Dover Athletic: Arnold, Essam, Orlu,
Parkinson, Thomas, Grimes, Magri, Healy (Kinnear 86),
Modeste (Sterling 89), Lafayette, Miller (Emmanuel 66).
Subs not used: Marsh, Pinnock. Chester: Roberts, Vassell, Hudson,
Shaw, Hunt (Horwood 75), Astles, Durrell, Waters (Joyce
56), Lloyd, Alabi, Richards (Mahon 75). Subs not used:
Lynch, Killock. Referee: Neil Hair.
Jon McCarthy made a couple of changes to the side that
drew with Wrexham seven days earlier, Liam Roberts was
recalled in goal and there was a start for Matty Waters
who replaced the suspended Luke George.
The on-loan Walsall ‘keeper was called into action
in the opening moments having to deal with a 25-yard effort
from Ross Lafayette. James Alibi sent Kane Richards through
on goal but the Dover defence cleared any danger. Alabi
saw a shot deflected wide for a corner but Elliott Durrell’s
flag kick was headed over the bar by Blaine Hudson.
Chester continued to press in the early stages with both
Richards and Alibi seeing efforts clear the bar. A great
cross from the left by Johnny Hunt was met at the far
post by Alabi but the big striker couldn’t keep
his header on target.
A last-ditch tackle by Ryan Lloyd prevented Lafayette
from having a shot on goal and top scorer Ricky Miller
shot wide from the edge of the area as the home side gradually
began to gain control of the game.
The home side broke the deadlock from the penalty spot
after the tricky Miller had been brought down in the box
by Waters. Miller took the kick himself sending Roberts
the wrong way.
The Blues bounced back in style to equalise just four
minutes later. Alabi received the ball 20 yards out and
with his back to goal, he quickly turned captain Jamie
Grimes and curled a shot past Steve Arnold in the Whites
Striker Miller, who had already been booked, was lucky
to stay on the pitch after clattering into Johnny Hunt,
referee Hair giving him a final warning instead of a red
Connor Essam was well placed to block a Richards shot
early in the second period but Dover soon regained the
lead as Miller shrugged off a Theo Vassell challenge to
a long through ball to score past Roberts.
Soon after the Whites increased their lead with Miller
again in the action as he worked his way into the box
before passing to Joe Healy on the right who volleyed
past Roberts and wrap up the three points.
The cross-border derby ended all square for the second
time this season as chester came from a goal behind to
draw an entertaining encounter. A classic game of two
halves, Chester had the better of the first and the visitors
Manager Jon McCarthy made a couple of changes handing
starts to Theo Vassell, who recently extended his loan
contract, and Johnny Hunt. The Blues started brightly
with Elliott Durrell dragging a shot across goal and wide
and Ryan Astles thundering a header against the bar following
a Durrell free-kick. James Alabi had the ball in the net
following another Durrell assist only for his effort to
be ruled offside.
Wrexham’s best chance of the half came when Izale
McLeod blazed over when well placed to score while at
the other end Vassell saw an effort produced a great save
from Chris Dunn in the Wrexham goal. Despite their first
half dominance the Blues couldn’t find the net as
the teams went into the interval level.
Wrexham started the second period on the front foot and
took the lead after just eight minutes as John Rooney,
returning to his former club beat Alex Lynch at the far
post to Anthony Barry’s deep cross to score.
The Dragons were starting to take control but Chester
hit back six minutes later. Alabi cut inside from the
right, made a couple of stepovers before being bundled
to the ground by Russell Penn. Despite protests from the
defender referee Hicks pointed to the spot and Alabi dusted
himself down to smash home the equaliser.
Lynch made a brilliant save to deny Mark Harrington’s
close range header and moments later Jordan White headed
wide when well placed with Lynch beaten.
With just over ten minutes remaining Chester were reduced
to ten men after Luke George was shown a second yellow
card, after lunging into a tackle following an under hit
back pass from Vassell.
