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MATCH REPORTS 2011/12

Pre-Season | August | September | October | November | December | January | February | March | April
NOVEMBER
Bradford Park Avenue (A) | Stafford Rangers (H - FAT2Q) | Stalybridge Celtic (A - CSC2) | Whitby Town (A) | Hednesford Town (A - LCC3) | Matlock Town (H) | Ashton United (H) | Stourbridge (A - FAT3Q)
Saturday 26 November
Stourbridge 0 Chester 2
FA Trophy Third Qualifying Round
Attendance: 1,487 Half Time 0-0
Booked: Brownhill, McGinn, Smith.

Stourbridge: Solly, Craddock, Bennett, Smith, Broadhurst, Canavan, Dyson (Griffin 67), Billingham, Geddes, Rock (Ward 74), Rowe. Subs not used: Ford, Blair, Paskin.
Chester: Danby, Brownhill, Horan, Taylor, McGinn, Baynes, Powell, Smith, Howard, Sarcevic (Brown 90), McNeil. Subs not used: Wright, Wilde, Ellison, Holt.
Referee: Stuart Eagland (Lichfield).


Chester progressed to the first round of the FA Trophy with a hard fought and deserved win at Southern Premier League side Stourbridge. A gusty swirling wind made conditions difficult at the War Memorial Athletic Ground but it was Chester who adapted the better in the opening period with the wind at their backs.

Around 500 supporters made the trip the the Black Country housed in two temporary seated stands at each end of the ground, the gap in between being occupied by the cricket wicket on this three sided ground.

With both sides on form it was always going to be a tight game with chances were at a premium. The home side created the first opening with Nathan Bennett heading over from an in swinging corner.

Chester did have the ball in the net after eight minutes though as Michael Powell crashed home a powerful shot from the edge of the box only to have his effort ruled out by the linesman’s flag, presumable for another player encroaching offside.

Shortly before the break the home side had a great chance to take the lead. A slip by George Horan let striker Ryan Rowe through on goal but he sent a weak shot straight at the out rushing John Danby much to the relief of the Chester fans in the corner.

At the other end Matty McNeil flicked a header over and Iain Howard drilled a cross right across the box but no one could add the finishing touch. Within minutes of the restart Powell sent in another powerful shot that Solly in the Stour goal was well positioned to parry away.

Rowe had another opportunity ten minutes after the break chasing through onto a long through ball but, with Danby back peddling, he couldn’t keep his lob shot from the edge of the box down and it sailed high and wide on the wind.

The first goal was always going to be crucial and it was the Blues who finally broke the deadlock on 68 minutes when the home side failed, with three attempts, to clear the danger before the ball fell to the lively Howard who drilled the ball home past Solly from the left.

The home side, managed by former City player Gary Hackett, pushed forward for an equaliser but it was Chester who found the net again to seal victory with ten minutes remaining. Ashley Baynes’ corner was half cleared to Christian Smith, his ball back into the danger zone found McNeil who poked the ball over the line despite a desperate goal-line clearance the linesman indicated the ball had crossed the line.

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Picture © Rick Matthews (Chester Leader)

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Wednesday 23 November
Chester 1 Ashton United 0
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League
Attendance: 2,247 Half Time 1-0
Booked: -.

Chester: Danby, Brownhill, Taylor, Horan (Smith 73), McGinn, Sarcevic, Powell, Brown, Holden (Howard 57), Ellison (Wilde 61), McNeil. Subs not used: Holt, Wright.
Ashton United: Smith, Frost, Roberts, Murphy, Melling, Robinson, Peers, Smith (Bennett 65), Madeley (Kosylo 71), Sansay, Caldecott (Armadi 46). Subs not used: Rose, Lambert.
Referee: Philip Dermot (Wigan).

Chester crept to the top of the table with this unconvincing win over Ashton.

These sides had already met twice this season in cup competitions, and as City had won them both, there may have been a danger of complacency. But Chester certainly set about their task in business-like manner and pinned the visitors back into their own half for long periods. Ellison had a hat trick of chances to give the Blues the lead but had no luck. The closest call came when his first time strike hit the post after McNeil had nodded the ball down.

City finally made the breakthrough when Brownhill, seeing plenty of the ball on the right, carried it forward and instead of crossing let fly from thirty yards. His shot flew low into the far corner of the net beyond Smith’s full stretch drive. It was a wonderful goal with which to open his Chester account and Brownhill was clearly delighted. He was still glad-handing with colleagues by the time Ashton restarted.

