Chester fans knew there was only one way this game was
going to go, with the Blues arriving at Nuneaton’s
Liberty Way on the back of an excellent away win at Dartford
knowing their opponents had lost 5-0 in their midweek
encounter at Dover.
were without influential midfielder Kingsley James,
who was suspended after picking up a yellow card at
Dartford. He was replaced by Danny Harrison –
the only change from Tuesday’s
And it was the absence of the England
coupled with an outstanding performance from Nuneaton’s
on-loan goalkeeper, Christian Dibble, that helped give
the pessimistic travelling fans the result they were
Nuneaton had signed another loan player
since their 5-0 defeat – Adam Dawson from Leicester
City – and he had a hand in the game’s
first goal when he caught Michael Kay napping before
pulling the ball back from the line for James Armson
to volley past Jon Worsnop.
At that stage, Chester’s
only chance was a John Rooney free kick, which was easily
held by Dibble. And it was another free kick –
this one won by Nuneaton after a Matty Hughes foul –
which made it 2-0 to the hosts when Lee Fowler’s
strike took a deflection before finding the net.
In their last two matches, Chester
have gone 2-0 down before clawing back a result. A comeback
did look possible when substitute Craig Hobson, a half-time
replacement for Harrison, scored a powerful header not
long after the second half had got underway to make
The Nuneaton defence were barely recovering
from that setback when Hobson made another good connection
from a teasing cross. But this header was over the crossbar
and Nuneaton could breathe again. Chester continued
to press and their hopes were raised when Rooney stepped
up to take another free kick on the 70th minute, but
it was saved again by Dibble.
Chester then failed to capitalise
on a series of corners before Dibble made a brave stop
on the line to deny Rhys Oates after a neat backheel
from Hughes. The action then switched to the other end
and another Leicester City loanee – Marcel Barrington
as the announcer dubbed him) – had no trouble
scoring from close range to make it 3-1 with 12 minutes
Nuneaton were now taking their time
at every chance they got, and there was a chance that
strategy would bite back at them when Hobson's 87th
minute header, from a Sean McConville corner, found
the back of the net.
With an four additional minutes to
come, there was the distinct possibility of Chester
emerging with a point. A 92nd minute Chester corner
certainly had everyone’s
nerves jangling, but it was easily dealt with by Man-of-the
Match Dibble to give Nuneaton the points that any unbiased
onlooker would probably say they deserved.
breathtaking second half performance from Chester saw
them score three goals inside 10 minutes to seal a dramatic
comeback at Dartford.
first half was largely forgettable for Blues fans, after
the Darts went 1-0 ahead inside 15 minutes when the
Chester defence gave Lee Noble enough space to score
an excellent opener.
Dartford were almost on the scoresheet
again when they headed wide soon after. By this stage,
Chester had only had a couple of half chances and it
wasn’t looking good for the fans who’d made
the long journey down to Kent.
Still, we’re beginning to learn
that this Steve Burr side will never give up. And it
was an attitude we had to remind ourselves about inside
the first minute of the second half at Dartford’s
smart Princes Park ground. Another excellent Dartford
cross found the Chester defence napping again and Elliot
Bradbrook was in the right place to score a second goal
for the home side.
But that sparked an almost immediate
response in the purple-clad Chester men and Craig Mahon,
who put on another memorable show throughout, snatched
onto a loose ball before scoring an excellent goal in
the corner of the net.
The travelling fans were soon celebrating
again when Mahon scored his second goal following a
good pass by John Rooney after some real pressure by
Chester. It was great to see what it meant to the Chester
team, and everyone at Princes Park felt there was more
And just six minutes later they were
proved right when on-loan star Matty Hughes found the
net after some excellent work by impressive fellow loanee
Rhys Oates. There now seemed no way that Dartford were
going to score as Chester were on a real roll. And sure
enough, Oates scored a fourth goal on the 86th minute
to finalise the dramatic comeback.
Dartford are not a bad side and I
wouldn’t mind meeting them again next season.
The ‘half-time’ change of end by the fans
was a rare treat as was the massive Wooden Man sculpture
inside the ground. But it was the four Chester goals
that made the day such a delight and has given us yet
another match to remember.
gave another memorable performance in what is promising
to become a vintage season as they fought back from two
down to force a draw with Bristol Rovers.
The game really sprang to life after a well contested
first half but one which had little if any goalmouth action.
Rovers, backed by a travelling contingent of approaching
500 had gained the upper hand and enjoyed the lions’
share of possession. The ubiquitous Stuart Sinclair prompted
much of their forward movement and seemed to contest all
of the midfield. Bristol were solid, well-organised and
made it difficult for City to play their passing game.
Although they did not move the ball around as slickly
as Gateshead, the previous week, The Gas grew in menace
as the half wore on.
