Chester: Griffiths, Jones (K.Roberts
68), Grand, Taylor, Morgan, Stopforth, Glendon (Waters
62), G.Roberts, Ngwatala (Dudley 72), Asante, Waring.
Subs not used: Hughes, Elliott. Curzon Ashton: Mason, Halls, Davies,
Wroe (Jolly 44), Shaw, Ali, Miller, Calveley, Scott (Doyle
90), Evans, Baillie. Subs not used: McCann, Sloan. Referee: Paul Brown.
decade ended as a bit of a damp squib with a defeat and
a flat performance at home against Curzon Ashton on Christmas
Seasoned Blues fans
could see it coming – as there always seems to
be a slump around Christmas and they were facing a team
who hadn’t won away from home in the league all
season. It was a double jinx waiting to happen.
Chester actually had most of the ball
in the first half, and had a goal disallowed for offside
on 12 minutes. It was Elton Ngwatala who put the ball
in the net after a good move featuring George Waring
and Joel Taylor. Along with Akwasi Asante, those four
players had a promising start to the game and Blues
fans did feel a goal would be coming.
But the closest Chester came to scoring
in the first half was when Curzon goalkeeper Cameron
Mason made an excellent save to block an Asante shot
just as the home supporters were on their feet celebrating.
With Chester shooting towards the
Harry Mac in the second half, there was an air of expectancy
as the sun set at half time. But it was Curzon who made
the first impression when former Blue Andy Halls scored
with a great header not long after the re-start.
Much as Chester tried to get back
into the game, there were few shots anywhere near goal
from a player in blue - including a couple of wild strikes
that sailed into the car park. Meanwhile the grey-clad
Curzon side seemed to be in the right place to stop
the home side advancing.
Goalkeeper Mason was called upon again
to save an on-target Anthony Dudley strike and he also
came out on top when Waring was in a one-on-one situation
just as 90 minutes were up. Despite four minutes of
stoppage time, Chester didn’t come near to scoring
that illusive equaliser. and 2019 ended in disappointing
On the positive side, it was good
to see the attendance figure past the 2,000 mark. There
were also moving tributes to club legend Gary Talbot
with an emotional Cleggy starting a one minute’s
applause before the game, and another minute’s
applause taking place on the ninth minute. It was such
a shame the game came nowhere near to matching that
moved back to third place after turning in their best
performance of the season as they come from behind to
win at Southport.
The Blues made three changes to the side held by AFC Telford
last week. Jamie Morgan, Gary Stopforth and George Waring
came in for Kevin Roberts, Elton Ngwatala and Anthony
Chester started with purpose and on the front foot, Joel
Taylor saw a deep cross loop over Charles Albinson in
the home goal hit the post and rebound out to Stopforth
whose effort on goal was well blocked.
Bradley Jackson also saw an effort just clear the bar
as Chester, backed by a large Bank Holiday following looked
to open the scoring. George Glendon was unlucky not to
score twice in quick succession. First he saw a well struck
low effort hit the post, and moments later saw another
effort from close range smothered by Albinson.
Against the run of play the
Sandgrounders took the lead midway through the half.
Russell Griffiths saved a Zehn Mohammed effort but the
loose ball fell to former player Ryan Astles who found
Chester continued to press however
and drew level on 34 minutes as George Waring converted
a Glendon cross to steer the ball past Albinson to send
the sides in level at the break.
Four minutes after the restart the
comeback was complete as Akwasi Asante pounced on a
loose ball after a Jackson challenge to score in the
bottom corner. Glendon was again denied by a good save
from Albinson as a third goal looked certain.
That third duly came on 70 minutes with a thunderbolt
from Gary Roberts who let fly from 30 yards out to wrap
up a happy three Christmas points for the Blues who
leapfrogged their hosts into third place.
21 December Chester
0 AFC Telford United 0 National League North
Attendance: 1,756 Half Time: 0-0
Booked: Grand, Asante.
Chester: Griffiths, Taylor (Morgan 62),
Grand, Livesey, K.Roberts, Glendon, G.Roberts, Jackson,
Ngwatala, Dudley (Waring 62), Asante. Subs not used: Stopforth,
Elliott, Hughes. AFC Telford United: Yates, Birch, White,
Deeney, Sutton, Streete, Barnett, Walker, Stenson (Dinanga
82), McQuilkin (Williams 82), Daniels. Subs not used:
Lilly, Calder, Knights. Referee: John Matthews.
Bucks came to the 1885 Arena still smarting from a midweek
Trophy defeat at home to Leamington which saw them concede
five goals. Manager Gavin Cowan said that he felt he had
gone from Pep Guardiola to Pepperami. He had drummed a
“Thou shall not pass” mentality into his squad
as they sought to respond to their recent humiliation.
Try as they might Chester
could not get through the two lines of defence between
them and the Telford goal. The Blues had plenty of possession
but as they tried to go forward a clutch of redshirts
seemed to cluster around every Chester player on the
ball. Telford had next to no attacking threat apart
from lone striker Stenson. He demonstrated on one first
half occasion that he needed an eye keeping on him as
he got through for a chance on goal which Livesey blocked
at the last possible opportunity.