The match had been so one-sided up to now it seemed certain that the second half would lead to a procession of City attacks. But it proved not to be the case as Ashton shored up their defence and, if anything, brought the game to Chester. Armardi – introduced as a sub after half time – proved a handful down the left and pinned Brownhull back compared with the first half. With more luck they might even have bagged an equaliser – Madeley came closest when he finished a sweeping move down the right with a downward header that Danby did well to parry on the rebound. Central defender Melling also headed over when well placed.

The Blues had chances too but all too often the final pass was misplaced; set pieces were wasted and a frustrating half was endured. City defended deeply and often left no one upfield when defending a corner. In the dying minutes Howard ran almost the length of the pitch with the ball as Chester broke away but Smith blocked his shot and the agony for City fans continued for the four minutes of stoppage time until the final whistle.

What went wrong with City in the second half it was hard to say but they made heavy weather of this win. Perhaps it was fatigue; or nerves as the top of the league beckoned. Robbie Booth was certainly missed, as was Simm’s energy but in the end Chester did enough to edge out the victory in front of another impressive crowd of over two thousand.

Colin Mansley


Picture © Rick Matthews (Chester Leader)

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Saturday 19 November
Chester 4 Matlock Town 0
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League
Attendance: 2,605 Half Time 1-0
Booked: Powell.

Chester: Danby, Brownhill, Horan, Taylor, McGinn, Sarcevic, Brown, Powell, Booth (Howard 72), McNeil (Holden 86), Ellison (Wilde 76). Subs not used: Smith, Holt.
Matlock Town: Kennedy, Harcourt, Yates, Lukic, Radford (Nightingale 46), Bettney, King, Warne (Morris 64), Davies, Algar, Holmes. Subs not used: Whitcombe, Buxton.
Referee: Alan Clayton (Hyde).

The Gladiators came to Deva, battle commenced and the spectators were treated to an absorbing encounter. In the end Chester appeared to have won quite comfortably but this was harsh on Matlock.

City were buoyed by the return of Antoni Sarcevic, signed in the last couple of days from Crewe. But on the other hand Baynes was injured in the warm up and Simm also injured was not in the line up either.

Matlock made the play-offs last year and showed that they were no mugs, passing the ball around well and looked to be a solid unit. Booth had an early sighter for Chester but shot wide after a good run. Then the visitors retaliated when their blonde central defender saw an opening on the edge of the box but also shot wide.

Gradually City turned up the pressure as the Gladiators defended deeply and in numbers. Good work on the left saw a McGinn cross cleared out to the right. From there Brownhill launched another cross deep to the far post where McNeil leapt to nod in off the bar. McNeil had already proved a handful for the opposition with his deceptive ability to hold the ball and lay it off constructively. Later he combined brilliantly with Brownhill who was unfortunate to see his shot rebound off the foot of the post.

McNeil doubled City’s advantage shortly after the break when he did really well to hold two defenders off as he controlled the ball in the box and then tickled it past a wrong-footed keeper.

Matlock refused to give in and had plenty of possession without making any clear cut chances – Taylor and Horan stood firm in the centre of defence and they were well protected by a combative midfield in which Brown, Powell and Sarcevic in particular worked strenuously to wrest the ball back. As the game wore on the result seemed inevitable but the introduction of fresh legs in the form of Howard, Holden and Wilde gave City increasing momentum going forward. Howard went close with a couple of efforts – one wide and one great save from Kennedy – but then Holden burst through and clipped a superb chip over Kennedy which came down off the underside of the bar. First reactions were that it had rebounded to safety but the linesman indicated it had crossed the line and as a roar rose from the main stand we turned to see him haring back for the re-start.

The coup de gras was delivered a couple of minutes later by Michael Wilde. His majestic header from Howard’s deep cross was worth the price of admission on its own. City’s fiftieth league goal of the season announced that Wilde was back with a vengeance.

Gridlock ensued in the roads around the Exacta Stadium afterwards but at least those who had stayed to the end had the memory of two excellent goals to savour as they joined the melee of Christmas shoppers.

Colin Mansley


Picture © Rick Matthews (Chester Leader)

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Tuesday 15 November
Hednesford Town 3 Chester 1
League Challenge Cup (Doodson Sport Cup) Round 3
Attendance: 251 Half Time 1-1
Booked: McGinn, Sent-off: Horan.

