Forest Green Rovers: Maxted, Bennett,
Clough, Racine, Jennings, Marsh-Brown (Kelly 74), Sinclair,
Wedgbury, Carter (Bender 87), Frear, Parkin. Subs not
used: Eve, Baldwin, Jones.
Chester: Worsnop, Higgins, Kay, Sharps (Heneghan
63), Hunt, Chapell, George, Shaw, Mahon, Roberts (McDonagh
63), Hannah. Subs not used: Forth, Gordon, Woodland. Referee: Nigel Lugg (Surrey).
I walked along aptly named ‘Another Way’
to Forest Green’s New Lawn stadium I was expecting
a bit of a rout, with the high-flying home side set
to be no match for Chester. But the Blues put on a better
performance than most of the 215 visiting fans would
have predicted and could well have left sunny Gloucestershire
with a point.
Steve Burr put out a side that kept
his three new signings Jamie McDonagh, Ben Gordan and
Luke Woodland on the bench. Ben Heneghan was also one
of the substitutes, while John Rooney was suspended.
With half the crowd and the capless
Forest Green ‘keeper, Jonny Maxted, struggling
to see in the sun, it was the Chester who had the best
of the opening 15 minutes. But a couple of shots on
target from James Roberts and Jordan Chapell were easily
saved by Maxted.
It all changed on the 12th minute
though when Ross Hannah rose highest from a Chapell
corner. Above a melee of heads in the box, he managed
to find the net to give an early start to Chester.
That sparked Forest Green back into
life, with experienced striker Jon Parkin looking a
real threat. It’s pretty obvious why he is nicknamed
‘the Beast’, and I bet he eats more than
Forest Green’s much-publicised vegan diet.
And sure enough, he was on the scoresheet
on the 31st minute with a neat finish from close range
after a good pass into the danger area. Chester’s
defences seemed to be shaken by that and just two minutes
later, a poor Michael Kay backpass was pounced on by
Keanu Marsh-Brown. He ran unchallenged towards on-rushing
Jon Worsnop, before taking his chance well and putting
the home side ahead.
The rest of the the first half petered
out, with the only other significant Chester moment
being an appeal for a penalty by Craig Mahon. Referee
Nigel Lugg waved him away and pointed to a free kick
just outside the box.
The sun had dropped by the time the
second half started, giving every a clearer view of
proceedings. But there wasn’t as much action as
in the first half. The closest Chester came to scoring
was with a Tom Shaw strike, which was saved by Maxted.
Heneghan and McDonagh came on in the
63rd minute, replacing Ian Sharps and Roberts. McDonagh
showed a few glimpses of potential, and had a shot saved
by Maxted towards the end.
Chester did look more threatening
as time ticked on, and the noisy away following didn’t
give up hope when there was four extra minutes added
onto the clock. But it wasn’t their turn for a
last-minute equaliser and the win put Forest Green Rovers
back at the top of the League.
24 October Altrincham
1 Chester 0
FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round
Attendance: 1,603 (563 Chester) Half Time 0-0
was to be no repeat of last season’s money-spinning
FA Cup run as Chester were knocked out in the fourth
Manager Steve Burr made one change from the side that
beat FC Halifax with Craig Hobson com loan player James
Roberts who had a hamstring injury.
The Blues backed by a decent following created two chances
in the opening minutes with Michael Kay seeing an overhead
kick attempt saved by Tim Deasy in the home goal and
Ryan Higgins sent a header over the bar when well placed.
Midway through the half Deasy made
a great save to deny Ross Hannah after the striker had
sent in a powerful shot on target. The home side were
confined to a couple of long range effort with Adam
Griffin and Jake Moult both bringing out saves from
Altrincham had the better of the latter
stages of the first half and five minutes before the
break missed a great chance to take the lead as George
Bowerman, with just Worsnop to beat, shot high over
the bar from the edge of the penalty box.
