Chester moved back to the top of the Conference North
following this 3-0 derby win at Vauxhall Motors. Manager
Neil Young made four changes from the side that that
fought out an unconvincing victory over Histon on Saturday.
There was a debut for Danny Williams, a first league
start for Tony Gray, and recalls for Luke Denson and
Ashley Williams. Making way were Marc Williams, who
picked up an injury on Saturday, Wes Baynes, Dave Hankin
and Iain Howard.
This was the first competitive
match between the two sides and Chester were backed
by over 1,200 fans in a packed Rivacre Park ground.
It was the home side who had
the better start and forced John Danby into a save after
just 20 seconds palming away a Craig Mahon shot after
the Motors player had picked up on a poor Sean Clancy
Chester were gifted the lead
through an own goal on ten minutes as an inswinging
right-wing cross from Gray was deflected past Zac Jones
in the home goal by Conor Roberts-Nurse.
David Thompson almost added
a second own goal from a Clancy corner before Thompson
turned provider at the other end to set up Tom Rutter
whose shot was well saved by Danby.
Antoni Sarcevic tried another of
his trademark 25-yardere but saw his effort fly well
wide of Jones’ post as the rain lashed down making
The home side were reduced to
ten men on 27 minutes as Roberts-Nurse was shown a straight
red card following a tackle on Clancy that seemed a
bit harsh to many observers.
Danny Williams almost doubled
Chester’s lead on the stroke of half-time but
saw his long-range effort tipped over the bar by Jones.
Chester continued to create
a threat after the break. A fine Sarcevic through ball
set up Gray with an opportunity but the striker’s
shot was well blocked by Andy Nicholas before Paul Linwood
saw a goalbound shot headed clear from the line by Rutter.
The Blues eventually got the
all-important second goal on 65 minutes as substitute
Dave Hankin’s back post cross was met on the volley
by Danny Williams to crash the ball home.
Five minutes later the game
was made safe with another well taken goal as Danny
Williams’ left-wing cross set up Clancy who capped
a fine performance with a superb volley into the roof
of the net for his first goal in a Chester shirt.
27 October Chester
2 Histon 1
Attendance: 2,410 Half Time 1-0
Danby, Baynes, Linwood, Collins, Clancy, Hankin (Gray
69), Brown (Mackin 75), Sarcevic, Howard (A.Williams
59), Jarman, M.Williams. Subs not used: Denson, Taylor. Histon:
Mellings, Roberts, Clerifa, Fitzsimmons, Coker, Sear,
Stevenson, Dowie, Mills, Ola (Ahmed 71), Hoban. Subs
not used: Hawkins, Thomson. Referee:
Sarah Garratt (Halesowen).
Chester moved back to the top of the league following
this victory over Histon but the Blues made heavy work
of the three points turing in a performance well below
the high standards they have set themselves in recent
The match marked the third Think
Pink Day held by the club as they helped raise money
for the Countess of Chester Hospital’s breast
care unit, the team wore a specially commissioned pink
and blue striped kit for the occasion that was auctioned
off after the game.
Visitors Histon were delayed by traffic up from Cambridgeshire
and didn’t arrive at the ground until 15:00hrs,
the match eventually kicked-off 35 later.
The Blues took the lead in the ninth minute, Nathan
Jarman saw his goalbound shot handled by Danny Fitzsimmons
in the area. Referee Sarah Garratt awarded the penalty
and Jarman stepped up to send Joe Mellings the wrong
way to register his sixth goal of the season and the
club’s first from the spot.
Chester however failed to capitalise
on their encouraging start and rarely troubled Mellings
again in a forgetful first half though Wes Baynes saw
the Stutes ‘keeper save his long range effort
at the second attempt, and Marc Williams saw an effort
blocked by the Histon defence.
Jarman’s long range effort flashed just wide of
goal and Dave Hankin should have done better with a
header from Sean Clancy’s left wing cross, but
the midfielder missed the target as Chester failed to
make what little chances they had count.
The Blues failure to step up
the pressure was punished six minutes after the break
when Histon equalised. Jim Stevenson’s free-kick
to the back post was headed across to captain Remy Clerifa
whose first effort was well saved by John Danby, however
the ball dropped back at the feet of Clerifa who made
no mistake with his second effort.