At the break Chester brought McConville on for O’Keefe
who had picked up a knock in the first period. Rovers
attacked, Taylor spun and crossed low from the left and
the tall Blisset steered it home at the near post. Soon
they were two goals to the good as Blisset made a nuisance
of himself at a corner, Henneghan’s clearing header
was returned towards goal and fell kindly to Parks after
the by now prone Henneghan diverted it towards him. The
Rovers defender made it two-nil.
Bristol threatened briefly to overwhelm City and Worsnop
did well to tip over Monkhouse’s shot from a narrow
angle. But Blues began to respond and pulled a goal back
with an attack down the right. Mahon’s cross into
the box was deflected, Oates stuck his left foot out and
was delighted to see the ball fly into the corner of the
The game had burst spectacularly to life and Blues came
forward again, spurred on by the magnificent James in
midfield and urged on by an animated crowd. Within minutes
they were level. A clearing header was picked up by the
excellent McConville. He turned it back into the box.
The ball clipped a defender’s heel and sat up perfectly
for Hughes to nip in and head past Mildenhall. City fans
were ecstatic now as the game had seemed lost.
Both sides continued to look for a winner as the match
became end to end but had to settle for a point a-piece.
Rovers will feel less satisfied having built a comfortable
lead but for the Cestrians it almost felt like a win.
15 November Chester
1 Gateshead 0
Football Conference Premier
Attendance: 2,308 Half Time 0-0
Worsnop, Heneghan, Brown, Charnock (Kay 90), G.Roberts,
James, O’Keefe, Oates, Rooney, Mahon, Hobson (Touray
46). Subs not used: C.Roberts, Menagh, Peers.
Gateshead: Bartlett, Baxter, Curtis, Clark, Anderton,
Turnbull, Oster (Finnigan 71), Pattison, Rodman, Wright
(Shaw 75), Ramshaw (Heardman 66). Subs not used: Jones,
Rankine. Referee: Stephen Ross (Boston).
Chester enjoyed one of their best results of the season
so far with an impressive performance against promotion-chasing
The Heed came south having only been defeated once on
the road so far, back in early September. They began the
game strongly and came close to taking the lead in the
first minute as they forced a corner and Turnbull shot
wide from the edge of the box.
City struggled as Gateshead’s midfield of Oster,
Turnbull and Pattison playing the ball around from the
back got a strong grip on the game. Rodman found plenty
of room on the left and cut inside to clip a shot off
the far post. Ramshaw then headed over from Rodman’s
cross as the Blues continued to find life difficult.
When they were able to push forward, however, Chester
began to threaten the visitors. A brilliant passing move
down the left involving Rooney and Roberts ended with
Mahon crossing for Hobson just to miss out in front of
goal. City’s best effort of the half came when home
debutant Oates controlled Mahon’s pass with a deft
touch and then shot hard and low. Bartlett did well to
parry it away. Blues fans were happy to be still in the
game at half time nevertheless.
Steve Burr made a tactical change at half time with Ibou
Touray coming on for Hobson. Oates took on a lone role
centrally up front. Chester now had a better shape about
them and the Heed’s midfield were stifled. The visitors
were reduced more and more to playing the ball back as
City pressed much more effectively.
Blues built from this solid base to begin to threaten
their high flying opponents. Oates’ pace was a worry
to veteran stopper Clark and twice he used his body in
a wily way to thwart the young striker as he threatened
to get past. But Gateshead’s captain was undone
when Oates beat him to a bouncing ball on the edge of
the box. Mahon then pounced to flick it to Rooney who
scored quick-as-a-flash from the edge of the area with
a brilliant shot.
Gateshead still had twenty minutes or so to respond and
tried to create the opening for an equaliser. They threw
on substitutes Shaw and Finnigan. The latter hit the bar
with his header at the far post when well placed. Worsnop
saved magnificently from Shaw. Heed’s long serving
centre back Curtis – who scored a screamer here
last season to knock City out of the FA Cup – saw
red late on as he picked up a second yellow card for lunging
Chester held on for a hard fought victory. Credit must
be given to Burr and McCarthy for tactically turning this
match around. This was a smart win against strong opponents
and a thoroughly absorbing match. As we watched in the
Blues Bar as Wayne Rooney blaze the ball over the bar
against Slovenia – we thought “His brother
would have scored that”.
11 November Macclesfield
Town 3 Chester 1
Football Conference Premier
Attendance: 1,951 Half Time 2-0
Taylor, Halls, Pikington, Hogan, Barrow, Holroyd, Whittaker,
Turnbull, Gnahoua, Barnes-Homer, Fairhurst (Moke 86).
Subs not used: Branagan, Disney, Grant, Bailey, Lavelle-Moore.