Hednesford Town: Crane, Haynes, Shaw, Monteiro, Bailey, Grice (Dunkley 61), Osborne, Jevons (Denny 77), Wellecomme, Danks (Allen 81), Durrell. Subs not used: Campion, Forbes.
Chester: Judge, Baynes, Horan, Smith, McGinn, Booth, Ormrod, Holt (Grace 76), Howard, Ellison, Holden (Miller 56). Subs not used: Brown, Brownhill.
Referee: Simon Barrow (Wilnecote).

Chester paid the price of missing some great chances as they were beaten for the second time this season at Keys Park as Hednesford Town knocked the Blues out of the Doodson Cup. To make matters worse the Blues will also miss the services of George Horan for possibly four matches after the captain received his second red card of the season.

Manager Neil Young made no fewer than seven changes from the side that won at the weekend, in came Adam Judge, Wes Baynes, Joe Ormrod, Christian Smith, Joe Holt, Iain Howard and James Ellison at the expense of John Danby, Michael Taylor, Alex Brown, Michael Powell, Liam Brownhill, Chris Simm and Matty McNeil.

On a cold evening it was the home side who opened brightly and created a decent chance in the opening minute as Mark Danks shot wide from a Nick Wellecomme. Chester responded and Robbie Boots saw had efforts on goal, the first was comfortably saved by Dan Crane in the home goal and the other effort from a Baynes cross was headed wide.

Both sides were reduced to ten men on 14 minutes as Horan and Wellecomme were shown straight red cards after an altercation on the edge of the box as the players lined up for a free-kick. The argy bargy appeared to continue as the two players left down the tunnel.

Booth saw an effort deflected wide before Danks opened the scoring for Hednesford in the 19th minute from close range. Ormrod, a product of the Blues youth team, came close to equalising on the half hour with a 20-yarder that slipped just past the post and Howard saw another long-range effort miss the post by inches.

Five minutes before the interval Ellison saw two efforts go narrowly wide, before the Blues got their deserved equaliser in the 41st minute as Booth headed home Howard’s pinpoint cross.

Having fought well to get back into the game the Blues conceded a sloppy second three minutes after the restart as Danks was given far too much time and space to convert Kyle Hayne’s cross from six yards.

Chester responded with a Luke Holden effort that Crane gathered at ease and Matty McGinn sent a shot wide in the 65th minute. At the other end Danks went close to completing his hat-trick but Judge was well positioned to gather the goalbound effort.

The Blues had a great chance to equalise 15 minutes from time as Booth played in Howard but the midfielder shot wide of the mark. Despite once again creating plenty of chances, the Blues were made to pay for their lack of finishing as substitute Amani Allen scored Hednesford’s third goal deep into stoppage time to book the Staffordshire sides place in the fourth round.

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Saturday 12 November
Whitby Town 0 Chester 4
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League
Attendance: 652 Half Time 0-3
Booked: Holden.

Whitby Town: Campbell, Lyth, White, Burgess, Robinson, Martin, Hawkins (Williams 69), McTiernan, Smith, Tymon (Faichney 55), Leeson. Subs not used: Blackford, Hassan, Courtney.

Chester: Danby, Brownhill, Horan, Taylor, McGinn, Booth, Powell, Brown (Wright 78), Holden (Howard 53), Simm (Ellison 62), McNeil. Subs not used: Smith, Baynes.
Referee: Matthew Dicicco (Middlesbrough).

An overnight stay in Middlesbrough (not at the referee’s!) gave the management and squad the best possible preparation for their first visit to Whitby Town. Around four hundred Blues fans were at the Turnbull Ground to cheer on the side with many of them also making a weekend of the trip to North Yorkshire.

Chester started strong and could have taken the lead on three or four occasions in the opening minutes. The game was in the first minute when striker Chris Simm put the ball wide of the target when facing a one-on-one with Whitby ‘keeper David Campbell following Matty McNeil’s clinical pass that sprung the offside trap.

Two minutes later Campbell was in the action again denying Luke Holden a goal saving well from the on-loan winger to concede a corner which resulted in a Michael powell header being cleared off the line.

McNeill and Simm made a complete hash of another opportunity before the deadlock was finally broken in the 14th minute as Holden drove the ball home from 12 yards following a McNeil pass for his first goal for the club.

The home side had hardly got out of their own half in the opening period but John Danby was forced into a good save to deny Jeff Smith, whose free-kick looked to be heading into the top corner.

Holden may perhaps have been fortunate to stay on the pitch minutes later after a late challenge produced a yellow card and not a red the home fans wanted.

Chester doubled their lead on 27 minutes following a challenge on Simm by Mark Robinson in the Chester box. The home players though Simm had gone to ground a little too easily but referee Matthew Dicicco pointed to the spot and McGinn converted his seventh penalty kick of the season.

