Southport: Norman, White, Nolan (McKenna
69), Murray, Allen, Hynes, Jones (Almond 69), Meikle (Grimes
83), Stevenson, McKeown, Higgins. Subs not used: Cundy,
Lynch, Hunt, Hughes, Astles, George (Vassell 46), Horwood
(Mahon 83), Lloyd, Shaw (Durrell 55), Joyce, Richards,
Alabi. Subs not used: Roberts, Hudson. Referee: Martin Coy (Durham).
ended their dismal run of four successive defeats with
a narrow win at Southport as Evan Horwood's second half
goal brought the second victory of 2017.
Manager Jon McCarthy was able to pick Johnny Hunt following
his two match ban, he also recalled Kane Richards at the
expense of Elliott Durrell who started on the bench. Nearly
500 supporters made the trip from Chester as the Blues
looked to avenge the FA Cup defeat to the Sandgrounders
back in October.
Blues came close to opening the scoring on six minutes
as Horwood sent through Tom Shaw only for the midfielder
to see his shot come back off the post. Moments before
Sam Hughes, playing alongside Ryan Astles in defence,
blocked an Andrai Jones effort for a corner.
Astles saw a shot blocked form a corner before Hughes
was called into action again making a timely tackle
to deny Jamie Allen as Southport broke.
Both sides were creating chances, Lindon Meikle saw
an effort saved by Alex Lynch and Shaw sent over a tantalising
cross across the six yard box that evaded the onushing
Alibi and Richards.
The last action of the half saw Richards’ header
saved by Magnus Norman after being set-up by Wade Joyce.
Liam Hynes saw an effort saved by Lynch as Southport
started the second period brightly. Shaw picked up a
yellow card and an injury after diving in to stop former
Blue Ryan Higgins surging run. At the other end Alabi
saw a powerful 25-yarder fly over the bar.
The deadlock was broken in the 67th minute as Lynch’s
long punt upfield was gathered by Horwood on the left,
Norman rushed out of goal and was stranded as Horwood
lobbed the ‘keeper to find the net.
Southport will count themselves unlucky not to draw
level as the struck the crossbar twice in as many minutes
as first Liam Haynes and then Jim Stevenson saw efforts
bounce back off the woodwork.
Durrell, who had earlier replaced the injured Shaw,
found the net only for referee Martin Coy to have already
blown his whistle for a foul.
Louis Almond and Hynes both missed chances in the dying
minutes as Chester held out for three hard earned points
to maintain their mid-table position.
Chester fans – and possibly the team – were
still getting used to the sunny climes and plastic pitch
at Maidstone when this game seemed to be over inside five
minutes. First an early corner saw Stones defender Kevin
Lokko having no trouble finding the net. Then the Chester
defence were caught napping from another corner, with
Delano Sam-Yorke putting the home side 2-0 up.
With just five minutes gone at that
stage, it looked like Chester had too much of an uphill
struggle to get anything out of their visit to the Gallagher
Stadium. All seemed to be confirmed on the 14th minute
when a high Maidstone pass into the box also failed
to be cleared by the Blues' defenders. This time it
was Joe Piggott who was in the right place to score
a third goal for his side.
Chester never looked likely to score
at all in the first half, with only a James Alibi effort
across the goal coming closest. To make matters worse,
Maidstone went four ahead on the 44th minute when poor
defending from another corner gave Lokko enough space
to score his second goal.
Chester had to change in the second
half, and there was a definite improvement after a half-time
change saw Kane Richards come on for Wade Joyce and
Ross Killock replace Tom Shaw. There was also a move
to a 4-4-2 formation, which gave more support to Alibi.
The changes soon paid off when Evan
Horwood, who seemed much more at home in the new formation,
was fouled in the area. Alabi scored a solid penalty
to give the Blues some faint hope on the 52nd minute.
Chester were undoubtedly the dominant
team of the second half, with Sam Hughes netting a header
from a Ryan Lloyd free kick with 23 minutes of normal
time still on the clock. Richards and Alabi both had
chances to make it a nervy finish for Maidstone. But
it wasn't to be, and the Blues were left regretting
the game's opening 14 minutes.
11 February Chester 1 Gateshead 2
Attendance: 2,095 Half Time 1-1
Chester: Roberts, Vassell (Lloyd 26),
Hudson, Astles, Hughes, Shaw, George, Joyce, Durrell,
Horwood (Richards 67), Alabi. Subs not used: Lynch, Chapell,
Killock. Gateshead: Montgomery, Bolton, G Smith,
M Smith, Hogan, Fyfield, York, Johnson (Beere 88), Burrow,
Mafuta, McLaughlin. Subs not used: Hanford, Brundle, Bell,
Hannant. Referee: Joseph Johnson.
four defeats in five matches for Chester who put in a
poor performance for the television cameras on Saturday.
