Jalal, Bencherif, Riley, Tilt, Carrington, Newton, Rooney,
Rutherford, R Evans, Harrad (J.Evans 69), Bakare. Subs
not used: Edwards, Powell, McDonagh, Harvey.
Chester: Roberts, Vassell, Hudson, Astles,
Hunt, Durrell (Hughes 87), Shaw, Lloyd, Mahon, Alabi
(Chapell 76), Richards (Akintunde 87) Sub not used:
George. Referee: Martin Coy.
made it four clean sheets in a row as they emerged unscathed
from the latest cross border derby. An early kick off;
the fact that the match was televised and the restrictions
on away travel all contributed to the lower than usual
attendance of just over 5,000. As Chas Sumner, Chester’s
historian points out though, crowds for this fixture when
it was a League Division Four clash in the mid 1980’s
were lower – around the three and a half thousand
mark. Maybe economic recession and austerity is a common
Jon McCarthy had the unenviable choice to make between
Sam Hughes, who had deputised so ably recently at centre
back and Blaine Hudson, a veteran of these clashes albeit
for the opposition, now fit again. In the end City’s
boss went for experience over youth. Alabi also returned
to resume his partnership with Richards up front
The hosts began on the front foot and raked long passes
out to the left putting Vassell under pressure. The Walsall
loanee responded well but an early cross from Rooney found
Bakare at the far post. His header rippled the net but
only side netting – much to the disappointment of
the home crowd. Later Shaun Newton powered a driven cross
from the same wing into the box but it eluded red shirted
As the game settled down it was the yellow-clad City who
showed more composure and neater possession. Lloyd was
industrious in winning the ball and passing well. Mahon’s
forward ball forward under pressure found Richards who
set off towards goal but had his heels clipped by Rob
Evans – the first yellow card of the game. Durrell’s
effort from the resulting free kick came to nothing but
he was growing more influential on the right as the match
wore on. Hunt and Mahon were beginning to combine well
down the left too. The tricky Irishman fashioned a chance
for Shaw who went down inexplicably in the box. Martin
Coy waved away appeals for a penalty.
The Reds threatened again. Bakare missed his header from
Rutherford’s inviting cross. Rooney tried to curl
a free kick in from the left but found only the top netting.
Then, in a pivotal moment, Rooney went in horribly late
on Mahon and was fortunate to see only a card the same
colour as Chester’s shirts, not his own.
Chester were the happier at half time as the home crowd
became increasingly restive, and they came out the more
confident side after the break. A good passing move down
the left ended with Lloyd shooting disappointingly over
the top. City continued to probe forward but Richards
was well shackled by Curtis Tilt, a summer signing from
AFC Telford, who gave a man of the match performance at
the back. One “old fashioned shoulder charge”
sent Richards sprawling but he got no sympathy from the
referee. Alabi cut in and tried a shot from the edge of
the box but he too was blocked.
At the other end Bakare squirmed free but his shot from
a narrow angle went out for a throw in. Another effort
flew well over the bar. And as far as chances for either
side went that was about it. Neither keeper faced a shot
on target. Both sides began in mid-table and that is where
they remained at the end – separated by the one
point. Blues fans were the happier and finished in better
voice – the chanting of Jon McCarthy’s Blue
and White Army gaining momentum as the game wore on and
City scented an upset. A slight disappointment that they
couldn’t find a winning goal did not detract from
another solid performance by the Blues.
Braintree punched well above their weight as a part
time team last season, finishing third and losing narrowly
in the play-offs to Grimsby. Since then they have had
to cope with the loss of manager Danny Cowley to Lincoln
and several players too. They arrived at the Deva on
the back of only their second win of the season in midweek
– a last minute triumph at Sutton after they had
been reduced to ten men.
The Iron’s band of supporters were hard to distinguish
from stewards as they wore a similar shade of fluorescent
orange. One even sported a matching orange cone on his
head, managing to keep it there all game. They had a
good view of their team conceding the first and what
proved to be the only goal of the contest after Sam
Hughes pounced on a knock down at the end of a flurry
of Blues’ corners. The youngster kept his composure
and scored from close range despite a defender’s
flailing tackle. This was after just twelve minutes
but despite taking an early lead Chester were unable
to capitalise and make the game safe – leading
to an anxious few minutes as full-time approached.
