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Peterborough Sports (H) | Hartlepool United (A) FAC4RQ | Scunthorpe United (H) | Southport (A) | Curzon Ashton (A)
Saturday 28 October
Curzon Ashton 0 Chester 1
National League North
Attendance: 1,110 (800 Chester estimated) Half Time: 0-0
Booked: Coates.

Curzon Ashton: Ollerenshaw, Poscha, Kenyon, Sinclair, Spencer, Hayhurts, Waring (Campbell 77), Allen (Mols 62), Richards, Mahpn, Barton. Subs not used: Taylor, Edmundson, Lopes.
Chester: Stanway, Sparrow, Burke, Williams, Taylor (Coates 54), Roberts, Glendon, Weeks (Murray 80), Whitehouse, Peers, Thomas. Subs not used: Evans, Maguire, Edwards.
Referee: -.

After the midweek win at Southport Calum McIntyre said that Curzon Ashton was the most important match since he had been appointed. He was alluding to the significance of maintaining momentum in away form and progress up the league table.

His side duly delivered with a 1-0 victory but Curzon proved a very tough nut to crack. The Nash, under newly appointed former City favourite Craig Mahon, were well drilled and settled into a rhythm early. Following a corner they won a free kick on the edge of the box. Hayhurst lined it up and swept the ball over the wall and towards the top corner. Stanway stretched and got a hand to it, deflecting it on to the angle of post and bar and down to the ground where the Chester keeper grabbed it. Minutes later Jamie Allen was booked for the hosts after diving in the box in search of a penalty.

City began to dominate possession as Ashton sought to get at least ten behind the ball. Whitehouse, Weeks and Glendon found clever ways to play through the lines but Chester’s attacks foundered on the edge of the area. Thomas went closest when he glanced a Taylor cross narrowly wide. But Curzon were able to restrict City to shots from distance while continuing to carry a threat on the break. As half time approached Thomas managed to carve an opening but could not direct his effort on target.

The pattern continued in the second half with Chester, all in yellow, camped in the Curzon half. Kev Roberts played a pivotal role in sweeping up possession when Curzon cleared their lines and recycling it forward. He even found opportunity to try to break the deadlock himself but his shot from the edge of the area was wide. Weeks had a shot tipped round the post by Ollerenshaw and Poscha scooped Thomas’s cross off the line.

The Nash, featuring Alex Kenyon as a holding midfielder and George Waring as central defender – ably converted from centre forward – were proving stubborn opponents. And they continued to hold a danger on the counter attack. Spencer headed tamely over from a Mahon cross; substitute Mols’ header was on target but mercifully straight at Stanway.

Roberts threaded the ball through to Sparrow and he cut in behind the defence. The Curzon goal had a narrow escape as first, Glendon’s shot was cleared off the line, then Thomas’s follow-up hit the bar and both Whitehouse and Peers, off-balance, were just unable to apply the finish.

A decisive goal seemed elusive until Murray replaced Weeks and his pass unlocked the defence for Thomas to drive a cross along the line for Glendon to slide in at the far post. The relief among the large contingent of travelling fans – generously awarded two thirds of the ground by the hosts – was palpable. City’s away form from last season might have returned and hope begins to grow. After warm applause was given and received, fans drifted off singing merry tunes – to cars, town and in search of the tram to Eccles.

Colin Mansley

Picture © Rick Matthews

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Tuesday 24 October
Southport 0 Chester 2
National League North
Attendance: 1,835 (684 Chester) Half Time: 0-1
Booked: Taylor.

Southport: Renshaw, Quansah, Doyle (Watson 65) Flowers, Evans (Thomson) Bainbridge, Hmami, Morgan, Burgess, Carver, Holmes (O’Neill 74). Subs not used: F.Heath, McMillan.
Chester: Stanway, Sparrow, Edwards, Williams, Taylor, Roberts, Glendon, Weeks, Whitehouse, Peers, Thomas (Murray 78). Subs not used: Burke, Evans, Heywood, Maguire.
Referee: M.McQuillan.

Chester’s impressive run continued as they moved to within a point of the play-off’s with a well deserved victory at Southport. An injury to Charlie Caton on Saturday meant a start for new signing Tom Peers in his second spell at the club.

The Blues took the game to their hosts from the off and could have already been in front through Peers and an Adam Thomas header that hit the bar before captain George Glendon opened the scoring on seven minutes.

Chester were creating chance after chance in the opening period. Elliott Whitehouse shot over from close range and Chris Renshaw in the Sandgrounders goal pulled off a couple of saves to deny the Blues. One of those saves was from the penalty spot as Whitehouse missed the chance to double the Blues’ lead following a foul in the box on Thomas.

