the exciting finish on Tuesday night Chester found themselves
on the wrong end of a five-goal thriller this time. Thriller
is probably not the right word to describe this encounter
with Brackley as the first half in particular was dire
entertainment. Anthony Johnson described it as turgid
as two teams with similar 4-4-2 formations cancelled each
other out. Arguably Brackley were the better disciplined
and more hard-working of the two sides – closing
Chester down at every opportunity and smothering any attempts
to get forward.
Once again a swirling wind made conditions difficult and
play was scrappy with misdirected passes finding touch
at regular intervals. For the visitors Lee Ndlovu proved
a real handful, holding the ball up and occupying defenders
by shielding the ball effectively. Shepherd Murumbedzi
and Shane Byrne seemed to have the upper hand in a competitive
midfield. Jackson and Johnston were pinned back and unable
to find space to run at their full backs and despite the
best efforts of the drummers and choir on the Harry Mac
it made for a dour spectacle.
Dudley did skip free on the left on one occasion but Asante
couldn’t quite meet his clever early cross. Otherwise
The Saints took the lead from a right wing corner as Byrne
and Baker worked the ball past Roberts and Taylor. Byrne
shot at the near post which Griffiths stopped but couldn’t
hold and Holman lifted it over the prone keeper for Ndlovu
to force the ball over the line despite the close attentions
of Jones. Immediately after this Taylor limped off to
be replaced by Waters and was shortly followed by Asante
who also seemed not to be moving freely. His substitute
was Ngwatala. City still struggled to make headway and
it took until almost half time for them to muster a shot
– Burton’s wayward effort from distance didn’t
trouble the keeper.
Shortly after half time however Kevin Roberts surged forward
and unleashed a much better effort which narrowly went
wide. Johnston volleyed Jackson’s cross that flew
past the opposite post.Then Jackson found room to run
and shoot too – his effort also just failing to
find the top corner. A much improved attitude from the
Blues saw them equalise as Glendon’s left wing corner
to the far post was nodded back by Grand and Jones pounced
to stab it home.
The restart was held up for a few minutes as Walker received
treatment and was eventually stretchered off. His replacement
Thierry Audel restored Brackley’s lead a few minutes
later as he glanced home a left wing corner setting the
Blues back again.
With Hughes and Waring injured and Elliott still out on
loan Chester’s attacking options on the bench were
limited. In an effort to provide more of a threat, Livesey
was thrown on instead of Burton. The veteran had an almost
immediate impact as he met Griffiths’ delivery from
a free kick and nodded over a stranded Lewis for another
equaliser with just five minutes remaining.
City had done well to claw themselves back into contention
but then as the match entered its final minute disaster
struck. Waters did well to get in front of Lowe and shepherd
the ball out towards a goal kick but inexplicably Griffiths
came to meet them and Lowe succeeded in prodding the ball
between the two of them from the acutest of angles into
an unguarded net. The Brackley forward celebrated aggressively
in front of the Harry Mac prompting one punter to offer
to take him on as a warm-up act before Tyson Fury’s
bout later in the evening. Fortunately the stewards restrained
There was still time for Livesey to loop another header
over Lewis but, unfortunately for Chester, just over the
bar too. Griffiths even went up for a last ditch corner
seeking to make amends but to no avail. So some of the
euphoria of Tuesday was undone, City gifted play-off rivals
Brackley the points and dropped down to fourth in the
table. The scramble for the top seven intensifies.
18 February Chester
3 King’s Lynn Town 2
National League North
Attendance: 1,736 Half Time: 1-1
Chester: Griffiths, Grand, Jones, K.Roberts,
Taylor (Waters 70), Burton, Glendon, Jackson, Johnston
(Stopforth 90), Asante, Hughes (Dudley 65). Subs not used:
Ngwatala, G.Roberts. King’s Lynn Town: Street, Jones,
Barrows, Jarvis, Smith, McCauley, Kelly (Fox 66), Richards,
Gash, Marriott, Henderson (Southwell 78). Subs not used:
Carey, Payne, Hawkins. Referee: Aaron Bannister.
snatched a dramatic late win against the league leaders
King’s Lynn to boost their play-off hopes. Team
selection was going to be interesting tonight and bosses
Morley and Johnson stuck with the same line up that had
beaten Blyth ten days ago. The visitors had had an even
longer lay off of seventeen days due to postponements
but still sat top of the pile and with games in hand.
After an entertaining score draw in October, fans came
anticipating a good game of football and were not disappointed
in the slightest. Chester lost the toss again and kicked
towards the Harry Mac but started much the brighter. Surging
forward with elan down either wing Jackson and Johnston
made inroads but the final ball into the box was wayward.
