Welling's gluepot of a pitch
was never going to make for a showpiece football match,
but it didn't stop Chester giving a memorable performance
to warm up the freezing away following.
pressed from the off, but it was the Wings who struck
first through a Reece Harris strike past Jon Worsnop
on the 15th minute. However the Blues, who had already
tested goalkeeper Jonathan Henly, didn't let the home
side's goal put them off their stride.
Just 12 minutes later, new boys Oliver
McBurnie and Ryan Higgins combined well to put Chester
back on level pegging. A great Higgins cross found McBurnie's
head and the on-loan teenage striker was soon celebrating
his first Chester goal.
Most of the Chester fans had gathered
in the East Stand, and were taking the force of a bitter
East wind. It had got to be one of the coldest away
fixtures this season, but the stand temperature moved
up a degree or two when Welling midfielder Jake Gallagher
was sent off for a foul on McBurnie.
Gallagher was sent off in the same
fixture last season, but that saw Welling go on to take
the three points from Chester. It was a different story
this time around, with Chester going 2-1 up before half-time.
Referee Chris Powell said Welling's Karl Duguid had
handled in the box and up stepped John Rooney to take
a penalty. He gave Henly no chance, and it was Chester
who were on the up when they went in for their much-needed
The second half saw Chester continue
to dominate and the game was soon put beyond Welling.
A brilliantly-taken Rooney free kick sailed over the
Welling wall and into the bottom right corner.
There were more chances to come for
Chester, with both Gareth Roberts and Craig Mahon hitting
the woodwork. But they remained two goals in front when
referee Powell decided it was time for everyone to head
into the warmth, with the Chester fans gaining an extra
glow when they realised the Blues were just four points
away from the play-offs.
Chester recorded back to back victories following the
weekend success over Kidderminster Harriers with a convincing
win against Lincoln City. Manager Steve Burr made just
one change from Saturday with Ben Heneghan replacing the
injured Matty Brown, as he did during Saturday’s
The Blues got off to a great start with John Rooney finding
the net after five minutes, his shot off a Matty Hughes
cross deflecting past ‘keeper Paul Farman off Sean
Newton. Chester continued to press the Imps, Farman denied
Craig Mahon with a good save and Hughes shot wide before
the second goal came on 12 minutes.
Persistent play by Ryan Higgins down the right saw him
win the ball at the edge of the box, it broke to Sean
McConville who slid his shot under Farman from a narrow
Lincoln’s first effort soon came with Nat Brown
shooting high over the bar when well placed. The Imps
were reduced to ten men as Oliver McBurnie was brought
down by Todd Jordan, referee Bennett having no option
but to dismiss the Lincoln player.
Chester took full advantage of the extra man and increased
their lead on 25 minutes. Higgins picked the ball up on
the right before cutting across the edge of the box to
unleash a left-foot shot that gave Farman no chance. McConville,
Hughes and Rooney all saw chances go wide before the side
left to a great half-time ovation.
The Blues continued to press after the break before the
visitors were reduced to nine men with the dismissal of
captain Alan Power following a challenge that left Mahon
rolling in agony.
Within five minutes Brad Abbott made it 4-0 with Farman
again beaten from long distance, the on-loan player netting
from all of 30 yards to the delight of the Chester faithful
behind the goal.
With the points well and truly wrapped up Burr made three
changes with Kieran Charnock, George Thomson and Kane
Richards and taking to the field as Chester went close
to a fifth goal with farman making a fine save to deny
Rooney a second goal.
24 January Chester
1 Kidderminster Harriers 0
Football Conference Premier
Attendance: 2,111 Half Time 1-0
Higgins, Kay, Brown (Heneghan 3), G.Roberts, Rooney (Josh
Green 72), Abbott (Thomson 85), Mahon, McConville, Hughes,
McBurnie. Subs not used: Viscosi, Richards.
Kidderminster Harriers: Lewis, Hodgkiss (Jake
Green 80), Tunnicliffe, Grimes, Nicholson, Byrne, Wildig,
Verma, Johnson, Wright, Reffell (Spencer 55). Subs not
used: Kelly, Singh, Asante. Referee: Adrian Holmes (Castleford).