Former Chester player Paul Rutherford burst through on
goal in the dying minutes but pulled a shot just wide
from inside the area. Astles blocked an Ollie Shenton
effort in the closing seconds as Wrexham looked the more
likely side to grab a winner, however the Blues defence
hung on for a share of the points.
14 January Chester
0 Forest Green Rovers 2
FA Trophy Round 2
Attendance: 1,250 Half Time 0-1
Chester: Lynch, George, Hudson, Astles,
Horwood, Shaw, Lloyd, Durrell, Richards, Waters (Mahon
82), Alabi. Subs not used: Roberts, Joyce, Marsh, Evans.
Forest Green Rovers: Russell, Monthe, Clough,
Bennett, Kelly, Carter (Noble 80), Wishart (Pinnock 60),
Doidge, Sinclair, Cooper (Wedgbury 89), Robert. Subs not
used: Marsh-Brown, Traore. Referee: Matthew Smith.
In a game of few chances Marcus Kelly took two carbon
copy opportunities to knock Chester out of the FA Trophy
for another season. Kelly had only featured for Forest
Green on three occasions this season but was proof of
their strength in depth today. And with Keifer Moore and
Elliott Frear in imminent danger of departing Forest Green
for better offers it may be that Kelly features more often
as the season progresses.
For much of the afternoon Chester played a tactical game
of cat and mouse with the visitors. At times it resembled
more of a chess match than football as City refused to
take the bait offered by Rovers’ keeper Russell
as he was allowed to dribble the ball out of his area
and almost up to the halfway line at times. Jon McCarthy
had instructed the Blues not to get drawn in and approach
the keeper as it would leave a man spare for the visitors
to launch an attack. Many City fans did not appreciate
the tactic and called for a more full blooded attitude.
As a result Russell ended up playing the ball long out
to either flank and then battle for control took place.
Rovers’ quality on holding on to the ball shone
through but apart from a blocked shot by Robert from the
edge of the box Chester restricted their efforts on target.
At the other end a deft flick by Alabi set Durrell off
on a run and his effort from 25 yards flew over the bar.
Astles also went close with a near post header from a
Matty Waters corner but his effort too was high.
The deadlock was broken as half time approached when Kelly
ended a concerted spell of possession by turning on the
edge of the box and curling a shot into the far corner
beyond Lynch’s despairing dive.
Blues were less cautious after
the break and began to rattle the visitors. Sinclair
did well to hold on to possession while under pressure
from Alabi. Shaw stole in behind on the blind side and
flicked Durrell’s probing cross towards goal only
to be foiled by Russell’s point blank save. Richards
ended a promising run by shooting form a narrow angle
but Russell was well positioned and made the save look
But home hearts were broken shortly afterwards when
Kelly repeated a curling left foot shot past Lynch for
a second time and Rovers’ lead seemed unassailable.
Chester could not be faulted for effort – Durrell
and young Matty Waters were especially industrious but
FGR were always in control of the game after the second
Dreams of Wembley are over for another year, unless
Chester emerge as outside contenders for the end of
season play-offs. Probably too much to hope for this
season – but they have certainly been moving in
the right direction.
A young Chester side were knocked out of the Cheshire
Senior Cup 5-4 on penalties by Hyde United in front of
a crowd of 338. The Blues led 2-0 late in the game with
goals from Matty Waters and James Jones, only to concede
two quick goals to force 30 minutes extra-time. Chester
went 3-2 ahead early in extra-time through Nathan Brown
before being pegged back again to force the penalty shoot-out.
put their Solihull disappointment’s behind them
with this fine victory at Braintree Town thanks to two
second half goals from James Alabi. Manager Jon McCarthy
was forced into a change with defender Sam Hughes picking
up an ankle knock in training Blaine Hudson deputised.
The early stages were dominated by the home side who twice
went close through Michael Cheek, curling a free-kick
just wide in the third minute then heading just over from
a corner minutes later.
