Worcester City: Sargeant, Weir, Khan
(Moore 59), Thorley, Whitehead, Rowe, Birley (Williams
71), Elvins, Symons (Taylor 64), Breeze, Morris. Subs
not used: Ayres, Smith. Chester:
Danby, Hankin (Baynes 30), McGinn, Horan, Collins (Linwood
46), A.Williams, Peers (Gray 59), Howard, Jarman, M.Williams,
D.Williams. Subs not used: Fearon,
J.Roberts. Referee: Simon Barrow (Staffordshire).
This was definitely Worcester City's day in the spotlight
as the already-promoted Chester arrived as the last-ever
visiting team at 108-year-old St George's Lane.
gave Chester a guard of honour as the ‘Greens’
entered the historic ground, but then it was onto the
minute’s silence and an odd moment of reverence
for a bottle of Worcester Sauce on the centre spot.
After that build-up, the football started a couple of
minutes late, but Chester soon showed why they’re
the League Champions. First a threatening cross was headed
behind, then from the resultant corner, captain George
Horan headed for home in front of the packed Worcester
Worcester then woke up and as Chester’s defence
looked like they were already on their holiday plane to
“Maga”, Worcester striker Mike Symons found
himself in a one-on-one with John Danby. The Chester goalkeeper
did well to save at Symons's feet to keep his side in
Worcester had another chance, this time having a shot
blocked, before Matty McGinn committed a rash challenge
in a non-threatening part of the pitch. He was shown a
straight red for his tackle on Tom Thorley.
By now it looked like Worcester, who seemed to have attracted
most of the city’s rugby and cricket fans to enjoy
the final moments of their ramshackle ground, might sneak
a result to impress the massed ranks.
As the second half started, the end of April started feeling
like the end of February as the wind whipped round St
George’s Lane. And it was the home team who carried
on doing more to warm up their part-time supporters.
Chester bought on Paul Linwood to replace Dom Collins
for the second half, but the visiting defence were soon
under pressure again. A great strike from Worcester was
pushed over by a diving Danby to keep his side in front.
Soon after Iain Howard nearly had the perfect Chester
send-off when he received the ball after a great passing
interchange. But somehow his shot hit the inside of the
post, and the fairy-tale ending was not to be.
Worcester had a similar moment when a great shot looked
goalbound before it hit the post, with the rebound going
straight into the arms of a relieved Danby. The home side
had at least a couple more chances to give the crowd –
this season’s record Conference North attendance
c something to cheer, but they couldn’t seem to
find their target.
I was actually watching this match behind enemy lines,
as home tickets seemed easier to obtain than away tickets,
and I couldn’t help but find myself almost willing
Worcester to score. The truth is that a 2-1 scoreline
to Chester, with Howard getting a goal, would have been
my dream scenario.
But it was not meant to be, and as Chester look ahead
to Conference Premier football next season, Worcester
City will have to fight to survive in a ground several
miles from their home. We’ve been in their shoes,
and I don’t want to turn the clock back –
good luck to them.
came away from The Shay with a deserved point, but missed
chances cost them the opportunity to complete the double
over FC Halifax Town. Some Chester players were held up
in heavy traffic on route to the ground and as a result
the kick-off was delayed 15 minutes.
When the teams eventually took to the pitch the Chester
side were given a guard of honour from their sporting
opponents and began the game in championship form by taking
the lead as early as the eighth minute as Marc Williams
met a Nathan Jarman cross six yards out to nudge the ball
past Matt Glennon in the home goal.
Chester continued to press, Antoni Sarcevic saw a goal
bound effort cleared off the line and Glennon, who made
11 appearances for Chester last season, produced a fine
save to deny Tony Gray doubling the lead.
the home side Chris Worsley did find the net only for
his effort to be ruled offside and Danny Glover saw
a long range effort clear John Danby’s bar as
the home side came more into the game.
Matty McGinn did well to block a Sean
Williams shot before Sarcevic missed a great chance
to put Chester two up. Marc Williams sent a through
ball to Danny Williams and his back heel fell to Sarcevic,
one-on-one with Glennon, but the young midfielder scuffed
his shot wide.
Chester were made to pay for their
missed chances as the Shaymen equalised on 38 minutes
as Alex Johnson headed home Williams’ inswinging
free-kick past Danby. Danby saved well from Gareth Seddon
in stoppage time to keep the scores level at the break.
Matt Pearson shot over just after
the restart but again Chester missed a great chance
to restore their advantage as George Horan headed over
from point blank range on 51 minutes. Chester continued
to press as Gray saw an effort go just wide.
