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Saturday 29 October
Chester 2 Lincoln City 5
Conference Premier
Attendance: 2,586 (413 Lincoln) Half Time 2-2
Booked: -.

Chester: Lynch, Hudson, Hughes, Astles, Hunt, Shaw, Lloyd, Mahon (Richards 60), Durrell, Chapell, Alabi (Akintunde 67). Subs not used: Horwood, Joyce, Waters.
Lincoln City:
Farman, Wood, Habergham, Waterfall, Power (Whitehouse 76), Anderson, Raggett, Arnold, Woodyard, Robinson (Muldoon 64), Rhead (Hawrkridge 85). Subs not used: Whitehouse, Miles, McCombe.
Referee: Anthony Backhouse.

Chester's fine nine match unbeaten league run came to an end when they were well beaten by play-off chasing Lincoln City. Manager Jon McCarthy was forced into a change with Theo Vassell injured, in came Blaine Hudson for the on-loan defender.

An open attacking game saw both sides creating chances. The Imps forced a corner in the second minute and Alex Lynch was beaten to a through ball by Harry Anderson but the effort drifted wide. Elliott Durrell and Jordan Chapell both brought out saves on the counter attack from Paul Farman in the Imps goal and at the other end Nathan Arnold forced a punched clearance from Lynch as Lincoln pressed.

The Blues forced a series of corners and Ryan Astles gave them the lead from one on 33 minutes as Tom Shaw headed Ryan Lloyd's flag-kick back from the far post for the defender to score.

Ten minutes later Lincoln were level as the dangerous Matt Rhead headed home a far post Sam Habergham corner in off the post.

With two minutes remaining in the opening half referee Anthony Backhouse awarded Chester a penalty for a foul by Luke Waterfall on Shaw. Shaw picked himself up to send Farman the wrong way form the spot-kick.

Unfortunately the Blues were unable to hang on for the whistle as Lincoln equalised for the second time in stoppage time, again from a corner, as Nathan Arnold's cross was headed home by Sean Luke Waterfall.

Three minutes into the second period Lincoln took the lead as Rhead was first to pounce on a loose ball following an Arnold free kick to score from 15 yards out.

Theo Robinson should have added a fourth for Lincoln shooting over from close range following a lay-off from Rhead. Chester responded by bringing on Kane Richards and Oluwaseun Akintunde to change the attack.

With ten minutes remaining Jack Muldoon put the game beyond Chester adding a fourth goal after a neat one-two with Rhead. Rhead was in the action again minutes later sending Harry Anderson through on goal and he coolly slotted the ball past Lynch.

The final action of the match saw Richards rattle the crossbar before Blackhouse blew the final whistle.

Picture © Rick Matthews (Chester Leader)

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Tuesday 25 October
Macclesfield Town 0 Chester 0
Conference Premier
Attendance: 1,922 (530 Chester) Half Time 0-0
Booked: Hughes Lloyd.

Macclesfield Town: Ross, Halls, Fitzpatrick, Pilkington, McCombe, Mackreth (Rowe 78), Holroyd, Sampson, James, Hancox, Whitaker. Subs not used: Branagan, Byrne, Roberts, Madeley.
Lynch, Astles, Hughes, Hunt, Vassell (Killock 62, Hudson 72), Mahon, Chapell, Durrell, Shaw, Lloyd, Alabi (Akintunde 69). Subs not used: Joyce, Waters.
Referee: Simon Barrow.

A hard fought draw for Chester who remain mid-table following another clean sheet with debutant Alex Lynch in goal. Manager Jon McCarthy made two changes to the side with Tom Shaw replacing Luke George and Lynch replacing Liam Roberts who picked up an injury at York last week.

Backed by an away support of over 500 Chester started brightly with Elliott Durrell and Craig Mahon both saw efforst blocked before the woodwork came to the rescue as Macc's George Pilkington rattled the post with a 25-yarder after the Blues failed to clear a corner.

At the other end Craig Rose in the Silkman’s goal saved to deny Jordan Chapell. Jack Sampson saw an effort from the edge pf the box just slip wide and former Blue Chris Holroyd shot over the bar as the home side pressed for the opening goal.

Holroyd saw another effort deflected wide and Lynch saved well to deny Mitch Hancox as the home side turned the screw. Despite their pressure Chester were restricting Macc mainly to long range efforts and Danny Whitaker saw one such effort fly just wide moments before the break.

