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Tranmere Rovers (A) | Bromley (H) | Southport (H) | Eastleigh (A) | North Ferriby United (H)
Tuesday 29 November
Chester 3 North Ferriby United 0
Conference Premier
Attendance: 1,392 Half Time 0-0
Booked: -.

Chester: Lynch, Hughes, Hudson, Astles, Hunt, Shaw, Lloyd, Mahon (Joyce 83), Durrell (Chapell 78), Richards (Marsh 86), Alabi. Subs not used: George, Waters.
North Ferriby United:
Watson, Hare, Topliss, Brogan, Middleton, Gray, Armstrong (Thompson 57), Fallowfield, Sutton, Emerton (Stamp 82), Kendall. Subs not used: Skelton, Cooke, Douglas.
Referee: Steve Martin.

Manager Jon McCarthy was able to once again name an unchanged side as Chester took on bottom of the table North Ferriby United who only arrived at the ground 40 minutes before kick-off.

The cold conditions had prompted a pitch inspection two hours before the kick-off with referee Steve Martin satisfied over the state of the pitch.

Chester began brightly carrying on where they left off after a fine win at Eastleigh on Saturday. Craig Mahon just failed to connect with a Johnny Hunt through ball early on and moments later was inches away from meeting a far post Elliott Durrell cross.

James Alabi saw a low cross-shot cleared off the line by Ben Middleton, and the same striker saw a looping header just clear the bar as Chester continued to press.

There were large appeals for a penalty following a Mark Gray tackle on Alabi as Chester's frustrations at not being able to break down The Villagers defence grew.

The visitors grew in confidence as the half wore on and nearly took the lead four minutes before the break, Alex Lynch pushing Ryan Kendall's effort wide for a corner and defender Blaine Hudson twice denying Sam Topliss.

Chester eventually broke the deadlock seven minutes into the second half. Mahon went on a superb run down the left, left two defenders in his wake before crossing for Kane Richards who volleyed home past Rory Watson in goal.

Two minutes later the Blues doubled their lead as Alabi was sent crashing to the ground by Watson and Martin pointed to the penalty spot. Alibi stepped up to drill the spot-kick into the top corner of the net.

Richards saw a 'goal' ruled out for offside before Lynch preserved the two goal lead with smart saves to deny Kendall and Ryan Fallowfield. North Ferriby also had a goal ruled out for offside as Reece Thompson found the net on 70 minutes.

A great move involving Mahon and Durrell set up Richards before the striker forced a fine save from Watson. Chester added a third goal to seal the victory two minutes from time as Alabi burst through The Villagers defence to power a shot past Watson.

Picture © Rick Matthews (Chester Leader)

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Saturday 26 November
Eastleigh 0 Chester 3
Conference Premier
Attendance: 1,932 Half Time 0-1
Booked: -.

Eastleigh: Brown, Partington, Green, Johnson, N’Gala, Drury, Taylor, Stearn (Santos 68), Coulson, Mandron, Wilson (Cureton 55). Subs not used: Essam, Constable, Reason.
Lynch, Hunt, Hughes, Astles, Hudson, Shaw, Lloyd, Mahon, Durrell, Alabi, Richards (Chapell 72). Subs not used: Waters, Evans, Marsh, Joyce.
Referee: Craig Hicks (Surrey).

Christmas came early for the 119 Chester fans who made their way to Eastleigh for a match most of them wouldn’t have been expecting to produce such an emphatic result for the Blues.

In fact, the opening spell of the game looked like a confident Eastleigh would emerge as victors. Their newly-signed winger Ross Stearn repeatedly found himself in space, but failed to capitalise on the opportunities. The hosts almost went ahead with a strike which saw Tom Shaw in the right place to clear the ball off the line.

Eastleigh were also featuring recent record signing Bonz NGala, but he was among those caught out by Chesters first chance on goal. A good move saw James Alabi pass to Johnny Hunt. He made a great cross for Kane Richards, who slotted the ball home to make it 1-0 to yellow-clad Chester after 20 minutes.

Both sides pressed to score before half-time, but it was Chester who came closest with one of those spells where the ball pinged about in the box but somehow failed to find the net.

Not long after the re-start, Eastleigh had a good chance to equalise, but Chester goalkeeper Alex Lynch made his best save of the afternoon. Chester were still looking dangerous, with Craig Mahon looking increasingly lively. But it was a pass from Ryan Lloyd that ultimately led to the second Chester goal. Richards was pushed in the box as he ran onto Lloyd's excellent assist, and despite Eastleigh protests, a penalty was awarded.