The Blues conceded a series
of corners and Danby produced another good save to deny
Jason St Juste. The final chances of the game came in
the closing stages for Chester. Gray saw an effort fly
just over the bar and Marc Williams sent a shot straight
at Glennon following fine work by Danny Williams. In
the final minute Glennon produced the save of the game
to deny Jarman what would have been an certain winner
and his corner bound shot was finger tipped away.
It’s a shame that the actual match seemed to take
second place today as Chester prepared to collect their
third Championship trophy in as many years. Manager Neil
Young, in naming an odd formation with Dave Hankin at
right-back, also seemed more content than usual to see
how the 90 minutes of football panned out. It was as if
no-one realised that history could have been in the making
– with a chance to beat an unbeaten home record
dating back to 1927.
Solihull meanwhile had read the usual script, with every
team visiting the Exacta this season seeing the match
as their ‘cup final’ and a chance to show
the League’s top-performing players how they could
be their equal.
So the visitors took the initiative from the off and just
nine minutes after kick-off won an arguable penalty when
the exotically-named Omar Bogle made the most of a challenge
by Ashley Williams and went down in the penalty box. He
took the spot kick and had no trouble scoring in front
of the packed Harry Mac Terrace.
Chester didn’t really strike back, with an Antoni
Sarcevic strike being the only real effort inside the
first half hour. It could have been 2-0 to Solihull not
long after that when the ball somehow failed to go in
after first hitting the post, and then a Solihull player
inexplicably missing an open net. It would have been heart-stopping
stuff if Chester had needed a home point.
Half-time seemed more entertaining to most Chester fans
than the first 45 minutes, as an impressive parade of
Chester FC ladies’, youth and boys’ teams
paraded around the pitch to take their end-of-season plaudits.
The second half saw Chester step up a gear when Marc Williams
replaced Ashley Williams, and seemed determined to play
like Chester really needed the three points. The Blues
finally seemed to be an attacking force and won corner
after corner – with the best attempt on goal seeing
captain George Horan head over the bar.
The script had been written for Iain Howard to score a
match-saving goal. But, after he saw one great strike
saved by Jasbir Singh, he was taken off to appreciative
applause on the 63rd minute. So the fairytale ending was
not to be.
Chester did continue to press, with Horan having another
header from a corner saved. Tony Gray also came close,
along with Marc Williams. But Solihull – including
their rotund number 10 Gary Birch – did not lay
over and die.
So there was a tinge of disappointment when the referee
blew for full-time. But it was soon forgotten when Captain
George picked up Chester FC’s third Championship
trophy in a row. At least one fairytale had come true.
Bring on the Conference!
After eighty-one years of hurt the Cheshire Cup was brought
gleaming back to the capital last night as City defeated
The game was played in atrocious conditions as wild and
blustery winds made it difficult to control the ball.
The Exiles (Some had travelled from Berkshire, Surrey
and London to be present) also had difficulty controlling
their new green banner which was ripped from its moorings
before kick-off. City were boosted by the fitness of skipper
George Horan who was a doubt for the game but led his
team in green and black as the ever-hospitable Witton
hosted the final.
City began on the front foot and Danny Williams had a
good chance to open the scoring but Cairns in the Celtic
goal smothered his shot. Minutes later a cross from the
right eluded Cairns and found three forwards with no one
between them and the goal. The chance came too quickly
to Gray whose instinctive header went wide of the post.
Marc Williams took advantage of a high bounce to launch
a spectacular bicycle kick goalwards. Cairns pawed it
away for a corner.
As the game settled down Celtic enjoyed better possession
than City and Prince Haywood became more and more influential,
but they did not really threaten goal. Instead it was
Chester who made the breakthrough when Sarcevic got clear
on to a long ball over the top which held up in the wind.
As Antoni made strides into the penalty area he had his
heels clipped by Fabrice Bembo-Leta and went sprawling.
A penalty kick for Chester and a red card for Bembo-Leta
were awarded. Sarcevic took charge of the spot kick, and
after digging a divot to hold the ball from the gusts
of wind, drilled it in off the post for the opening goal.
Stalybridge made light of their one man disadvantage and
fought hard to deny City a second, then caught them on
the break as Chester pressed. The programme notes say
that Chris Hall has an acting career off the pitch and
has appeared in a stage version of The Full Monty. He
certainly caught City with their trousers down as a raking
clearance set him free to run at Fearon with only Lewis
Turner back to defend. He turned and twisted the Turner
twin and then prodded the ball past the Chester keeper
to equalise and still had energy left to sprint right
back to the other end and receive the adulation of the
Their cheering had hardly died down, however before City
were in front once again. Gray scored an opportunist goal
by chasing down Cairns near the corner flag and, having
dispossessed him of the ball sent a curling shot from
the acutest of angles into the unguarded net.