Hannah saw another powerful effort
fly just wide four minutes after the break before the
home side opened the scoring on 52 minutes as a James
Lawrie free-kick was parried one handed by Worsnop but
the ball dropped at the feet of Damian Reeves who slotted
it home from a couple of yards out.
The home side were awarded a penalty
in the 67th minute as Worsnop challenged Simon Richman.
The referee however changed his mind moments later and
awarded a drop ball!
Tom Peers, on for Tom Shaw, saw an
effort from ten yards saves as Chester pressed for an
equaliser but the home defence held out to win the tie
and be rewarded with a home match against Barnsley in
17 October Chester
2 FC Halifax Town 1
Football Conference Premier
Attendance: 2,088 Half Time 1-0
Worsnop, Heneghan, Sharps, Kay, Higgins, Rooney (Hughes
90), Shaw, Mahon, Hunt, Roberts (Richards 53), Hannah
(Hobson 90). Subs not used: Forth, Chapell.
FC Halifax Town: Glennon, Bolton, N.Brown, M
Brown, Banton (Roberts 46), McManus, James, Wroe, Sadlier
(Bencherif 84), Burrow, Hamilton (Tuton 46). Subs not
used: Porter, MacDonald. Referee: Ollie Yates (Staffordshire).
James Roberts made an emotional return back to Chester
following the tragic death of his sixteen year old brother
Ben in a car crash on the evening of the game against
Wrexham on 3rd October.
When he broke the deadlock by latching on to the loose
ball on the edge of the area, beating a defender and firing
past Matt Glennon, the applause Roberts received was the
longest I have ever witnessed for a goal celebration.
He pointed both hands to the sky and was mobbed by his
team mates. His courage today was warmly appreciated by
everyone who was there.
This was just before the break in a match where City looked
the better side but struggled to make the breakthrough
against a Halifax side low in confidence after their midweek
thrashing at Grimsby.
Chester doubled their lead shortly after half time.. Sharps
won a towering header (He doesn’t miss many) at
the back to set Rooney forward. His pass was deftly back
heeled by Hannah into the path of Hunt who struck it into
Just before this, Roberts had limped off feeling a tight
hamstring and received a second standing ovation. Chester
seemed on course for victory as they continued to sweep
forward but then began to sit more deeply and give the
visitors more time on the ball. Halifax, with nothing
to lose began to throw caution to the wind and Burrows
took advantage of slack marking at the far post to fire
in past Worsnop.
So began yet another jittery last twenty minutes or so
for the City faithful. Richards, on as a sub for Roberts,
looked to have eased anxiety when he nodded in Rooney’s
cross – only for the goal to be given offside. But
Chester held their nerve to chalk up consecutive victories
for only the second time this season.
Blues had a lot of possession early on without threatening
the home goal. Both Jordan Chapell and Johnny Hunt shot
wide while John Rooney forced a save from Sandgrounders
‘keeper Andy Coughlin.
Southport broke the deadlock on 36 minutes as Mike Phenix
set up Louis Almond who steered the ball past the diving
Jon Worsnop. Phenix almost doubled the lead as his deep
looping cross almost crept in at the far post.
Manager Steve Burr brought on Craig
Mahon and Kane Richards just after the hour mark and
Mahon was back to his best as his introduction sparked
Chester into life.
With 11 minutes remaining Chester
drew level as Michael Kay took advantage after Coughlin
failed to collect a Rooney corner and Kay slotted home
the loose ball.
Coughlin was at fault again as Chester
snatched the winner five minutes from time as Mahon’s
shot was fumbled by the ex-Wrexham ‘keeper into
Manager Steve Burr said after the game: “I thought
it was another frustrating game to be honest from our
point of view. We got in their final third no end of
times, but our final ball was shocking. I wasn’t
happy with our lack of testing the home keeper and I
think we need to be more ruthless.”
“It would be hard to pick out
anyone who excelled, but I was just delighted that we
managed to come away with all three points because they
were three big points for us.”