Shaws spot-kick was saved, but Elliott Durrell pounced on the rebound to put Chester 2-0 up with 20 minutes to go. Eastleighs 41-year-old substitute Jamie Cureton, couldnt find the net in the remaining minutes. In fact it was Chester who rubbed in their win with a 90th minute goal from Jordan Chapell.

He took the ball well and slotted it past Scott Brown to send the Eastleigh fans heading straight for the exit. There were five minutes of injury time, but neither side looked like making another impact on the scoreline and the visitors went home with a well-deserved three points.

Sue Choularton

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Tuesday 22 November
Chester 2 Southport 2
Conference Premier
Attendance: 1,752 Half Time 2-0
Booked: -.

Chester: Lynch, Hughes, Hudson, Astles, Hunt, Durrell (Joyce 73), Shaw, Lloyd, Mahon (Chapell 73), Alabi, Richards. Subs not used: Waters, Evans, Marsh.
Norman, R.Higgins, Ashton, Thompson, Weeks, Nolan, J.Higgins, McKenna, Allen, Jones (Jerome 80), Grimes (Caton 80). Subs not used: Ferguson, Hynes, Gray.
Referee: Wayne Barratt.

Steve Burr returned to Chester for the first time since his departure last April. The match was perhaps typical of what might have been expected with his Southport team fighting back from a two-goal deficit to achieve a draw. When Burr took Chester to his former club Kidderminster for the first time it was a similar match and result – a Kiddie fan remarking that we should know what to expect from a Steve Burr side – they never ever give up.

After this game Burr said he felt it was travesty that the Sandgrounders were 2-0 down at half time. In truth they had posed a serious attacking threat in the first period but they also looked liable to concede. Richards got City off the mark with the first following a move which started on the left with Mahon and finished with Durrell on the right floating in a clever cross. Richards met it at the far post and nodded in for 1-0. The goal came soon after a narrow escape for the Chester goal. Hughes had been sold short by a pass and had the ball nicked from him by Grimes who looked certain to score but Lynch saved superbly.

Alabi did well to find Shaw with a lobbed pass but the Chester skipper could not quite bring the ball under control. It was Alabi himself who doubled City’s lead shortly after when he headed home at the same far post direct from Lloyd’s corner. Hughes might have added another as he followed up Alabi’s shot, parried by Norman, but the chance went begging. But Southport continued to try to strike back. Grimes’ stooping header at the near post was blocked by Lynch and then centre back Jack Higgins nodded wide when well placed from his namesake Ryan’s right wing cross.

Blues weathered a storm after the break as the Sandgrounders came out with a flea in their ear. They continued to pin Chester in their own half as the Blues sat deep and allowed the visitors to build from the back and run at them with the ball. It looked as though City were going to tough it out and protected Lynch fairly well. Grimes had another effort magnificently saved by the City keeper but then the Blues cracked when the ball came to Andrai Jones rather fortuitously on the edge of the area but he hit a first time shot into the corner to pull a goal back.

The visitors had their tails up now and Allen and McKenna began to run City ragged. Blues were unable to match the energy with which Southport chased the game and not even the introduction of Chapell and Joyce – the same combination as last Saturday- could stem the flow of the incoming tide. Again Lynch was beaten by a crisp low effort from outside the box. This time it was Allen who fired in to equalise. Lynch had already been named man of the match by then and if it wasn’t for his efforts City may well have slipped to defeat.

As it was they dug in and rallied and could have snatched the points if Hughes had been able to direct his header better – but it was a rare opportunity in a heavy-legged second half display by the Blues. The home fans left despondent and disappointed not to have closed out a win in retaliation for defeat to Southport in the FA Cup a few weeks ago but few would argue that the Sandgounders did not deserve the point. It had been a roller coaster ride for them on the Steve Burr Express. Jon McCarthy, in contrast, seems more content with the steady progress City are making this season and remarked afterwards that he is really looking forward to pitting his wits against the formidable challenge of Eastleigh on Saturday.

Colin Mansley

Picture © Rick Matthews (Chester Leader)

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Saturday 19 November
Chester 1 Bromley 1
Conference Premier
Attendance: 1,827 Half Time 0-1
Booked: Richards.

Chester: Lynch, Hughes, Hudson, Astles, Hunt, Shaw, Lloyd, Durrell (Chapell 66), Mahon (Joyce 66), Richards, Alabi. Subs not used: Horwood, Waters, Marsh.
Julian, Johnson, Swaine, Holland, Martin, Minshull (Higgs 76), Porter (Ngoo 77), Dymond, Anderson, Turgott, Sho-Silva (Prestedge 86). Subs not used: Chorley, Cunnington.
Referee: Antony Coggins.