Jarman came on and should have added a third but, after
streaking through on goal, he finished tamely. At the
other end Hall had a glimmer of a second equaliser when
Fearon lost a high ball in the swirling wind. But City
were not to be denied their glory, glory night and, after
a fairly shambolic presentation in which the winners’
banner had to be pinned down to stop it blowing away,
George lifted the magnificent looking trophy.
The last Chester players to have their hands on it in
1932 enjoyed a reception on the Town Hall steps before
adjourning to the Nag’s Head. I wonder where the
current victors will fill their tankards? Perhaps, when
they do, they might raise a toast to Tommy Jennings and
the rest of their predecessors – who would surely
be rightly proud of the players and management’s
remarkable achievements this season. They have revived
a long and honourable tradition – and Cestrians
everywhere are deeply grateful.
30 league match unbeaten run finally came to an end when
they were beaten at second placed Guiseley. The Blues
were made to pay for some missed chances in the second
period as a brace from Josh Wilson was enough to inflict
only the second league defeat of the season on Chester.
Captain George Horan went close in the early stages as
his towering header was saved by Steve Drench but that
was really the only meaningful effort the Blues could
muster in the opening period of the game and it was the
Lions who opened the scoring after just eight minutes.
A foul by Matty McGinn on Gavin Rotheray just outside
the area presented Wilson with a free kick which he duly
curled around the Chester wall and into the bottom corner.
Wilson almost doubled the lead from
a similar position only to see another free kick hit
the post and bounce out of play. Building on that let-off,
Chester began to get more and more into the game. Six
minutes before the break Tony Gray raced through onto
a McGinn through ball but with just Drench to beat sent
his shot wide of the post and out.
Gray made up for his miss in first
half stoppage time as he glanced home Antoni Sarcevic’s
corner to bring Chester level. Manager Neil Young was
forced to make a change at half-time with Horan, who
suffered an Achilles injury, being replaced by Wes Baynes
with Lewis Turner moving alongside Dom Collins in defence.
Collins made a superb tackle to deny
Kevin Holsgrove shortly after the restart. Both sides
created and missed opportunities to take the lead with
Sarcevic guilty of the missing the best as he shot straight
at Drench after running clear onto a Nathan Jarman defence
splitting through ball.
The Blues were made to pay for the
miss as Wilson grabbed his second goal of the game just
four minutes later when the former vauxhall Motors player
picked up a Holsgrove through ball to shoot past Danby
who had come out to narrow the angle.
Guiseley should have extended
their lead but former Chester City player Jack Rae pulled
his shot wide when well placed following a back heel
from James Walshaw. The final effort of the game went
Chester’s way as John Danby, who had run upfield
to join in a McGinn corner, saw his header fall to Danny
Williams whose effort was saved by Drench in stoppage
6 April Chester
1 Boston United 0
Attendance: 3,685 Half Time 0-0
Chester: Danby, L.Turner, Collins, Horan,
D.Williams, Baynes (Hankin 52), Sarcevic, Brown (N.Turner
72), McGinn, Jarman, M.Williams (Gray 81). Subs not used:
A.Williams, Howard. Boston United: Haystead, Marshall, Ward,
Stainfield, Silk, Foster (Sanders 79), Ross, Weir-Daley,
Milnes, Mills (Fairclough 72), Newsham. Subs not used:
Watt, Reed, Field. Referee: Peter Wright (Southport).
The stage was set for a perfect day – blue skies
and a hint of spring as Chester came out to the cheers
of this season’s record home crowd, anxious to see
if their team would be crowned Champions in two hours’
The first half was a fairly ‘even-stevens affair’,
with many Chester fans distracted by looking at their
phones for updates from Guiseley’s away game at
Brackley. All Chester had to do was beat Guiseley’s
result and they’d get their third successive promotion
Boston, the only team to have beaten Chester in the League
this season, were actually quite formidable opponents,
with Spencer Weir-Daley shooting high-and-wide early on.
Nathan Jarman had a chance at the other end, but saw his
shot saved by Pilgrims’ goalkeeper Dan Haystead.
Chester goalkeeper John Danby was called into action later
in the first half, saving from a good Boston strike. And
thankfully the news from Northamptonshire was that it
was still 0-0 at Brackley v Guiseley as the teams went
in for half-time.
The second half saw Chester shooting towards an almost-full
Harry McNally terrace, and the home fans were in ecstasy
less than a minute from the whistle. Good work by Matty
McGinn found Jarman on the left. He could have gone down
under a Boston challenge, but instead made a great cross
to unmarked Lewis Turner. His bullet header was going
only one way and it put the Blues ahead as well as notching
up the 100th goal of the season.
