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MATCH REPORTS 2011/12

Pre-Season | August | September | October | November | December | January | February | March | April
SEPTEMBER
North Ferriby United (H) | Ashton United (A) | Worksop Town (A) | Kendal Town (H) | Hyde (A) – CSC1 | Stafford Rangers (A) | Chorley (H)
Wednesday 28 September
Chester 3 Chorley 0
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League
Attendance: 3,310 Half Time 0-0
Booked: Powell.

Chester: Danby, Brownhill, McGinn, Horan, Taylor, Brown, Booth (Baynes 81), Powell, Simm (Rainford 77), McNeil (Wilde 88), Howard. Subs not used: Judge, Wright.
Chorley: Saunders, Brown, Walker, Teague, Russell, Whitham, Roscoe, Vermiglio, Whaley (Denham 46), Williams (Payne 61), Ince (Cunliffe 61). Subs not used: McEvilly, Maden
Referee: Gary Stott (Manchester).

Billed for weeks as “The Big One” this clash of two in-form teams lived up to all the hype. There had been an atmosphere between Chorley and Chester after last season’s match at the Deva. It had been a feisty encounter and among other things there was a row over the post-match meal. Who knows what they had to eat after the game this time – humble pie perhaps or cold shoulder – but on the pitch at least both teams served up a tasty hot pot.

The Magpies, like Chester, were unbeaten since August Bank Holiday Monday and occupied second place in the table. Wary of third placed City, the visitors marked tightly and defended deep to deny their hosts a whirlwind start. As a result much of the play was broken up with each ball being fiercely contested – though it was wisely refereed by Gary Stott who only booked Powell (For persistent offending) all evening.

Chris Simm – who was playing for the visitors this time last season – carved out an opening and was unlucky with a shot that flew wide of the post. Chorley were content to soak up the pressure for the most part and then throw some of their tall defenders forward for set pieces. Ironically following one of these City broke to spurn their best chance of the opening half. Booth released Simm on the right. Alex Brown stepped over his low cross to leave Howard in space on the edge of the area. His first time shot with his unfavoured right foot was an ugly one and ballooned over.

After an interval punctuated with an entertaining penalty shoot out between the rival sets of supporters (Chorley won 4-3), Chorley emerged with more attacking intent. The experienced Whaley – a midfielder playing a lone role up front – was withdrawn and the visitors seemed to push two forwards up as they took the game to City.

Soon however Chester were pegging them back again and following a right wing corner the game ignited when Brown released an absolutely stunning half volley from twenty-five yards into the back of the net. He could not have hit it more sweetly and the ball flew like a rocket past a crowd of players and a transfixed Russell in the Chorley goal.

Not content to sit on their laurels or the lead, the work rate of this tremendous City team went up. Booth, Powell and Brown were quick, incisive and robust in midfield and though Chorley were clearly a good side, they were not allowed any time on the ball. Matty McNeil had led the line superbly – holding the ball up well, surprisingly nimble footed for such a tall player and laying it off constructively most of the time. He was rewarded for his anticipation after 62 minutes when he latched on to Horan's punted clearance and nodded the ball past the ‘keeper – stranded on the edge of his area – into an empty net.

Chorley tried desperately to get back into the game. Two substitutes were thrown on and almost immediately forced a goalmouth scramble in Chester’s box until Danby smothered the ball. Apart from the goals, however, the biggest cheer of the evening was when Shelton Payne – villain of the penalty drama last season – lined up a dangerous free kick on the edge for the box only to balloon it over the Evans Halshaw Stand and into the starry firmament.

City introduced subs as the game wore on allowing first Booth, then Simm and the magnificent McNeil to receive standing ovations for their efforts. All three replacements went close to scoring – Rainford ended a dazzling run by shooting narrowly wide, Wilde’s tenacious effort went the same way but Baynes applied the perfect finish when he won possession and then curled a beauty just inside the ‘keeper’s left hand post.