Danby produced another good save to deny Callum Martin whose cross-shot was heading for the far post before McGinn added his second and Chester’s third nine minutes from the break curling in a wonderful shot past Campbell after intercepting a poor pass from the home defence.

Following the break the home side created one or two chances, Alex White curled a shot wide on 48 minutes but it was the visitors who were forcing the better clear-cut opportunities.

Simm saw another one-on-one go to waste while Robbie Booth also tested Campbell from distance. White was well placed to clear an effort off the line from substitute Howard but the midfielder wasn’t to be denied four minutes from time turning the ball home following a fine run past Ashley Lyth and cross from fellow substitute Jerome Wright.


Picture © Rick Matthews (Chester Leader)

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Tuesday 8 November
Stalybridge Celtic 2 Chester 1
Cheshire Senior Cup Round 2
Attendance: 203 Half Time 1-0
Booked: Smith, Holden.

Stalybridge Celtic: MacGillivray, Rea, Bembo-Leta, Lynch, McWilliams, Warburton (Kay 70), Brogan, Wilkinson, Gnahoua, Hobson (Austin 66), Jennings (Sherriff 59). Subs not used: Ellams, Marsh.
Chester: Judge, Brownhill, Horan, Taylor, McGinn, Baynes, Powell (Brown 5), Smith (Booth 61), Howard, Holden, Simm (Wright 70). Subs not used: McNeil, Ormrod.
Referee: Richard Bartlett (Sale).

Despite a spirited second half fightback Chester exited the Cheshire Senior Cup at the second round stage. Manager Neil Young made four changes from the side that beat Stafford Rangers on Saturday including a first appearance of the season for Adam Judge in goal and a starting place for loan signing Luke Holden.

The game was only three minutes old when Celtic, who are managed for former City boss Jim Harvey, took the lead as Craig Hobson sent an unstoppable shot past Judge from 18 yards. Worse was to follow with midfielder Michael Powell hobbling off after picking up a leg injury.

The Blue Square North side doubled their lead midway through the half with Stephen Brogan scoring from close range after a Connor Jennings cross found him unmarked ten yards from goal.

Joel Bembo-Leta almost headed a third for the home side, sending his effort inches wide, before Chester had loud appeals for a penalty turned down after a foul on Chris Simm by ‘keeper Craig MacGillivray.

Chester’s best opportunity of the half fell to Iain Howard who forced a good save from MacGillivray after good set-up work from Holden.

Following the break MacGillivray was called into action again saving from a Christian Smith header. Robbie Booth sent a header wide and George Horan saw an effort cleared off the line as Chester pressed. Holden saw a long range effort go straight at MacGillivray. At the other end substitute Dennis Sherriff saw a header bounce off the bar.

Howard was denied by a great MacGillivray double save before Booth brought Chester back into the match with eight minutes remaining, turning in a Liam Brownhill cross.

Chester pressed for an equaliser in the closing minutes with Wes Baynes sending a volley over and Michael Taylor missing a great chance in stoppage time from three yards following a Horan lay-off.


Picture © Rick Matthews (Chester Leader)

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Saturday 5 November
Chester 2 Stafford Rangers 0
FA Trophy Second Qualifying Round
Attendance: 1,551 Half Time 1-0
Booked: Simm, Powell, Smith, McGinn.

Chester: Danby, Brownhill, Horan, Taylor, McGinn, Booth (Baynes 73), Powell, Smith, Wright (Holden 58), Simm (Howard 82), McNeil. Subs not used: Judge, Brown.
Stafford Rangers: Alcock, Rogers, Skelton, George, Espley, Blackhurst, Heler (Maguire 82), Morton (Nagington 58), Thompson, Kinsella, Street (Shotton 77). Subs not used: Jones, Read.
Referee: Jonathan Hunt (Liverpool).

Chester saw off a determined effort from Stafford Rangers to progress to the next round of the Trophy and secure an away trip to either Kendal in the Lake District or the Glassboys of Stourbridge in the West Midlands.

The Blues seemed weary after their midweek exertions at Bradford and slow to get going. Thompson had an early chance for the visitors but cut back onto his favoured left foot and was tackled, only for Kinsella to follow up and blaze over the bar. Rangers were keen to avenge the defeat inflicted upon them by City last month. Their chances were restricted mainly to set pieces however and Danby was hardly troubled.