From a rare Chester breakaway Alabi was adjudged to have
fouled Manny Parry while racing through onto a long punt
forward from Elliott Durrell. The dangerous Cheek was
in the action again heading just wide from another corner
and seeing an effort hit the side netting from 12 yards.
Durrell headed a Parry effort off the line as the home
side looked certain to take the lead midway through the
half. McCarthy was forced to make a change soon after
with Matty Waters, on his 19th birthday, replacing the
injured Jordan Chapell.
Waters almost made a dream start having been sent through
on goal by Alabi the youngster saw his shot well blocked
by Ian Gayle.
The home pressure finally paid off with the opening goal
on 30 minutes. Kris Twardek, on loan from Millwall, robbed
Luke George for the ball surged down the left wing and
crossed for Jack Midson and his glancing header found
the top corner of the net.
A quickly taken free kick from Durrell almost caught out
the home defence as Sam Beasant in The Iron’s goal
palmed the ball away for a corner. At the other end the
woodwork came to Chester’s rescue on the stroke
of half time as Durrell’s clearance fro a corner
hit Tom Shaw and bounced clear off the post.
The Blues (playing in all white) started the second half
well with Durrell seeing a teasing cross evade everyone
in the box and the same player saw another effort blocked
as Chester finally began to get forward.
Waters saw an effort fly over the bar but Chester drew
level on 61 minutes as Kane Richard’s right wing
cross was met by Alabi who nipped in front of Beasant
at the near post to head home.
Durrell had a great chance to grab the lead on 74 minutes
after being set-up by Richards he poked his shot wide
from 15 yards out. Although Chester had the better of
the second period Alex Lynch was called into twice to
deny the Iron, first he pushed away an Alex Henshaw piledriver
then denied Twardek moments later.
Those saves proved pivotal as Chester grabbed the winner
six minutes from time as Shaw raced through to cross for
Alabi who gave Beasant no chance from ten yards to bag
the three points.
began the New Year with a thumping hangover thanks to
this miserable result against Solihull Moors. They began
the match brightly, however, with Chapell robbing Murombedzi
of the ball in the first minute and his run ended with
a shot at goal which Lewis held. Durrell quickly followed
with another attempt but off target this time. He was
more accurate minutes later as his cross to the far post
was met by Hughes but the youngster’s header crashed
against the bar and somehow away to safety.
That was as good as it got though for City as the Moors
took the lead on seventeen minutes. It followed from a
free kick on the right incurred by Horwood as he clumsily
body checked the lively Sterling-James. Daly met the ball
in to the box but saw his header crash back off the post.
It fell kindly to Osborne who side footed into the net
through a thicket of legs.
Blues could find no rhythm after that and seemed disjointed
in every department as the visitors out muscled and dominated
them. Lynch did very well to turn a curler from Sterling-James
round the post as he drifted over to the left wing and
cut in. Chester just could not hold on to the ball for
any length of time.
As the half drew to a close City came near to equalising
when Horwood scooped a free kick over the wall but Lewis
managed to scramble it away. Then Alabi’s stooping
header was blocked on the line.
Those signs of hope failed to come to anything in the
second half however. Vassell replaced the ailing Horwood
at left back and his forward run produced a rare chance
for the home side which ended with Richards blazing narrowly
wide. By then, though, City were further behind after
Daley thumped home a shot as the ball was crossed into
the box from another set piece.
City continued to stumble as Solihull smothered the life
out of them and managed the game completely. The coup
de gras was applied when referee Wright awarded a ludicrous
penalty to the visitors – judging Luke George to
have handled deliberately as a shot flew at his face.
Harry White – who scored for three different clubs
against Chester last calendar year – opened his
account against City for 2017.
Many of the larger than usual crowd started leaving in
droves by then – to be honest it was difficult to
watch this labouring performance. Jon McCarthy described
the display as an absolute disaster. The Blues have achieved
much under him this season but were worn down by a stronger
side on this New Year’s Day.