A new and much improved Whitby came to the Exacta but
the City juggernaut was not deflected from its course.
Whitby had beaten Northwich and drawn with FC United in
the last week and provided stern opposition to Chester,
looking to complete a perfect March, having won all five
previous matches this month.
The Seasiders’ resistance lasted until the stroke
of half-time. Horan’s header looped upwards from
a corner and dropped near the goal line for Wilde to pounce
and nod it over. Just prior to this Town had seen their
best chance to score slip by as McTiernan headed wide
when well placed at the far post.
City struggled to dominate the match as Whitby afforded
them little room and time to bring the ball down and pass
it around. Alex Brown was injured and his absence was
felt. But the Blues still managed to look most likely
to score and Wilde's goal was just reward for his untiring
The home faithful were entertained with a number of raffle
draws at the interval and Cleggy’s announcements
added to the amusement. The VIP raffle was first won by
the Chairman – who sportingly waived his prize -
the second winner’s ticket was then announced along
with name and ‘phone number. Earlier we had been
told the registration number of an unlocked car in the
car park with valuables on the back seat – too much
Whitby responded after the break with substitute Beadle
going close at the near post. City forged further ahead
on 53 minutes when Marc Williams was tripped from behind
in the penalty area. McGinn showed great strength of character,
having missed a couple recently, to drill the ball under
the keeper’s body from the penalty spot.
Booth replaced the injured Sarcevic and City’s forward
play began to flow. Booth himself went close to scoring
with a 25 yarder, and should have been given the chance
to score when Simm, also on as sub, decided to have a
go himself. But it was Booth’s link up play down
the right which was most threatening and his pass to Baynes
led to Howard volleying narrowly over the bar in the final
Harsh bookings were picked up by McGinn and Powell and
there was a standing ovation to greet Ashley Williams
as he returned to the fray after a long haul recovery
from being up-ended at Hednesford in August. Neil Young
has put together a solid squad without a weak link in
it and with all eager to play their part in driving Chester
to a second successive championship. Not the least impressive
was the ever dependable and under sung centre-back pairing
of Horan and Taylor – superb both once again.
27 March North Ferriby
United 0 Chester 3
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League
Attendance: 459 Half Time 0-1
Booked: Sarcevic, Wright.
North Ferriby United: Nicklin, Gardner,
Larvin, Peat, Anderson, Foot, Brooksby, Fry, Bolder, Clarke,
Morris. Subs not used: Belcher, Denton, Hunter, Williams,
Wilson. Chester: Glennon, Baynes, Horan, Taylor,
McGinn, Sarcevic (Booth 84), Brown (Powell 53), Smith,
Wright (Howard 80), Simm, Wilde. Subs not used: Brownhill,
M.Williams. Referee: Ken Haycock (West Yorkshire).
extended their lead at the top of the Northern Premier
League to a massive eleven points after defeating North
Ferriby United for the third time this season. The Blues
had already seen off The Villagers 6-0 at home in the
league and 5-1 away in the FA Trophy and goals from George
Horan, Michael Wilde and Chris Simm ensured that the quest
for a second successive championship remained on course.
Manager Neil Young made a couple of
changes from the side that won at Matlock on Saturday,
in came Michael Wilde and Jerome Wright for Marc Williams
and Iain Howard who both started on the bench. There
was a slight delay to the start of the match due to
a floodlight failure but the Blues soon found their
stride creating an opening as early as the second minute
as Antoni Sarcevic saw an effort deflected wide after
latching on to a through ball from Wes Baynes.
There was a scare at the other end
a couple of minutes later when Danny Clarke mis-hit
an effort after the Chester defence had failed to clear
a free-kick. Wilde headed over the bar and Wright saw
a long range effort saved before the deadlock was broken
in the ninth minute as Horan rose at the back post to
head home a Matty McGinn corner.
The home side responded well and created
chances of note. Matt Glennon was well placed to save
a Danny Clarke shot and Gregg Anderson hit the post
on 18 minutes with Glennon beaten.
Chester thought they’d doubled
their lead five minutes before the break but Simm's
effort was ruled offside. Glennon produced another fine
save to deny Paul Foot as the home side looked to get
on level terms before the break but it was Sarcevic,
who was causing all sorts of problems, who had the last
chance of the half curling a shot just wide following
Sarcevic saw an effort just clear
the bar minutes after the break and McGinn forced a
good save at full stretch from Adam Nicklin in the home
goal before Chester added a second goal on the hour
mark as Wilde headed home from a Baynes near-post corner
as Chester once again took advantage of a quality set-piece.
Chester began to take control,
Wilde headed just over, Horan and Simm went close and
Nicklin saved from Wilde before the Blues wrapped up
the points three minutes from time as Simm touched home
Robbie Booth’s shot after good approach play from
was definitely a game of two halves, with Chester emerging
victorious after they upped their performance in the
second half at Matlock’s scenic Causeway Lane.