Chester barely mustered a shot on goal so resolute was
the Telford defence in the first half but in the second
they did threaten several times as Telford dug in deeper
and deeper in retreat. A nice dummy by Glendon allowed
Waring to shoot and the tall forward really should have
done better than hit the post from the edge of the area.
A couple of half chances fell to Asante his first effort
was wide and then a snatched shot following Jackson’s
switch to the left wing was straight at Telford keeper
Then as the game moved into its final phase, Asante
was sent through by Morgan’s delightful pass forward.
As he entered the area he cut back to shoot –
only for Bucks’ defender Streete to slide in and
seemingly take his legs from under him. To the amazement
of all in the ground, referee John Matthews did not
give what looked like a cast iron penalty but instead
awarded a free kick to Telford. To rub salt in the wound
he booked Asante for simulation. The decision denied
all logic and incensed the home support and management
Matthews had been handing out yellow cards with increasing
regularity as the game wore on and eventually they caught
up with Telford midfielder Barnett – dismissed
for accruing his second with a few minutes remaining.
The decision did not alter the course of the game –
unlike the penalty shout – and Telford clung resolutely
to the point they had come for.
In a way it had been a stress-free afternoon for City
supporters as Telford offered so little up front but
the frustration at not being able to make the breakthrough
Saturday’s goalless draw at Keys Park had brought
the two sides back to the 1885 Arena for this replay but
a cold winter’s night barely a week before Christmas
did not attract much of an audience. Just over six hundred
turned out to watch Chester progress to the next round
of the FA Trophy which could conceivably end up at Wembley.
They would hope to take a few more should they get there
for the first time in their history.
who did attend were treated to some flowing football
in the first half at least as the Blues cruised to a
2-0 lead. The move for the first goal began way back
in the left back position as Simon Grand jinked past
Osebi Abakadi and ran forward to feed the ball to Anthony
Dudley – back in the side in place of Matty Hughes.
Dudley and Asante worked the ball forwards for the overlapping
Taylor whose cross was met with a first time shot by
Asante. It looped up off a defender’s challenge
and Jackson nipped in at the far post to volley it into
the roof of the net.
The second goal arrived following
some excellent work by Elliott who twisted and turned
with the ball to beat The Pitmen’s captain Bailey
on the right before crossing perfectly for Asante to
nod powerfully home at the far post. Chester were well
in control but got a warning before half-time when Glover
shot on the turn from a narrow angle and Griffiths was
forced to palm it around the post.
The warning seemed to go unheeded for shortly after
the break Glover volleyed a shot into the bottom corner
as Livesey’s header came out to him. The goal
infused the Pitmen with confidence and induced the jitters
among Blues fans.
There was still a long way to go and City probed for
a likely match-winning third goal. Jackson had plenty
of the ball down the right – all too often though
the cross was not fine-tuned enough to find a City forward.
Hednesford, in luminous yellow kit, were seeing a lot
of possession and moving the ball around fluidly without
overly working Griffiths. The Chester keeper must have
had his heart in his mouth however when Hurst’s
shot fairly thudded against the upright and back into
That was the closest the Pitmen came to an equaliser
while at the other end Gary Roberts was just wide with
an effort from the edge of the box after Hughes had
set him up. Dudley was thwarted by a fine reaction save
from Wycherley after Ngwatala’s nicely weighted
pass had given him the opportunity to shoot.
Chester did enough to hold on and closed the tie out
to earn a place in the next round away to Royston, conquerors
of Boreham Wood in this round. They themselves are just
a couple of places below Hednesford in the same BetVictor
Southern League Premier Central Division i.e. one level
below Chester and two below the National League Premier.
made one change from the side that beat Bradford (Park
Avenue) last weekend with Kevin Roberts returning to the
starting line up to replace Jamie Morgan.
The Blues were given an early scare with Donawa volleying
just wide in the opening minutes as the home side started
brightly. Chances were few and far between with Danny
Livesey heading wide before Darlo took the lead on 28
A long through ball eluded the Chester defence and Omar
Holness raced through on goal to lob the out-rushing Russell
Griffiths and find the net.
Chester’s main threat was coming from free-kicks.
Joel Taylor sent in two that saw both Akwasi Asante and
Simon Grand shoot wide.
On the stroke of half-time Chester conceded again as Griffiths
cropped a cross and in the ensuing scramble Donawa beat
Taylor to the loose ball to score from close range.
A floodlight failure saw a delay of nearly half an hour
before the second half could begin. Asante almost pulled
a goal back heading Bradley Jackson’s cross goalwards
only for Liam Connell in the Quakers goal to make a fine
Moments later Livesey had a goal ruled out for offside
and Matty Hughes headed over from Jackson’s teasing
cross as Chester pressed to get back into the game.
Adam Campbell went close to
adding a third as Grand cleared the danger from the
Blues’ goal-line. The last action of the game
saw Griffiths produce a fine save to deny Steve Thompson
who was sent through on goal one-on-one.