10 October Chester
2 Lincoln City 3
Football Conference Premier
Attendance: 2,224 Half Time 1-2
Booked: Heneghan, Shaw, Higgins.
Worsnop, Higgins, Sharps, Kay, Hunt, Heneghan (Richards
59), Rooney, Shaw, Chapell, Hobson (Thomson 59), Hannah.
Subs not used: Forth, Hughes, Peers.
Lincoln City: Farman, Beevers, Waterfall, Howe,
Bush, Stanley (Everington 11), Wood, Power, Hawkridge,
Rhead (Hearn 80), Muldoon (Simmons 90). Subs not used:
Grant, Tempest. Referee: Tom Nield (Huddersfield).
never recovered from the shaky start they made to this
match and were chasing the game from the fourth minute.
Beevers was allowed to cross from the deep right with
ease and leading scorer Matt Rheade, with his back to
goal, nodded the ball over his left shoulder and notched
his eleventh goal of the season.
Lincoln continued to press and were afforded plenty of
room to run in to as the Blues seemed all at sea. Wood
galloped forward and let fly a screaming shot –
only to be denied by Worsnop’s spectacular save.
When Chester did manage to string some passes together
and play to feet they showed that they could make an impact.
Hannah found the overlapping Hunt on the left and he got
to the by-line to drive hard and low across the box. Chapell
ghosted in at the far post to sidefoot home an equaliser.
The Blues were at parity for barely two minutes as Hobson
lost the ball on the left and Lincoln surged forward.
From Bush’s long throw Heneghan cleared more with
height than distance. Worsnop made to go for the ball
but then thought better of it which meant he was on the
back foot when Everington’s shot came in. The Chester
keeper partly saved it but the ball crept towards the
goal and as he tried to retrieve it the linesman adjudged
it to have crossed the line.
After the break Lincoln seemed to have made the game safe
when Beevers got to the by-line and crossed superbly for
Power to race in and nod past Worsnop to make it 3-1.
However a double substitution for Chester (Thomson and
Richards replaced Heneghan and Hobson respectively) and
subsequent change of formation meant that the Blues began
to grab the initiative.
Hannah, frustratingly isolated for much of the game, latched
on to the ball and curled a beauty into the net off the
post. With 23 minutes to go Chester were back in it. The
Blues dominated the remainder of the game – and
had the chances to equalise. Hannah flicked a shot on
to the bar and then missed a golden chance to equalise
when presented with a free header in the six yard box.
Rooney’s shot was within a whisker of the right
The Imps, with guile that bordered on an art form, tried
their best to stem the flow of this Blue tide with infuriating
time wasting tactics and going to ground at every opportunity
to persuade the referee to stop the game. Despite the
seven minutes that Mr Nield added on and the momentum
that they built up in the last half and hour, Chester
could not manage to find an equaliser. For the third time
in a week, the Blues were involved in a 3-2 thriller,
but for the second time in four days they were on the
wrong end of the scoreline.
inconsistent form continued as they failed to build on
Saturday’s derby victory as they are beaten at Barrow.
Manager Steve Burr made two changes from the side that
beat Wrexham, in came Jordan Chapell and Kane Richards
in place of Craig Hobson and James Roberts.
was The Bluebirds who made the brightest start with
Jon Worsnop forced into a saves to deny both Andy Haworth
and Dan Pilkington while Alex Ray-Harvey missed a chance
to put the home side ahead shooting wide from close
Chester’s first effort saw ben
heneghan head just wide after Chapell's right side corner
had been flicked on by Michael Kay.
Worsnop saved from David Symington
before Chester took the lead in the 34th minute. John
Rooney’s through ball was met by Chapell who controlled
it well before shooting past Joel Dixon into the bottom
corner. Rooney set up Ross Hannah five minutes later
but the Blues striker shot wide when well placed to
double the lead.
