Norman, Higgins, Howe, Thompson, Ashton, Weeks (G Jones
77), Lussey, Nolan, Ferguson (Caton 73), Allen (Cofie
83), A Jones. Subs not used: Grimes, Gray, White, G Jones,
Chester: Roberts, Vassell, Astles, Hughes, Hunt
(Horwood 81), Lloyd, Mahon, Durrell (Chapell 28), George,
Alabi, Richards (Akintunde 60). Subs not used: Killock,
Evans, Waters, Joyce. Referee: Wayne Barratt.
went out of the FA Cup with a whimper as the in-form Blues
failed to threaten the net of bottom-of-the-League Southport
in a dismal encounter at Haig Avenue.
Despite Chester being cheered on by
a large away following (the tannoy announcement of 738
away fans left us all scratching our heads), it was
Southport who started the brighter on a balmy October
afternoon, with Jamie Allen coming close with a shot
over the bar in the opening spell.
Southport, managed by ex-Chester boss
Steve Burr, continued to be the dominant team for the
first half hour. It can't have helped Chester though
when Elliott Durrell went off injured on the 29th minute,
to be replaced by Jordan Chapell.
Soon after Southport's pressure finally
paid off and they went 1-0 up. It was a sickening goal
for Chester to concede after a poor clearance fell to
Southport's Declan Weeks. His shot wouldn't have threatened
Liam Roberts, but it ricocheted off a Chester defender
and the goalkeeper could do nothing about it. It was
a sorry way to end the run of seven clean sheets, and
came on the 700th minute since Chester last conceded
The Blues failed to respond before
half-time came and the disappointed away terrace were
hoping matters would be different after the re-start
when Chester were shooting towards them.
Chester did put on a brighter performance
in the second half after a delayed kick-off while Southport's
groundsman attended to a troublesome net. Craig Mahon
proved to be a tricky customer, turning ex-Chester defender
Ryan Higgins at least three times before getting one
of his crosses over. The Blues also won countless corners,
giving the travelling army hope that a goal would finally
Chapell also had one of his better
games, and Sam Hughes impressed again with another confident
display. But the closest they came to finding the net
was an off-target header from James Alabi, who otherwise
had a disappointing afternoon. As the final whistle
beckoned, Ryan Astles came forward at every opportunity,
but he failed to match his steady defensive performance
at the other end of the park.
It was getting close to sunset
when referee Wayne Barrett finally blew for full-time,
ending Chester's FA Cup dream for another season. But
even if the game had gone into the night I had the feeling
that Chester wouldn't have found the net.
goal 15 minutes from time by Oluwaseun Akintunde saw Chester’s
climb up the table continue. The Blues sit tenth after
recording their first away victory that sees the unbeaten
run continue to six matches.
Villigers will probably think they should have got a
point from the game in which they dominated for long
periods in the opening half. Kyle Wootton went close
early on and Liam Roberts pulled off a great save to
deny Danny Clarke as the home side started well.
Wootton saw a header his the outside of the post before
Roberts pulled off another tremendous save to deny Clarke’s
header that was destined for the top corner of the net.
The home side did have the ball in the net following
a corner just before the break but Ben Middleton’s
effort was ruled out for a foul in the area.
Chester came out stronger folowing
half-time and were soon in the action with Ryan Astles
hitting the woodwork and the pace of Akintunde and Richards
causing problems. Elliott Durrell forced a fine one
handed save from Rory Watson before the home side were
reduced to ten men following a second yellow card for
The decisive goal came on 75 minutes
as Akintunde took advantage of a mix-up in the home
defence on half-way to race clear on goal before slipping
a shot past Watson. There was a scare in the dying moments
as a Vinny Mukendi dipping shot just cleared the Blues
goal before referee Alan Young blew for full-time.
came through a big test of character against in-form
Dover with flying colours as they found five second
half goals without reply in an emphatic victory. The
visitors, play-off semi-finalists last season and looking
likely to challenge once again came to this fixture
on a good run. They had won four out of the previous
five matches including those against both Forest Green
and Lincoln, only losing to league leaders Dagenham
The visitor’s confidence was apparent as they
dominated proceedings to begin with. In Ricky Miller,
playing on the right they had one of the National League’s
hottest properties with twenty goals to his name last
season – including the goal of the season in the
1-1 draw at the Deva - and seven already this. The Whites
consistently found him with raking passes from midfield
and he tested Jonny Hunt but the Blues full back was
up to the challenge and was superbly supported by Craig
Mahon doubling up to help him defend too. Miller earned
the wrath of home supporters when he made a back for
Ryan Astles and the giant centre back fell awkwardly
to the ground. He was refused the trainer by the referee
but was clearly in discomfort as the half progressed
– clutching his wrist – and was substituted
at half time.
Chester defended superbly
during that first forty-five and as they grew in confidence
began to offer a threat of their own. The best opening
came when Richards wriggled free on the left, slipped
a challenge on the by-line and crossed hard and low
but without finding on-rushing strike partner Alabi.
It nevertheless seemed a pivotal moment and the Blues
began to believe in themselves. They did really well
to maintain their record of clean sheets up to the break
but seemed to be up against it when Astles did not re-emerge.
George filled in alongside Sam Hughes in the backline.
City started off on the front foot and began to exert
pressure on Dover. Richards toyed with the ball on the
edge of the area and just when he seemed to be dithering
prodded it through to Hunt, still lurking there after
an overlapping raid. The left back turned and hammered
home a goal despite the keeper getting a hand on it.
If there was relief at breaking the deadlock, Chester
were euphoric a minute later after Alabi latched on
to the ball and went on one of his driving runs. A slight
sway to the left threw off his markers and he found
the net from the edge of the penalty area. The game
had been turned on its head.
Again, Steve Arnold in the Dover goal had got a hand
on Alabi’s effort but was unable to keep it out.
He’d received lengthy treatment in the first half
following Chester’s best effort on goal and he
now seemed to be struggling to kick the ball. The visitors
continued to strive to get back in the game. They looked
as though they had ended Chester’s stretch without
conceding when Moses Emmanuel’s effort approached
the goal, only to be swept away by Vassell’s last
City continued to counter-attack with increasing elan,
Mahon back to his best form on the left and Durrell
a constant threat from the opposite flank. Mahon and
Alabi combined with 79 minutes on the clock to set up
Durrell on the penalty spot who was brought down just
as he was about to shoot. Durrell wrested the ball from
Alabi’s grasp to put it back on the spot before
firing past Arnold to make it three-nil.
Dover were looking increasingly ragged as Akintunde
came on to torture them further. First he teed up Mahon
to rifle home from the edge of the area and then he
glanced home Durrell’s cross in the dying embers
of the game to send the home faithful ecstatic. In between,
Roberts had thrown himself spectacularly at the top
corner to beat away a goal bound effort and preserve
City’s clean sheet. It capped a wonderful display.