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AFC Fylde (H) | FC Halifax Town (H) | Hartlepool United (A) | Sutton United (H) | Aldershot Town (A) | Macclesfield Town (H)
Saturday 19 August
Chester 2 Sutton United 3
Football Conference National
Attendance: 1,670 Half Time: 1-2
Booked: -.

Chester: Mitchell, Halls, Rowe-Turner, Astles, McCombe, Turnbull, James, Mahon, Dawson, Hannah (Chapell 23), Akintunde. Subs not used: Lynch, Davies, Waters, Joyce.
Sutton United: Butler, Thomas, John, Collins, Davis (Emmanuel 79), Eastmond, Bailey, Spence, Wright (Cadogan 79), Dundas (Taylor 66), Lafayette. Subs not used: Amankwaah, Jeffrey.

Referee: Paul Marsden.

Chester come back from a two goal deficit but are denied a point as Sutton grab a last minute winner.

Picture © Rick Matthews (Chester Leader)

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Tuesday 15 August
Hartlepool United 1 Chester 1
Football Conference National
Attendance: 3,071 (191 Chester) Half Time: 0-1
Booked: Turnbull.

Hartlepool United: Loach, Magnay, Laing, Harrison, Adams (Donnelly 46), Donaldson, Featherstone (Rodney 90), Newton, Deverdics (Munns 65), Cassidy, Amond. Subs not used: Woods, Hawkins.
Chester: Mitchell, Halls, Rowe-Turner, Astles, McCombe, Mahon (Joyce 83), Dawson, James, Turnbull, Hannah (White 63), Akintunde (Chapell 72). Subs not used: Lynch, Davies.

Referee: Glen Hart.

Chester open the scoring in the first minute through James Akintunde but are pegged back the the second half by a home side that also hit the bar on three occasions.

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Saturday 12 August
Chester 0 FC Halifax Town 0
Football Conference National
Attendance: 2,082 Half Time: 0-0
Booked: Mahon.

Chester: Mitchell, Halls, Rowe-Turner, McCombe, Astles, Mahon (Chapell 79), James, Turnbull, Dawson, Hannah, White (Akintunde 68). Subs not used: Lynch, Davies, Joyce.
FC Halifax Town: Johnson, Wilde, Brown, Garner, Kosylo (MacDonald 56), Hotte, Denton, Oliver, Dixon (Morgan 73), Duckworth (McManus 46), Charles. Subs not used: Nicholson, Tomlinson.

Referee: Peter Gibbons.

Chester’s second home match of the season was against another of the newly promoted teams FC Halifax Town, both teams had to be content with a point following a lacklustre bore draw.

Manager Jon McCarthy made one change from Saturday’s starting X1 with Ross Hannah coming in for James Akintunde who dropped to the bench.

The Shaymen had the first of the few opportunities in the game as Bohan Dixon, an ex-trialist with Chester, shot wide from outside the box, not troubling Conor Mitchell in the home goal. At the other end, Hannah put through by Kingsley James dragged an effort wide when through on goal.

Mitchell came out to claim a Matty Kosylo effort and Ryan Astles was well placed to clear a Denton header off the line at the back post. Chester's last effort of the half as Harry White won a free-kick just outside the area though Hannah curled the effort over the bar. John McCombe ensured the sides went in level after his last ditch tackle prevented Nathan Hotte a run through on goal.

Chester started the second half well as Hannah found Andy Halls whose shot went just wide. On 60 minutes Halifax substitute MacDonald beat Rowe-Turner and saw his cross evade Mitchell and bounce back from the crossbar.

McCombe saw a flick header from a free-kick drift just wide as both sides looked for a late winner. Dion Charles went close two minutes form time as his shot on goal was deflected over, and as the game entered the final minute Akintunde linked up well with Hannah before seeing his shot on target tipped round the post by Sam Johnson in the Halifax goal.