Blues were buoyed by their dealings in the transfer window
and a rejuvenated side fought out a splendid win against
promotion hopefuls Kidderminster Harriers.
Back in August City had stunned their hosts with a late
rally to retrieve a point at Aggborough. Today they began
the game with confidence and panache as they passed the
ball crisply and created more chances in the first forty-five
minutes than in the last half dozen games put together.
Of the new signings, Ollie McBurnie led the line well.
His pace and aerial ability made him a real nuisance to
defend against. Abbott gave an assured performance in
the middle whilst Higgins struggled at times – especially
as Harriers upped their game in the second half but nevertheless
played his part in a solid defensive display. Chester’s
rearguard had to cope for all but one of the ninety minutes
without centre-back and captain Matty Brown who pulled
up with a hamstring strain tracking Danny Wright. Heneghan
was given the opportunity to play in his more natural
position as his replacement and deputised so well he was
awarded Man of the Match at the end.
It was the spritely showing of McConville and Rooney in
the first half that provided much of City’s forward
impetus as they both rediscovered their form of earlier
in the season. So too did Craig Mahon and it was a brilliant
bit of skill on his part which proved the difference between
the sides. Hejinked one way and another on the edge of
the box and then chipped a shot over Lewis in the Kidderminster
goal to open the scoring on half an hour. McConville might
have added another as he rose to meet Mahon’s cross
at the far post but headed just wide. It was the best
of a string of chances that the Blues’ magic performance
conjured up before the break.
Worsnop had little to do at first but in the second half
he became increasingly busy as the game woreon. Harriers
fought tigerishly for an equaliser and City soaked up
a huge amount of pressure, seeming content to hit the
visitors on the break. On a couple of occasions Hughes
and McBurnie’s pace almost succeeded in undoing
them but the end game was dominated by the Harriers. Worsnop
was called upon to make a two magnificent saves to preserve
City’s lead – even managing to hold on to
one full-blooded shot from Verma.
A huge cheer greeted the final whistle. After the recent
slump this was a much needed win and the fans knew it
– they applauded the players to the rafters. There
was an equally loud roar when the refreshed Conference
Table was displayed on the TV in the Blues Bar. For the
first time this season and indeed since we re-formed,
albeit having played three games more, City are above
that team from twelve miles down the road.
sides finished the game with ten men as Kingsley James
and Richard Brodie saw red in the final minutes. Manager
Steve Burr brought in three two new and one not so new
face into the side with Ryan Higgins, Brad Abbott and
Matty Hughes making the starting X1.
On-loan Callum Burton in the Sandgrounders goal was the
busier of the two keepers in the opening period making
a couple of saves from Sean McConville and rushing out
smother a through ball and deny Hughes an effort on goal.
Against the run of play Danny Hattersley had the ball
in the net following build-up play from ex-Chester player
Paul Rutherford but referee Wayne Barrett ruled the effort
out for offside.
Chester continued to have the better of the first half
half with Gareth Roberts putting and effort wide and McConville
shooting over from the edge of the box.
David Fitzpatrick almost gave Chester a half time lead
as be back headed a long clearance past his own ‘keeper
and just wide of his own post.
James saw an effort got just over the bar moments after
the break. Burton produced another save to deny Mahon
before the home side began to get back into the game.
Worsnop saved well from Richard Brodie and was on hand
to deny Brodie again the the final minute as the home
side pressed for the winner.
In the final minute Brodie fell to the ground in the box
with Barratt waving play on, however James rushed in and
pushed the striker back over and received a straight red
card for his act of madness. Moments later Brodie followed
him down the tunnel after a rash tackle on Ryan Higgins
brought him a second yellow card.
The final effort of the game went to Danny Hattersley
who turned and shot inches wide of Worsnop’s post.
miserable start to 2015 was compounded with a second successive
home defeat. They lost by the odd goal in five to the
Iron who gained revenge for City’s first win of
the season at their expense back in August.
