Albion came to the Deva still smarting from a 6-2 home
defeat to Bamber Bridge in mid-week. Outside observers
may have been expecting a similar scoreline today as they
visited the League leaders. But having great expectations
is one thing, living up to them is another.
On this occasion City lived up to the hype that their
position in the League has generated. They played with
energy, commitment and no little skill and kept going
for the full ninety minutes.
To begin with Albion were in Chester’s face and
gave little time to dwell on the ball but then City got
into a groove and the speed with which they moved the
ball around began to undo the visitors. The opening goal
was going to be crucial. When it came it was a scrappy
affair. Howard’s cross from the left eluded Wilde
but rebounded off the shin of a defender. Wilde was first
to react and stretched to knock it past a wrong-footed
Wilde almost added a spectacular second moments later
– crashing a shot against the bar. A second was
not far away however and was almost as soft as the first.
A defender needlessly handled a cross from the right wing
and the referee blew for a spot kick. Connor, diving at
full stretch, did well to touch Wilde’s firmly struck
penalty but only managed to help it on to the post whence
it flew into the goal.
Debutant Chris Simm had succeeded in making a good impression
on the game by his willing runs and ability to hold on
to the ball. His partnership with Wilde shows lots of
promise on this display. Wilde it was who teed Simm up
for his first goal and Chester’s third following
a header into the box by Taylor.
Any semblance of an Ossett fight back after half time
was snuffed out almost immediately as Wilde chased a through
ball from Simm and rounded a slightly hesitant ‘keeper
before finding the top corner of the net to complete his
From then it became a question of how many City would
add to their tally. Howard it was who chipped in with
a brace. The first was a drilled free kick from the edge
of the box after Simm had been tripped by Johnson. The
second was the culmination of a sweet move as he swept
home substitute Stones’ pull-back from the left.
Howard nearly bagged a hat trick himself showing great
touch in the box to bring the ball under control but his
venomous shot was parried by Connor. It could have been
many more – Simm had a further chance and Wilson,
on for Booth, just failed to connect with another Howard
“When was the last time we scored seven?”
we began to ask ourselves and memories of that night in
1989 when Carl Dale, Milton Graham et al. put Fulham to
the sword came back. Still City had to be content with
six this time. Just as pleasing as the result was that
there was a good shape to City’s play and a desire
to keep going right through the game. Many other teams
would have found City hard to live with this afternoon.
Wakefield a.k.a. The Bears arrived at the Exacta Stadium
with a few grizzlies in their line-up judging by the size
of some of their players. They looked like a team of giants
in comparison with the mere six-footers in Chester’s
team. Top scorer Tom Denton was like a bear with a sore
head as he grappled with George Horan in the penalty area
as Wakefield lined up a free-kick in a dangerous position.
A bit of argy-bargy ended up with him throwing a punch
at City’s captain and the referee, after calming
down the ensuing scrimmage, held a pitch conference with
his assistants. They awarded a red card to the Wakefield
number ten and a yellow to Horan.
In Nigel Edwards and Ian Moir’s heyday such a clash
would have been regarded as handbags at ten paces and
the two offenders given a flea in their ear and told to
get on with it – but football takes itself more
seriously these days. Edwards and Moir entertained the
Harry McNally Terrace with an impromptu penalty shoot
out at half time. Moir’s flying leap just failing
to keep out Edwards’ thunderous kick.
By the time they watched this the home crowd were in a
more relaxed mood, Chester having taken the lead in first
half stoppage time. Wilson worked a short corner with
Howard and crossed for Barnes to glance a header into
the far corner. Prior to this City had been largely frustrated
by a resolute Wakefield, determined to prevent Chester
scoring but limited in attacking ambition after Denton’s
Having said that, Wilde, of all people, helped clear their
most dangerous effort off the line. At the other end he
fashioned Chester’s best chance when he crossed
for McCarthy to score but the linesman ruled that it had
crossed the goal line in the build up and the goal did
After the break City grew in dominance with new boy Ashley
Williams standing out in a central midfield role, putting
himself about with great effect and using the ball well.
Chester increased their lead from another corner. Wilson’s
right wing kick seemed to hold up in the gusting wind
and Wilde leaped majestically to head over the gargantuan
Slovakian ‘keeper and also over the Bears’
most diminutive full-back on the goal line.