It was one of those days that make it a pleasure to
be a Chester fan – a glorious sunny afternoon,
friendly and scenic surroundings, an away win for the
Blues and the news that promotion rivals Northwich had
slipped up away at Whitby.
But it didn’t seem that pleasant in the match’s
opening spell. It was certainly all Matlock, as Chester
failed to threaten in the first half. Indeed, the Gladiators
missed a great chance when a powerful strike hit the
underside of the bar. The rebound produced a good save
from Matt Glennon when Matlock looked certain to go
It was a different Chester who came out for the second
half, perhaps boosted by the knowledge they were shooting
towards a goal surrounded by Chester fans – rather
than the one in front of the cricket field alongside
the neat three-sided stadium.
Chester were trying to win every ball right from the
whistle, with Anton Sarcevic and Chris Simm combining
well, but not quite finding that killer strike. Iain
Howard was also as hard-working as ever. The focus changed
slightly when Michael Wilde came on to replace Marc
Williams on the 55th minute.
Wilde looked ready for the challenge, and soon after
his name was on the scoresheet. A Matty McGinn ball
into the box was well-placed for Wilde to have a clever,
lobbed, header over Matlock ‘keeper Jon Kennedy
and into the net. Around 700 travelling Chester fans
went crazy and then tried not to think about what had
happened after the opening goal at Chasetown.
But Matlock didn’t make it an easy three points
for the Blues. They had a good run into the box, which
was cleared as Chester scrambled back from the offensive.
Wilde was still looking threatening and had another
chance to score, but Kennedy made a save with his legs.
So no wonder the Chester fans were nervous when their
goal hero was was sent off. After receiving an earlier
yellow card, Wilde put himself on a final warning when
he threw the ball away after Matlock were awarded a
free kick. Before long, he committed a foul near the
touchline and was promptly shown the red card. Chester
manager Neil Young was also sent to the stand to watch
the six minutes of injury time unfold.
It was’t quite as nervy a closing spell as at
Garforth Town last season, but it was still an edgy
time for the Chester following. However, the referee’s
whistle finally came, and with it the news about an
unexpected defeat for Vics. So it was a happy band of
Blues fans who left Matlock’s ground to join the
sightseers enjoying the boating lake opposite and the
other delights of this corner of Derbyshire. I’m
not sure when I’ll next see a ground in such an
impressive setting, as (say it quietly) it’s beginning
to look like we might not be returning next year.
17 March Chester
3 Bradford Park Avenue 2
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League
Attendance: 2,781 Half Time 3-0
Booked: Smith, McGinn.
Chester: Glennon, Baynes, McGinn, Horan,
Taylor, Brown (Wright 90), Howard, Smith (Powell 66),
Simm (Wilde 67), Williams, Sarcevic. Subs not used: Brownhill,
Cox. Bradford Park Avenue: Lamb, Clayton,
Drury, Deacey (Greaves 66), Knowles, Riley, Marshall (O’Brien
75), Hotte, Matthews, Hudson (Daly 46), Davidson. Subs
not used: Boshell, Dempsey. Referee: D.Meeson.
All of the goals went in at the Clock End after Chester
raced into a 3-0 lead by half time and then Bradford clawed
their way back into the game in the last twenty minutes.
It was hardly a game of two halves though – the
visitors had better possession of the ball to begin with
and carved out the best chance when Davidson sprung through
and lobbed a bouncing ball over Glennon but just wide
of the post.
City were struggling to string passes together and finding
it difficult to adjust to the absence of McNeill up front.
They took encouragement though when Howard and McGinn
combined to send in an inviting cross for Horan, who headed
narrowly wide while well placed. The chance seemed to
act as a spur and City took the lead shortly after, courtesy
of Horan’s defensive partner Michael Taylor. Following
a corner Taylor lurked at the far post to lash the ball
in to the roof of the net.
It was Taylor's first goal of the season and minutes later
Marc Williams became the tenth of the outfield players
on display to add his name to the score sheet. He tucked
the ball past Lamb after brilliant work by Brown who held
off the attentions of three defenders before putting Williams
More joy for Chester followed swiftly as Williams glanced
home the deftest of headers from Baynes’ free kick.
City had scored three in eight minutes and Avenue were
Try as they might City couldn’t add to their tally
after the break. Sometimes they were guilty of shooting
too soon and trying the complicated when the simple pass
beckoned. Bradford scored what seemed a consolation goal
when Riley nodded in at the far post from a free kick
awarded after Howard was harshly judged to have handled
The anxiety increased when Chester were victims of another
dubious decision – referee Meeson awarding a penalty
when Davidson went down in the box. Glennon did well to
save O’Brien’s kick but could not hold on
to it and the sub bundled the ball home.
Veteran supporters began to anticipate the time-worn scenario
of an equaliser deep into injury time but the referee,
who had been generous to the visitors in a couple of decisions,
was miserly when it came to added time and blew for full
time – to the relief of the home support.