Sam Hughes replaced the suspended Johnny Hunt in the only
change from the side that battled well during last Saturday's
defeat at Dagenham.
The Blues started well with James Alabi forcing an early
corner and Tom Shaw firing a shot across goal. The Blues
should have opened the scoring in the 12th minute as Elliott
Durrell’s fine through ball found Shaw in the area
but the midfielder could only shoot straight at James
Montgomery in the Heed goal from ten yards out.
Danny Johnson and Jordan Burrow both went close for the
visitors before Chester opened the scoring in the 31st
minute as a far post corner found Luke George, his shot
was deflected into the path of Blaine Hudson who game
Montgomery no chance from close range.
The lead was short lived as Johnson got the better of
Ryan Astles five minutes later before shooting past Liam
Roberts who will feel he should have done better to keep
out the strike.
The equaliser gave Gateshead a boost and Paddy McLaughlin
and Johnson both went close to snatching a second goal
just before the half-time interval.
Alabi did well to create a half chance that he saw flash
wide across goal before the Heed took the lead on 63 minutes
as Burrow shot past Roberts from 12 yards out . Wes York
almost added a third with Roberts saving his goal bound
Chester had very little to show in a very disappointing
second half, Ryan Lloyd forced a corner with ten minutes
remaining but nothing came from Durrell’s delivery
as the visitors comfortably held out to complete the double
4 February Dagenham
& Redbridge 3 Chester 2
Attendance: 1,250 (161 Chester) Half Time 1-0
Booked: Shaw, Astles, Durrell.
Dagenham & Redbridge: Justham,
Widdowson, Robson, Raymond (Maguire-Drew 61), Guttridge
(Howell 61), Okenabirhie (Benson 76), Hawkins, Boucaud,
Whitely, Donnellan, Sheppard. Subs: Cousins, Doe. Chester: Roberts, Hunt, Vassell,
Astles, Hudson, Shaw, George, Joyce, Durrell (O’Brien
90), Horwood (Hughes 75), Alabi. Subs not used: Lynch,
Mahon, Waters. Referee: Alan Young.
the age-old cliché of “defeat from the jaws
of victory” was being muttered by many of the 161
Chester fans as they trooped out of Dagenham's Chigwell
had been 2-1 up with just four minutes of normal time
remaining, when the home side scored two late goals
to help them move up to runner-up spot in the National
It was a great game for a neutral,
with Liam Roberts making a penalty save for Chester
in the game's opening 10 minutes. This had followed
a tackle by Blues’
defender Blaine Hudson.
Both sides had a couple of good chances
in the first half hour, including Elliott Durrell –
who seems a much better performer away from home –
having an eye on a repeat of his wonder goal at Boreham
Wood. He missed out this time, but was a threatening
figure for most of the game.
It was the Daggers who drew the first
blood, when Jake Sheppard struck a low shot past Roberts
almost on the stroke of the second half. However, the
half-time chat amongst the Chester fans housed together
in Dagenham’s impressive
Stand centred around the fightback their side would
make at the re-start. They were soon proved right when
a pass by Wade Joyce came to Luke George who evened
the score up on the 50th minute.
Not long after that, Evan Horwood
started a great move and laid on a perfect pass for
Tom Shaw. His shot was impossible for Dagenham goalkeeper
Elliot Justham to stop and it meant Chester had a deserved
lead against their hosts.
But the remaining 32 minutes, as well
as an extra six minutes of injury time, was a long time
for Chester to hold on. Sam Hughes came on for Horwood
on the 75th minute, with the balance of the team changing
Soon after the substitution, Tom Shaw
was booked and the Blues started looking nervous. A
good Dagenham header was goal-bound when Johnny Hunt
made a clear handball to keep the ball out of the net.
Referee Alan Young had no choice but to send him off,
and Corey Whitely then scored from the penalty spot.
Chester still couldn't find their
composure, with a booking for Ryan Astles for time wasting
adding to the tension. As Dagenham continued to press
against Chester’s 10-men, the ball fell well for
them amongst a crowd of players in the box. Substitute
Jordan Maguire-Drew was on hand to score the winning
goal on the 90th minute. It was a goal that confirmed
Dagenham’s promotion hopes and must have shattered
Chester’s slender play-off ambitions.