Manager Neil Young rang the
changes bringing on Ashley Williams and Tony Gray for
Iain Howard and Hankin and this seemed to liven the
Blues up. Paul Linwood
forced a smart save from Mellings as he met Clancy’s
deep corner moments later.
Jarman saw a fine header tipped
onto the bar by Mellings before Chester finally forced
the winner with nine minutes remaining. Marc Williams
fed a through ball to Gray down the right, the striker
cut through the defence to pull the ball back for the
onrushing Antoni Sarcevic to place his shot past Mellings
and the final defender from six yards out.
Substitute Levi Mackin saw a
powerful shot go just wide before Danby produced a fine
save five minutes from time to deny Stevenson an equaliser.
Both Gray and Sarcevic were denied by Mellings in the
closing minutes as Chester held on for victory.
17 October Chester
1 Bradford Park Avenue 1
Attendance: 2,031 Half Time 0-1
Booked: Collins, Jarman, M.Williams.
Danby, Denson (Baynes 75), Collins, Horan (Linwood 50),
Clancy, Hankin, Brown, Sarcevic, Howard (Gray 62), Jarman,
M.Williams. subs not used: Mackin, McGinn. Bradford Park
Avenue: Deasy, Duckworth, Radcliffe, O’Brien,
Knowles, Hotte, Greaves, Needham, Holland (Marshall
46), James (Drury 78), Davidson (Walker 46). subs not
used: Deacey, Higginson. Referee:
Ryan Johnson (Swinton).
goal two minutes from time by Marc Williams brought
the point that ensured that Chester moved to the top
of the table on goal difference, but the Blues were
left frustrated that they couldn’t turn their
domination into a victory.
Manager Neil Young named an
unchanged starting X1 following Saturday’s win
at Bishop’s Stortford through both Wes Baynes
and Matty McGnnn returned from injury to take a place
on the bench. Bradford rested three players with an
eye on their FA Cup match at the weekend.
Chester found themselves a goal
down after just three minutes as Avenue broke down the
left, the ball was played by Alex Davidson inside to
Danny Holland who broke away from two defenders to curl
a shot round John Danby inside the right hand post.
Chester replied through Williams
who saw a long range effort fly wide and clever play
by Antoni Sarcevic flicking the ball over an advancing
defender, set up the midfielder though he shot straight
at Tim Deasy in the Avenue goal form 18 yards.
The visitors had has the better
of the opening stages but the Blues were now starting
to dominate. Dave Hankin saw a long range effort fly
over the bar before Nathan Jarman won the ball and broke
clear, his through ball to Williams was met by the striker
who steered his shot wide of goal when an equaliser
Williams found himself unmarked inside
the area but saw another close range effort blocked
by the legs of Deasy. An inswinging Sarcevic free-kick
was met by George Horan but his flick on just clipped
the bar. Jarman was next to be denied by Deasy as he
met another Sarcevic through ball but forced the ‘keeper
into another save.
Good play by Williams and Sarcevic
set up Iain Howard but the midfielder saw his shot deflected
over the bar and Deasy produced another fine save to
deny the in-form Sarcevic who had intercepted a deflected
shot from Howard.
Chester carried on where they left
off after the break. Iain Howard saw a 20-yarder fly
just wide before Paul Linwood came on for the injured
Horan. Williams was booked for a dive in the penalty
area as Chester continued to press. Jarman saw a free-kick
claimed by Deasy and the ‘keeper then denied Linwood
by saving the defender’s header.
At the other end Chester were almost
made to pay for their misses as Liam Needham crossed
to Tom Greaves who fell as he steered his close range
effort wide of both Danby and the goal. Dom Collins
made a last ditch tackle to deny Rob O’Brien a
chance at goal.
With five minutes remaining Williams
saw an effort fly into the side netting and Martin Drury
bravely threw himself into the line of a Hankin shot
that was deflected wide after Deasy’s weak punch
had found the Blues midfielder twelve yards out.
Chester’s persistence was finally
rewarded as Williams stooped to head home Sean Clancy’s
right wing corner to the great relief of the home fans
behind the goal.
Chester moved within touching distance of their current
Blue Square North rivals, Brackley Town, with a 2-1
away win at Bishop’s Stortford after two great
goals from Nathan Jarman and Antoni Sarcevic.
