honestly was little to remember from this match until
Elliott Durrell popped up with a goal on the 88th minute
when his strike bumped over a couple of bobbles before
hitting the net at Hayes Lane.
game had an otherwise 'end of season' feel about it,
with the spring-like appearance of the blue skies being
countered by the strong winds which had the Exiles'
banner straining at the leash on the open away terrace.
Both teams found the conditions, including
the rough surface, a struggle at times. There was nothing
much to report from the first half until close to the
break when Sam Hughes was in the right place on the
line to clear a shot which had beaten Chester ‘keeper,
Jon McCarthy opted for a change at
the re-start, with Blaine Hudson and Evan Horwood replacing
Lucas Dawson and Jonny Hunt. Before long, Chester were
putting on a better display for the 152 passionate away
Some of the Blues’ faithful
in fact thought they’d gone ahead half-way through
the second half when a Horwood strike hit the side netting.
There was almost a goal at the other end when Lynch
made a great diving save to stop the home side going
With a late start, and a few appearances
of the physio, this was always going to be a late finish.
So, as final scores were coming in elsewhere, the clock
was ticking towards 5pm when Durrell found himself a
bit of space and his shot found the net.
The Chester fans and players were
clearly relieved when referee Dean Treleaven blew for
full-time. Not only was it three points, but it put
Chester above their afternoon’s opponents and
all but guaranteed National League safety for another
Chester put in a much improved performance against a very
accomplished Macclesfield side but once again saw no results
for their efforts.
The evening began with a touching tribute to Garry Allen,
a supporter who died on the Harry MacNally Terrace during
the recent game against Tranmere. Members of his family
laid flowers and a scarf and shirt behind the goal and
all showed their support for the family with sustained
It quickly became clear that City would have their work
cut out against the Silkmen – who moved the ball
about with a skill appropriate to their nickname. But
it was Chester who took an early lead thanks to great
work by Durrell on the right who first won possession
then tricked his way inside to put a cross low into the
box. Alabi latched on to it and turned his marker to beat
Flinders in the visitors’ goal.
Macclesfield would not let Chester dwell on this early
success however and continued to sweep forward. Rhys Browne
on the left and Jack Mackreth on the right were the main
prongs of their attacking play and City, playing with
a back three struggled to cope at times. Lynch saved at
point blank from Byrne’s header to preserve the
lead. But then Macc drew level following a slick move
down the right. Mackreth split two defenders to find Norburn
who back-heeled the ball into Halls’ path and the
full back curled a shot beyond Lynch to score.
The Blues did well to defend heroically for much of the
ensuing half. Both Hunt and Astles threw themselves into
last ditch tackles to help stem the tide. They held their
breath as Fitzpatrick hit the post. But just before half
time Mackreth looped a cross from the right and Dudley,
seeming to fall off balance headed the ball over his shoulder
and into the goal off the near post.
Still Chester were in the game at half time and after
the break made two immediate changes: Danny O’Brien
who struggled to provide cover on the right was replaced
by Richards and Hudson was withdrawn for Vassell as City
reverted to 4-4-2 formation in an effort to counter Macclesfield’s
dominance down the wings. The Blues also upped the pace
and began to threaten again. Good work by Durrell set
Alabi through and, as Flinders came rushing out, the Blues
No.9 saw his shot come crashing back off the upright.
Durrell was a little over eager in tackling Fitzpatrick
and found his way into the referee’s notebook. Then
Durrell himself was brought down by Danny Whitaker as
he made ground towards the penalty area and City lined
up a free kick. Astles did a disco dance in front of Flinders
– presumably to obscure his view of the wall but
the Macclesfield custodian kept his concentration and
clawed Dawson’s shot away from the top corner. Eventually
Chester’s spirited pressure brought its reward as
Richards bundled Alabi’s cross into the net and
equalised with quarter of an hour to go.
An already entertaining game became enthralling as both
teams went all out for the win. Norburn beat the ground
in frustration as his goal-bound shot was blocked by another
last ditch tackle. But the visitors did regain the lead
with five minutes to go as Vassell stumbled and allowed
Browne to find Norburn on the edge of the box to rifle
the winner just inside the post. Not quite the last minute
this time but close enough to ensure another heart-breaking
result for City.