The celebrations went on long into a balmy Michaelmas Eve and rightly so for this had been just about the most complete performance by a City team for a long, long time. Since losing to the Dabbers in August, Chester have enjoyed a perfect September - winning seven consecutive matches, scoring twenty-three and conceding none. As a result John Danby in the Chester goal even eclipsed the Grenville Millington's magnificent record tonight.

Chester fans are wise enough, especially after last season, to know that there will be many more twists and turns to come in the months ahead but having endured so many years of misery every evening like this one is savoured all the more sweetly.

Colin Mansley


Picture © Yvonne Fulton (Chester Leader)

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Saturday 24 September
Stafford Ranges 0 Chester 3
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League
Attendance: 1,098 (572 Chester) Half Time 0-2
Booked: Powell, Taylor.

Stafford Rangers: Johnson, Donnelly, George, Dicker, White, Heler, Kinsella (Budrys 60), Blackhurst (Morton 83), Sheldon, Shotton, Thompson (Skelton 60). Subs not used: Stevenson, Wood.
Chester: Danby, Brownhill, Taylor, Horan, McGinn, Booth, Powell, Brown, Howard (Wright 75), Simm (Rainford 65), McNeil (Wilde 80). Subs not used: Baynes, Judge.
Referee: Craig Taylor (Wolverhampton).

My last Chester match was a nightmare away trip to Nantwich and it was hard to imagine how different this day was – it was like watching another club!

The away day experience had an excellent start to it, with a pre-match get-together at Stafford’s Sun Inn – home of fish finger sandwiches and beer at £2.40 a pint.

So it was hard to tear ourselves away from the pub’s real fire for the 30-minute trek to the Marston Road Stadium. But we were glad we did!

Chester started well, with the added bonus of last season’s hot goalscorer, Michael Wilde, sitting on the bench ready to make a League return from his pre-season injury.

Hard-working Iain Howard got his name on the scoresheet inside the first 15 minutes when he connected with a Matty McGinn long throw to give Chester the lead they had been pressing for.

Stafford had barely moved into the Chester half when they 2-0 behind. This time it was a Chris Simm and Michael Powell combination which sent the 572 travelling fans wild.

Rangers tried to get back into the match, but it became an uphill challenge when they had Luke George sent off for a stamp on Simm.

With Chester facing 10 men for the second half, Simm was substituted on the 65th minute and Jamie Rainford came on to replace him. He looked keen to make an impression – with bright orange bootlaces which were impossible to miss.

Chester were still threatening and Rainford had a good strike which went over the bar, followed soon after by a Howard shot which hit the crossbar.

So it was no surprise when a great combination of midfield passes saw Powell run into space and slot it home past the 6ft 6ins Stafford goalkeeper, 17-year-old Sam Johnson.

Not long after and Blues fans were cheering the return of Wilde, when he came on as an 80th minute substitute. He was almost immediately involved in a one-on-one with Johnson. But the young loan ‘keeper saved his shot to deny Wilde his dream League comeback.

When referee Craig Taylor blew for full-time, it was the sixth win in a row for Chester and they’d moved up to third in the table. Now that’s my kind of away day. Can I have more next time, please?

Sue Choularton

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Tuesday 20 September
Hyde 0 Chester 2
Cheshire Senior Cup Round One
Attendance: 262 Half Time 0-1
Booked: -.

Hyde: Carnell (Griffin 75), Richardson (Aspin 60), Hall, Renshaw, Martin, Mack (Byrne 55), Moses, Pearson, Birchall, Broadbent, Berkeley. Subs not used: Crowther, Spencer.
Chester: Danby, Baynes, Smith, Taylor, Brownhill, Brown, Powell (Ormrod 80), Howard, Rainford, McNeil (Wilde 73), Simm (Wright 58). Subs not used: Booth, Judge.
Referee: Joe Hull (Cheshire).

Michael Wilde made his much anticipated return to action as Chester cruised to Cheshire Senior Cup victory over a Hyde side reduced to ten men early on. The Blues bossed the match against their Conference North opponents from the off and had enough chances to put the entertaining tie beyond doubt in the opening half.

