It was a case of third time lucky for this twice postponed
Cheshire Cup-tie against Stockport (Formerly ka Woodley)
Sports. The relatively meagre crowd huddled for warmth
in the main stand as a cool breeze blew but there seemed
to be considerable more than the 296 officially in attendance.
A fairly strong Chester team took to the pitch including
Iain Howard who, it had been announced, was free to speak
to other clubs. He was therefore bound to score a hat
trick – which he duly did. The only surprise was
that he didn’t complete it before half time. He
notched his first goal after five minutes following excellent
work by Tony Gray on the right. Howard sidefooted home
after Gray's driven cross whipped past a couple of defenders.
He might have added more as City dominated but dwelt too
long on one occasion and rapped the bar on another.
Following the break Chester scored twice in quick succession
to kill the game off. First Hankin went clear on the right
and sent over an inviting cross for Howard to head home.
Then Marc Williams nodded in from a corner fight under
the ‘keeper’s nose. A glimmer of light appeared
for Stockport when Horan got the ball tangled under his
feet then fell on the opposing forward as he bore down
on goal. The only damage was a yellow card for the skipper
as Fearon saved the spot kick low to his right.
Buoyed by their ascendancy City forged further ahead when
Gray’s quick thinking knocked the ball past the
final defender to carve out an opening from which he scored.
Youngsters Miller and Peers, who had featured in the earlier
round at Cheadle came on and did not look out of place.
Peers in fact laid on a couple more goals – one
for Sarcevic against his old club and another for Howard
to complete his hat trick.
19 January Chester 4 Stalybridge Celtic
Attendance: 2,095 Half Time 3-0
Booked: Hankin, Linwood.
An army of volunteers cleared the snow off the pitch in
the morning, removed the covers and made great inroads
into the car park which was also covered with snow. Through
their efforts the game was able to go ahead – though
there was too much ice to allow the terrace to be open.
Instead the south stand was opened to the Harry Mac regulars.
Would City break with tradition and kick towards the empty
home terrace in the first half? Whoever won the toss,
Chester attacked the south stand end as usual but it was
unusually packed with home supporters. They saw the majority
of the play in the first forty-five minutes as the Blues
comprehensively outplayed their East Cheshire opponents.
By half time they led three-nil and it could easily have
been double that.
Ashley Woodhouse pulled off a point blank save to deny
Jarman after spilling Curran’s shot but was not
so fortunate a few minutes later when Jarman controlled
the ball with his back to goal and turned his marker to
fire in low and true with his left foot. City pressed
for a second. Veteran Tim Ryan nearly put through his
own goal as the ball skimmed off his head but again Woodhouse
clawed it away. Sarcevic could not believe it when his
venomous shot from six yards was blocked by a defender
throwing himself in the way – neither could Hankin
who had carved open the opportunity. Jarman went close
with a header before Horan nodded home from close range
following a spot of head tennis from a City corner.
Marc Williams put the ball in the net with a diving header
but was ruled offside. Just before half time, however,
he was on hand to bundle the ball home after Jarman’s
header from Curran’s peach of a cross was parried
Following the break City continued to go forward but then
began to fade as Celtic came into the game more. Prince
Hayward became more influential in midfield and substitute
Baird added impetus when he came on after an hour. Baird
it was who reduced the deficit with a sublimely taken
free kick over the wall and into the top corner. Danby
injured his back as he cracked into the post attempting
to save it. He soldiered on bravely but was nearly beaten
when Austin took the ball round him but Horan cleared
Wes Baynes restored a semblance of reality to the scoreline
with a spectacular half volleyed shot over Woodhouse in
the dying minutes. Added time at the end of both halves
was partially due to the comical occurrence of the linesmen’s
flags needing to be replaced. Chiefly, however the game
will be remembered for another convincing display and
further ground made against promotion rivals – this
being the only game to go ahead in the Conference North
Chester set their stall out from the off when they visited
bottom-of-the-league Hinckley United, with their first
goal scored in just 70 seconds. The Exiles had barely
had chance to put up their new official banner when a
good cross enabled an unmarked Nathan Jarman to make an
easy job of heading the ball into the net.
The 67pt difference between the two clubs was apparent
for most of the game, with some of the Hinckley team looking
like they’d be rushing off after the match to catch
up on their homework. But, to their credit, they never
let their heads drop and actually looked like they were
enjoying the challenge.