Since the euphoria of snatching a point in an entertaining draw at Prenton Park, Chester had lost the services of assistant manager Ian Sharps who left the club this week to take up a full-time post with Walsall. There were times this afternoon when Jon McCarthy cut a forlorn figure in the technical area as he stood alone and watched his charges struggle against a well-disciplined Bromley.

The visitors began in more business like fashion than City who seemed sluggish in comparison. The high pressing Ravens employed their wings well and pinned the Blues back for long periods of the first half. They took the lead following a comedy of errors on the edge of the Chester box. Mahon blocked a pass then tried to clear but struck Tobi Sho Silva. The ball cannoned to Hudson whose clearance struck Mahon and the rebound fell to Turgott. The in-form striker drove the ball past Lynch for his seventh league goal of the season.

Bromley’s industry off the ball forced Chester into clearing long and starved forwards Richards and Alabi of the ball. Mahon fed Alabi for a rare chance at goal with the ball at his feet but Swaine timed his tackle well to deny him.

When City continued to struggle after the break, McCarthy made a double change. After shenanigans with the electronic board when the fourth official (He held up two elevens) seemed to indicate Chapell was coming on to replace himself, he took Durrell’s place, while Joyce came on for Mahon. Richards took up a position on the left and the Blues began to move the ball with more urgency. As Richards was presented with opportunities to run at Bromley with the ball at his feet, the visitors tried to deny him room. But soon he was travelling at speed into the box, having beaten two defenders he was caught by a third and sent sprawling. Skipper Tom Shaw despatched the penalty kick magnificently and celebrated exuberantly – frustration eased.

Chester could not do enough to win the three points, though they might have snatched it at the death when Chapell found the ball at his feet following Alabi’s flick on – but Julian saved well and scrambled the ball away. Even then Bromley almost grasped a winner too but Lynch did extremely well to turn Higgs’ header round the post.

The games are coming thick and fast now with Steve Burr’s return to the Deva with Southport on Tuesday. Only after that match, said McCarthy will he look to find a replacement for Sharps. Until then he is working a double shift.

Colin Mansley

Picture © Rick Matthews (Chester Leader)

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Saturday 12 November
Tranmere Rovers 2 Chester 2
Conference Premier
Attendance: 7,790 (1,129 Chester) Half Time 2-0
Booked: Astles, Mahon, Richards.

Tranmere Rovers: Davies, Vaughan, Ridehalgh, McNulty, Sutton, Kirby (Mekki 79), Harris, Tollitt, Hughes, Mangan (Ihiekwe 68), Cook. Subs not used: Dawson, Stephenson, Turner.
Lynch, Hughes, Astles, Hudson, Hunt, Shaw, Lloyd, Durrell, Mahon, Richards, Alabi. Subs not used: Evans, Marsh, Joyce, Chapell, Horwood.
Referee: Thomas Bramall (Sheffield).

Ryan Astles scored a stoppage time
equaliser as Chester came from two goals back to draw an entertaining game at Prenton Park.

Manager Jon McCarthy made just one change from the side beaten at home by Lincoln City last week with Kane Richards replacing Jordan Chapell who dropped to the bench.

The first period was shared with both sides having plenty of possession without producing any real efforts of note. Tranmere struck twice in four minutes to take control of the game after half an hour. First Andy Cook controlled a left side cross from loanee Ben Tollitt before sending a half volley past Alex Lynch in the Chester goal. Minutes later Tollitt himself scored firing across Lynch from 15 yards out after there appeared to be a handball in the build-up.

Chester settled and began to create chances themselves just before the break. Richards was unlucky to see an effort come back off the bar following good build-up play from Craig Mahon and Elliott Durrell saw an effort saved by Scott Davies low down.

The Blues started the second period well and pulled a goal back on 50 minutes as Ryan Lloyd’s cross from the right was met by captain Tom Shaw who steered an unmarked header into the top right corner of the net leaving Davies stranded.

Shaw almost added a second soon after this time heading Durrell’s cross straight at Davies. Tranmere responded and Andy Mangan forced a great save out of Lynch just as it looked like the striker would add a third from close range.

On 65 minutes Rovers were reduced to ten men as Tollitt was shown a second yellow card after diving in the penalty area. Chester began to get a grip and make their extra man count. Both Durrell and Astles saw efforts fly just wide as they pressed for an equaliser. Lloyd saw another effort just clear the bar from a Mahon pass.

As the game entered five minutes added time the Blues sent Astles up. Sam Hughes played the ball out of defence to Johnny Hunt on the left and he pushed forward unchallenged before lifting a cross that was met on the edge of the box by Astles on the turn and he sent a half volley into the bottom corner of the net to spark jubilant scenes with the 1,200 away support behind the goal.

Picture © Rick Matthews (Chester Leader)

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