enthralling game saw Chester crush title rivals Skelmersdale,
to extend their advantage at the top.
The visitors came with a great record over the past
three seasons in this league, and started the better
of the two teams. A cross from the left was clipped
across, flicked on and Akrigg came within a whisker
of scoring as his lunge for the ball just took it the
wrong side of the post. Skem were fast and positive
in midfield and caused City problems to begin with.
Their offside trap frustrated Chester’s forwards
and the linesman's flag frustrated the fans.
But the Blue-boys forged ahead when Field’s perfectly
delivered corner met Wilde’s dashing run and City’s
top scorer found the back of the net with a bullet header.
Within minutes Wilde was racing on to a ball over the
top from Ruffer and Akrigg’s sliding tackle from
behind saw him penalised with a red card. It took an
age for the spot kick to follow as the referee dealt
with protests from the Skelmersdale players. In the
meantime, ‘keeper Paxton tried to psyche Wilde
out on the penalty spot. What he said must have worked
as the striker’s pen was weak and Paxton managed
to beat it away.
The sending-off affected Skelmersdale though as City
dominated – moving the ball out wide and pinning
the visitors back. One exception was when tricky forward
Almond ran the length of the left wing and crossed,
only for Ruffer to get in an excellent blocking tackle.
Even with Skem reduced to ten men you had the feeling
City needed another goal to feel comfortable. It duly
arrived a few minutes after the break when Sarcevic
nipped past the full back into the box and then was
tripped from behind. The referee dispatched Paxton to
his goaline before he could indulge in more mind games
and Field lashed home an unstoppable penalty kick.
City really began to press home their advantage now
and threatened to submerge Skelmersdale in wave after
wave of attacks. Some of the Skelmersdale defending
was robust, to say the least, and they were clearly
rattled by the penalties. Howard could and should have
earned a third one when he was sat upon by a defender
as he ran in to meet a cross from the right. One can
only assume the referee, having awarded two already,
gave the defender the benefit of the doubt – not
that there was much.
An inevitable third goal came when Wilde flicked a shot
from a corner which rebounded to Horan. His shot was
parried by Paxton’s ample frame but Jones was
on hand to stab the ball past a couple of defenders
and into the net.
Wilde went off to one of the biggest standing ovations
the Exacta has seen this sensational season. McCarthy,
his replacement, then scored a sublime goal to add the
gloss to City’s victory. He controlled a through
ball deftly and then played cat-and-mouse with Paxton
feinting one way and stepping over the ball a couple
of times before flicking it nonchalantly past him.
Howard then blazed over the bar when he seemed certain
to add a fifth – but it would have been harsh
on a game and decent Skelmersdale outfit. The crowd,
prompted by Cleggy, sang “Happy Birthday”
to Neil Young and all went home whistling a happy tune
(You are my sunshine, actually).
Chester progressed to the quarter-final stage of the President’s
Cup after what turned out to be a comfortable home win
against their First Division South opponents.
Manager Neil Young opted to play a strong line-up that
contained nine of the team that won at Ossett Albion over
the weekend. New signing Jimmy McCarthy made his debut
in the forward line after Rob Hopley picked up a hamstring
strain the the pre-match warm-up.
It was the ever-impressive on-loan midfielder Antoni
Sarcevic that who started the scoring on 24 minutes
with a fine solo effort. After picking up a pass over
on the right he cut inside leaving three defenders in
his wake before coolly slotting the ball past Karl Lewis
in the visitors’ goal from just inside the box.
The woodwork came to the rescue
for the Royals soon after with both Greg Stones and
Bradley Barnes denied.
McCarthy opened his Chester
account on 34 minutes when he met a perfect Kyle Wilson
cross from the right wing to send a bullet header past
Top scorer Michael Wilde went close
twice before the break with Lewis saving well on both
The Blues continued to dominate
after the break and wrapped up the scoring through an
own goal on 57 minutes as the luckless Nick Dodd turned
a Sarcevic cross into his own net.
With the tie effectively won, and a big match to come
on Saturday, Young made a series of substitutions to
replace his forward line with Wilson, Wilde and McCarthy
making way for Alex Titchener, Iain Howard and Mark
13 November Ossett
Albion 0 Chester 3
Evo-Stik Division One North
Attendance: 557 Half Time 0-1
Ossett Albion: Herriott,
Hague, Ryan, Cook, Ball, Senior, White, Bennett, Biscombe
(Parker 51), Tracey (Hamlet 78), Kelsey. Subs not used:
Kendall, Poole, Brown. Chester: Sanna, Jones (Stones 89), Horan,
Ruffer, Williams, Sarcevic (Connolly 90), Field, Barnes,
Hopley, Wilde, Wilson (Titchener 82). Subs not used: Beck,
extended their lead at the top of the table following
their seventh away league victory on the spin for Neil
Young’s team who proved too much for an Ossett team
reduced to ten men after the break.
There were wholesale changes from the side that competed
in the Cheshire Cup in midweek with no fewer that seven
players recalled by Young as Chester supporters once again
traveled in numbers to cheer on their side.