Chester: Worsnop, Heneghan, Brown, Charnock,
G.Roberts, Rooney, James, Mahon, McConville (O’Keefe
75), Menagh (Touray 65), Hobson (Oates 65). Subs not used:
C.Roberts, Harrison. Referee: Darren England (South Yorkshire).
manager Steve Burr was forced into one change from the
side that caused the cup upset at Southend last Saturday
with Jamie Menagh starting in place of the injured Peter
Winn. The Blues were also forced to change their purple
changes shirts due to a clash with Macclesfield’s
blue and were forced to wear the Silkmen’s green
Both sides got
off to a slow start though Craig Hobson did find the
net on 13 minutes only to see his header from a John
Rooney free-kick ruled out for offside. Craig Mahon
and Kieran Charnock both forced saves from Rhys Taylor
in the home goal before Chester were awarded a penalty
when Sean McConville was fouled by Liam Hogan in the
McConville stepped up to take the
spot kick only to see Taylor make a one handed save
diving to his left and deflecting the ball to safety.
Chester continued to press and went close when Rooney
saw a shot hit the post and Charnock had an effort cleared
off the line.
Six minutes before the break the home
side were awarded a penalty after Phil Turnbull had
been fouled by Menagh, Waide Fairhurst sent Jon Worsnop
the wrong way and Macc took a 1-0 lead.
Three minutes later the home side
doubled their advantage as Fairhurst scored his second
with a spectacular long range effort from 35 yards into
the top right hand corner of the net.
Hobson sent a close range effort wide before Worsnop
prevented a third on the stroke of half time denying
former Blue Chris Holroyd from scoring ten yards out.
Mahon had the ball in the net a couple of seconds after
referee England had blown for half-time.
Eight minutes after the restart Chester
found themselves further behind as Matthew Barnes-Homes
took advantage of some slack defending to fire home
form 15 yards.
Chester responded within a couple
of minutes as Ben heneghan headed home from a McConville
corner. Kingsley James forced two more saves from Taylor
as Chester looked to score a second.
Rhys Oates came off the bench
for a debut along with Ibou Touray and on-loan signing
Josh O’Keefe was also introduced for the first
time with 15 minutes remaining but Chester were unable
to reduce the deficit as Macc saw out the closing stages.
8 November Southend
United 1 Chester 2
FA Cup Round One
Attendance: 4,037 (322 Chester) Half Time 1-1
Booked: Rooney, Hobson, Heneghan, Touray.
Bentley, White, Prosser, Sokolik, Williams, Timlin, Deegan
(Coulthirst 61), Leonard, Worrall (Hurst 61), Corr (Payne
71), Weston. Subs not used: Smith, Atkinson, Bolger, Clifford.
Chester: Worsnop, Heneghan, Brown, Charnock,
G.Roberts, Rooney, James, Mahon (Menagh 86), McConville,
Winn (Touray 66), Hobson. Subs not used: C.Roberts, Greenop,
Riley, Harrison, Disney. Referee: Graham Horwood (Bedfordshire).
say that always expect the unexpected in football and
this match was the classic ex ample.. Nobody pre match
gave Chester much of a sniff against a team in the top
half of League Two, but how wrong we were. Mark my words
this was no fluke or lucky win as Chester were the better
side overall and thoroughly deserved the victory through
greater effort and commitment.
The boys made a dream start after just five minutes when
Bad Heneghan opened the scoring heading home a Peter Winn
free kick. Southend responded with good possession mainly
through the impressive wingers, but lacked the final ball
as Chester defended stoutly. The equaliser came on 31
minutes when Rooney impeded full back White in the box
and Corr sent Worsnop the wrong way from the resultant
penalty. Chester however were playing the better football
as the half progressed with Rooney and Hobson missing
The moment of this enthralling encounter came on 51 minutes
when Mahon fired Chester back into the lead in front of
the 300 jubilant travelling supports, Charnock could have
made it three but failed to connect with a free kick as
Chester continued to match their higher placed opponents.
Southend threw everything
at Chester in the final half hour, but without in truth
creating any clear cut chances apart from one outstanding
save from Worsnop, with Charnock and Brown solid as
a rock at the back. The travelling support was magnificent
never stopping singing and encouraging all match, especially
through the predicted seven minutes of injury time (mainly
through an unfortunate injury to Peter Winn).
The celebrations between the players and the fans at
the end brought home what following Chester is all about
and a great away day There is also the added bonus a
the financial rewards from such a Cup Run which is a
massive boost to the Club.
What is the secret regarding Steve Burr and the FA Cup?!
3 November Runcorn
Town 3 Chester 1
Cheshire Senior Cup Preliminary Round
Attendance: 176 Half Time 3-0
Booked: Menagh, Harrison, Peers.
Buckley-Smith, Lester (Thompson 63), Toone, Latham, Gibson,
Spearritt (Lawton 88), Shanley, Irlam, Breen, Keddie,
Dykes.Subs not used: Plant, Beckett,
Chester: Roberts, Disney, Touray, Harrison, Morris,
Savin (K.Evans 46), Menagh, Riley, Peers, Blake, Greenop.