There wasn’t much to remember from the first half
- apart from the friendliness of Chester’s Hertfordshire
hosts and two close shaves from Iain Howard. The first
hit the side-netting, fooling some of the away following.
The second looked an easier chance, but the midfielder
failed to find the target.
Manager Neil Young gave a debut appearance to new signing
Luke Denson, who came in for Michael Powell. Otherwise
the team were unchanged from the midweek Halifax encounter.
Iain Howard had another chance early on in the second
half when he shot for goal with a volley, following
a Dave Hankin pass. However, his attempt missed the
Chester were beginning to dominate the match when the
ever-threatening Marc Williams had a near miss with
a good header. The Blues’ fans, who were all but
surrounding the tidy Woodside Park ground, were getting
livelier as the team upped the ante as well.
And their encouragement paid off on the 75th minute
when Nathan Jarman struck a fabulous half volley from
more than 25 yards out. His shot nearly ripped the net,
and it was impossible for the Bishop’s Stortford
goalkeeper, David Wootton, to do anything about it.
Chester perhaps rested on their laurels for a short
spell, and the home team quickly capitalised. Stortford
defender Johnny Herd, turned on a challenge to score
an equally well-struck goal and it was back to level-pegging.
But the match was far from over and we were rewarded
with another quality finish. And yes, it was another
half volley as well. At this level of football, that’s
got to be a great sign. This time it was from Sarcevic
and it was at even longer range than Jarman’s
impressive strike. Once again, the goalkeeper had no
Tony Grey and Ashley Williams had come on as substitutes
by then, replacing Howard and Scott Brown. Young’s
final sub-of-the-day was Levi Mackin, who replaced Marc
Williams on the 85th minute. He almost had a chance
to make it 3-1, but his shot was saved by Wootton.
The Blues managed to hold out until full-time to earn
the three points. And as the away fans drifted away,
they picked up on results elsewhere which had gone their
way. For Chester supporters this really was a ‘Non-League
Day’ to remember.
9 October FC Halifax
Town 3 Chester 1
FA Cup Third Qualifying Round Replay
Attendance: 1,514 Half Time 2-0
Booked: Danby, Collins, Horan. Sent-off: Powell.
FC Halifax Town:
Glennon, Toulson, St Juste (McManus 46), Hogan, Jarrett,
Lowe, Worsley, Marshall (Hackney 57), Johnson (Seddon
72), Gregory, Worthington. Subs not used: Senior, Bolland,
Qualter. Chester: Danby, Powell, Horan (Mackin
83), Collins, Howard (A.Williams 80), Hankin, Brown,
Sarcevic, Clancy, Jarman (Gray 78), M.Williams. Subs
not used: Fearon, Booth, Ormrod. Referee: Martin Coy (County Durham).
Chester crashed out of the FA Cup and saw Michael Powell
needlessly red carded in the process as Halifax ran
out 3-1 winners in this fourth qualifying round replay
at The Shay. Manager Neil Young was forced to make changes
to his defence with both full-back’s Matty McGinn
and Wes Baynes not recovering from injuries that saw
them substituted in Saturday’s match between the
sides. Sean Clancy and Dave Hankin were recalled to
fill their roles.
The home side took just five
minutes to open the scoring, a long throw found its
way through the Blues defence to Jason St. Juste whose
squared cross was converted by Jon Worthington. John
Danby found himself in the referee’s notebook
after rushing out to meet Lee Gregory and fouling the
Town striker outside the area. Danby made amends moments
later saving Liam Hogan’s close range effort with
Chester began to find their
way back into the match but were dealt a blow in the
30th minute with Powell seeing red following an off-the-ball
incident spotted by the referee’s assistant.
Going down to ten men seemed
to galvanise Chester and they had the ball in the net
five minutes later only for Nathan Jarman’s effort
to be ruled out for offside after he’d pounced
on Antoni Sarcevic’s through ball and lobbed ex-Chester
‘keeper Matt Glennon.
Jarman saw another effort smothered
moments after the restart with Glennon saving at the
second attempt the striker’s effort. The home
side doubled their lead on 52 minutes however with a
simply taken effort. A long ball over the top from Danny
Lowe found Dale Johnson, his pass was met by Gregory
who dummied the ball in front of Danby to score into
the empty net.