The closest the home team came to scoring in the first
45 minutes was midway through the half when they won a
corner, and the resultant header was well saved by John
But it was the travelling Chester supporters who cheering
soon after when a Craig Curran strike was initially stopped
by the diminutive Knitters’ goalkeeper, Martin Conway.
The rebound fell well for Curran and he put Chester 2-0
up on the 40th minute.
It was soon 3-0 to the ‘Greens’ when Antoni
Sarcevic hit the ball underneath Conway. The away fans
had to grin at the announcer's stuttered attempt to pronounce
his name. And soon after the start of the second half,
the announcer was stumbling again when Sarcevic netted
from a Matty McGinn cross to make it 4-0.
Not long afterwards there was an unusual break in the
action when Conway was replaced in the nets by Robert
Peet. Conway ran into the tunnel, changed his kit, and
came back onto the field on the right wing.
Peet was soon called into action, but found himself rounded
by Chester substitute Tony Gray before the on-loan striker
made it 5-0 to Chester. The game wasn’t over yet,
and it finished 6-0 after fellow substitute Scott Brown
scored when a sharp-angled shot went in off the post.
So it was another satisfying away day for Chester and
let’s hope that the revenue boost from an attendance
of 648, with the addition of the funds raised by a bucket
collection, go some way to keeping brave Hinckley alive
to fight another season.
9 January Chester
2 Oxford City 0
Attendance: 1,905 Half Time 1-0
Danby, Baynes, Horan, Linwood, McGinn, Hankin (Brown 87),
Sarcevic, N.Turner, D.Williams (Howard 38), M.Williams
(Mills 77), Jarman. Subs not used: Gray, Collins. Oxford City:
Ingram, Gunn, Stonehouse, Ballard (Mulvany 64), Learoyd,
Wilmott, Bell, Pond, Holgate (Stanley 36), Benjamin (McEachran
77), Barcelos. Sub not used: Janes. Referee:
Paul Graham (Manchester).
Chester moved 13 points clear of Guiseley again after
what proved to be a comfortable win over Oxford City.
The visitors wern’t helped by a nightmare journey
to the match which saw them finally arrive at the ground
just before 20:00hrs, having been held up by a delay on
the motorway near Birmingham following an earlier accident.
The Blues got off to a flying start
and took the lead within the opening ten minutes. A
foul on Danny Williams. Wes Baynes powered in the resulting
free kick which was met by Paul Linwood who sent a looping
header past ‘keeper Matt Ingram for his first
goal of the season.
Ingram pulled off a save to deny the
in-form Antoni Sarcevic from doubling the scoreline
after clever play between the midfielder and Marc Williams
set up the chance.
Nathan Jarman had a great chance to
add a second just before the half hour mark but the
striker seemed to lose his footing while setting himself
up to receive a Danny Williams cross.
Jarman was in the thick of the action
again after the break heading over from a good position
before Chester finally got the second goal and some
breathing space nine minutes after the restart, and
a quality goal it was.
On-loan midfielder Nathan Turner, who seems to be getting
better with every game, sent a superb long through ball
for Jarman to run on to he controlled it well on the
left before sliding a shot past Ingram and into the
opposite bottom corner of the net.
Ingram twice denied Sarcevic
as Chester continued to press for a third while John
Danby virtually remained a spectator at the other end
with little to do all evening.
5 January Bradford
Park Avenue 0 Chester 0
Attendance: 957 Half Time 0-0
Booked: Curran, McGinn, Sarcevic.
Bradford Park Avenue:
Lamb, Clayton, Knowles, Price, Duckworth, Daly (Corner
80), Deacey, Davidson (James 26), Daly, Walker, Holland
(O’Brien 80). Subs not used: Snodin, Drury. Chester:
Danby, Baynes, Horan, Linwood, McGinn, Curran (Hankin
46), A.Williams (Jarman 23), N.Turner, D.Williams, Sarcevic,
Mills (M.Williams 72). Subs not used: Collins, Howard. Referee: Richard Wigglesworth (South
Chester’s wining run comes to an end as they battle
out a goalless stalemate on a heavy pitch at Bradford
Park Avenue, missing a penalty in the process. The Blues
dominated for much of the second half but found Avenue
’keeper John Lamb in inspired form.