A point would have been a good achievement against a Macclesfield
team still on the crest of the wave following their victory
at Tranmere at the weekend but in the end Chester had
nothing to show despite showing great spirit. The fans
showed their appreciation as the players left the field
but have begun to fret as the poor run of results continues.
conceded another late goal as Eastleigh grabbed all three
points with a last minute strike. Blues manager Jon McCarthy
handed a start to new loan signing Lucas Dawson and there
was also a return for Theo Vassell to the line-up beaten
by Tranmere the previous Friday, Evan Horwood and Wade
Joyce dropped to the bench.
Alex Lynch was in the action from the start doing well
to save a Craig McAllister effort low down. Chances were
few and far between in the opening stages though the Spitfires
had the better of the openings with both Michael Green
and Matt Tubbs dragging efforts wide of goal.
Kane Richards couldn’t get on
on the end of an Elliott Durrell cross as the Blues
looked to get into the game. James Alabi almost created
himself an opening but saw his effort deflected wide.
There were appeals for a Blues penalty against defender
Paul Reid for handball but referee Andrew Miller waved
Minutes into the second period Dawson saw a free-kick
palmed away by Graham Stack in the Eastleigh goal. Durrell
had the ball in the net after a Richards shot was parried
but was denied by the linesman flagging for offside.
Richards just failed to connect
as Dawson’s corner was headed down by Sam Hughes
and from another Dawson flag-kick Blaine Hudson went
to close to breaking the deadlock.
With time running out Eastleigh grabbed all three points
as Scott Wilson turned in Michael Green's corner giving
Lynch no chance.
3 March Chester
2 Tranmere Rovers 3
Attendance: 3,696 Half Time 1-0
Chester: Lynch, Hughes, Hudson, Astles,
Hunt, Durrell (Mahon 84), Joyce, Lloyd, Horwood (O’Brien
60), Richards (Dawson 67), Alabi. Subs not used: Roberts,
Killock. Tranmere Rovers:
Davies, Vaughan, McNulty, Ihiekwe, Ridehalgh, Hughes,
Maynard (Harris 7), Mekki, Sutton, Stockton (Cook 58),
Mangan (Norwood 65). Subs not used: Turner, Jennings. Referee: Antony Coggins.
Chester were beaten at home for the second time in a month
in front of the TV cameras as local rivals Tranmere Rovers
scored twice in the final ten minutes to snatch a victory.Manager Jon McCarthy was without
both Luke George and Tom Shaw through injury and handed
the captain's armband to Sam Hughes who became the clubs
youngster ever player to hold that honour.
Blues got off to a dream start having been handed a
penalty just two minutes in by referee Antony Coggins
after Evan Horwood had been brought down by Adam Mekki,
the TV replay showed the incident had taken place a
yard outside the box. After a delay James Alibi stepped
up to smash the ball past Scott Davies in the Rovers
Despite plenty of possession
in the opening stages Tranmere couldn’ t break
through the Chester rearguard with Alex Lynch called
on just once to save a back flick from Cole Stockton
from six yards.
Hughes saw a glancing header
just go wide following a corner before the Blues almost
doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time as Elliott
Durrell saw a curling free-kick over the defensive wall
hit the outside of the post with Davies beaten.
Tranmere started the second half
strongly and drew level ten minutes in as ex-Chester
player Jay Harris sent a low 20-yarder into the bottom
corner just out of the reach of Lynch.
Davies did well to prevent Alibi adding a second as
he rushed out to block the striker on the edge of the
box, but on 63 minutes Chester regained the lead as
Ryan Lloyd's right wing corner was met by Ryan Astles
who glanced a header past Davies and the defenders on
Nine minutes from time Tranmere drew
level again. Substitute Lucas Dawson, on for Kane Richards,
lost possession and Liam Ridehalgh crossed to Rovers
substitute James Norwood to head past Lynch from close
range. A great tackle by Hughes prevented Andy Cook
from adding a third but the substitute had the final
say as Mekki layed-off a long punt upfield from Davies
to Cook who volleyed past Lynch for the winning goal
in the 89th minute.
Despite seven minutes of stoppage
time Chester couldn't find a way back into a pulsating
game with Dawson shooting over from a free-kick as the
visitors held out for all three points.