Manager Neil Young made a couple of changes from the side that demolished Kendal in their last outing. New signing Matt McGinn was ineligible and Robbie Booth dropped to the bench, Jamie Rainford and Wes Baynes deputised.

Chester's first chance came in the opening ten minutes when Chris Simm was unable to hold onto a Matt McNeil through ball and the danger was cleared. The Blues had the ball in the net on 15 minutes but Christian Smith’s, headed effort was ruled out for offside.

Hyde were reduced to ten men on 15 minutes, Nathan Martin, who had been booked for a late challenge in the opening minute received a second yellow card when he fouled Simm on the edge of the box.

Chester looked to make their numerical advantage count and passed the ball round well. Simm just failed to latch onto a Baynes right wing cross and midway through the half he had a couple of efforts in as many minutes but put both wide of the target. Goalkeeper David Carnell saved another Simm effort on 30 minutes as Chester dominated.

The home side created few chances with Luke Mack shooting high and wide of John Danby’s in one rare attack. Carnell was well placed to save from Iain Howard as the midfielder latched onto a McNeil pass.

Chester finally got the breakthrough their efforts deserved two minutes before the break as Michael Powell headed home a rebound after Carnell had made another good save to deny Howard.

The Blues continued where they left off after the break. Rainford tested the overworked Carnell with a 25-yarder bur the keeper was well beaten by Simm who saw his lob over him drift wide. Jerome Wright returned from injury to replace Simm and forced Carnell into a fingertip save within minutes of entering the play.

Chester were almost made to pay for their numerous missed chances when Danny Broadbent forced Danby into a couple of saves with just over 20 minutes remaining.

With 17 minutes remaining Wilde came on to replace McNeil for his first appearance of the season since breaking his collar bone in pre-season. Hyde had to reshuffle their pack after Carnell had to be replaced with an outfield player, Andy Pearson, after picking up an injury.

Nine minutes from time Rainford came close to adding a second goals as he was unlucky to see his long range effort cannon back off the base of the post and three minutes from time Brownhill also saw an effort hit the woodwork.

Chester finally wrapped up the tie in added time when he back-heeled the ball home following good approach play by Rainford and Baynes.


Picture © Rick Matthews (Chester Leader)

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Wednesday 14 September
Chester 4 Kendal Town 0
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League
Attendance: 2,029 Half Time 3-0
Booked: -.

Chester: Danby, Brownhill, Smith, Taylor, McGinn, Booth (Baynes 79), Brown (Barnes 90), Powell, Howard, Simm (Rainford 53), McNeil. Subs not used: Wright, Reed.
Kendal Town: Dootson, Walmsley, Wisdom, Tucker, Joseph, Donnelly, Leadbetter, Jackson, Taylor (Curtis 46), Dillon (Kilford 46), Williams. Subs not used: Baines, Klifin, Newton.
Referee: Alan Clayton (Hyde).

Chester made it four wins, and four clean sheets, on the spin with this victory over Kendal Town.

The Blues attacked from the start and opened the scoring in the first minute as Christian Smith, playing in defence to cover for the suspended George Horan, headed home at the near post following a corner from Matty McGinn, the Southport defender playing in the last match of his loan period.

Just three minutes later McGinn himself was on the scoresheet as he coolly stepped up to score his fifth penalty (and sixth goal) after debutant Dan Dillon handled a Michael Powell shot in the area.

The Blues dominated the early proceedings and Robbie Booth would have added a third but for a good save from the overworked Craig Dootson in the Kendal goal.

Kendal’s first effort of note came after 17 minutes when Mark Jackson headed a Keiran Walmsley free kick over the bar. The visitors began to enjoy plenty of possession to get back into the game but a third Chester goal, just after the half-hour, all but finished them off.

Chris Simm did well to shield the ball on half-way allowing McGinn to overlap down the left and deliver a pinpoint cross for Matt McNeil to convert from close range to the delight of the Chester fans in the Harry Mac Terrace behind the goal.

The visitors made two changes at the break and enjoyed plenty of the play but failed to pose a threat to John Danby and the Chester goal.

