For the third time in the last dozen years or so Barrow
put Chester out of a cup competition. But this defeat
was perhaps the hardest to take as the visitors are
struggling in the League below.
The afternoon began brightly for City
as Mahon fed the overlapping McIntyre on the left, who
got behind the defence and teed up a simple finish for
Seddon to open the scoring. It all looked too easy for
the Blues and perhaps it was. More pessimistic fans
remembered last year’s Trophy match against Worksop
when City raced into a two goal lead only to be hauled
back level and then succumb tamely in the replay.
Whether it was complacency on Chester’s part or
Barrow’s excellent work rate or a combination
of both, the tie slipped away from City in the second
half. The warning signs were there in the first period,
though, as the game was surprisingly open and Barrow’s
pressing meant that Chester often had to resort to pumping
the ball forward whereas the Cumbrians built slick passing
moves from the back, through midfield and on to their
Of the latter, Carver was the pick. He cut in from the
right and was prevented from scoring only by a last
ditch Higginbotham tackle. His running and movement
were intelligent and Barrow played much more as a team
than their increasingly hapless hosts. One bright light
for Chester was provided by John Rooney, signed on loan
for a month from Bury. He acted as a fulcrum for much
of City’s attacking play in the early stages and
spread the ball about well. Increasingly though, Seddon
became more isolated as City’s midfield was smothered
and by-passed due to Barrow’s superior appetite
for the game.
Carver, it was, who provided the finishing touches to
Barrow’s strike back. First City’s other
debutant, Miller, dwelt too long on the ball which was
swept out to Barrow’s right Allen was able to
shoot with ease and Carver reacted quickest to Danby’s
save, turning home the rebound. City were sluggish in
their response to this setback and before long Carver
delivered the almost inevitable second. Again the damage
was inflicted down the City left as Rushton crossed
for Carver to stroke the ball past the exposed Danby.
Chester did, at least, threaten to equalise. Seddon’s
effort from a narrow angle was tipped over the bar after
McMillan had parried Reid’s superb volley from
the edge of the box. Higginbotham narrowly failed to
connect with Seddon’s driven cross. And, desperately,
Danby came forward for a corner only to have the ball
taken off his head by his counterpart in the Barrow
goal who promptly launched the ball towards the unguarded
net at the far end.
But generally Chester were outplayed and out fought
by Barrow and that must be of considerable concern to
Neil Young and the management team. The spirit that
was so evident against Luton a couple of weeks ago and
even in the opening minutes of this match evaporated
into the cold night air. Now City really will have to
concentrate on staying in the League…and retaining
the Cheshire Cup of course (For which Barrow are ineligible
– thank goodness).
A late goal from Louis Moult six minutes from the end
of an instantly forgettable match gave Nuneaton all
three points and left Chester still struggling in the
Manager Neil Young picked and unchanged side from the
one that drew 1-1 with Luton Town on Saturday. A ridiculous
colour clash saw Chester playing in their all-purple
second strip against Boro in all-dark blue which made
for difficult viewing throughout the match, especially
later under the floodlights.
The first chance of the game fell
to Freddie Ladapo whose effort on goal was well blocked
by Danny Higginbotham. Nuneaton controlled most of the
opening period without really testing John Danby except
from distance as James Armson forces a save.
Midway through the half Jason Jarrett
saw a long range effort drift well wide of goal, that
was the nearest the Blues came to troubling Kelle Roos
in the home goal!
Young was forced into two changes as injuries to Ross
Killock and Gareth Seddon saw the introduction of Paul
Linwood and Ross Wilkinson before the break.
Chester seemed to step it up a bit
after the restart and Jarrett volleyed just over from
the edge of the box. Their only other real chance of
note should have seen Paul Linwood heading home from
a pinpoint Lewis Turner cross but the substitute headed
wide of the right hand post from six yards out in front
of the 300+ away support.
At the other end an Emmitt Delfouneso
cross-shot crashed off the bar ten minutes from time
with Danby beaten, moments later Nuneaton scored the
decisive goal as Moult, running through on goal, appeared
to handle the ball, before slotting it under advancing
Danby. The Blues defence were furious and protested
to the referee’s assistant on the far side, who
appeared to raise his flag, but referee Paul Rees awarded
Chester had no response and David Hibbert almost volleyed
a second in the closing minute as the home side held
on for all three points.
was the sort of penalty appeal that you see given every
week on Match of the Day. Think of the one that was
awarded to Tottenham against Hull City for instance
or the other given against Swansea, allowing Stoke to
escape with a draw last Saturday. Unless it is deliberate
handball, none of them should be given in my opinion,
but you can understand the frustration of both players
and supporters at the inconsistency of decision making.
