was a day to remember to all the 2,143 Chester fans who
made the trip to Barnsley’s Oakwell Stadium as they
cheered their team onto an impressive draw and into the
hat for the FA Cup Third Round.
put on such a passionate performance that they were
unlucky not to win the game outright as their League
One opponents looked uncomfortable each time the Blues
came forward and there was even a shout that a first
half Craig Hobson header had crossed the line.
One of the heroes of the game emerged
not long after kick off when Jon Worsnop was struck
in the face by the trailing boot of Barnsley’s Brad
Abbott. It looked doubtful that he could carry on, but
after attention from the physio and a check from the
doctor he was allowed to stay on the field. It later
emerged that he played for 85 minutes with a double
He was soon called into action to
make a save from Kane Hemmings, and the Blues fans heaved
a sigh of relief as he dived low and held onto the ball.
Attention soon turned to the other end when a Craig
Mahon strike was parried onto the crossbar by Barnsley
goalkeeper Ross Turnbull.
Then came the Hobson header that a
couple of the Chester players pleaded had crossed the
line, but referee Darren Handley said Reds’ defender
Joe Dudgeon had cleared it in time. Not long after that,
it was Chester’s turn for a good clearance when Keiron
Charnock stopped a goal-bound shot from Marcello Trotta.
Half-time came with the comforting
knowledge that Chester often put on a better performance
in the second half and this time they had the added
advantages of shooting towards a stand of raucous Chester
supporters with the biting South Yorkshire wind behind
And so it was no surprise the Chester
took the second half by the throat, with fearless Craig
Mahon running at the retreating Barnsley defenders almost
from the off. With less than five minutes gone, he collected
a good pass, jinked into the box and had his strike
saved by Turnbull.
At the other end, Worsnop was called
into action to stop a Leroy Lita strike. But many of
Barnsley’s chances went nowhere near the goal.
It was no wonder the Chester fans were justified in
chanting: “Football League, you’re having
As Chester continued to press forward,
Charnock found himself with a free header in the area,
but he squandered the opportunity and somehow the score
remained 0-0. However, the Blue fans went momentarily
wild when Sean McConville put the ball in the back of
the net. But it was wishful thinking as both he and
Ben Heneghan were clearly in an offside position.
Worsnop made another excellent save
in the last 10 minutes and Barnsley also had another
chance that went just wide. This was one of those 0-0
encounters that had as much goalmouth action as the
3-2 win at Dartford.
Mahon’s eyecatching display continued
as he rampaged into the Barnsley box in the game's dying
minutes. His strike just dipped over the bar to deny
Chester the win they deserved. By now Chester nerves
were jangling, but Matty Brown stood firm in injury
time to clear a ball off the line. A last minute Barnsley
goal would have been cruel on Chester, and the referee
blew his whistle just as the ball was cleared from danger.
Barnsley slumped off to a booing set
of home fans, while the Chester team and bench were
straight over to applaud the travelling army – the biggest
away following at Oakwell so far this season. If Chester
can replicate that performance in the reply, then they’ll
be into Round Three. We can only dream about what will
Blues ground out what proved to be a comfortable victory
in the end as they scored two second half goals to beat
bottom of the table Telford and move themselves firmly
into mid table.
The Bucks had held Grimsby to a draw at the weekend and
started the game the brighter of the two sides tonight
as they strove to play catch-up with the rest of the Conference.
Godfrey Poku was the most influential midfielder as the
visitors drove forward towards the Clock End. He it was
whose effort was deflected upwards and over the bar on
to the roof of the net – Worsnop was either completely
deceived by the flight of the ball or the coolest customer
in the stadium as he watched it drop to safety. The visitors
also included Karl Ledsham in midfield, on loan from Lincoln,
he had scored twice for Southport in the eventful draw
at the Deva last season.
City had lost disappointingly away at Nuneaton but welcomed
back Kingsley James from suspension. Gradually Chester
began to see more of the ball and wrest control of the
game from the Bucks. Hughes initially had little joy against
the impressive Higgins at right back. But when Hughes
and Mahon switched wings they began to make more headway.
The Fleetwood loanee teamed up well with Kay a couple
of times as the Blues began to exert pressure down the
McConville’s claims for a penalty were waved away
by referee Wigglesworth as he deemed the Chester forward
to have gone down too easily. More mystifying was his
denial of a spot kick when Rooney’s goal bound shot
clearly hit Grogan’s left hand and away to safety.
It was noticeable the linesman in particular gave every
contentious handball that occurred to City after that.
City’s best and brightest moment of the half ended
with Mahon shooting narrowly wide from the edge of the
box through a crowd of players.
Freddy Hall, given a warm reception in the Telford goal
had a lucky escape when his throw out rebounded off a
defender’s legs but did not fall kindly for Rhys
Oates and was scrambled clear.
Telford changed things around at the break and brought
on midfielder Hancock to replace former Skelmersdale and
Southport centre back Akrigg. The tactic appeared to have
backfired when a good move early in the second half saw
McConville win a corner on the right which he proceeded
to take himself. From his delivery Matty Brown rose to
nod in the first goal of the evening.
Kay, rightly, and Mahon, inexplicably, were booked by
referee Wigglesworth in as many minutes but City’s
rhythm was undisturbed. McConville and Hughes combined
well but Hall pulled off a tremendous save from the winger’s
shot. Blues finally got the second goal they craved when
Oates latched on to a through ball and his pace worried
Hall into hurrying his clearance only to see it canon
back off a defender and back into the net. A scruffy goal
but Chester weren’t complaining.
Telford rarely threatened and when Sean Cooke ballooned
his free kick over the bar from a threatening position
on the edge of the area we began to sense that City might
hold on for the three points. After the disappointment
of last weekend, this result was all important.
Now for a brief respite Chester can concentrate on the
FA Cup on Sunday and dream about making progress towards
the trophy that was on display – albeit temporarily
– in the club shop before tonight’s match.
City fans took pictures of it with their phones and were
told by security guards to look but “Don’t
touch”. We wondered who will be getting their hands
on it next May.