A superb first half from Chester put this result beyond
doubt as the Blues cruised into a four goal lead thanks
to some inspired play by midfielder's Iain Howard and
Antoni Sarcevic who punished some sloppy home defending
in ruthless fashion.
Manger Neil Young made one change from the side that
drew at Gainsborough the previous weekend replacing
George Horan, who had a slight knock, with Dom Collins.
Home ‘keeper Alex Cairns
was a busy man in the opening period. Dave Hankin and
Wes Baynes probed the Celtic defence before Marc Williams
forced a save from Cairns. Nathan Jarman saw an effort
clear the bar following a Sarcevic through ball before
Sarce himself opened the scoring in the 20th minute
picking up a loose ball following a deflection off Jarman
and beating the defender to the ball to fire past Cairns
from ten yards.
Chester doubled their advantage
on 33 minutes as Howard picked up a Horan knock-down
following a long Wes Baynes free kick on the edge of
the box and pulled the ball back for Jarman to rifle
it home from six yards out giving Cairns no chance.
Three minutes later Howard got
on the scoresheet himself punishing some poor defending
after a through out from Cairns was intercepted by the
alert Marc Williams.
The goal of the game, and possibly
the season!, came next as Howard intercepted the ball
in defence, sent a raking long ball down the right that
was knocked back by a home defender to Dave Hankin.
Hankin sent Marc Williams off down the right and his
deep cross was met by Howard who acrobatically scissor
kicked the ball home on the volley across Cairns.
Two minutes after the break Sarcevic
scored his second of the game after a mix-up between
Joel Bembo-Leta and Kristian Platt allowed the midfielder
to side foot home, the ball taking a deflection past
cairns on the way in.
Sarcevic almost grabbed a hat-trick
but saw his looping effort crash back of the angle of
the crossbar and post to safety. Collins saw an effort
hit the side netting before Stalybridge pulled a goal
back through Jack Laird who steered the ball home from
around the penalty spot following a fine left wing run
and cross by Mitchell Austin.
Chester added a sixth on 73 minutes.
A through ball wasn't controlled by the home defence,
Sarcevic seized the loose ball and as Cairns rushed
out the two collided with the loose ball falling for
Howard who had the simplest task to side foot the ball
home in front of the 700+ away support and complete
Sarcevic saw another effort hit the
side netting before Stalybridge scored the last goal
on the match through Jordan Barrow three minutes from
time after John Danby had produced a great point blank
double save deny two close range efforts.
two sides must lock horns again for the right to host
FC Halifax Town in the third qualifying round of the
FA Cup after Chester forced a draw in their first appearance
in the famous competition since reforming two years
There were only ten minutes on the
clock the the home side opened the scoring through captain
Paul Connor who somehow managed to evade both defenders
Paul Linwood and George Horan to head Dominic Roma’s
cross past John Danby.
Chester hit back and thought they’d
levelled only to see a Dave Hankin effort ruled out
thanks to an an offside flag and soon after Matty McGinn
saw a trademark long-range pile driver fly just over
Iain Howard missed a great opportunity
to draw the Blues level on 29 minutes but shot wide
after striker Marc Williams had set up an inviting pull-back
for him. Moments later though Jarman had the ball in
the net and the Blues were level. Anotni Sarcevic sent
a defence splitting pass through the Trinity rearguard
for Nathan Jarman to run on and shoot under Jan Budtz
in the home goal.
Chester cam more into the game after
the equaliser. Howard saw an effort blocked by Luke
Waterfall as the midfielder met a Sarcevic cross and
shot for goal.
The Blues continued to probe after
the break. Horan sent a header wide from a McGinn corner
but chances were at a premium in the second period.
Substitute Michael Powell shot straight
at Budtz in the closing stages and Marc Williams was
denied by a timely Josh Wilde tackle as the game ended
14 September Boston
United 3 Chester 2
Attendance: 1,249 Half Time 3-0
Booked: Sarcevic, Baynes, Linwood.
Chester turned in their worst performance for many months
as slack defending in the opening period saw Boston cruise
to a 3-0 half time lead.
On eight minutes the defence were caught in possession 30
yards out, a clever back-heel from Spencer Weir-Daley
set up winger Jason Stokes and his cross was met by
Ben Fairclough whose goalbound shot was almost stopped
by George Horan's attempted goalline clearance but the
Chester shipper could only help the ball into the net
off the post.
Chester responded and Ben Mills, playing
the last game of his successful loan spell pulled a
shot wide following good build up play from Marc Williams.
Goalkeeper John Danby made a save
to deny Newman before Fairclough doubled the Pilgrims’
advantage on 35 minutes. Danby came rushing out of his
area to meet a through ball only to misjudge the bounce,
Fairclough flicked the ball over him and coolly lobbed
over the Chester ‘keeper and back peddling defenders
in front of the 240+ travelling support
Two minutes later Chester conceded
a third. Once again possession was given away 30 yards
from goal, another Spencer Weir-Daley back-heel turned
the Blues defence and allowed Ben Miles to slot the
ball past Danby.