Durrell forced a fine low save out of Rose in the early moments of the second period. The game was end-to-end with Lynch saving moments later to deny Halls.

Ross Killock came on for the injured Theo Vassell just after the hour mark but after just 11 minutes he had to be replaced himself after by Blaine Hudson after pulling up injured himself.

Chapell saw an effort saved by Rose before Macc substitute Danny Rose hit the post with just five minutes remaining and the same played hit the woodwork again with just seconds remaining as Chester’s rearguard held out for a point.

Picture © Rick Matthews (Chester Leader)

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Saturday 22 October
York City 1 Chester 1
Conference Premier
Attendance: 2,639 (569 Chester) Half Time 0-0
Booked: Vassell.

York City: Letheren, Whittle, Kamdjo, Higgins, Fry, Nti, Heslop, Fenwick (Brodie 70), Clarke (Galbraith 63), Rzonca (Klukowski 77), Oyebanjo. Subs not used: Flinders, Clappison.
Roberts, Vassell, Hunt, Astles, Hughes, George, Lloyd, Durrell, Chapell (Richards 66), Mahon, Alabi. Subs not used: Lynch, Killock, Joyce, Hudson.
Referee: Simon Barrow.

Kane Richards scored a last minute equaliser as Chester came away from York City with a well deserved point after dominating most of the second period.

Manager Jon McCarthy made one change from the side so disappointingly beaten at Southport the week before with Jordan Chapell coming in to replace Richards who started on the bench.

The Minstermen had the better of the opening period though Liam Roberts was hardly tested in the Blues goal, Johnny Hunt cleared a dangerous Alex Whittle cross for a corner and the resulting flag kick saw Daniel Nti force a save from Roberts.

Kyle Letheren was well placed in the home goal to save a powerful 25-yarder from Craig Mahon as Chester got more into the game, and Elliott Durrell saw a shot from a similar distance deflected wide.

James Alibi saw a shot fly just over the bar from 18 yards seven minutes before the break.

The last chance of the half fell to Durrell who just failed to reach Chapell's right wing cross.

Chapell, Durrell and Alibi all saw chances missed before York opened the scoring on 70 minutes as Matt Fry headed home from a corner.

Chester looked to bounce back quickly. Durrell saw a free kick hit the woodwork and substitute Richards also hit a post from close range. But as the game entered five minutes of stoppage time Richards rose to head home a Ryan Lloyd cross to send the 500+ away support behind the goal crazy.

Picture © Rick Matthews (Chester Leader)

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Saturday 15 October
Southport 1 Chester 0
FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round
Attendance: 1,674 Half Time 1-0
Booked: Alibi.

Southport: Norman, Higgins, Howe, Thompson, Ashton, Weeks (G Jones 77), Lussey, Nolan, Ferguson (Caton 73), Allen (Cofie 83), A Jones. Subs not used: Grimes, Gray, White, G Jones, Crump.
Roberts, Vassell, Astles, Hughes, Hunt (Horwood 81), Lloyd, Mahon, Durrell (Chapell 28), George, Alibi, Richards (Akintunde 60). Subs not used: Killock, Evans, Waters, Joyce.
Referee: Wayne Barratt.

Chester went out of the FA Cup with a whimper as the in-form Blues failed to threaten the net of bottom-of-the-League Southport in a dismal encounter at Haig Avenue.

Despite Chester being cheered on by a large away following (the tannoy announcement of 738 away fans left us all scratching our heads), it was Southport who started the brighter on a balmy October afternoon, with Jamie Allen coming close with a shot over the bar in the opening spell.

Southport, managed by ex-Chester boss Steve Burr, continued to be the dominant team for the first half hour. It can't have helped Chester though when Elliott Durrell went off injured on the 29th minute, to be replaced by Jordan Chapell.

Soon after Southport's pressure finally paid off and they went 1-0 up. It was a sickening goal for Chester to concede after a poor clearance fell to Southport's Declan Weeks. His shot wouldn't have threatened Liam Roberts, but it ricocheted off a Chester defender and the goalkeeper could do nothing about it. It was a sorry way to end the run of seven clean sheets, and came on the 700th minute since Chester last conceded a goal.

The Blues failed to respond before half-time came and the disappointed away terrace were hoping matters would be different after the re-start when Chester were shooting towards them.