Neil Young named an unchanged side for the game against
the side who were the last ones to take points off Chester
with a 1-1 draw back in October.
On a heavy pitch it was Bradford who
started more lively and almost grabbed a goal in the
opening five minutes as captain James Knowles headed
wide from a corner. Jordan Deacey forced a save from
John Danby as the game was punctuated by a series of
niggly fouls that threatened to boil over on three occasions.
Craig Curran, Matty McGinn and Antoni Sarcevic all found
themselves in the referee’s notebook.
Ashley Williams was forced to leave
through injury, to be replaced by Nathan Jarman before
Paul Linwood saw a goal ruled out for offside.
A moment of hesitancy by Danby just
after the restart almost allowed Danny Holland in but
the striker could only put the ball wide from a narrow
Jarman was denied by the woodwork
as Chester finally began to exert some control on the
game, the striker ran through on goal, curled a shot
past Lamb but saw his effort rebound to safety.
On 57 minutes the Blues, playing in
a third strip of yellow, were awarded a penalty following
a foul on Jarman. McGinn stepped up and hit his shot
low down to the left hand corner but Lamb pulled off
a save at full stretch to deny Chester the opening goal.
Substitute Dave Hankin forced another
save from the Avenue shot stopper and McGinn saw a trademark
long range effort also turned away by Lamb.
Ten minutes from time Danny Williams
was sent through one-on-one but the winger shot high
Michael Duckworth almost grabbed a goal for the home
side four minutes from time when his long range free
kick flew just past the angle of the crossbar and post
when most were expecting a cross into the box.
The Blues thought they’d finally got the winner
in the final minute, as Marc Williams headed home, they
were to be denied again by the linesman flagging for
1 January Droylsden
3 Chester 4
Attendance: 1,056 Half Time 1-4
Latham, Derbyshire, Kerr (Killeen 46), Langford, Palmer,
Rick (Jacombs 88), Hall (Doherty 46), Sissons, Logan,
O’Neill, Ellison. Subs not used: Bryan, Holden. Chester:
Danby, Baynes, Horan (Collins 55), Linwood, McGinn, Curran,
A.Williams, N.Turner (M.Williams 77), D.Williams, Sarcevic,
Mills (Jarman 66). Subs not used: Hankin, Howard. Referee: Adrian Holmes (Castleford).
Chester got 2013 off to a flying start at Droylsden scoring
three goals in the opening eight minutes as they recorded
the double over The Bloods following the 5-0 home victory
on Boxing Day.
goal after three minutes had a bizarre look to it as
goalkeeper Dale Latham couldn’t hold on to a stinging
Danny Williams shot, the ball just missed the head of
Ben Mills before a defender cleared the ball only to
see it rebound off the leg of Antoni Sarcevic’s
in rushing sliding tackle and into the corner of the
Manager Neil Young had made six changes
from the side that beat Hinckley United at the weekend
and one of the recalled players, Craig Curran, doubled
Chester’s lead a minute later cutting in from
the right to beat two defenders and sending in a curling
shot past Latham and in at the far post from the edge
of the box.
Chester’s storming start continues
s they scored their third goal four minutes later. Sarcevic
surged through on the right and evaded a defender’s
tackle from behind and Latham’s tackle, stayed
on his feet to turn, look up, and clip a cross to the
far post for Danny Williams to head home.
The home side pulled a goal back through
ex-Chester player James Ellison as he pounced on a loose
ball after John Danby had saved from Steve Hall.
Sarcevic hit a post before Chester
regained their three goal advantage with a great goal.
On-loan Nathan Turner, making his first start for the
Blues, played a one-two with Mills outside the box before
curling a great shot round a defender and just inside
the right hand post giving Latham no chance, to the
delight of the Chester fans behind the goal.
Young replaced George Horan,
who was carrying a knock, ten minutes after the restart
and from then on the Blues seemed to lose their composure.
They were made to pay by Ellison who beat substitute
Dom Collins to the ball to score his second goal five
minutes form time and set up a nervy finish when he
completed his hat-trick with a well taken effort in
the last minute beating Paul Linwood and giving Danby
Just as at Brackley a month ago the Blues were left
hanging on for a win which seemed a formality just minutes
form the end, but hang on they did!