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AFC Telford United (H) | Bradford (Park Avenue) (A) | Curzon Ashton (A) | Boston United (A)
Saturday 29 January
Boston United 4 Chester 0
National League North
Attendance: 1,654 (142 Chester) Half Time: 3-0
Booked: -.

Boston United: Dewhurst, Tootle, Duxbury, Platt, Shiels, Ferguson, Elliott, Dimaio (Sault 82), F.Preston, Leesley, Byrne. Subs not used: Garner, J.Preston, Armond, Crook.
Chester: Gray, Roberts, Williams, Grand, Fitzpatrick, Apter, Lacey (Horsfield 46), Glendon, Stephenson, Simmonds (Dackers 46), Waring. Subs not used: Stanway, Burke, Askew.
Referee: Dean Watson.

The Blues shipped four more goals as they are well beaten at Boston United, suffering their third defeat on the run. Manage Steve Watson made four changes to the side beaten late on at Curzon Ashton, Declan Weeks and Danny Livesey missed out through injury while Josh Askew and Marcus Dackers started on the bench. Paddy Lacey, David Fitzpatrick, George Waring and Simon Grand all started.

The Pilgrims took the lead on 15 minutes with Luke Shiels meeting Joe Leesley’s deep corner at the far post to power a header past Louis Gray.

Just three minutes later Boston doubled their advantage as former-Blue Danny Elliott crossed from the left, Gray and Grand seemed to get in each others way at the near post leaving Fraser Preston the easiest of chances from a couple of yards out.

On 33 minutes Preston put the game beyond Chester with his second goal, Scott Duxbury’s header found the player with plenty of space at the edge of the box and he fired past Gray with ease.

The Blues introduced James Horsfield and Dackers at the start of the second period, but eight minutes after the restart Boston scored their fourth through Elliott from the penalty spot after Kevin Roberts had upended Preston in the box.

Marcus Dewhurst in the home goal was finally forced into action late on denying Darren Stephenson, Dackers and Rob Apter, but it was too little to late at the end of a very disappointing performance.

Picture © Rick Matthews

League table after this match | Match photographs | Match highlights [YouTube]
Saturday 22 January
Curzon Ashton 4 Chester 3
National League North
Attendance: 659 Half Time: 2-0
Booked: Askew.

Curzon Ashton: Renshaw, Poscha, Curran (Whitham 71), Peers, Nolan, Wilson, Lussey, Richards (Thomas 69), Cooke (Hobson 90), Mahon, Barton. Subs not used: Merrill.
Chester: Gray, Roberts, Livesey (Burke 50), Williams, Askew, Apter, Weeks (Lacey 68), Glendon, Stephenson, Simmonds, Dackers (Waring 52). Subs not used: Smith, Horsfield.
Referee: P.Brown.

Manager Steve Watson gave debuts to Okera Simmonds and Marcus Dackers at Thamseside Stadium. Josh Askew and Danny Livesey also started to replace the suspended Simon Grand and injured David Fitzpatrick.

Chester had the first opening with Simmonds forcing a good save from Chris Renshaw in the Nash goal after former-Blue Craig Mahon had slipped to allow the young forward his chance, Renshaw was also on hand to save Rob Apter’s follow-up effort.
The opening goal went to the home side midway through the half, Jaime Cooke left three Chester players beaten before setting up Alex Curran to score past Louis Gray. Curran doubled his tally on 38 minutes beating Gray at his near post from the edge of the area.

Renshaw produced a fine save to deny Darren Stephenson as he tipped his header over at full stretch to preserve Nash’s two goal lead the the break.

Chester responded two minutes after the re-start with Simmonds scoring from close range after Renshaw had partially saved a Stephenson effort. Watson was forced into a change with Danny Livesey going off injured to be replaced by Harrison Burke for his league debut.

The Nash were to restore their two goal advantage just eight minutes later as former-Blue Tom Peers, given a simple tap-in following a Curran pass.

The Blues continued to press and pulled a goal back on 63 minutes as substitute George Waring met Rob Apter’s right wing cross to head past Renshaw. Apter saw an effort go just wide before he turned provider again sending over another pinpoint cross that was headed home by Kevin Roberts to draw Chester level on 73 minutes.

With five minutes remaining Simmonds had a great chance to complete the comeback but he shot over the bar from 12 yards with just Renshaw to beat.

As the game entered stoppage time it took one more final twist as Gray in attempting to clear a back pass took a heavy first touch before blasting the loose ball against the onrushing Peers, the ball looping up high and dropping into the empty net for the Nash’s fourth and decisive goal.

Picture © Rick Matthews

League table after this match | Match photographs | Match highlights [YouTube]
Saturday 8 January
Bradford (Park Avenue) 1 Chester 0
National League North
Attendance: 569 Half Time: 1-0
Booked: Weeks.

Bradford (Park Avenue): Sykes-Kenworthy, Ross, Hinds, Lund, Havern, Windass (Clee 67), Mottley-Henry, Richman, Dockerty, Odunston (Johnson 82), Maguire (Nowakowski 61). Subs noit used: Rawson, Toulson.
Chester: Gray, Horsfield, Williams, Grand, Fitzpatrick, Roberts (Clarke 57), Glendon, Weeks, Apter, Dudley (Waring 57), Stephenson. Subs not used: Smith, Lacey, Askew.
Referee: Peter Cooper.