Thomas saw an effort cleared from the line as Chester went into the break knowing they should have had the game wrapped up in the opening half.

Five minutes after the restart there was a scare as Southport’s Luke Burgess saw a header deflect off a post to safety but Chester soon doubled their lead as Whitehouse converted following a Tom Sparrow cross. The Blues created a few more efforts of note before seeing the game out for a fifth successive victory.

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Saturday 21 October
Chester 2 Scunthorpe United 0
National League North
Attendance: 2,676 (363 Scunthorpe) Half Time: 1-0
Booked: Roberts.

Chester: Stanway, Sparrow, Edwards, Williams, Taylor (Burke 90+5), Roberts, Glendon, Weeks, Whitehouse, Caton (Peers 45+3), Thomas. Subs not used: Evans, Murray, Maguire.
Scunthorpe United: Fitzsimons, Ogle, Evans, Boyce, Elliott (Whitehall 10), Bennett (Wilson 61), Butterfield, Scales, Jenkins, Denton, Barrows (Law 84). Subs not used: Kelly, Pugh.
Referee: William Davis.

After playing at Hartlepool in the Cup last week Chester were at home to Scunthorpe as the fixtures began to resemble the old Fourth Division days of the seventies. The visitors were playing at this level for the first time in their history after having suffered successive relegations and gone through a couple of changes of ownership. Off the field things are beginning to look up as the club was acquired by local a businesswoman, the previous regime had spent and recruited lavishly during the close season installing the Iron as pre-season title favourites.

Storm Babet had struck the day before but, despite a residual lake on the car park behind the Harry Mac, the pitch was draining well and the sprinklers were on just before kick-off. Blues made a couple of changes to the previous match with Coates absent and Burke dropping to the bench; Sparrow and Thomas their replacements in a more attacking formation. Chester were boosted by the new signing of Tom Peers, returned to the fold after making his debut for the Blues ten years ago – he began the game on the bench.

The Iron suffered an early blow when former Blue Danny Elliott had to retire hurt following a collision with Stanway. His replacement was Danny Whitehall – son of former Chester player Steve. Scunthorpe sought to use the width of the pitch and fired cross-field passes to either flank at every opportunity. The experienced Reagan Ogle threatened down the right but it was Butterfield’s long ball from the left that was converted by Boyce – only to see the linesman’s flag raised for offside. Butterfield himself then hit the crossbar with a direct free kick as the visitors enjoyed a spell of dominance.

On the half hour mark Caton made the breakthrough for Chester when he anticipated Jenkins’ back pass, rounded the keeper and then stroked the ball in to the net off the far post from the acutest of angles. Chester then enjoyed the lion’s share of possession and chances. Glendon and Thomas harried the defenders mercilessly. Caton and Taylor had shots from distance. Just before the interval, however, Caton pulled up with an injury, giving Peers the opportunity to make his first appearance in this second spell with the Blues.

After the break City continued to threaten as the Iron’s forwards were well marshalled by Edwards and Williams. Peers ended a forceful run by firing narrowly wide and then had the ball in the net following Glendon’s shot but was given offside. He did turn provider a few minutes later as he teed up Whitehouse to thrash a shot into the back of the net. His joy at scoring against the team that had released him last season was unconfined.

In the aftermath of the goal, the referee, Mr Davis went down injured and was unable to continue. After a break and an appeal for a qualified person to run the line was answered in the affirmative, the senior linesman took control of the remaining quarter of an hour plus lengthy stoppage time. The Blues were able to see out the remaining minutes comfortably to record a hard earned win.

Colin Mansley

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Saturday 14 October
Hartlepool United 0 Chester 2
FA Cup Fourth Round Qualifying
Attendance: 3,205 (471 Chester) Half Time: 0-1
Booked: Thomas.

Hartlepool United: Jameson; Hendrie, Lacey, Onariase, Johnson (Agyemang 46), Ferguson, Featherstone (Hastie 86), Crawford, Grey, Umerah (Wreh 62), Dieseruvwe. Subs not used: Dixon, Dolan, Burton, Paterson, Hastie, Agyemang, Wreh.
Chester: Stanway, Coates, Burke (Daly 75), Edwards, Williams, Taylor, Roberts, Glendon (Thomas 83), Weeks, Whitehouse, Caton. Subs not used: Davies, Evans, Sparrow, Murray, Maguire.
Referee: Mulligan

Chester produced one of the shocks of the round as goals from Elliott Whitehouse and Charlie Caton brought FA Cup success at National League side Hartlepool United.