Sarcevic forced Glennon to parry a
long-range effort before Marc Williams gave Chester
hope when he pulled a goal back jest before the hour
mark as he converted a knock down by Ian Howard following
Hankin’s cross to score just inside the right
Chester’s joy was short-lived
through as Town added a third five minutes later as
Worsley was allowed time to run onto a through ball
and beat Danby at the near post and put the tie beyond
the Blues and book a place at Lincoln City in the next
as a club, were caught off guard, as a small group of
visiting fans launched a kamikaze mission on the Harry
Mac terrace after only two minutes of the game. They
took advantage of the absence of police and ran on the
pitch to taunt the home end. stewards had no choice
but to shepherd them back into the West stand until
police re-inforcements arrived. The entry of several
police officers in the opposite corner of the ground
co-incided with another incident when two or three “away”
supporters were ousted as H block administered rough
justice and the miscreants escaped on to the pitch.
This second incident occurred after twenty minutes.
On neither occasion did the referee see fit to stop
the match. But the first invasion heightened the crowd
unrest and seemed to transmit its chaos on to the pitch
as wild tackles began to fly. Brown was booked as he
threw his tackle into the mix.
As with the league match earlier Halifax took the game
to City and pressed them back. A couple of chances were
scuffed before City had to re-arrange their back line.
First McGinn and then Baynes limped off to be replaced
by Mackin and Hankin respectively. This had a detrimental
effect on Chester’s shape and rhythm but ironically
gave them a little more width when Hankin got the chance
to go forward. They posed little threat to the visitors
goal however apart from a good shot by Jarman which
Glennon dealt with at full stretch.
In such a physical encounter it was perhaps no surprise
that a couple of red cards ensued. But when they did
arrive for Horan and Johnson it was not because they
were trading blows but for being locked in a synchronised
grapple like two rutting stags trying to impose their
authority over each other.
After their departure the game became much more open.
Chester re-arranged again with Mackin going to centre
half – a position in which he looked more comfortable
– and Clancy came on to go to left back after
debutant Tony Gray was withdrawn.
Out of the blue Antoni Sarcevic let fly a stunning shot
from thirty yards which dipped and curled into the top
right corner, giving Glennon no chance. It was a goal
worthy to win any match but there was still a long way
to go and the visitors equalised when City couldn’t
clear their lines following a free kick on the left
and substitute Hackney belted a shot in off the bar
from the edge of the area.
City might have edged a second goal – Jarman’s
curler was tipped around the post by Glennon and the
Halifax keeper came perilously close to carrying the
ball over his line a few minutes later. Brown looked
to have scored a sensational winner but the net rippled
from the wrong side as it rebounded off the stanchion.
At the other end Danby did well to get down to rescue
the ball from Gregory’s feet.
You wouldn’t find many City fans arguing that
a draw was not a fair result but supporters of both
clubs were left shaking their heads at the idiocy of
the few who had travelled to the game intent on causing
City made heavy weather of progressing to the next round
of the Cup as dark clouds gathered around the Exacta.
Once again Gainsborough proved difficult opponents and
– like a wasp at a picnic – were a constant
nuisance and looked like they would not buzz off.
As the game drifted into stoppage time Chester clung to
a slender lead acquired when Collins' effort at the far
post was deflected into the net by a Gainsborough defender.
Baynes' free kick had thumped the crossbar so hard that
it threatened to uproot the posts but City could not add
to their tally and put the game to bed. spectators began
to make their way home.
A steward shouted “see you Saturday!” to one
who was leaving. Tempting fate we thought. Sure enough
Trinity’s annoying persistence paid off when substitute
Yates struck the ball into the net following a corner.
It looked like Chester would never score again, so successfully
did Gainsborough smother their attacking play. But then
just over half way through extra time, Marc Williams wriggled
free and pulled the ball back for Mackin to shoot precisely
from the edge of the box and just inside Budtz’s
left hand post. It was enough.
so we were spared the trauma of penalties and City would
indeed be at home on Saturday to face another stiff challenge
in the next round from FC Halifax. It had been a tough
encounter and a gruelling one, not pretty but ugly. Williams’'
moment of quality made the difference and earned the Blues
an important victory.