Steve Burr named an unchanged
side for the long trip to Dover after the Blues had made
it 13 points out of 18 with the midweek defeat of Aldershot
Chester started well
with Gareth Roberts having a shot blocked early on and
John Rooney seeing a free-kick curl past the post before
the home side came more into the game with Nick Deverdics
having a shot cleared off the line by Roberts.
Deverdics had another effort blocked
by Sean McConville and Chester cleared off the line
again as Michael Kay denied Chris Kinnear as the Whites
looked the more likely side to break the deadlock.
Ricky Miller saw a lob clear Jon Worsnop
but drop just over the bar as the hosts continued to
press but Chester created the last chance of the half
as Matty Hughes raced through onto Rooney’s through
ball only to see his low effort saved by Andrew Rafferty
in the home goal.
Two minutes after the break the Whites
took the lead as Tom Murphy’s low shot was deflected
past Worsnop by Ben Heneghan.
Burr brought on Craig Hobson for Roberts
and Chester looked to get back on level terms. Craig
Mahon forced a save from Rafferty who turned his shot
round for a corner. The resulting flag-kick saw Kieran
Charnock flick the ball on but McConville wasn’t
able to convert the loose ball.
Dover doubled the lead on 64 minutes
as Connor Essam headed home a Murphy cross giving Worsnop
no chance.A minute later Murphy almost
made it three as his shot came back off the post after
Worsnop had dropped Chris Nanetti’s shot.
Chester created several chances as
they looked to get something from the match that was
slipping away. Kingsley James set up Hughes who sliced
his shot wide and both McConville and Hobson headed
wide from corners.
Ten minutes from time James saw a
goal ruled out for offside and Rooney saw a long range
effort fly wide in stoppage time before referee Powell
blew for full time.
superb turn and finish put the gloss on a great debut
by City’s new golden boy Matty Hughes. Blues banished
the disappointment of last Saturday when victory was snatched
from their grasp at the last gasp by Welling with a late
winner against Aldershot Town this evening.
Signed on a month’s loan from Fleetwood in the morning
Hughes went straight into the starting line-up. In the
absence of both Iwelumo (Unwell) and Hobson (Hamstring
injury) he was joined in a seemingly lightweight forward
line by Sean McConville - like Hughes a former Skelmersdale
player. What they lacked in height and stature, however,
the two forwards more than made up in mobility and good
footwork as City began the game with pace and energy and
moved the ball around neatly.
Mahon tried to repeat his good luck with a similar strike
to the one he got off the mark with on Saturday but Smith
was not to be beaten. Winn was back in the side on the
opposite wing and saw a good effort fizz over the bar.
Aldershot were pegged back but looked dangerous at set
pieces. The chief scare came when Phillips made poor contact
with Hattons’ free kick when well placed to head
home and the chance went begging. Brett Williams also
lurked with a menacing presence and when Mahon lost the
ball he was put through dangerously but shot over the
bar. As half time approached Mahon beat a defender to
the ball to knock it into the net – only to see
the linesman’s flag raised for offside.
As the second half began Mahon had a shooting opportunity
from almost the same spot as Williams before - Rooney’s
pass found him in space on the right. His low effort was
saved by Smith and with McConville and Hughes looking
for a rebound – the ball stuck to the keeper. City
began to rattle the visitors’ defence as they persisted
with their passing game. Worsnop resisted kicking the
ball long as the Blues tried to build from the back. At
times they won applause for the way they kept the ball
– at times they gave it away too cheaply but always
fought hard to win it back again. Gradually they gained
the upper hand but it was a tight game and as the clock
wound down we got the feeling whoever scored first would
McConville went close after a good run and raking shot.
Roberts was booked for the Shots for a foul on Heneghan
– retaliation for the right back’s reckless
tackle on him previously. Oastler followed him into the
book shortly after as City began to press forward. Touray
replaced Peter Winn.
Rooney ran into too many defenders as he tried to engineer
a way through. McConville went down under a challenge
on the edge of the box but the referee waved away claims
for a penalty. But then with ten minutes remaining Hughes
– who had run indefatigably all evening –
produced a brilliant turn and shot with his left foot
into the far corner of the net. The frustration was lifted
and Hughes mobbed by ecstatic team mates and fans alike
but emerged from the huddle to see the ref’s yellow
Anxiety levels increased amongst the home fans as Aldershot
pressed for an equaliser. A free kick on the left seemed
to have produced a goal when it was met at the far post,
nodded down and somehow scrambled off the line. Worsnop
also pulled off a great save moments earlier. Just like
Saturday four minutes stoppage time was awarded and the
tension was almost unbearable. But the Blues hung on to
the three points on this occasion and moved above the
visitors in the table to the lofty heights of fourteenth
Matty Hughes basked in the glory of a fine debut performance
and goal in the glow of an almost full moon. The road
shone white in the moonlight. It was a long way back to
Aldershot for the Town and their 101 supporters. City
fans were elated to win this hard fought contest –
one that gives us real hope that progress is being made
second game in a row at Chester turned on a last-minute
goal – this time it was for the opposition, and
gave Welling a deserved point to take back to London.
In a lacklustre game, Chester went
ahead on 10 minutes when a Craig Mahon shot was fumbled
by Welling goalkeeper Jonathan Henly and –
to everyone’s amazement –
ended up in the back of the net.
I'm struggling to think of another
attempt on goal in the first half in a match which was
largely devoid of goalmouth action. I even think there
were only two corners in the game –
and one of them resulted in the Welling equaliser.
Chester started with Chris Iwelumo
for the first time since August, after Craig Hobson
picked up a knock in the Grimsby match. Hobson, the
club's top scorer this season, still made the bench.
Iwelumo didn’t really make an
impression again, and seemed to be most effective when
he was called into defensive duty during a couple of
occasions in the first half. He actually missed the
best goal chance of the match on the 53rd minute when
a good cross from Gareth Roberts found him in space
right in front of the net. But he headed the ball way
wide – later blaming
the sun for him missing such a great opportunity.
It was one of those days when everyone
in the main stand had to shield their eyes to follow
the action in the second half –
a real sign that the clocks are about to change and
winter will soon be on the way.
As the game wore on, Chester seemed
to be hoping a more defensive approach would allow them
to keep their slender advantage. Kingsley James, who
went on to be man-of-the-match sat further back in the
second half to steady the defence.
It was Mahon who’d actually
caught my eye as a potential man-of-the-match. He played
with a bit of adventure and never seemed to stop working.
It was no wonder he got a rousing round of applause
when he was replaced by Danny Harrison on the 81st minute.
Iwelumo was replaced by Peter Winn at the same time.
It’s actually hard to believe
that we’re now a third of the way through the
League season, and just when I was thinking Chester
could end up in their highest ever league position since
the reformation, Welling finally hit back. In fairness,
a goal had been coming as they’d been continually
pushing forward following the Chester double substitution.
Just when Chester nails were being
bitten as the referee allowed four minutes’ injury
time, Welling won a 92nd minute corner. The Blues failed
to clear it, and Tyrone Marsh was in the right place
to score an easy equaliser. The final whistle went about
90 seconds later, leaving Chester reflecting on another
set piece which cost them two points.