still not used to the ‘end-of-season’ feeling
we’re getting this year. I simply can’t remember
when Chester had games in April that weren’t on
a knife edge for one reason or another.
it was great to go to Aldershot for the last away day
of the season, knowing – with the weather set
fair – that a glorious afternoon was in order
and both the home and away fans could enjoy the 90 minutes
without any nervous glances at their phones.
Yellow-clad Chester started the better
of the two teams, dominating the early possession. Ollie
McBurnie was proving an immediate handful and had a
penalty appeal turned down after falling in the box.
He drew a similar foul not long after, to earn Chester
a penalty on the 14th minute. John Rooney made no mistake
with the spot-kick to put Steve Burr’s men in
the driving seat.
Throughout the rest of the first half,
Chester looked the most likely to score. The closest
the Shots came was with a strike into the side netting.
At the other end, Craig Hobson missed a couple of headers
and Chester failed to make the most of several corners.
Not long after the re-start, Hobson
and Matty Hughes both had chances to score, only to
see Aldershot’s Phil Smith make a couple of good
saves. George Thomson and Tom Peers came on for Hughes
and Craig Mahon on the 76th minute, but they didn’t
make a real impression in the final spell.
In fact, Aldershot pressed well for
an equaliser in the last 10 minutes. It felt strange
not to be chewing my nails during an opponent’s fightback
near the end of a game. Aldershot had several half chances
in the closing spell, but none were any match for Jon
So it was a great relief when full-time
came and Chester had won a respectable three points.
The travelling army no doubt enjoyed the team coming
over to show their appreciation. I suppose football
would be boring if it was always like this, but I’ll
settle for it once in a while!
This was much more like it from the Blues against a Dover
side who have punched above their weight this season and
still had an outside chance of making the play-offs going
in to the game.
At half time though, it looked like City’s poor
run of form was going to continue. The Whites –
or more correctly given their change kit – the Pinks
took the lead after thirty-four minutes when Modeste found
room on the right to cross to the far post and the ball
was headed back across goal by Murphy to Stefan Payne
who trapped it and then picked his spot to Worsnop’s
left. As half time approached Payne also found his name
in the referee’s notebook – his shove on Charnock
right under the linesman’s nose was enough to earn
him a yellow card for persistent offending.
Within a minute of the second half starting Chester were
back on level terms thanks to a goalkeeping error. Matty
Hughes mesmerised defenders with a dazzling run into the
box and cut the ball back to McBurnie. The targetman scuffed
his shot and it seemed an easy task for Walker to gather
it. Perhaps there was an element of spin on the ball but
it certainly slipped through Walker’s gloves and
legs like the proverbial bar of soap and squirmed its
way over the line.
The dose of fortune galvanized City and forward they came
again. Abbott blazed a great opportunity over the bar.
Then Hobson leapt majestically to glance home Rooney’s
left wing corner and Chester were in front. Dover came
back and forced a succession of corners. But when Rooney
cut in cleverly from the left he carved out the space
to shoot exquisitely beyond Walker for the goal which
clinched City’s first home win since January.
It was enough to get the home fans singing and even Steve
Burr followed suit on stage at the end of season dinner
at the Guildhall – more affectionately known by
City fans, as Colin Murray reminded everyone as, “the
6 April Chester
1 Forest Green Rovers 4
Football Conference Premier
Attendance: 1,911 Half Time 1-3
Worsnop, Higgins, Brown (Rooney 43), James, G.Roberts,
Heneghan, Mahon, McBurnie, Hughes, Abbott, Kay (McConville
22). Subs not used: Viscosi, Hobson, Peers. Forest Green Rovers: Arnold, Bennett,
Clough, Sinclair (Marwood 90), Kelly, Racine, Guthrie
(Kamdjo 90), Pipe, Frear (Bender 90), Parkin, Fleetwood.
Subs not used: Russell, Coles, Referee: Ben Toner (Darwen).
Newcastle United, Chester FC have been accused of being
on the beach already now that there is nothing realistically
to play for this season. That’s a bit harsh but
psychologically it must be difficult not to switch of
just a little. When that is combined with opposition who
are desperate to maintain a momentum towards promotion
then it can lead to disastrous results. Still smarting
from Friday’s mauling at Bristol Rovers, City came
up against Forest Green in ruthless mood following their
surprising defeat to Aldershot on Saturday.
visitors got off to the best possible start when they
were awarded a penalty in the opening few minutes. Brown
won the ball cleanly but Guthrie fell over his leg and
referee Ben Toner, on the blind side of the tackle,
was persuaded to award a spot kick. The gargantuan Parkin
sent Worsnop the wrong way and then sauntered over to
the Harry Mac to goad Blues supporters. He had cause
to rub our noses firmly in it after another ten minutes.
Managing to separate himself from Kay, Parkin was standing
in splendid isolation when Kelly’s forward ball
picked him out and his looping header went over Worsnop
and in off the crossbar.