This was a frustrating afternoon for Chester who dominated for long periods of the game at Horsfall Stadium but came away with nothing to show for their efforts.

Blues manager Steve Watson made two changes from the side held at home by bottom club Telford on Sunday. In came new signings Rob Apter and David Fitzpatrick for their debuts, with Paddy Lacey and Josh Askew dropping to the bench to make way.

It was Bradford who pressed early on and took the lead after only nine minutes. New signing Akeem Hinds’ left wing cross found Brad Dockerty at the far post who slid the ball past Louis Gray.

Chester responded through Anthony Dudley who headed a corner just wide as the Blues looked for an instant reply. Loan signing Apter was making his pace and presence felt and he drew two saves from George Sykes-Kenworthy in the home goal.

Declan Weeks wasted two efforts on goal and Apter saw another effort saved before the first half ended. Apter shot wide and Weeks headed wide as Chester pressed from the start of the second period.

Sykes-Kenworthy did well to get a touch on a Dudley effort as the loose ball rolled agonisingly just wide of the post. Weeks forced another good save before substitute Zack Clarke sent a flick header just wide.

Clarke forced Sykes-Kenworthy into another fine save before both Weeks and Apter saw efforts fly just over the bar. Despite producing wave after wave of attacks the home side, who had several players off through Covid during the week, managed to hold out for the three points.

Picture © Rick Matthews

League table after this match | Match photographs | Match highlights [YouTube]
Sunday 2 January
Chester 1 AFC Telford United 1
National League North
Attendance: 2,116 Half Time: 1-0
Booked: Grand, Glendon.
Sent-off: Grand (second yellow)

Chester: Gray, Horsfield, Williams, Grand, Askew, Lacey (Clarke 59), Roberts, Weeks, Glendon, Stephenson, Dudley (Livesey 50). Subs not used: Smith, Burke, Waring.
AFC Telford United: Griffiths, White, Lilly, Shotton, Bood, Walker, Goodridge, Oswell, Williams, McHale (Baker 78), Daniels (Wright 84). Subs not used: Abbey, Bange, Bennett.
Referee: Jonathan Maskrey.

After a creditable home draw against AFC Fylde, this point against bottom of the table AFC Telford was less than expected. But at least it was a point. Had Carl Baker not been profligate in smashing his stoppage-time penalty kick against the crossbar it might have been a blank return for the Blues.

Chester missed the energy of the injured Hardy on the right of midfield. Lacey, his replacement is more defensive by temperament so Glendon endeavoured to provide attacking options down the right. The game lacked quality and energy in the first half but City eventually took the lead just after half an hour. Stephenson found Dudley’s run to the left and the latter’s cross was met by Lacey. His header looped in to the net. Lacey the boxer sparred with the corner flag in celebration.

City then dominated before the break but could not capitalise further. The slenderness of their lead was exposed when Grand picked up a second yellow card for tangling with Oswell who’d latched on to a wayward pass from Weeks. Worse was to follow when Brendon Daniels smashed the free kick past the defensive wall and Gray for the equaliser. Telford’s boisterous following celebrated over-exuberantly by setting off a flare on to the pitch inducing an asthma attack in a nine-year-old boy who needed hospital treatment as a result.

At the other end City fans misbehaved too as they pelted goalkeeper Russ Griffiths – formerly of this parish and eager to do well on his return – with plastic bottles. Manager Steve Watson reacted to the sending off by sending on Livesey for Anthony Dudley. Shortly afterwards Lacey was replaced by Zack Clarke to inject some youthful energy into City’s attacking and granting a debut to the young forward.

Both substitutions helped to alleviate the pressure that the visitors exerted after their goal. As the half wore on and Clarke vented his unbounded energy in keeping the Bucks defenders on their toes, ten-man Chester got more of a toe-hold in the game. Glendon fashioned an opening to shoot and saw Griffiths save at full stretch. Before this Daniels had a chance to repeat his goal-scoring free kick from an identical position but this time his chipped effort found the safe hands of Louis Gray.

The excellent Roberts and Weeks combined down the right to present another shooting opportunity for the skipper but Glendon’s shot was over the bar. As the game ticked into stoppage time the referee awarded Telford a penalty – seemingly for handball. Telford players punched the air; their fans cheered; only for Baker to blast on to the bar. Now it was City fans making all the noise as they urged the Blues to rub salt in Telford’s wounded pride with a winner. Matty Williams came marauding forward. His shot was blocked and Clarke’s effort from the rebound cannoned for a corner. A winner proved elusive but it made for a dramatic finish.

Steve Watson had adjusted the team well after the setback of the sending off and spoke later about seeking to re-balance the playing squad in the next week or so. His words were measured and his approach business-like as he continues to impress.

Colin Mansley

Picture © Rick Matthews

League table after this match | Match photographs | Match highlights [YouTube]




































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