shaw whilst substitute Archer’s header went
narrowly wide at the other end. City could not do enough
to really test Maxted and so dropped below Guiseley in
the table on goal difference as a result of this match.
edged past Fylde in this FA Trophy tie – a repeat
of the opening League encounter of this campaign. The
Blues looked to be closing on a narrow victory in the
ninety minutes only for the Coasters to equalise and
then take the lead in extra-time. But a Dawson equaliser
and five consummate penalties in the subsequent shoot-out
saw the hosts through to the next round.
The visitors had run neighbours Wigan close in an FA
Cup replay earlier this week and rested one or two of
their regulars for this game. Top scorer Danny Rowe
was, notably, on the bench.
A cagey first half saw Fylde dominate possession but
not threaten unduly. In the second half James’
exquisitely threaded pass put Hannah through to round
the keeper and open the scoring. The visitors complained
it was offside but to no avail. Blues held firm until
the dying seconds when substitute Tasdemir nipped the
ball off Hall-Johnson and tucked it past Hornby to send
the tie into extra time.
There seemed little way back for Chester when, in the
first half of extra time, Danny Rowe fired home from
ten yards after a deflected right wing cross deceived
Hornby and he could only half clear. But within moments
City went up the other end, Udoh won a fifty-fifty ball
with the keeper and it fell kindly for Dawson to rifle
home the equaliser. Daniel Udoh then almost won it for
City when his stabbed shot went just the wrong side
of the upright.
With the scores level at the end of extra-time the players
lined up for a penalty shoot-out at the deserted Clock
End. They began with Rowe scoring the first for Fylde.
All of the first eight spot kicks were converted, Hannah,
James, Astles and Turnbull all scoring for Chester,
until it came to the last two. Jonny Smith then missed
the target with Fylde’s fifth and Halls stepped
up sure-footed to send the Blues through. It was as
confident a set of penalty kicks as you would want to
see – no sign of nerves or lack of confidence
at all from City.
A three figure crowd of 886 (Including a fancy-dress
snowman with the Coasters’ support) had witnessed
a highly entertaining tie. Chester faithful –
aware that their team is one of a few never to have
played at Wembley – can carry on dreaming for
a little while longer at least.
9 December Chester 1 Solihull Moors 0 Football Conference National
Attendance: 1,430 Half Time: 0-0
Booked: Halls, Shaw.
Chester: Hornby, Halls (Shaw 46), Rowe-Turner,
James, Jones, Astles, Dawson, Hall-Johnson, Anderson,
Udoh (Hannah 66), Akintunde. Subs not used: Lynch, Bell,
Mahon. Solihull Moors: O’Leary, Bowen
(Reckord 79), Carter, Atkinson, Hylton, P Green (Carline
82), Daly, Kelleher, Osborne, Thomas, Afolayan (Asante
58). Subs not used: K Green, Murombedzi. Referee: Peter Wright.
army of volunteers had been assembled in the morning to
clear the pitch of lying snow. By half time they may have
been wondering whether they should have made the effort
as Chester struggled against bottom of the table Solihull.
The Blues were striving to get used to another new formation
as they gave debuts to three players: goalkeeper Sam Hornby,
young defender James Jones and Daniel Udoh, a striker.
Myles Anderson also made his first appearance at the Deva
in a Chester shirt.
Anderson, Astles and Jones formed a central defensive
three whilst Rowe-Turner and Hall-Johnson flanked them
as wing backs. James and Halls sat in front of the defence
and Dawson endeavoured to link the play with Akintunde
and Udoh up front. The latter two ended up being isolated
for much of the first half and really only came into it
as an attacking force when City were able to get the ball
wide and the wing-backs forward.
Instead it was the Moors who had more of the possession
in City’s half and when Jamey Osbourne made inroads
down the left and was scythed down by Halls (for which
he received a yellow card) as early as the eighth minute
– it seemed like the writing was on the wall for
the Blues. Osbourne had gone public earlier in the week
on his decision to sign for Solihull on loan from Grimsby
rather than re-join Marcus Bignot at Chester. He was looking
lively - as was another loanee Kwame Thomas.
Solihull, under their third manager of the season in Mark
Yates, are fighting for survival just as Chester are and
although Blues fans had marked this down as a must-win
game, the visitors too will have earmarked this fixture
as one to win. Apart from a Halls header straight at the
keeper, City had little to show in the first half, but
equally, for all their possession, the Moors failed to
test Hornby either.
With the introduction of Tom Shaw after the break, the
pace of City’s play picked up. Dawson mis-hit an
effort from the edge of the box, Shaw went closer with
a deflected shot, and Chester began to force a number
of corners. From one Jones just failed to connect with
a header in front of goal. Later as they won another,
Blues players queued up and dispersed as Dawson curled
another in-swinger from the left. Astles flicked it towards
the far post where Hannah popped up to nod it home. Hannah
booted the pile of snow behind the goal in exuberant joy,
quickly followed by James, Shaw picked a handful up and
hurled a snowball to the back of the Harry Mac. The relief
There were ten minutes left for City to close out a much
needed win. They were helped by a second red card for
ex-FGR general Darren Carter and were relieved to see
a rasping shot from Osbourne fizz just over the top corner
of the goal. Chester held out for an ugly but vital victory.
Once again Marcus Bignot led the players to circulate
in the Blues Bar afterwards where the drinks tasted much
sweeter than a fortnight ago.