Braintree dangerman Simeon Akinola caused a scare while
the game was young with a neat turn on the edge of the
box and a curling left foot shot which thwacked against
the far post and away to safety. It was the closest
the visitors came to a goal. City went as close again
after the break as Hughes met Durrell’s corner
from the left with a solid downward header that rebounded
off the foot of the post. Later Alabi replaced Akintunde
and the former latched on to Mahon’s threaded
pass. He had a clear sight of goal but could not open
up his body enough to shoot past Beasant and the Braintree
Durrell came off for Horwood, complete with Lone Ranger
mask to protect his broken nose. Alabi and Richards
had opportunities to shoot but in both cases their first
touch took them away from goal and the chance went begging.
Referee Ryan Johnson attracted the ire of the home crowd
with some strange decisions as the match drew to a close
and Blues fans became increasingly anxious. But the
Blues successfully ground out another win and another
clean sheet making this a great week. Now they have
moved to within a point of Wrexham whom they meet in
the bubble match next weekend.
Chester followed up Saturday’s hard fought point
at Aldershot with three more at the expense of bottom
of the table Guiseley.
The first half proved a scrappy affair in wet conditions
with Jonny Maxted in the visitors’ saving an Elliott
Durrell effort at the far post following a deep Kane Richards
Midway through the
half Chester almost broke the deadlock when Tom Shaw
saw an effort saved by Maxted and Ryan Lloyd's follow-up
hit the post, the rebound fell to Richards whose effort
was finally saved by Maxted.
Five minutes into the second period Chester took the
lead, Oluwaseun Akintunde was put through down th eleft
wing and he cut the ball back for Richards to score
from 12 yards out.
Eight minutes later the Blues doubled their advantage.
Jonny Huny worked his way into the box before being
brought down by Javan Vidal, referee Simon Barrow point
to the spot and Shaw duly converted the penalty.
Guiseley were reduced to ten men when Luke Porritt left
the field with a head injury, the visitors having used
all their substitutes. They finished the game with nine
players as Will Hatfield was sent off for a second yellow
was one of those 0-0 draws that felt like a satisfying
result for the Blues after they put on a sterling performance
against a side which had won every home game until that
Chester, with two changes
from the previous game as Liam Roberts came in for Jon
Worsnop and Theo Vassell for Luke George, were actually
the dominant side of the first half.
After Aldershot had the first threatening
attack of the game, the focus switched to Chester. Elliott
Durrell came close when he hit the side netting, and
Blues fans were delighted to see Craig Mahon coming
back to his best form.
Mahon laid on a good cross for Kane
Richards, but he didn’t find the net. The best
chance of the game fell to Ryan Llloyd when the ball
came to him well outside the area. His sweet shot came
close to breaking the deadlock, but it thwacked off
the crossbar and away from danger. There were more chances
for Durrell and Richards, but Chester failed to notch
up the goal their efforts deserved before half-time
The second half was more evenly balanced,
with Aldershot missing a good opportunity early on.
Chester goalkeeper Roberts was caught off his line,
but the Shots didn't make the most of their first chance,
and Roberts was able to get back to stop the second
As the game was drawing to a close,
there was a penalty shout from Chester when James Alabi
fell in the area. But referee Antony Coggins ignored
the claims and the five minutes of injury time continued
without any real threat from either side before full
manager Jon McCarthy made two changes from the side beaten
at Woking last week with Craig Mahon and Luke George in
the starting X1 at the expense of the suspended Evan Horwood,
and Jordan Chapell.
Green took the game to Chester in the opening minutes
with both Darren Carter and Kieffer Moore both having
efforts on goal, and Moore was given more space on 19
minutes to head just wide of the Chester goal. At the
other end a Ryan Astles header that slipped wide of
the goal was all the Blues had created.
The visitors broke the deadlock on
25 minutes. A Liam Noble free kick from the left slipped
under the dive of Jon Worsnop and bounced up into the
roof of the goal.
Moore had a great chance to double
the lead ten minutes later but somehow managed to hit
his shot over from point blank range. Elliott Durrell
forced goalkeeper Sam Russell into a fine one handed
save just before the break from the midfeilder's free-kick.
Seven minutes after the break Rovers
did find the net again as Carter’s 20 yard shot
beat Worsnop following a neat build-up.
Worsnop produced good saves to deny
both Matt Tubbs and Marsh-Brown before Chester pulled
a goal back ten minutes from time as Durrell received
a through ball from substituete Chapell, turned on the
edge of the box before smashing the ball home.
Chester almost equalised in the dying
minutes as Blaine Hudson saw a header cleared off the
line by Ethan Pinnock but Forest Green held out to take
the three points that took them to the top of the table.