So when Gareth Seddon’s overhead kick from Lester’s
looping cross was blocked by McNulty’s outstretched
arm, there were loud appeals around the Deva for a spot
kick for the Blues. Referee Darren Handley, however,
waved the claims away much to the chagrin of City players,
Seddon in particular.
The incident proved to be a turning point as City channelled
their sense of injustice positively and took the game
to their high-flying opponents. Seddon himself latched
on to the loose ball won by Ashley Williams’ tackle
and lashed a low, long range drive beyond Tyler into
the back of the Luton net.
Seddon’s strike restored parity after City’s
insipid start. Luton threatened to walk all over Chester
in the early stages. Andre Gray in particular showed
the form which is making him a leading scorer and sought-after
person in the Conference. When Chester failed to properly
clear a free kick, given after Williams lost possession
and fouled, Gray it was who found time and space in
the box to turn and shoot with ease past Danby. It looked
then as though it would be a torrid afternoon for the
But Chester bucked up considerably after their spurned
penalty appeal and had Luton rocking back on their heels.
Williams gave a tigerish display, Jarrett grows in stature
with each game, Mahon provided speed and control down
the left and Seddon led the line superbly. When Mahon’s
lofted cross shot dipped wide of the far post just before
the break, Blues supporters hoped it would presage further
onslaught in the second half.
The Harry Mac has seen only one home goal in ten outings
this season (Mills against Forest Green) so we were
hopeful that City might notch another, perhaps even
a winner against the pre-season favourites for the title.
Alas this was not to be, despite an intriguing end-to-end
game there were few clear-cut chances in the second
half. The visitors went close with a chip from the edge
of the box but the excellent Killock also narrowly failed
to connect with McIntyre’s free kick towards the
Both teams seemed content with a draw and Blues left
the field to a rousing reception after a gutsy and well-earned
point. The Blues Bar was buzzing afterwards as fans
talked animatedly about the game. Included among their
number was former City midfield maestro from the seventies
and Gareth’s namesake – Ian Seddon. How
we could do with his guile and craft today to help the
Blues claw their way up the table.
A series of fine saves from John Danby ensured that
Chester came away from Hereford with a point that moves
them out of the bottom four for the first time this
Over 200 supporters made the midweek
trip to Edgar Street and they saw the Blues line up
with one change from the side that won at Hyde on Saturday,
Chris Lester dropping to the bench with Gareth Seddon
making he starting X1.
After an even exchange in the opening
period the Bulls took the lead on 17 minutes. Danny
Leadbitter picked up a loose ball and surged through
two defenders down the right, his cross into the box
was met by on-loan Mansfield Town signing Ross Dyer
who lost his marker and sent a good header, that flicked
off Jason Jarrett, and past the despairing dive of Danby
and into the left hand corner.
Chester responded and were level within
a minute. A ball in from the left was flicked on by
Connor Wilkinson, the ball fell to Craig Lindfield whose
back heel attempt was stopped on the line by Rod McDonald
but Lindfield reacted quickest to the loose ball to
prod it home from close range.
Two minutes later the Blues were in
the lead! Goalkeeper Daniel Lloyd-Weston came a long
way out of goal to make a clearance, his kick though
went straight to a Chester player whose first time ball
forward found Seddon who coolly slotted it past the
stranded ‘keeper into the empty net from 30 yards.
The action continued at the other
end as Damon Lathrope tried a long-range effort and
Danby saved well after a long-throw had caused confusion
in the Blues defence and made a better block minutes
later from a Josh O’Keefe strike.
The home side leveled on 36 minutes
with a second goal of the night for Dyer. Frankie Artus
curled in a free-kick from the right flank and Dyer
rose amongst a melee of players to flick his header
A fine tackle under pressure from
Ross Killock prevented Dyer bearing down on goal for
his hat-trick three minutes before the break.
Hereford started the second half the
stronger side and Danby produced a fine save three minutes
in from a Dyer volley to keep the scores level. Chester
suffered a setback with an injury to Nathan Turner,
the midfielder, who may be out for up to six weeks as
a result, being replaced by Michael Kay.
Michael Rankine was twice denied by
Danby as the home side began to apply the pressure and
dominate the second period. McDonald and Dan Walker
both saw efforts just miss the Chester goal and Danby
produced his best save of the night in the final five
minutes to deny O’Keefe.