The Blues created early chances with top striker Michael
Wilde sending a header flashing just wide after connecting
with a Tom Field corner. Chris Sanna was also in the action
though at the other end gathering an effort from Shane
Kelsey after the Chester rearguard failed to clear their
Some smart approach
play by Antoni Sarcevic and Wilde presented Kyle Wilson
with a header but the strikers effort fell straight
to Luke Herriott in the home goal. Moments later Herriott
saved well again this time from the head of Sarcevic.
Chester finally broke the deadlock in the 33rd minute
as Rob Hopley headed powerfully home from a Chris Williams
far post corner. Three minutes later Hopley almost added
a second following a Field free-kick.
Before the break, Williams sent a
25-yarder just wide and captain George Horan saw a header
fly over the bar.
Chester continued to press after the
break and doubled their advantage with a great goal
in the 56th minute. Wilde picked out Wilson on the left
wing and his cross was met on the volley by Bradley
Barnes who sent an unstoppable shot past Herriott.
Minutes later the home side
were reduced to ten men after striker Kelsey was given
a red card after he kicked out at Horan off-the-ball.
The Chester skipper retaliated and was perhaps fortunate
to only receive a yellow card, his fifth of the season
which will now bring a one match ban.
With their numerical advantage Chester continued to
dominate for the remainder of the match. Wilde saw an
effort cleared off the line by Mark Ryan and Stuart
Jones and Hopley went close.
The game was wrapped up in the final minute with goal-machine
Wilde scoring his 16th goal of the season converting
a Hopley pass to score past Herriott from close range.
Chester were knocked out of the Cheshire Senior Cup last
night beaten 3-2 at home by Congleton Town of the Vodkat
League. Manager Neil Young rested no fewer than nine of
the players that played against Mossley on Saturday. This
gave several of the fringe players a run-out including
Danny Meadowcroft who has been recalled from his loan
spell at Bamber Bridge.
There was another good turnout on a bitterly cold night
and it was the Blues that saw most of the early action.
Antoni Sarcevic, back from suspension, saw a header saved
by former Blue Matt Conkie in the visitors goal. Conkie
was soon in the action again saving a Tom Field effort
low down as Chester pressed.
Meadowcroft and Alex Titchener
both missed chnces before the Blues fell behind on 26
minutes through Mark Beeston was scord from close range
after an Andrew Hurst shot had come back off the bar.
Chester equalised through
Field with a fine strike nine minutes later following
good work from Stuart Graves. The game looked to be
heading for parity at half-time but just before the
break a great finish from Joshua Hancock restored the
lead for the Bears.
Chester created chances to equalise again after the
break but had to wait until the 62nd minute before Kyle
Wilson leveled matters scoring past Conkie. Parity only
lasted a couple of minutes though as a mix-up in the
home defence saw Chris Oldfield drop a cross allowing
Beeston to score his second goal of the game and book
a place in the quarter-final at Warrington Town for
City stretched their lead at the top of the League to
four points after defeating Mossley and an unlikely win
for Harrogate Railway at Chorley.
Like Harrogate, Mossley are loitering near the foot of
the table but prior to this match had only played seven
league games. Chester were without Sarcevic who was suspended
and Whiteside who was injured. Field took the Crewe loanee’s
place whilst Neil Young had returned to Colwyn Bay to
sign their ‘keeper Chris Sanna who made his first
bow (Not counting a couple of guest appearances in friendly
games a while back). Mossley too had suspensions to contend
with and had Ollerenshaw, on loan from Oldham, making
his debut in goal.
The game took a while to settle down and was peppered
with stoppages but gradually City began to make headway
and get behind the visitors’ defence. Howard and
Booth both beat their full-backs to put dangerous crosses
into the goal mouth but Mossley survived for now.
The visitors, playing in a fetching tangerine strip, looked
a handful coming forward and won a free kick on the edge
of the box when Jones was penalised for a lunging challenge.
Richardson bent the kick round the wall and Sanna passed
his first test with flying colours as he grabbed the ball
low down to his right.
A minute later Chester were ahead as Horan ventured forward
with the ball and swept it out to Booth on the right.
Horan continued his run and was there to meet Booth’s
delicious cross and nod a looping header into the top
City continued their forward momentum after half time
– though a lapse did let Oates have a glimpse at
goal but he put his shot narrowly wide. Howard appeared
to be impeded on the left but the referee allowed good
advantage to let Williams whip in a cross. It just eluded
Wilson but not Wilde who flicked the ball in delightfully
with the outside of his foot.
Wilde went close with a clever header from a right wing
free kick, then should have scored when Ollerenshaw’s
goal kick went straight to him. He tried to finish with
aplomb but his cheeky chip beat the crossbar as well as
the keeper. City’s leading marksman made no mistake
however when they were awarded their first penalty of
the season. Hopley’s shot from Wilde’s cross
was goalbound until Kay's hand got in the way.
A ripple went through the crowd that Chorley’s campaign
had been derailed by Harrogate and when this was confirmed
as true it added gloss to City’s win. There will
be many more twists and turns before the season is over
but Chester showed a determination in their play today
to keep their noses in front.