It was the home side that satrted on the front foot with Wyll Stanway saving a Josh Umerah header in the opening minutes. Stanway was caled into action again saving a long distance effort from Luke Hendrie comfortably.

Former Blue Toom Crawford saw a shot deflected wide before the Blues took the lead through their first attack of the game on 13 minutes. Harrison Burke brought the ball out form defence, his pass to Caton was flicked through to Whitehouse to shoot from long range past Pools ‘keeper Peter Jameson into the bottom corner.

Stanway saved an effort from Joe Grey not long after the restart then another effort from Manny Dieseruvwe before Chester struck again just before the hour mark. Glendon won the ball in msdfield before sending Caton through, he slipped the last defender Manny Onariase before shooting under the advancing Jameson to the delight of the City fans behind the goal.

The home side continued to press but the Blues defence with Burke and Matty Wlliams outstanding held firm for a famous victory.

Saturday 7 October
Chester 3 Peterborough Sports 2
National League North
Attendance: 2,250 Half Time: 1-2
Booked: Thomas.

Chester: Stanway, Sparrow (Coates 58), Burke, Edwards, Taylor, Roberts, Glendon, Weeks, Whitehouse (Thomas 46), Daly (Williams 90+5), Caton. Subs not used: Evans, Maguire.
Peterborough Sports: Crook, Tootle (Nee 88), Cann, Johnson, Lawlor, McCammon, McGlinchy (Alban-Jones 64), Fox, Felix, Gash, Miles (Jarvis 73). Subs not used: Fowkes, Meyer.
Referee: Lewis Dawson.

A persevering fightback by Chester from a two-goal deficit was crowned by a magnificent first senior goal for Academy graduate Reece Daly.

In bright autumnal sunshine Blues made a lively beginning against the Turbines. Weeks saw his goal-bound effort flicked over the bar by Sports ‘keeper Crook. Peterborough were barely able to get out of their own half for the first ten minutes or so. But they proved resilient and when McCammon picked up a loose ball on halfway he swept it out to the left to find Matt Tootle. The veteran got the better of Sparrow and crossed to the far post where it was met by player-manager Michael Gash to nod home unattended. Playing the part of pantomime villain, Gash blew kisses to the Harry Mac.

Ten minutes later the Turbines went two-up when Gash’s deft lick set up McCammon to run through and score past Stanway. With Blues desperate for the points to move up the table, going behind to next to bottom Peterborough was not in the expected script.

Five minutes later, though, City were back in the game when Caton slotted in a goal at the far post. This time it was Sparrow who was the provider as Glendon found his overlapping run and he fired in low and hard across the box. Whitehouse helped it on to Caton who had time to take a touch before scoring.

The Blues were in the ascendant again as they tried to pick their way through a packed midfield but had to be wary of Peterborough’s long ball game, playing on the couner and for set piece opportunities. Glendon saw an angled effort flicked on to the cross bar by a defender and twice Caton hammered on the door of the Turbines’ goal only to see Crook get his body in the way. Try as they might City could not get themselves back on level terms by half time.

After the interval Thomas came on for Whitehouse – who was winded by a challenge towards the end of the first period – and within six minutes he’d notched City’s equaliser. Weeks capitalised on a wayward pass out of Peterborough’s defence and homed in on the penalty area. He combined with Glendon who set up Caton for another shooting opportunity. This time Crook could only parry a powerful effort into the path of Adam Thomas to finish off.

Coates came on to replace Sparrow and City began to threaten down both flanks. Weeks embodied perpetual motion in his efforts to create an opening and to drive Blues forward. Glendon, like a dynamo, persisted in picking up the ball from defence and begin the passing movement as City looked to build from the back.

Weeks’ cross from the left did not fall kindly to a Chester forward ad was scrambled clear. Coates’ cross from the right was cleared only with a desperate lunge. Burke’s header from a corner was headed off the line by a Sports defender and then Caton had a header and follow up shot blocked in a pinball passage of play in the six yard box.
All was not completely one-sided though as Peterborough had a short spell on the attack in between these attempts to find a winning goal. Stanway was well positioned to repel a shot on target.

Joy finally arrived for City when Glendon’s clever flick found Daly in space to let fly a shot from just outside the box. The youngster hit it sweetly and the back of the Peterborough net billowed. Calum McIntyre afterwards described it as a fabulous moment for Daly and for his family – it was certainly an exquisite first goal for Chester. Blues survived one last Gash header over the bar and negotiated the remaining minutes of stoppage time to claim a vital three points, essential for upward momentum.

Colin Mansley

Picture © Rick Matthews

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