Chester did put on a brighter performance in the second half after a delayed kick-off while Southport's groundsman attended to a troublesome net. Craig Mahon proved to be a tricky customer, turning ex-Chester defender Ryan Higgins at least three times before getting one of his crosses over. The Blues also won countless corners, giving the travelling army hope that a goal would finally come.

Chapell also had one of his better games, and Sam Hughes impressed again with another confident display. But the closest they came to finding the net was an off-target header from James Alabi, who otherwise had a disappointing afternoon. As the final whistle beckoned, Ryan Astles came forward at every opportunity, but he failed to match his steady defensive performance at the other end of the park.

It was getting close to sunset when referee Wayne Barrett finally blew for full-time, ending Chester's FA Cup dream for another season. But even if the game had gone into the night I had the feeling that Chester wouldn't have found the net.

Sue Choularton

Picture © Rick Matthews (Chester Leader)

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Saturday 8 October
Chester 1 Torquay United 0
Conference Premier
Attendance: 2,201 Half Time 1-0
Booked: Vassell, Lloyd.

Chester: Roberts, Vassell, Hughes, George, Hunt, Astles, Durrell (Chapell 64), Lloyd (Joyce 81), Mahon, Akintunde (Richards 60), Alibi. Subs not used: Horwood, Hudson.
Torquay United:
Moore, Rowe-Turner, Young, Gallifuoco, Ward (Nicholson 81), Richards, Lathrope, Chaney, Reid, Blissett. Subs not used: Palfrey.
Referee: Andrew Miller.

Seven clean sheets on the run for the Blues who drop a place despite this victory given to them by a Ryan Lloyd first half goal.

Chester made a couple of changes to the side that narrowly won 1-0 at North Ferriby United in midweek, in came James Alibi and Luke George at the expense of Kane Richards and Tom Shaw. The Blues started well with Elliott Durrell seeing a goalbound effort kept out by home ‘keeper Brendan More.

Torquay were creating chances themselves with Courtney Richards missing the best of them when well placed and the Blues defence blocked another effort from Jamie Reid. Minutes later Nathan Blissett saw another effort flash across Liam Roberts’ goal.

Durrell and Ryan Lloyd both went close before the Blues took the lead in the 26th minute after Craig Mahon had been brought down in the box by Joe Ward. Durrell took the spot kick but his effort was saved low down to his left by Moore but the ball fell to Lloyd who slotted home the rebound.

The game was end-to-end with Reid again going close for the Gulls before Mahon saw a shot blocked on the counter attack. Oluwaseun Akintunde sent Durrell through and his dipping effort missed the left post by inches as Chester looked to double their lead.

Roberts made a great save just before the break to deny Luke Young an equaliser. Roberts made another impressive save in the second period to deny Damon Lathrope. Substitute Jordan Chapell forced a partial save from Moore that fell to Alibi but his follow-up effort saw gathered by the ‘keeper. The final chance fell to Chapell who fired an effort just wide in added time.

Picture © Rick Matthews (Chester Leader)

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Tuesday 4 October
North Ferriby United 0 Chester 1
Conference Premier
Attendance: 476 Half Time 0-0
Booked: Astles.

North Ferriby United: Watson, Topliss, Gray, Middleton, Hare, Skelton, Oliver (Mukendi 84), Russell, Clarke, Wootton (Kendall 76), Thompson (Emerton 76). Subs not used: Mukendi, Fallowfield, Robinson.
Roberts, Vassell, Hughes, Astles, Hunt, Durrell, Shaw (George 46), Lloyd (Joyce 46), Mahon, Akintunde, Richards (Alabi 66). Subs not used: Chapell, Horwood.
Referee: Alan Young.

A goal 15 minutes from time by Oluwaseun Akintunde saw Chester’s climb up the table continue. The Blues sit tenth after recording their first away victory that sees the unbeaten run continue to six matches.

The Villigers will probably think they should have got a point from the game in which they dominated for long periods in the opening half. Kyle Wootton went close early on and Liam Roberts pulled off a great save to deny Danny Clarke as the home side started well.

Wootton saw a header his the outside of the post before Roberts pulled off another tremendous save to deny Clarkes header that was destined for the top corner of the net.

The home side did have the ball in the net following a corner just before the break but Ben Middletons effort was ruled out for a foul in the area.

