Spitfires have recruited widely and fielded a side full
of professional expertise which they employed to full
effect in grinding out a narrow win against City. Ben
Strevens has played almost 450 games for Barnet and Dagenham
alone; recent signing Deon Burton has 560 games under
his belt and James Constable released by Oxford at the
end of last season where he had been their top scorer
for the last six seasons had over two hundred games for
them as well as spells at several other clubs before that.
It was Constable that my next door neighbour, an Oxford
United fan, had especially come along to see. So when
midway through the first half Constable shanked the ball
wide with an open goal at his mercy, my neighbour turned
to me and said “That’s why we got rid of him!”
Chester were spared on that occasion and earlier when
Pell blazed the ball over when he too should have hit
the target. But they were not so fortunate on 65 minutes
when substitute Dan Walker stole in at the far post to
side-foot Reason’s cross past Worsnop. City had
momentarily switched off from a left wing throw-in. It
was Walker’s first touch of the ball and the decisive
moment of the afternoon.
Eastleigh then drew on all their experience to close the
game out and stifle any hopes of a comeback from the Blues.
City could not get the ball down and play their passing
game. Mahon and Hughes were well monitored whenever the
ball got out to them on the wings.
Efforts on goal were few and far between from both sides.
Heneghan had a header over the bar in the first half and
in the second Hobson was just short of a tantalising driven
cross from the right by Hughes, having skipped past his
marker on a rare occasion. Abbott was denied much possession
of the ball. He glimpsed a chink in the Spitfires’
defence but was tripped on the edge of the box. Rooney’s
subsequent free kick was accurate but comfortably saved
As the game wore on City’s support became more and
more frustrated. Much of their ire was directed at referee
Richard Martin who, they felt, had let Eastleigh away
with a lot. Perhaps they thought that because he was half
the height of each and every Eastleigh player –
giants to a man – they intimidated him. But in truth
it was more about frustration with the know-how and experience
with which the visitors closed the game out.
Blues will have a fortnight to reflect on this their first
defeat in six games. The next fixture is the derby down
the road on March 7th. Several regulars took the opportunity
to leave a few minutes early to queue up for their tickets
for the bubble match.
completed the double over Lincoln City as Sean McConville’s
goal just before the break brought a fourth straight
victory and moved Chester up to tenth position.
Manager Steve Burr kept the same starting X1 as the
one that had beaten the Imps 4-0 towards the end of
last month, Kingsley James returned from suspension
to take a place in the bench.
The first half chance of the game fell to Arnaud Mendy
who shot over after some uncertainty in the Blues goal
from Jon Worsnop following a long throw saw the loose
ball fall free.
Chances were at a premium in the opening half but four
minutes before half-time a moment of magic from McConville
brought the game to life. On-loan striker Oliver McBurnie
half off a couple of defenders to roll the ball to McConville
who rifled home from the corner of the box giving goalkeeper
Paul Farman no chance in the home goal.
A booking for Michael Kay early in the second period
took his tally to 10 and brings with it a two match
suspension. Farnam saved from a John Rooney free kick
before some great defending from Gareth Roberts and
Ben Heneghan denied Ben Tomlinson a great opportunity
to bring the sides level.
Lincoln had plenty of possession in the last quarter
of the game though Worsnop was rarely troubled as his
defence kept the Imps at bay. McConville could have
sealed the three points in the dying minutes but he
managed to steer Brad Abbott’s pass wide of goal
from close range.
That miss was forgotten moments later as referee Dean
Treleaven blew for full-time as the Chester players
went over to celebrate with the 335 Blues supporters
who’d made the trip to Sincil Bank.