I’d so far seen nine defeats and two draws this
season, I was on a mission as I drove to Chester for
this crucial end-of-season clash against Welling. Thankfully
the Blues shared my determination, and I finally witnessed
three points as well as four fantastic goals.
I wasn’t so quite so confident
in the opening spell after John Rooney took a poor
penalty following a foul on James Alabi. His spot-kick
was easily held by the Welling goalkeeper and I immediately
resigned myself to nothing better than I’d seen
so far this season.
But a different story started unfolding
soon after when a great pass to Kane Richards, followed
by a superb run, led to Rooney making amends for this
penalty miss. His strike put the Blues, who were playing
without injured goal machine Ross Hannah, in the lead
on the 17th minute.
Hannah’s injury actually did
a favour to Alabi and Richards, with the latter given
more of a forward’s role. The two made the most
of the opportunity, with Richards making another good
run and pass to Rooney before the half-time whistle.
However, the midfielder missed the chance this time
But Rooney was back on the scoresheet
soon after the re-start with a move that started deep
in the Chester defence. Alabi set him up well, and
Rooney had no trouble finding the net this time. The
Blues were clearly relieved to go 2-0 ahead, and it
was good to see them celebrating with the Chester
The home side carried on pressing
forward, and Richards got his name on the scoresheet
as the Blues carried out yet another attack on the
hapless Welling defence. I’m sorry to say that
they looked a well-beaten, and relegated, team by
I almost had to pinch myself when
Chester went 4-0 ahead through Tom Shaw on the 84th
minute, who found himself well-placed to net the ball
from close-range. With the results of other games
coming in, the impressive win wasn’t enough
to secure Chester’s National League status for
next season – but it was certainly as good a
performance as I’d seen all season.
I was sorry to see the Wings relegated
from the national scene, but I wouldn’t have
wanted them to keep their place at Chester’s
expense and I’m sure I’ll find some excuse
to visit the Door Hinge pub on their doorstep in subsequent
a spirited performance the Blues suffered another defeat
on the road though the results from other relegation
rivals were kind to Chester.
Jon McCarthy and Ian Sharps took charge of team affairs
following the departure in the week of Steve Burr. The
Imps started well and also opened the scoring in the
fifth minute as Robbie McDaid saw a header come back
from the crossbar with the recalled Tony Thompson beaten.
Thompson was on hand however to stop a Jack Muldoon
effort as the home side just edged a scrappy opening.
Lincoln took the lead seven minutes before the break
as Terry Hawkridge sent in a teasing cross that McDaid
glanced past Thompson into the net.
The Blues were forced into a change with Ryan Higgins
replacing the injured Sam Hughes and the midfielder
had the final chance of the half heading a Ross Hannah
cross straight at Paul Farman in the home goal.
Ben Heneghan limped off early in
the second half to be replaced by James Alabi and
the substitute was on hand to head the equaliser on
73 minutes following John Rooney’s far post
Two minutes later Chester were reduced to ten men
as Ross Hannah limped off with all three substitutes
on the pitch. Parity was short lived as George Maris
volleyed past Thompson with a fine finish on 81 minutes
to bag all three points.
Burr's swansong as Chester manager was watched by just
67 Chester fans and they witnessed an all-too familiar
story unfold, which began only moments after kick-off.
Torquay, who have been languishing
towards the bottom of the National League table for
most of the season, started like a team desperate
to avoid relegation. They had Chester on the back
foot almost from the off and earned themselves a goal
inside the opening three minutes.
Johnny Hunt looked like he had just
stepped off the coach when failed to tackle a Torquay
player as he ran down the line. His run earned the
home side a corner and Nathan Blissett rose well into
the box to notch up the first goal with a powerful
At that stage I felt like going
for a wander in the glorious Devon sunset as I'd a
feeling there would be no way back for the Blues.
Chester's best first half chance came from a John
Rooney free kick, which hit the crossbar. But that
was the closest Chester came and, with goalkeeper
Jon Worsnop keeping them in it with a good save close
to the end of the first 45 minutes, there was no denying
that Torquay deserved their lead.
The second half was a different
Chester performance, but it didn't really kick-start
until Worsnop made another fine stop from a Torquay
strike. Ryan Lloyd and Craig Hobson were introduced
as substitutes on the 56th minute, replacing Ryan
Shaw and James Alabi.
Both Lloyd and Ross Hannah had chances
to even the game up, but the luck just wasn't with
Chester. I can't knock their effort in the second
half, and on another day they might have grabbed an
equaliser. The linesman seemed to unfairly flag for
offside on a couple of occasions when Chester did
have threatening spells, but the referee also took
some stick from the home fans for his decisions.
In a last throw of the dice, Burr
introduced Kane Richards on the 84th minute, but at
that stage he barely had time to make an impression.
Overall it's fair to say that Torquay looked the better
team and it was no surprise when they secured victory
with a second goal on the stroke of injury time. Chester
had been pressing for a much-needed equaliser when
they lost the ball. Torquay broke quickly and Iffy
Allen had no trouble earning their hosts a deserved
win with a well-taken goal.
for the game were thrown in to chaos as news emerged
that the visitors’ coach had been delayed on the
Motorway. Kick off was put back to 4.30 or 5.00pm and
people drifted home or back to their cars or gathered
in the Blues Bar. Those who had done the former were
then caught out when the kick off was announced for
3.45pm – earlier than previously feared but it
definitely will have knocked a few hundred off the attendance.
This was billed as another ‘must win’ game
for the Blues and they started off on the front foot.
Shaw went close with a pile-driver of a shot before
Higgins raided down the right. The wing back’s
cross was met by Rooney on the edge of the box who clipped
it first time into the net to give the Blues the lead.
It was a confident start and could have led to a dominant
display but it proved short-lived as Boreham Wood were
level five minutes later.
The equaliser came from a set piece after Junior Morais
had drawn a foul from Ben Heneghan. The ball was played
down the left wing instead of into the box and caused
confusion in the City defence. They could not deal with
the subsequent cross and Doe tapped in the loose ball.
Once again the goal deflated Chester and the visitors
started to dominate possession in midfield. Fortunately
for Chester they weren’t able to make the dominance
count. Lucas had an air shot when well placed in front
of goal and City made it to the break level.
Blues’ plight became more difficult when Ben Heneghan
was injured stretching to make a tackle on Junior Morais.
He had to be replaced by Luke George. Hughes dropped
back into a flat back four whereas in the first half
City employed a 3-5-2 formation. George added a bit
of bite into midfield and Chester enjoyed better possession.
They took the lead when Shaw was brought down from behind
and Rooney struck a superb free kick over the wall and
past a scrambling Russell in the ‘Wood goal.
How City fans longed for a third goal to make the game
safe but, if anything, as the game wore on it was Boreham
Wood who became stronger. Their substitutes of Sam-York
and Harry White seemed to make more impact that Richards
and Mahon who came on for the Blues. Lucas got clear
on the left but fluffed his chance to score, putting
his shot well wide. But in the final minute, out of
nothing, White picked out a shot into the bottom corner
which snatched the victory away from City. It was a
cruel blow for both players and long suffering fans
to take. A win would have made City virtually safe this
season but the draw keeps them mired in anxiety for
a while longer yet. Colin Mansley