Chester wrapped the game up in the dying minutes as Iain Howard converted a pass from substitute Wes Baynes from ten yards to cap an impressive all-round team performance.


Picture © Rick Matthews (Chester Leader)

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Saturday 10 September
Worksop Town 0 Chester 3
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League
Attendance: 570 Half Time 0-0
Booked: -.

Worksop Town: Worsnop, Gardner, Shiels, Roberts, Wood, Gray (Fox 78), Hudson, Sharry, Jackson, Sherriff (Muller 61), Whitwell (McDonald 78). Subs not used: Williams, Matthewson.
Chester: Danby, Brownhill, Taylor, Horan, McGinn, Booth (Baynes 85), Smith, Powell, Howard, Simm (Rainford 79), McNeil (Reed 86). Subs not used: Brown, Barnes.
Referee: Neil Guest (Grimsby).

A third successive clean sheet for Chester who came away from Worksop with a comfortable win following three second half goals. Manager Neil Young kept faith with the side that won at Ashton. It was the home side who belied their lowly position to have the better of the opening period and could easily have taken a lead into the interval.

Dennis Sheriff found himself unmarked in the 13th minute but could only head Michael Whitwell’s right wing cross wide with John Danby in the Blues goal beaten. It was 25 minutes before Chester had an effort though Matty McGinn’s 25-yarder failed to trouble ex-City goalkeeper Jon Worsnop in the home goal. McNeil headed wide after good approach play from Liam Brownhill and Christian Smith saw an effort on target blocked as he latched on to a Chris Simm pass.

Worksop had a great chance to open the scoring eight minutes before the break as Michael Whitwell raced through onto a Sherriff pass that split the Blues defence. Danby came out but Whitwell slipped his shot wide of both the keeper and the post. The only other chance of the half fell to Robbie Booth who saw an effort blocked.

Chester needed to up their game after the break and they got off to a perfect start when Chris Wood deflected a Worsnop clearance into his own net following a long McGinn throw-in into the box that George Horan flicked goalwards.

Worksop almost grabbed an equaliser on the hour mark as Whitwell headed against the crossbar before McNeil set up Boots who pulled his shot wide from 15 yards. Chester began to get on top, Steve Gardner headed a McNeil effort off the line before Chester added a second goal seven minutes from time as Worsnop fouled McNeil in the box to concede a penalty. McGinn stepped up to score his fourth penalty, and fifth goal, in six games!

Wes Baynes replaced Booth with five minutes remaining and waster no time in scoring his first goal for the club shooting past Worsnop from 12 yards to seal the victory that sees Chester move fourth.

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Picture © Rick Matthews (Chester Leader)

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Wednesday 7 September
Ashton United 0 Chester 2
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League
Attendance: 528 Half Time 0-2
Booked: -.


Ashton United: Smith, Harrop, Frost, Rimmer, Rose (Dawson 58), Murphy (Smith 70), Bennett, Wright (Bathurst 80), Burns, Amadi, Lambert. Subs not used: Cahill, Madeley.
Chester: Danby, Brownhill, Taylor, Horan, McGinn, Booth (Barnes 83), Smith, Powell, Howard, Simm (Reed 81), McNeil (Rainford 65). Subs not used: Brown, Baynes.
Referee: Paul Marsden (Lancashire).

Chester moved fourth after this hard earned victory over a good Ashton side in atrocious conditions at Hurst Cross. After heavy rain earlier in the day the pitch was passed fit in the afternoon though by the time kick-off had arrived more heavy downpours and the long grass combined to make conditions heavy going.

It was indeed the conditions that contributed to Chester opening the scoring after just 20 seconds as Chris Simm took full advantage of a slip by Kyle Harrop to latch on to Iain Howard’s through ball to curve a shot past Terry Smith (sic) in the home goal from a narrow angle. Moments later a fine save from Smith denied the in-form striker a second goal as Chester pressed.

At the other end John Danby was kept busy saving from both Danny Lambert and Chris Amadi as both sides to their credit tried to play football as best they could.