Subs not used: S.Hughes, Christopher, J.Evans, Soarisbrick. Referee: Peter Gibbons.
were knocked out of the Cheshire Senior Cup at the first
hurdle as manager Steve Burr fielded a young side at Pavilions.
The match was only 30 seconds old when the home side took
the lead through Chris Dykes who was given far too much
time by the Blues defence before scoring past Connor Roberts.
Chester responded from the early setback but were unable
to force any saves from Hayden Buckley-Smith in the Runcorn
goal, the only real effort coming from Jamie Menagh who
sent a shot just past the angle of bar and post.
Daniel Toone hit the Chester bar direct from a free kick
and Roberts was forced into two quickfire saves from Mark
Keddie and Dykes as the home side looked to extend their
Keddie made it 2-0 just after the half hour blasting the
ball past Roberts from 20 yards and on the stroke of half-time
Paul Shanley broke down the left before crossing for Sean
Breen who converted to make it 3-0.
Menagh and Tom Peers both went close to pulling a golal
back for Chester after the break but it wasn't until the
68th minute when Ibou Tourey netted to reduce the arrears,
firing a shot across Buckley-Smith from 18 yards.
Roberts saved well from Chris Thompson to prevent Runcorn
from adding a fourth in the closing stages, but the home
side comfortably held on to reach the first round..
1 November Eastleigh
3 Chester 2
Football Conference Premier
Attendance: 1,306 Half Time 1-0
Booked: McConville. Sent-off: Hughes.
was a match result which seemed to divide Chester fans
as they walked out of Eastleigh’s Silverlake Stadium.
“We could have got a win if we’d have taken
all our chances”, said one. “Eastleigh deserved
the three points,” said another. And there was also:
“I thought we were going to shade a draw there.”
I was of the view that Eastleigh were
the better team, with a bigger and higher quality strikeforce.
I wasn’t surprised when they went ahead on the
25th minute when Ben Strevens scored from the rebound
after Jon Worsnop made a good initial stop.
The home side had already missed one
good chance when Michael Brown, called in to replace
suspended Michael Kay, had to clear off the line in
the opening stages of the match.
Chester did have an opportunity themselves
after Eastleigh’s opener, when Matty Hughes beat
a couple of defenders and passed well to Sean McConville.
Unfortunately for Chester, McConville’s shot failed
to trouble Ross Flitney.
In truth there wasn’t much atmosphere
at this game, with Chester fans scattered throughout
Eastleigh’s small ground. And no-one could go
behind one of the goals as it’s in the middle
of being developed, with what’s there now resembling
half a warehouse.
Just before half-time there was a
double sending-off in an incident which also divided
the travelling fans. I was shielding my eyes from the
fierce sun, so didn’t get all that good a view
from the opposite side. But Hughes was clearly bought
down by Dean Beckwith. In a flash, the heads of Hughes
and Beckwith came together and they were surrounded
by most of the other players. Referee Adam Bromley quickly
showed a red card to both players, and the rest of the
half ended without any more drama.
The half-time debate among the Chester
fans was about the red card incident. Some thought they
were just “two rutting stags” and there
was no real intent. But others were sure they’d
seen a headbutt from Hughes and there’d been no
avoiding a red card for the Chester man.
Purple-clad Chester started slightly
brighter in the second half, with Peter Winn –
a replacement for injured Craig Mahon - having an opening
not long after the re-start. That came to nothing, as
did a better chance for Craig Hobson and an opportunity
for John Rooney.
But the match turned again after 15
minutes of the second half when Jai Reason tumbled over
in the box after a clumsy challenge from Ben Heneghan.
Stuart Fleetwood had no trouble from the spot-kick to
make it 2-0 to Eastleigh.
Not long after that it was 3-0 to
the home side when a good pass from Reason found Craig
McAllister in space, and he had no trouble slotting
it past Worsnop.
But Chester refused to give in, and
Winn and McConville combined to give the Blues a goal
with nearly 15 minutes left on the clock. The initiative
was all with the Blues now, and substitute Jamie Menagh
almost connected with a Rooney cross to make it 3-2.
Soon after that, it did go to 3-2
when hard-working Kingsley James scored from a powerful
strike from outside the area. At that stage the injury
time board had not gone up, and Eastleigh nails were
being bitten when Chester continued to press forward.
But, after two minutes of stoppage
time, the referee blew to end Chester’s late surge.
In a distinctly atmosphere-free game one of the biggest
cheers of the day came when the full time whistle went
at Hull City v Southampton (a win for the visitors).
The Chester fans had other issues to debate, and I’m
sure the discussions went on long into the evening as
the away fans travelled home.