Chester came out stronger folowing half-time and were soon in the action with Ryan Astles hitting the woodwork and the pace of Akintunde and Richards causing problems. Elliott Durrell forced a fine one handed save from Rory Watson before the home side were reduced to ten men following a second yellow card for Middleton.

The decisive goal came on 75 minutes as Akintunde took advantage of a mix-up in the home defence on half-way to race clear on goal before slipping a shot past Watson. There was a scare in the dying moments as a Vinny Mukendi dipping shot just cleared the Blues goal before referee Alan Young blew for full-time.

Picture © Rick Matthews (Chester Leader)

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Saturday 1 October
Chester 5 Dover Athletic 0
Conference Premier
Attendance: 1,686 Half Time 0-0
Booked: Durrell.

Chester: Roberts, Vassell, Hunt, Astles (George 46), Hughes, Shaw (Joyce 74), Lloyd, Mahon, Durrell, Alabi, Richards (Akintunde 75). Subs not used: Horwood, Chapell.
Dover Athletic:
Arnold, Magri, Thomas, Stevenson, Grimes, Sterling, Emmanuel (Jackson 66), Moore (Pinnock 85), Parkinson (Ayo Obileye 70), Lafayette, Miller. Subs not used: Kinnear, Fazakerley, Jackson.
Referee: Joe Johnson.

Chester came through a big test of character against in-form Dover with flying colours as they found five second half goals without reply in an emphatic victory. The visitors, play-off semi-finalists last season and looking likely to challenge once again came to this fixture on a good run. They had won four out of the previous five matches including those against both Forest Green and Lincoln, only losing to league leaders Dagenham & Redbridge.

The visitor’s confidence was apparent as they dominated proceedings to begin with. In Ricky Miller, playing on the right they had one of the National League’s hottest properties with twenty goals to his name last season – including the goal of the season in the 1-1 draw at the Deva - and seven already this. The Whites consistently found him with raking passes from midfield and he tested Jonny Hunt but the Blues full back was up to the challenge and was superbly supported by Craig Mahon doubling up to help him defend too. Miller earned the wrath of home supporters when he made a back for Ryan Astles and the giant centre back fell awkwardly to the ground. He was refused the trainer by the referee but was clearly in discomfort as the half progressed – clutching his wrist – and was substituted at half time.

Chester defended superbly during that first forty-five and as they grew in confidence began to offer a threat of their own. The best opening came when Richards wriggled free on the left, slipped a challenge on the by-line and crossed hard and low but without finding on-rushing strike partner Alabi. It nevertheless seemed a pivotal moment and the Blues began to believe in themselves. They did really well to maintain their record of clean sheets up to the break but seemed to be up against it when Astles did not re-emerge. George filled in alongside Sam Hughes in the backline.

City started off on the front foot and began to exert pressure on Dover. Richards toyed with the ball on the edge of the area and just when he seemed to be dithering prodded it through to Hunt, still lurking there after an overlapping raid. The left back turned and hammered home a goal despite the keeper getting a hand on it.
If there was relief at breaking the deadlock, Chester were euphoric a minute later after Alabi latched on to the ball and went on one of his driving runs. A slight sway to the left threw off his markers and he found the net from the edge of the penalty area. The game had been turned on its head.

Again, Steve Arnold in the Dover goal had got a hand on Alabi’s effort but was unable to keep it out. He’d received lengthy treatment in the first half following Chester’s best effort on goal and he now seemed to be struggling to kick the ball. The visitors continued to strive to get back in the game. They looked as though they had ended Chester’s stretch without conceding when Moses Emmanuel’s effort approached the goal, only to be swept away by Vassell’s last ditch clearance.

City continued to counter-attack with increasing elan, Mahon back to his best form on the left and Durrell a constant threat from the opposite flank. Mahon and Alabi combined with 79 minutes on the clock to set up Durrell on the penalty spot who was brought down just as he was about to shoot. Durrell wrested the ball from Alabi’s grasp to put it back on the spot before firing past Arnold to make it three-nil.

Dover were looking increasingly ragged as Akintunde came on to torture them further. First he teed up Mahon to rifle home from the edge of the area and then he glanced home Durrell’s cross in the dying embers of the game to send the home faithful ecstatic. In between, Roberts had thrown himself spectacularly at the top corner to beat away a goal bound effort and preserve City’s clean sheet. It capped a wonderful display.

Colin Mansley

Picture © Rick Matthews (Chester Leader)

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