City’s forward attempts were repeatedly hampered by Simm’s falling into the offside trap but when he broke through he proved threatening. First he homed in on goal from the right. His powerful shot was half stopped by Alcock and span invitingly across goal. Wright coming in at the far post seemed certain to score but knocked his shot agonisingly wide. Simm then tried his luck on the left, cutting in to let fly with a shot across goal which went narrowly past the far upright.

Then, on the stroke of half time, Simm took advantage of hesitation between a couple of Rangers defenders and took the ball off them into the penalty area. The onrushing Alcock then caught Simm with his trailing leg and was penalised with a spot kick and a yellow card. Before the kick could be taken Simm was also cautioned for pushing a defender as they toed the line at the edge of the box. McGinn scored with confidence and City went into the break ahead.

Within six minutes of half time Chester doubled their lead and found some breathing space. Wright burst through on the left. His shot was parried by Alcock. Simm dived to head in the rebound but this was blocked, though the ball fell kindly for Booth to tap it home.

Stafford, encouraged by the tireless chanting of their away support, fought hard to get back in the game but City held them at bay. Powell was indefatigable in midfield – he never stopped running and closing down. Smith, languid by comparison sprayed the ball around to good effect. As the game wore on Chester tinkered with the forward line. Holden came on for Wright and showed promise on both wings – sending over a couple of venomous crosses and covering a lot of ground. Later the new boy played more centrally as Simm was withdrawn and Howard came on. Howard nearly added a third from Holden’s cross in the closing minutes. His volley just crept past the post.

McGinn, Powell and Smith were all unfortunate to be booked in the second half as referee Jonathan Hunt went on a yellow card spree but this apart, City will be pleased with this result and the prospect of the next round on Saturday 26th November.

Colin Mansley


Picture © Rick Matthews (Chester Leader)

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Wednesday 2 November
Bradford Park Avenue 2 Chester 1
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League
Attendance: 604 Half Time 1-0
Booked: Simm.

Bradford Park Avenue: Lamb, Clayton, Drury, O'Brien (Ahmed 68), Iqbal, Riley, Daly, Hotte, Marshall (Law 81), Savory, Boshell (Greaves 68). Subs not used: Knowles, Noteman.
Chester: Danby, Brownhill, Horan, Taylor, McGinn, Booth, Brown (Baynes 90), Powell, Howard, McNeil (Wilde 74), Simm (Rainford 74). Subs not used: Wright, Smith.
Referee: Paul Cook (Hull).

The Blues missed the opportunity to go top of the league after losing in difficult conditions to a last-gasp Adnan Ahmed goal at Bradford Park Avenue. Manager Neil Young made five changes from the side that drew with Frickley at the weekend recalling Liam Brownhill, Robbie Booth, Alex Brown, Matty McNeil and Chris Simm to the starting X1.

Continuous rain made the pitch difficult with playing slipping and sliding on the greasy surface. The first attempt fell to Avenue’s Rob O’Brien but his effort from 25 yards sailed high over the bar. Bradford ‘keeper John Lamb did well to block an attempted chip by Booth
and recovered just in time to deny McNeil’s effort from the rebound.

A mistake by John Danby gave James Riley a scoring chance but captain George Horan was well placed to clear from the line. Booth missed a good opportunity to open the scoring on 28 minutes after picking up Simm’s clever lay-off the midfielder with just Lamb to beat blasted high and wide from 15 yards.

The hosts opened the scoring four minutes before the break when the Chester defence failed to clear a Nicky Boshall corner leaving Richard Marshall to flick the ball past Danby from close range. The Blues responded well and almost produced an instant reply, Matty McGinn saw a 25-yarder go straight to Lamb, and in stoppage time Horan saw a header go agonisingly just wide of goal following an Iain Howard cross.

Chester started the second half well with Michael Powell steering a header from Brownhill’s cross just wide. The equaliser came on 51 minutes as a pin-point cross field pass from Howard found Booth who controlled the ball before shooting past Lamb from 20 yards. Simm missed an opportunity to give the Blues the lead as he failed to connect from close range following good build-up work from Brown and Booth.

Young made a double substitution introducing forwards Michael Wilde and Jamie Rainford for McNeil and Simm. Rainford was soon in the action volleying a great chance wide from close range then forcing a good save from Lamb after a smart turn and shot.

Five minutes from time Dandy made a great save to deny a point-blank Tom Greaves effort and moments late Howard saw a great shot cannon off the post.

Four minutes of stoppage time were added and with one remaining Bradford scored the winner as former Tranmere Rovers player Ahmed sent an unstoppable 18-yarder past Danby into the top corner.


Picture © Rick Matthews (Chester Leader)

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