Taylor also found space on the left and his first time
cross had Street grasping for the ball as it whipped tantalisingly
into the danger area.
Against the run of play the Linnets took the lead when
a sweeping move led to Marriot stealing space down the
left and he squared the ball for full back Barrows to
stroke home. Taylor complained bitterly to the linesman
that the goal was offside but the officials were unmoved.
Chester retaliated within five minutes as Taylor put the
ball back into the area following a right wing corner
and it took a deflection off defender McCauley just inside
the near post, despite Street’s desperate dive.
Griffiths did well to save Richard’s glancing header
at the near post from a corner as Kings Lynn played a
game of patient build up from the back and showed confidence
and technical ability. Lookalikes Kelly and Henderson
– both bald of pate and full of beard – got
through a great deal of work in midfield. Despite this
Chester continued to dominate. Burton in particular caught
the eye with his breaking up of play and his sound distribution.
James Jones also seemed to be growing in stature and influence
as his run in the team has extended.
After the break City continued to attack – Kevin
Roberts and Jackson developed a good understanding down
the right and from the latter’s cross Hughes did
not quite get enough purchase with his header to test
the keeper. McCauley was booked for bringing down Jackson
and then Johnston’s shot from the edge of the box
was grabbed at the second attempt by Street with Asante
But then City were undone by another clinically taken
Linnets goal. Following a mesmerising series of passes
across the back four the visitors got the ball forward
to Gash who worked it across to the indefatigable Henderson.
He then worked it across the pitch to Jones who exchanged
passes before setting up a shot from the edge of the box
just inside Griffiths’ right hand post. Things then
threatened to get worse as Marriot found himself through
on goal only for Jones to trip him before he got into
the box. The presence of other Chester defenders in the
chasing posse probably helped Jones get the benefit of
the doubt and a yellow rather than a red card. The resultant
free kick was blocked and then blazed over.
Dudley had come on as sub for Hughes and his speed of
anticipation brought City an equaliser out of the blue.
Griffiths’ long kick was nodded on by Asante and
Dudley was already racing through and exquisitely flicking
it over the onrushing Street before the Linnets had seen
the danger. They could only look on in horror as the ball
looped into the net.
Henderson picked up an injury and was replaced and Linnets
lost a bit of momentum. Blues had their tails up now and
when Asante was harshly penalised when threatening to
go through on goal Antony Johnson saw red for protesting
too vociferously and was sent to the stand by referee
Bannister. Waters and Gash clashed over a throw in and
then another controversial decision by the linesman raised
temperatures further as the game threatened to boil over.
Glendon’s influence grew as the game wore on and
after good work by him and Asante, Kevin Roberts ended
up in the box as the game went into injury time. Roberts
beat his man and then thumped his shot over the bar and
it look like City’s chance of a winner had gone.
But in the dying embers of added time Johnston cut across
from the left and fired a low shot which Street parried.
Defender Grand had gambled by dashing forward earlier
in the move and was there to drive the rebound into the
net for the winner – much to the delight of the
home faithful. It was the first time Chester had been
ahead all match and there were just seconds to go.
It was a great way to celebrate Chester’s five hundredth
game since reforming ten years ago and kept the dream
of promotion through the play-offs alive. The Kings Lynn
bus departed for the five hour trip back home under a
clear and starlit sky. The constellation Orion the Hunter
gleamed above them. The Linnets are well placed ahead
of the pack but the Blues are still in the hunt after
8 February Chester
2 Blyth Spartans 1
National League North
Attendance: 1,751 Half Time: 1-0
Chester: Griffiths, Grand, Jones, Taylor,
K Roberts, Burton, Glendon, Johnston, Jackson (Waters
90), Hughes (Dudley 75), Asante. Subs not used: G Roberts,
Stopforth, Ngwatala. Blyth Spartans: Hemming, Devitt, Blaney,
Hunter (Evans 57), Sanders, Thackray (Harmison 82), Scott,
Hawkins, Langstaff, Waddington, Dale (Sweet 57). Subs
not used: McKeown, Wrightson. Referee: Richard Holmes.
two defeats on the road Chester needed to get back to
winning ways against Blyth Spartans, who have struggled
this season. But – as was proved by difficult
matches against Telford and Curzon Ashton recently –
teams that come to defend and scrap for their survival
can be difficult to break down.
So there was much relief all round when City took an
early lead as they attacked the Harry Mac End and Storm
Ciara began to make itself felt around the ground. Starting
on the front foot they forced a few early corners. Hemming,
in the Spartans’ goal, palmed Taylor’s in-swinger
from the right out for one from the other side. Next,
as Glendon curled his kick in from the left, Hemming
attempted the same in reverse. This time, though he
only found Asante, lurking in space at the far post.