Picture © Rick Matthews (Chester Leader)

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Tuesday 8 August
Chester 1 AFC Fylde 1
Football Conference National
Attendance: 2,223 Half Time: 1-1

Chester: Mitchell, Halls, Rowe-Turner, Astles, McCombe, James, Turnbull, Dawson, Mahon (Chapell 82), White (Bell 72), Akintunde (Hannah 64). Subs not used: Lynch, Davies.
AFC Fylde: Taylor, Montrose, Francis-Angol, Langley, Tunnicliffe, Bond, Finley, Rowe (Hardy 82), Muldoon, Smith, Jones. Subs not used: Lynch, Grand, Blinkhorn, Ezwele.

Referee: Daniel Middleton.

Chester got their season underway belatedly as they entertained newly promoted AFC Fylde. Their paths had crossed previously as City had risen through the leagues. Now, six years later, Fylde had risen themselves and came to the Deva having won the National League North convincingly last season. The visitors’ tangerine away kit perhaps belied the affection of chairman David Heythornthwaite for neighbours Blackpool.

The Coasters attacked the Harry Mac End and moved the ball around slickly from the back. The huge figure of Lewis Montrose, a summer signing from Stockport where he was twice player of the season, orchestrated play in front of the back four. The first chance fell to the visitors as a long throw was headed out towards the edge of the area and Sam Finley volleyed it back on to the roof of the net. Chester responded in a game played at a fast pace and of high quality. Akintunde was looking lively and flicked a shot wide of the post and also beat two defenders with a swift turn and sent a dangerous ball across the face of the goal. His striking partner Harry White latched on to a through ball and, holding off a defender’s challenge dragged a shot out from under his feet which Taylor did well to parry.

Akintunde’s close control and movement were causing problems for Fylde and Langley saw a yellow card for demolishing the City forward from behind. The game continued to ebb and flow with the Coasters probing down the flanks and moving the ball around swiftly to create space. From one such counter attack Muldoon sped down the left and rolled the ball across for Smith whose shot just eluded the far post with Rowe-Turner tying himself in knots on the line attempting to clear it. The growing threat from Fylde’s pace was creating nervousness on the home end and soon the plaintive cries of the North Terrace posties of “Sort it out!” and “Get is sorted!” were to be heard.

But following another lighting quick break, Jones fed the ball to Finley on the right and his controlled pass was met by Muldoon to file the ball into the net from just outside the six yard box. The timing of the goal was a psychological blow just before the half-time break but it was negated almost immediately as Kingsley James carried the ball forward on the left, played a one-two with White and then rolled it into the path of Dawson who stroked home the equaliser.

Soon after the break Harry White dragged the ball back to bemuse two defenders and then curled a shot narrowly wide of the far upright. It would have been a beauty and fitting reward for the forward who was a thorn in Fylde’s defence all night. The Tangerines then dominated for a spell and City struggled to get a toe on the ball.

Jon McCarthy freshened up the forward line with first Ross Hannah – who received a rapturous welcome - and then Nyal Bell replacing Akintunde and White respectively. The withdrawn forwards both received standing ovations from the impressed home faithful. Hannah tried his luck from long distance when he saw Taylor off his line and was clearly fired up for the occasion. At the other end Conor Mitchell, signed on loan from Burnley just a couple of hours before kick-off, having impressed in pre-season friendlies, tipped a venomous shot from Finley at full stretch round the post.

The game opened up into a grand stand finish as Chapell came on to thread a clever pass through to Hannah who rounded Taylor but found the angle too tight to steer the ball into the net. Francis-Angol was cautioned for pulling down Hannah when the Blues forward was racing clear. From the resultant free kick, Bell went agonisingly close to nudging the ball over the line. Chapell then was given an opportunity to bear down on goal when Taylor miskicked under pressure but he took one touch too many and was closed down. Fylde too pressed for a winner but found City’s defence resilient. It had been an absorbing encounter with much to encourage the supporters of both teams and a draw probably a fair result.

Colin Mansley

Picture © Rick Matthews (Chester Leader)

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Chester come back from a two goal deficit but are denied a point as Sutton grab a last minute winner.
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