Barrow responded to that miss with
an equaliser, Symington saw an effort come back off
the post and Haworth was on hand to convert the loose
Two minutes into the second half Barrow
took the lead. Haworth sent over a free-kick that the
Blues defence failed to deal with and the ball fell
to Andy Cook whose shot was to powerful for Worsnop.
Barrow continued to create chances
but it was the Blues who next found the nest with a
equaliser on 72 minutes from Tom Shaw who pounced after
Dixon had failed to control a Rooney cross.
Once again though Chester were caught
cold after finding the net as Niall Cowperthwaite thundered
home a 25-yarder five minutes later that gave Worsnop
no chance and secured all three points for the home
two successive defeats away from home and a disappointing
display down the road at Tranmere still fresh in the memory,
Chester rewarded their long-suffering fans by rising magnificently
to this occasion. The Blues put on a superb performance
to emerge victorious against a Wrexham side who have made
a strong start to the campaign and will have had their
eyes set on a derby win.
From start to finish City out fought and showed more heart
than their bitterest rivals. Higgins and Hunt set the
tone - rampaging forward to win tackles with panache and
not allowing the Dragons to settle on the ball.
Eyebrows had been raised at the team selection as Heneghan,
Sharps and Kay were all in the line-up. The latter two
paired up in central defence this time whilst Ben was
given a midfield role – not something he looked
completely comfortable in on a previous occasion –
but he grew into it today. James Roberts made his debut
having arrived on loan from Oxford United. He added energy
to City’s attacking play and a sprightly dash into
the penalty area saw him nip past two opponents before
screwing his shot wide when a goal looked on the cards.
More good play by Roberts led, indirectly to the Blues
taking the lead as he was tripped by Sean Newton 25 yards
out. Rooney lined it up and shot exquisitely over the
wall and into the top left hand corner. A brilliant goal
and the lead was no less than Chester deserved as a reward
for their tireless efforts.
Within five minutes however they were pegged back to 1-1.
Dominic Vose crossed from the left and the ball drifted
wide of the far post. Heneghan, however, was adjudged
by the referee to have nudged Blaine off the ball and
a penalty was awarded. It looked a very harsh decision
but the visitors accepted the gift with glee and Vose
tucked the spot kick past Worsnop. Their spirits lifted,
Wrexham pressed for a second before half time but a combination
of heroic defending by Worsnop and others and a wayward
finish by Quigley (On loan from Bournemouth) meant the
first half finished level.
Chester were glad of the break to re-group and Kane Richards
was called in to replace Hobson in the front line. (Saint)
Andy Milner made the half time draw and thoughts of his
equaliser on Valentine’s Day over twenty years ago
warmed the hearts of Blues fans. Good vibes were reflected
on the pitch as the Blues allowed the Reds to play the
ball across the back but then hit them on the counter
attack. The supremely industrious Shaw played a one-two
with Hanna and surged into the box to restore City’s
When Richards nodded in Hanna’s pinpoint cross at
the far post, the joy on the Harry Mac was unconfined.
Within the space of a week he had gone from the ignominy
of missing the team bus to becoming the toast of the town.
His work rate this afternoon was phenomenal and he grasped
this chance to show what he can do with both hands. Richards’
pace was a constant worry to the Wrexham defence during
the second half.
Rooney also gave an outstanding performance, tirelessly
retrieving lost causes and winning the ball back to put
City on the attack time after time. He almost produced
the icing on the cake when another sweetly struck free
kick rebounded off the bar and ricocheted off a nonplussed
Blaine and into the grateful arms of their ‘keeper.
The conditions of the bubble match meant that none of
the way supporters could leave early – much though
they might have wanted to. Instead they were subjected
to a constant barrage of the home fans singing the Blues
to victory. Even Jennings’ late, late consolation
goal could not take the gloss off a brilliant afternoon
for every Cestrian.
The police helicopter emerged out of the surrounding gloom
to escort the visitors home whilst in the Blues’
Bar the beer flowed as freely as the singing and –
courtesy of the television - we were able to enjoy the
match all over again in all its’ glory.