City were fielding yet another experimental
formation with Brown and Kay partnering one another
in central defence and Heneghan surprisingly forward
of them both in midfield. Blues seemed in disarray at
the back as Rovers pushed forward and pressed hard.
Kay was crushed under the Parkin juggernaut and had
to go off for stitches in his forehead. MConville replaced
him and Heneghan dropped back. Within a minute City
were three down as Guthrie burst through the gap which
Kay had previously occupied and Worsnop tipped his shot
against the post. Frear latched on to the rebound and
whipped it past the Blues’ custodian before he
had time to recover.
Parkin was denied his hat-trick by
the offside flag after Brown had misjudged the flight
of the ball and the leviathan veteran clipped it into
the back of the net from at least forty yards. Blues
fans shed crocodile tears only.
Brown was the next defender to end
up in the casualty department as he came off second
best in a tackle with Guthrie and had to be stretchered
off. Rooney replaced him and James dropped back to centre
half. Soon Rooney was lining up a free kick on the edge
of the box after Pipe had been booked for handball.
His effort took a deflection to leave Arnold in the
Rovers goal grasping at thin air as the ball rippled
the back of the net and gave City fans something to
Shortly after the interval normal
service was resumed when centre back Racine jabbed home
a corner at the near post to restore FGR’s three
goal cushion. Blues responded with some pressure and
Hughes came within an inches of scoring when he beat
Arnold to a through ball and prodded it tantalisingly
wide of the upright.
City though were well beaten by a
powerful team pushing into the play off positions. Plenty
of Blues fans were disgruntled by the result but if
you had offered them mid table security after these
teams had played each other back in August – most
would have snatched your hand off. You won’t find
many complaining that we are not in the same predicament
as at the end of last campaign. In that sense it is
mission accomplished with games to spare – though
it would be nice to win at least one more match this
3 April Bristol
Rovers 5 Chester 1
Football Conference Premier
Attendance: 8,455 (348 Chester) Half Time 3-0
Booked: Mahon, Rooney.
Puddy, Leadbitter, Brown, Lockyer, Parkes, Mansell, Taylor
(Blissett 85), Lines, Easter (Harrison 28), Monkhouse,
Dawson (McChrystal 76). Subs not used: Mildenhall, Balanta. Chester: Worsnop, G.Roberts, Kay, Mahon,
James, Rooney (Peers 46), McConville (Abbott 46), McBurnie,
Heneghan, Higgins, Hughes (Hobson 82). Subs not used:
Viscosi, Brown. Referee: Robert Whitton.
Bristol Rovers away day always seems to be the same –
a rainy afternoon spent on an open terrace watching Chester
get beaten by the home side. So it was no surprise that
this trip to the Memorial Stadium was no different from
the others I can remember.
managed to control Bristol Rovers for the first 15 minutes,
and should have gone ahead when Sean McConville found
himself through with an open goal. Perhaps the angle
was tighter than it looked from the other end of the
field, but he somehow missed the target.
The action was then in the other half,
after an accidental ‘assist’ from the referee
in midfield gifted the ball to Rovers. A great cross
into the box then found Matty Taylor's head. Bristol’s
leading marksman, who spent time on loan at Chester
last season, had no trouble finding the net.
There was now no looking back for
Rovers, roared on by the biggest Memorial Stadium crowd
this season, and a few minutes later, Ben Heneghan was
in the right place on the line to clear another goal-bound
But Heneghan, who was actually one
of the better Chester performers on the day, was in
the wrong place a few minutes later when he deflected
the ball into the net to make it 2-0 to Bristol Rovers.
The 348 travelling Chester fans had
barely got over that when a powerful shot from Ellis
Harrison was only parried away by Jon Worsnop. Andy
Monkhouse was in the right spot to pounce on the rebound
and put his side 3-0 up and cruising to the top of the
Steve Burr’s half-time talk
seemed to make the usual impression on Chester, who
came out fighting for the second half. Two changes had
also been made –
John Rooney and McConville were replaced by Tom Peers
and Brad Abbott.
Before long, Peers had a shot on target
and Chester were looking the livelier of the two sides.
Their pressure soon paid off when a great Oliver McBurnie
header made the score a bit more respectable.
Chester had the better of the game
for the next 10 or so minutes, but Rovers eventually
came back into it. The fading hopes of the travelling
army disappeared when Monkhouse scored his second of
the match with a 25-yard drive on the 83rd minute.
Several of the Chester fans had drifted
away by the time the Gas went 5-1 up. Harrison rode
a couple of challenges on the slippy field before finding
the net past a diving Worsnop, with just two minutes
of normal time remaining. Five minutes of stoppage time
followed, but the result had been clear long before
After a miserable defeat, there’s
nothing worse than going home wet. If we play Bristol
Rovers again next season, which I doubt, maybe it’ll
stay dry and Chester will put on a better show –
I can dream!