New signings Higgins and Green were ineligible to start
the game and so the Blues team almost picked itself. Michael
Kay, however, seemed to be given a different role this
afternoon, playing alongside Kingsley James to the left
of midfield. Heneghan resumed at right back.
The game was a stodgy affair with both sides struggling
to dominate possession and string passes together. The
visitors’ physical presence was announced when central
striker Cox gratuitously barged into the back of Charnock
as the ball was heading harmlessly out of play. There
was a brief flurry of chances at either end when first
Worsnop could only parry a shot and a couple of Braintree
forwards only just failed to take advantage of a very
hesitant City defence. Then Heneghan fired wide when the
ball had sat up nicely for him following a fumble by Hamann
the Iron’s keeper.
As half time approached, Kingsley James broke forward
and opted to feed the ball through to McConville. The
Blues’ forward turned to make space and fired first
time, his shot benefiting from a slight deflection off
a defender as it whizzed past Hamann into the net.
A fairly dire first half was redeemed by a lead for City,
but ten minutes into the second half they were behind
after some sloppy defending. First Worsnop punched the
ball weakly to the edge of the area and Davis returned
the ball just under the bar – despite the attempt
of a defender to head it clear. Worse followed when Sparkes
found plenty of space down the left to hang the ball up
at the far post for Cox to nod in with ease.
Blues chased the game with Kingsley James working hard
to win possession and prompt some attacking forays. Mahon
had promising possession on the left and threatened on
a number of occasions but as the game wore on Braintree
were alive to the danger and made sure he was quickly
closed down – often by a couple of defenders. Peers
and Richards came on to lend much needed freshness to
City’s forward play. The latter was often isolated
on the left but Peers began to threaten. His header was
tipped over the bar by Hamann.
From the resulting corner, Rooney picked out Matty Brown
exquisitely and City’s captain powered a headed
equaliser into the back of the net. A quarter of an hour
remained for the Blues to go in search of a winner but
infuriatingly they were behind again within a minute.
Once more Sparkes had far too much space on the left and
his driven cross was met by Cox. The centre-forward’s
first effort was saved by Worsnop but not the follow-up.
The goal knocked the stuffing out of City and their supporters
but gradually the Blues came back to threaten again. Rooney’s
free kick was just tipped over and from the corner Charnock
headed narrowly over. A frustrating evening ended with
a jaded looking Blues’ side trudging from the pitch.
Three points out of the last fifteen is a worrying loss
of form for City who seem in need of a rest. They will
get a prolonged break now until they visit Southport on
completed a comfortable festive double over lackluster
Chester who, with an unchanged side, failed miserably
to follow up their fine win at FC Halifax Town. The home
side made the better start and Matty Brown denied Damian
Reeves with a block on the six yard line in the early
stages before a poor clearance from Jon Worsnop set up
Nicky Clee for the opening goal on just 10 minutes shooting
into an empty net from 30 yards out.
minutes later Alty doubled their advantage as Clee fed
Reeves who chipped over the advancing Worsnop from the
edge of the box. John Rooney responded with a shot that
slipped just wide and the same played flashed another
shot wide of goal before finding the net in the 28th
minute as he curled a free-kick round the wall and past
a motionless Stuart Coburn in the home goal.
Chester came more into the game and
were denied an equaliser on the stroke of half-time
as Jamie Menagh saw a goalbound effort cleared off the
Worsnop made two good saves
after the restart to keep Chester in the game, first
denying Ryan Crowther from ten yards and then pushing
a Clee piledriver round the post to safety.
Chester made life difficult
for themselves in the 56th minute as Ibou Touray was
shown a straight red card for a challenge on goalscorer
Clee. Six minutes later Altrincham took advantage of
their extra man as Reeves pounced on a mistake by Kingsley
James, who’d failed to clear the danger, to score
from ten yards.
Coburn saved from a fine Brown
header before the home side wrapped up the points with
a fourth goal in the 67th minute as Clee beat Worsnop
from 15 yards out. Reeves should have completed a hat-trick
seven minutes from time but he blazed over from close