The burly Blues striker brought it down and then drilled
an unstoppable shot through a thicket of legs and made
the net ripple.
All players struggled in the swirling wind but Chester
continued in the ascendancy. Spartans fought hard to
deny Blues much time on the ball. Johnston and Jackson
swapped wings to vary it a bit and try to make inroads
but clear chances were few and far between. Glendon
got to the by-line following a pass from Johnston but
couldn’t capitalise. Hughes cut in from the left
to fire in a shot which Hemmings tipped away and Asante
held off two defenders before seeing his powerful shot
blocked by a third.
Blyth, for all their tenacity, did not create much in
the way of chances and their spoiling tactics began
to annoy the home crowd. Only Waddington found his way
into the referee’s notebook for a late challenge
on Grand. After the break, however, Blyth stepped up
the search for an equaliser. Now it was their turn to
force a flurry of corners which had the Blues beginning
As Glendon broke to relieve the pressure he was felled
by a mistimed challenge. Blaney, the culprit saw his
debut on loan from Doncaster Rovers curtailed prematurely
as he was shown the red card. This took a bit of wind
out of the Spartans’ sails – if not their
supporters – Blyth Spirits everyone - who maintained
their barrage of vociferous support.
Blues pressed for a second goal to ease the nerves and
with twenty minutes remaining they delivered it –
once again from a corner. Taylor’s cross was met
majestically by James Jones who headed home emphatically.
That should have been that but the ten men of Blyth
fought back and with ten minutes remaining halved the
deficit. Langstaff found some room on the right and
his cross caused confusion in the six yard box. Griffiths
saved instinctively from Sweet and then Kevin Roberts
blocked another effort before Ollie Scott scored. Griffiths
was injured in the process and received attention at
It meant a nervous few minutes for the home supporters
but, in truth, Blyth did not come close to notching
another. Dudley had the best chance to increase the
lead for Chester but his header was well kept out by
Hemming. City held on for the win and maintained fourth
place in the table as they begin to approach the significant
end of the season.
1 February York City
4 Chester 2 National
Attendance: 3,543 (677 Chester) Half Time: 3-1
Booked: Morgan, Dudley.
York City: Jameson, Griffiths, Ferguson,
Newton, McNulty, Tait, Moke, McLaughlin, Burrow, Green
(Bond 85), Willoughby (Maguire 73). Subs not used: Langstaff,
Kempster, King. Chester: Griffiths, Grand, Livesey, Taylor,
Morgan, Glendon, Ngwatala (Jones 52), Burton (Stopforth
67), Asante, Johnston (Dudley 67), Jackson. Subs not used:
G.Roberts, K.Roberts. Referee: Scott Tallis.
the first time this season Chester suffered back to
back defeat’s as they lost 4-2 at promotion rivals
York City, the Minstermen completing the double over
the Blues in the process.
Following the midweek defeat at Gateshead managers Bernard
Morley and Anthony Johnson made several changes to the
starting X1 with Gary Roberts, Kevin Roberts, Anthony
Dudley and Gary Stopforth starting on the bench. Taking
their place were Jamie Morgan, Scott Burton, Elton Ngwatala
and George Glendon.
Nearly 700 Blues fans made their last trip
to Bootham Crescent, the hosts move to a new ground
shortly. It was the home side who started on the front
foot with two efforts in the opening minutes that saw
Willoughby clear the bar on both occasions.
The home pressure told though and York opened the scoring
on nine minutes with former Blue Sean Newton heading
home from close range following a corner. Within six
minutes Chester had drawn level, Ngwatala won a loose
ball and fed it to Akwasi Asante, the Blues striker
in turn set up Jamie Morgan who shot low and hard past
Peter Jameson in the York goal.
The home side restored their lead midway through the
half as the Blues defence again failed to clear a corner
allowing Kieran Green to head past Russell Griffiths.
Chances for Chester were few and far between with Danny
Livesey wasting the best one heading wide from a Glendon
corner ten minutes before the break. Five minutes from
half-time York added a third as Willoughby met a Green
cross to score past Griffiths from close range.
Chester pulled a goal back on 54 minutes as Glendon
met Joel Taylor’s cross but before the Blues could
attempt to push for an equaliser York re-established
their two-goal lead as Newton went on a mazy run before
shooting at goal. Griffiths partially cleared his effort
but the ball fell to Newton who crossed for Willoughby
to head home.
Jamie Morgan was given a second yellow card and hence
his second red card of the season as Chester finished
the last 20 minutes with ten men.
With Boston United picking up three points Chester dropped
to fourth place. Next up is a must win home game against
struggling Blyth Spartans on Saturday.