Robbie Booth created a great chance for himself on 23 minutes but pulled his shot wide of the right post. Dandy did well to keep out a long range Ashton effort before on-loan defender Matty McGinn doubled the lead seven minutes before the break, as he sent Smith the wrong way from the penalty spot after Howard had been brought down by Ged Murphy.

Chester dominated after the break. Liam Brownhill saw a dangerous cross cleared from the six-yard line and Simm went close to adding a third as Smith saved his overhead kick in style following another Brownhill cross, and the striker also sent a header over the bar when unmarked. The Blues continued to press and saw out the match with out any real threat to Danby’s goal, the only real scare coming when Amadi shot over from 18 yards.


Picture © Rick Matthews (Chester Leader)

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Saturday 3 September
Chester 6 North Ferriby United 0
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League
Attendance: 2,150 Half Time 2-0
Booked: Simm, Horan.


Chester: Danby, Brownhill, Taylor, Horan (Barnes 73), McGinn, Booth, Smith, Powell, Howard, Simm (Reed 78), McNeil (Rainford 60). Subs not used: Baynes, Judge.
North Ferriby United: Wilson, Williams, Greaves, Foot, Peat, Harsley, Morley (Jackman 71), Fry, Brooksby, Bradshaw, Larkin. Subs not used: Stirland, Leonard.
Referee: Natalie Walker (Preston).

City were still smarting from the debacle of the Lord Mayor’s show at Nantwich and North Ferriby suffered the backlash. The visitors came to Chester as losing play-off semi-finalists last season and on the back of some good results this but they were swept aside by the rampant Blues.

Monday’s late arrivals Simm and Howard were re-instated to the starting line-up and both were instrumental as Chester gained a stranglehold on the game.

First Simm had a bullet of a shot parried by Wilson before the forward made no mistake a few minutes later as McGinn’s long throw eluded everyone to find Simm in space with time to smash home a half volley from twelve yards out.

The Villagers’ manager cannot have been happy with the defensive cover for the opening goal and must have been tearing his hair out when City doubled the advantage from the same source. This time McGinn’s throw found Howard who hooked the ball over his shoulder and into the corner of the net. Though Wilson was beaten this time he leapt athletically to tip a screamer from Howard out of the top corner a few moments later.

Although the visitors were well organised and played an attractive passing football they could make little inroads against a solid City defence with Taylor playing securely alongside Horan and Smith sitting just in front to break up any threats of a North Ferriby fight back.

A few minutes after half time the game turned as the visitors sought to grab a goal back. A long ball out to Brooksby on the right saw him race into the area and his low cross was met by Morley whose shot thumped against the angle of post and bar. A few moments later a natty bit of footwork by Howard carved out some space and he curled the perfect ball down the left wing to release Simm. The lean forward outstripped Foot, the Ferriby captain and Simm poked his shot past Wilson from a narrow angle. Although Danby was forced to make a brilliant reflex save shortly afterwards, the result was now not in doubt.

City kept coming forward hungry to make good their poor showing on Monday. Horan went close with a couple of headers before he was replaced by Barnes, Smith dropped back into defence. Bradley was all smiles when he swivelled to lash home Simm’s cross with virtually his first touch of the ball, he was clearly glad to be back in the action and his goal was the perfect fillip. Shortly afterwards the Villagers were undone for the fifth time when Brownhill’s cross field ball found Booth who cut in from the left and blasted a shot in from the edge of the area.

Rainford came on to replace McNeill and again showed his ability, after a flurry of attacking play when the visitors could not clear the ball, he clipped a shot from the corner of the area which came back off the bar. As McGinn tried to gather the rebound he was bundled over and referee Natalie Walker pointed to the spot. McGinn dusted himself down to score his second spot kick of the season.

The scoring was complete, the defeat to Nantwich had been well and truly exorcised by this comprehensive victory. The Blues now need to take this kind of form away on their travels, beginning at Ashton on Wednesday.

Colin Mansley


Picture © Rick Matthews (Chester Leader)

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