City’s scoring was complete when Howard, released
from the shackles of his central position, broke on the
left to cross superbly to the far post where Booth, on
as a sub for McCarthy, headed the ball like an exocet
into the back of the net.
A patient and eventually fruitful display by Chester was
flawed slightly when Chris William’s failed to bring
Whiteside’s throw under control and Blake nipped
in to score a consolation goal for the visitors. It was
City’s first home win for four matches and, incredibly,
their first at home of any description in January for
nine years. In all of those nine years (including promotion
back into the Football League) Chester have never made
as much progress as a club as they have in the last twelve
All this season the Cestrian, Chester’s programme,
has carried an advert for an architects’ firm with
some pictures of their grand designs. They range from
Peterborough to Farnborough and from Fleetwood to Fylde.
The latter, Chester’s opponents on this occasion
clearly have great ambitions for a new stadium and are
on a mission for promotion too.
In Kevin Townson, Mike Barnes and John Hills, Fylde fielded
several players with Football League experience others
had been part of Fleetwood’s Conference North winning
side and, prior to this game, they had won five matches
in succession. They started as though they meant business
and took an early lead when Barnes beat Aspin and put
in a low cross from the left for Townson to convert.
Chester hit back with character and equalised after 17
minutes following a corner. Field’s kick was cleared
to the edge of the area where Howard deftly chested the
ball down and swept it back out to Field on the left.
His cross was then met bravely by Horan and the ball went
in the direction of Wilde who lashed home a spectacular
Ten minutes later the Blues were ahead when McCarthy’s
long throw was dummied by Horan which allowed Bradley
Barnes space to strike in a delightful curling shot just
inside the ‘keeper’s left hand post.
After this City pressed Fylde back trying to extend their
lead but without much luck. McCarthy was booked after
injuring the ‘keeper going for a fifty/fifty ball.
At first Edge made a meal of the injury but as a posse
gathered round the referee he sportingly made it clear
to the official that he didn’t want any recriminations.
The players shook hands but Mr Parry still got his yellow
As City continued to press, a promising position broke
down as Field misplaced a pass and the Blues were on the
back foot. They seemed to lose shape and defend too deep,
inviting Hills to make a run with the ball from left back.
His pass was deflected into the path of the unmarked Townson
who had room to pick his spot for the equaliser.
After a breathless first half the second period did not
quite match up. To begin with AFC Fylde threatened to
overrun the Blues and twice outnumbered City in their
own penalty area only for the moves to break down by a
combination of desperate defending and forwards picking
the wrong option. But City dug in and held firm and towards
the end had a couple of chances to snatch victory. Ruffer
was immense at the back and was justifiably picked by
the sponsors as man of the match. Once again shortcomings
in midfield were exposed by a slick and talented opposition.
Too often Wilde was isolated up front as Booth on the
left and McCarthy on the right were unable to get alongside
and support him.
Time will tell whether this will be a valuable point gained
or two dropped. I tend to think it was probably the former,
although they struggled at times to stay in the game,
City battled to the end with good character. Intriguingly
Chester are due to visit AFC Fylde for the last League
game of the season – we’ll all have a better
measure of City’s and AFC Fylde’s standing
Two goals in the opening 20 minutes were enough to see
Chester complete the double over Trafford following the
six goal win over their Lancashire opponents in the opening
home match of the season.
With goalkeeper Chris Sanna on his way back to Colwyn
Bay there was a return to the side for Richard Whiteside.
There were six other changes as well to the starting line-up
from the side that surrendered a two-goal lead against
Warrington Town last week.
Within five points dropped in their last two home fixtures
Chester will have been keen to extend their domination
of away matches and it took them less than a minute to
establish the lead at Shawe View as Iain Howard met a
long-throw from Jimmy McCarthy to head past Aaron Tyrer
in the home goal to the delight of the 600+ traveling
Chester dominated the opening staged and former Trafford
player Bradley Barnes had a great chance to double the
lead only to shoot over after being set up by Chris Williams.
It wasn’t long though before Chester doubled their
advantage on 20 minutes as captain George Horan rose highest
to head home a Tom Field corner for his fifth league goal
of the campaign.