It turned out to be a good result for City against a useful
Bradford side and an entertaining game – worthy
of the memory of Trevor Storton – great servant
of both clubs who was remembered with honour before the
against bottom in the league can often throw up strange
results but not in this case as this match went to form
and Chester ran out comfortably against the Linnets
to extend their lead to double figures.
It was not all plain sailing for City however as they
had to adjust their pattern of play following the departure
of target man McNeil through injury. He went down after
a handful of minutes clutching an ankle and then had
to hop his way all round the touchline to reach the
sanctuary of the treatment table. Marc Williams replaced
him and was busy throughout, tracking back to chase
the ball and showing slick and sometimes brilliant approach
play and passing.
Burscough were pinned back in their own half right from
the outset and when Sarcevic crashed the ball into the
roof of the net following a long throw by McGinn and
then Smith popped up to head past a stranded keeper
to make it two-nil before twenty-five minutes were up
they had an uphill task ahead.
Inevitably City took a collective foot off the pedal
after the opening goals and, to their credit, the visitors
strove persistently to get back into the game. The match
seemed to be drifting on like this until Simm added
a third just after the hour mark, latching on to Horan’s
knock down from a free-kick and sidestepping a defender
to shoot home.
A fourth goal was added when Sarcevic set off on another
of his slaloming runs with the ball, he cut in from
the right and hammered a fierce cross into the goalmouth
– Howard got a touch to knock it over the line.
City have a rest now until St Patrick’s day when
another team in green, Bradford Park Avenue, visit the
Exacta. Let’s hope they lose none of their urging
momentum in the meantime.
3 March Frickley
Athletic 1 Chester 3
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League
Attendance: 720 Half Time 0-0
Frickley Athletic: Dickinson, Cyrus,
Walsh, Gray, Turner, Bleau, Ludlam, Ashmore, Mallon, South
(Ryan 82), Knox. Subs not used: Adams, Schofield, Hood. Chester: Glennon, Baynes, Horan, Taylor,
McGinn, Sarcevic, Brown (Powell 74), Smith, Wright (Howard
61), Simm (M.Williams 82), McNeil. Subs not used: Brownhill,
Cox. Referee: Paul Cook (Hull).
maintained their eight point lead at the top of the
Northern Premier League following this latest success
on the road. With championship rivals Northwich, Hednesford
and Chorley all picking up maximum points at the weekend
the importance of this win at Frickley becomes clearer.
The home side were on an impressive
seven game unbeaten run that saw them do the Blues a
big favour with a last minute equaliser against Hednesford
seven days ago. The Blues won the toss and decided to
kick up the Frickley slope, on a bobbly pitch, in the
wet and windy opening half.
The conditions made for a scrappy
opening period with some timely tackling around the
area from the Chester defence restricting the hosts
some some long range efforts. Wes Baynes, who scored
two long-range efforts last week, tried his luck from
distance again in the sixth minute but shot wide.
A Baynes free-kick to Matt McNeil
was met by the striker whose header found Chris Simm
but the striker shot straight at Stephen Dickinson in
the home goal.
At the other end Matt Glennon reacted
quickly to beat Peter Knox to a dangerous through ball
as the home side hit back. George Horan though he'd
given Chester the lead on 31 minutes as he a headed
home a Matty McGinn cross only for referee Paul Cook
to rule the goal out for, presumably, an infringement
on the defender who went for the same ball though there
were few complaints from the home defenders!
A looping Baynes free-kick from the
right found Simm at the far post but he could only direct
his header straight at Dickinson who held comfortably.
Chester began the second half strongly
and had the ball in the net again four minutes after
the restart but Antoni Sarcevic’s close range
header was ruled out for offside, moments later Sarcevic
forced a good save from Dickinson who repeated the feat
to deny Alex Brown. In a counter attack Glennon dived
smartly to his left to deny Knox who turned and fired
in a decent effort from the edge of the box
Horan saw another goal ruled out for
offside before they eventually took the lead on 63 minutes
as Christian Smith was in the right place to tap the
ball home from two yards after Simm and won the ball
on the right of the box and crossed for the in-form
The home side responded immediately
and drew level within a minute as Baynes was caught
on possession by Knox who fed Ryan Mallon whose side-footed
volley beat Glennon.
Chester hit back and Smith sent in
a 25-yarder that Dickinson saved at full stretch before
substitute Iain Howard restored the lead in the 71st
minute. Simm picked up on a misplaced defensive header
and set Howard through on goal, the midfielder coolly
rounded Dickinson and poked a shot past two back-peddling
defenders on the line.
Howard shot just wide and Simm
blazed over the bar, the ball bobbled up just as he
struck it, before Horan finally got the goal he deserved
eleven minutes from time heading home Sarcevic's cross
to wrap up the three points.