The home side did get the ball in
the net in the closing stages but the ‘goal’
by Rankine was disallowed for a foul on the Chester
man of the match Danby.
picked up three vital points after coming from behind
to beat bottom of the table side Hyde. Manager Neil
Young recalled Craig Mahon from his loan spell at AFC
Fylde and the midfielder went straight into the starting
X1 replacing Joe Heath who started on the bench. Conditions
at the Ewan Fields ground had been made difficult as
a result of heavy rain that had fallen throughout the
The Blues, who were backed by a following
of around 700, found themselves a goal down in just
three minutes as Louis Almond raced through a static
Chester defence to meet a Reece Gray through ball, before
curling his shot past the dive of John Danby and just
inside the left hand post.
Chester enjoyed plenty of possession
and Danny Higginbotham shot over following a corner
as Chester looked for a quick reply to the early setback.
At the other end Danby saved well from Arnold as Hyde
The home side should have doubled
their lead on the half hour mark. Ross Killock lost
possession on the right and sent Scott Spencer through
on goal, as Danby came out he lobbed the ball over the
City ‘keeper only to see his effort slip just
pass the far post by a whisker!
Five minutes before the break Chester
equalised as Craig Lindfield rose to meet a left wing
Mahon cross to head past Chilean goalkeeper Lawrence
Vigouroux from close range.
Two minutes after the restart Chester
grabbed the lead and this time it was Lindfield who
set the goal up crossing for Mahon to flick the ball
over the advancing ‘keeper and into the net.
Vigouroux, who is on loan from Tottenham
Hotspur, produced a fine save to deny Chris Lester adding
to Chester’s lead ten minutes later. Lewis Turner
saw an effort fly over following good work from Lindfield
as Chester pressed for a third decisive goal.
But the home side too were looking
to get back into the game and Danby was forced to save
from Adam Griffin whose free-kick had curled round the
Substitute Gareth Seddon, playing
against one of his former clubs, sent Lester through
with minutes remaining but the on-loan midfielder saw
his effort well saved.
AS the game entered five minutes of
stoppage time there were appeals for a penalty as Kevin
McIntyre appeared to push Almond in the area but neither
referee Richard Wigglesworth or his assistant were interested
and Chester held on for three more points.
fans had their weekend spoiled when a rare home victory
was snatched from their grasp thanks to a last minute
equalizer for the Shots. Jaydn Gibbs, brother of Keiran,
Arsenal’s England international, met a deep centre
from Butler on the left and nodded in past Danby to
earn a point.
No one could deny that the visitors
did not deserve a draw but it had looked like Chester
were going to hold on to the lead given to them on his
debut by Conor Wilkinson. It was a fine effort too following
a quickly taken free kick into the box. The tall teenager,
on loan from Bolton, controlled the ball well, beat
his man and fired a fine left foot shot across Henly’s
despairing dive and in.
Wilkinson had shown his talent early
on as City attacked the Harry Mac end. With a right
foot- left foot shimmy down the wing he created space
to run at the defence only to see his whipped in cross
caught at the near post by Henly. The youngster showed
excellent ball skills for a tall man and was lively
throughout the game. It was a shame his goal did not
prove to be the winner.
Fellow Bolton loanee Chris Lester
also showed promise as he had an industrious game in
right midfield. Alongside him Jason Jarrett started
a match for the first time in ages and showed signs
of increasing confidence as he won and sprayed the ball
around with style. One of his changes of direction seemed
right out of Sarcevic’s book. It will have done
him no end of good to have been naed sponsors’
man of the match.
It was Aldershot who had begun the
game more brightly however with John Roberts impressing
in midfield and Lewis Young – another one with
a famous brother (Manchester United’s Ashley)
proving pacy and difficult to handle on the right. But
Chester responded with Wilkinson having another long
range effort easily saved by Henly. They came closest
to breaking the deadlock when a cross from the right
eluded Goodman in the swirling wind and found Heath
whose header went narrowly wide.
The conditions made it difficult for
both sides and did not make for a free flowing game.
Throw-ins looped in and off the pitch without anyone
touching the ball and one or two strange decisions meant
that the officals went off for their half time cuppa
to a chorus of boos.
Aldershot upped the tempo after Wilkinson’s
strike and put some dangerous balls into the box. Danby
matched a good save in the first half with another great
stop from a free kick on the edge of the box. It looked
like a tiring City had done enough to earn the three
points but they were undone when Gibbs came on in the
87th minute and his fresh heels helped him spring to
leap and nod in the sucker punch.