The Blues continued to press and were almost gifted a
third as Keith Wedge’s attempted headed clearance
struck his own bar following good approach play by Robbie
Booth. The best other chance of the half also came from
a set piece and fell to top scorer Michael Wilde who headed
just over from an inswinging Ton Field corner.
Whiteside was called into action for the first time five
minutes after the restart saving a shot from Warren Collier
in a rare home attack as Chester’s defence held
firm throughout the second period.
Wilde almost got on the scoresheet after being set-up
with a through ball rom substitute Kyle Wilson but the
leading scorer shot wide from the edge of the box. The
only real other effort of note saw Barnes force Tyrer
into a superb save pushing his 20-yarder round the post
for a corner.
Although, after leading 2-0 this looks very much like
two points dropped to have drawn 2-2 with Warrington,
most City fans leaving the ground felt City were lucky
not to lose in the end.
The team had an unfamiliar look with Taylor making his
home debut at centre half, Beck in place of Barnes in
midfield with Stones on the right and Metcalfe starting
the game on the left. It was Beck who gave City a dream
start after five minutes as Wilson did very well to turn
and shoot on the right and his shot cannoned off the far
post, leaving the midfielder with the task of scoring
his opening goal for the Blues.
But Chester failed to capitalise on this beginning as
they struggled to find shape or pattern to their play
and Warrington were the more lively team on the ball.
City survived by the skin of their teeth when Duffy took
advantage of some confused defending down the right and
crossed for Sanna to just pip Collins to the ball –
actually punching it between the forward’s legs.
Metcalfe had struggled to make any impression and was
replaced after half time by Howard. City looked to have
wrapped the game up when they were awarded a free kick
on the right after Corrigan was booked for bringing down
Wilson as he broke on the right. Wilde’s header
from the free kick was deflected and looped to the far
post where Horan prodded it home.
The Wire continued to take the fight to City, however,
and pulled a goal back on 75 minutes. A poor clearance
found a Warrington player who clipped a cross to the far
post. It wasn’t clear whether Gaghan or Jones got
the final touch but the ball flew past Sanna into the
back of the net. City really struggled to match Warrington
for energy as they strove for an equaliser.
Too often the home side were caught in possession or gave
the ball away cheaply. Wilson and Wilde were increasingly
isolated up front as City sat back and invited the visitors
forward. They had a lucky break when Taylor deflected
the ball narrowly wide of his own goal but conceded an
almost inevitable equaliser as Hardwick stabbed the ball
home with City all over the place.
It might have been even worse had not Gaghan steered the
ball narrowly wide in the dying moments.
Warrington looked a good side and well worthy of their
point. Neil Young will be concerned at another disjointed
and incohesive display by City.
goal four minutes into stoppage time by Stuart Jones
ensured Chester got 2011 off to a winning start and
remain six points clear at the top of the Evo-Stik Division
One North table.
The game was heading for a goalless stalemate as Greg
Stones pushed forward down the right and delivered a
far post cross that Jones smashed home past Cables ‘keeper
Mike Langley on the volley to grab all three points,
to the delight of another large traveling support of
With the Blues hoping to stop a run of back-to-back
defeats just before the Christmas period, manager Neil
Young gave a debut to Michael Clarke up front with another
new (loan) signing Scott Metcalfe starting on the bench.
On a heavy pitch is was Chester who had the better of
the opening exchanges though chances were at a premium.
Carl Ruffer should perhaps have done better with a header
midway through the opening period that drifted wide
following a Tom Field corner. Clarke also wasted an
opportunity shooting straight at Langley when well placed
twelve yards from goal.
Young made a double substitution eight minutes after
the restart bringing on Metcalfe and Kyle Wilson, for
Iain Howard and Clarke as the Blues looked to step up
a gear after a dour first half. Wilson made an immediate
impact seeing a close range effort cleared off the line
by Krystian Liptrott.
Jones went close to opening the scoring as he sent a
glancing header onto the bar after meeting a Field free-kick.
At the other end Chris
Sanna had very little to do though he was called into
action to save smartly from Dale Wright.
Wilson was presented with a great scoring opportunity
on 75 minutes as skipper George Horan sent the forward
clear with a header but he could only blast just over
from 12 yards out. Jones forced Langley into another
good save before the defender earned his hero status
with that last gasp volley.