After that, there was a feeling the result was only going
in Chester’s direction. Both sides did have further
chances – with George Horan being unlucky to put
a header wide.
Chester nails were being bitten – although not quite
as nervously as in previous seasons, as there were a few
more promotion opportunities in the offing – when
news filtered through of an 84th minute goal by Brackley’s
Owen Story. The cheers rippled round the ground and the
players must have noticed as the “Championes, Championes”
chant resounded around.
In no time at all, the referee blew for full-time and
the Chester fans spilled onto the pitch to hug every player
they could find as they celebrated promotion to the Conference
Premier. It was a moment for the “shower of fools”
to savour, knowing that everyone did their bit to get
Chester FC onto the national football stage. So it was
quite right that everyone made the most of the celebrations.
There must have been a few sore heads the following day
– but it would have been worth it and no-one can
deny that “Chester are back”.
from captain George Horan, and Conference North Player
of the Month Tony Gray, brought victory at Gainsborough
Trinity to leave the Blues possibly just one win away
from a third successive championship.
Manager Neil Young made
a couple of changes to the team that beat Altrincham on
Easter Monday. Antoni Sarcevic had an injured foot and
was replaced by Ashley Williams while Paul Linwood replaced
Dom Collins in the heart of the defence.
In the first action of the game Danny Williams saw an
early dangerous looking cross gathered by Jason White
in the home goal. Linwood lasted only five minutes before
a calf injury saw him replaced by Collins as Chester were
forced into an early reshuffle.
Terry Hawkridge saw an effort slide wide of John Danby’s
post before Horan opening the scoring on 26 minutes with
a quality strike as he controlled a Matty McGinn throw
on his chest before volleying the ball home off the underside
of the bar from the edge of the box.
minutes later Chester doubled their advantage through
Gray who blasted home from close range after Dave Hankin
had controlled a loose ball in the area following a
Nathan Turner cross. It was Gray’s seventh goal
in six matches.
Luke Waterfall had a great chance to halve the deficit
but his shot skied over the bar after the Chester defence
had failed to clear a free-kick.
Danby made a fine save from Paul Connor
after the break, tipping his header from ten yards over
the bar, as the home side looked to get back into the
game. Apart from a Mark Jones effort straight at the
Chester ‘keeper, and an effort poked wide by Greg
Young, the Lincolnshire side failed to really trouble
the Chester defence through the remainder of the half.
The victory sets up a possible title clinching match
against Boston United on Saturday. Should Chester better
Guiseley’s result at Brackley Town the same day
the championship will be theirs.
Those who wished that Chester would be crowned champions
on All Fools Day have been thwarted by the unseasonal
weather. Postponements have meant that the league is behind
schedule and everyone is playing catch up. This includes
Chester as they must play twice more this week with a
tricky trip to Gainsborough on Thursday before returning
to face the only team to beat them in the league so far
Nevertheless City notched a further three points in their
relentless campaign for the Blue Square North Title with
a hard fought victory against Cheshire rivals Altrincham.
It was the most bitterly cold of Easter Mondays but City
warmed their supporters by driving forward against the
visitors. They dominated the first half but only had Matty
McGinn’s goals to show for it.
McGinn had an influential game and took his goal supremely
well. First he controlled a high ball forward, rode a
tackle, then played a one two which finished with him
smashing a shot past Coburn. City might have added to
their tally after Jarman’s spectacular overhead
kick found Gray but he could only turn the ball over the
Altrincham had not posed too much of a threat but had
done enough in the first half to show that they could
mount a challenge. This they did after the break after
they had weathered early pressure from City. Jarman just
failed to get his toe on a back pass – even the
slightest touch would have sent it past Coburn. Now Altrincham
forced a series of corners and City seemed to be fading.
First a shot flashed across the City area and then Reeves,
Alty’s dangerman, headed narrowly wide from a far
Young replaced Jarman with Ashley Williams and shortly
afterwards Nathan Turner gave way to Marc Williams and
Scott Brown replaced Tony Gray. City became more competitive
in midfield, Antoni Sarcevic moved forward and Altrincham
were pushed back.
The game was poised on a knife edge when Horan, still
upfield following a corner crossed into the box and Collins
fought for the ball at the far post. Despite the attentions
of a defender’s tackle he managed somehow to squeeze
the ball beyond Coburn and into the net. A vital goal.
The home supporters applauded to the high heavens and
the game was won.
There are not many games to go now but they are fast approaching.
Guiseley are now the only remaining team who can catch
City and have to play both Halifax and Brackley this week.
Chester need three more wins to guarantee the title assuming
that Guiseley win all of their games. Any slips by them
and the Blues could clinch their third consecutive championship
on Saturday. Not bad for a club run by a set of supporters
once described as a “Shower of fools who meet in