Not surprisingly, manager Neil Young
made changes at the break introduction Iain Howard and
Nathan Jarman and it was Howard who suddenly changed
the complexion of the game with two goals in as many
minutes three minutes after being introduced.
A long ball down the right from Wes
Baynes was flicked on by a home defender to Ben Mills
whose cross from the right was met by Howard at the
far post who volleyed home past Dan Haystead.
Two minutes later Chester were right back in it as clever
interplay set up Howard on the left again whose low
angled drive found the far corner of the net.
However the Blues were unable to build
on their momentum and Fairclough’s pace was proving
a problem for the defence and he set up Weir-Daley who
wasted a great chance as he headed past Danby and wide.
The last chance of the game fell to Ian Ross but Danby
saved as Chester succumbed to their first defeat of
Any thoughts City supporters might have had about this
match being a bridge too far after Wednesday’s tough
encounter were quickly dispelled as the Blues gave a commanding
performance to thrash fellow hundred percenters Guiseley.
Chester went for the jugular from the kick off and tore
at their high flying opponents. Antoni Sarcevic had the
first opportunity on goal after Mills’ effort had
been parried by the ‘keeper, but he couldn’t
quite get the ball under control and his attempt was cleared.
It was only a temporary respite for the visitors however
as Mills made the most of more hesitation in the Lions’
defence and struck the ball high into the empty net.
Guiseley responded with some flowing passing movements
and went closest to equalising when Walshaw went through
as City hesitated for an offside decision and rounded
Danby only to strike the foot of the post from an acute
angle. But City, with debutant Scott Brown and Levi Mackin
busy as pocket battle ships in midfield, were much more
competitive against opponents who admittedly were not
as fired up as Halifax on Wednesday. An indication of
the difference in temperature is that it took twenty minutes
for the first free kick to be awarded.
City made inroads down the right flank in particular with
Marc Williams, Hankin and Sarcevic developing a good understanding
and putting the visitors under increasing pressure. One
move ended with a rasping shot from Sarcevic which Drench
in the Lions’ goal did well to tip round the post.
But when Chester doubled their lead the goal came right
out of the blue. Mills brought the ball down twenty five
yards from goal and let fly a sharp but speculative shot.
Drench seemed to have saved it but the ball squirmed out
of his grasp and into the back of the net.
Home supporters were incensed when, following a wayward
clearance, Mills appeared to be bundled off the ball in
the penalty area as he bore down on goal. The referee
left the field at half time to a chorus of boos as a result
but otherwise things were looking good for the Blues on
a beautiful balmy afternoon.
Guiseley began to concede more free kicks after the break
as City maintained their tempo and turned the screw further.
From one of them Chester put the result beyond doubt and
Mills completed his hat trick. Baynes delivered a raking
cross from the right which picked out Horan superbly.
His header back across goal was nodded in by Mills to
notch his ninth goal in seven appearances on loan from
Macclesfield. When he was withdrawn later in the afternoon
he reaped a standing ovation and the City fans clamoured
for him to be signed on permanently.
City dominated the resultant proceedings and reduced the
goal difference arrears still further when Ian Howard
came on to thread the ball through the legs of back pedalling
defenders and past the keeper for a fourth. It was no
less than City deserved after a completely commanding
Belief and confidence is visibly growing in the camp as
City continue to hit the ground running at another higher
level. Blues’ fans went home drooling over this
week’s results, hoping for news of Ben Mills signing
up more permanently and wondering what Monday’s
FA Cup draw might bring.
5 September Chester
2 FC Halifax Town 1
Attendance: 3,112 Half Time 1-0
Booked: Powell, Hankin, A.Williams.
Fearon, Collins, Horan, Linwood, McGinn, Hankin, A.Williams
(Mackin 68), Powell, Clancy (Sarcevic 85), Mills, Jarman
(M.Williams 68). Subs not used: Howard, Baynes. FC Halifax Town: Glennon, Toulson, St
Juste, Hogan, Jarrett, Lowe, Worsley (Needham 78), Marshall,
Johnson (Rainford 65), Gregory, Worthington. Subs not
used: Senior, Qualter, Bolland. Referee: Ryan Johnson (Swinton).
made it six of the best as they dug deep to secure a hard-earned
victory against FC Halifax. Former League opponents and,
like ourselves, a phoenix club Halifax had provided both
a measure and an inspiration to Chester’s early
progress over these last two years. The match had been
keenly anticipated since the start of the season and given
the visitors’ status as one of the pre-season favourites
for promotion and City’s unblemished record so far
the stakes seemed high even for a game so early in the
It did not disappoint. The match fizzed from the word
go with several feisty tackles flying in. First blood
in football terms went to City as the red hot Ben Mills
turned his marker on the edge of the box and found himself
clear on goal. He drew Matt Glennon before calmly stroking
the ball past him for the opening goal.
Halifax responded well and dominated possession for long
periods. Worthington was sent through and looked certain
to equalise within a few minutes but Linwood slid back
to make a superb blocking tackle. Then Johnson’s
nod down fell to the same man and this time Worthington
blazed extravagantly over the bar. Ominously for City
fans it seemed only a question of time before they conceded
The Blues survived until half time however and then, amazingly
doubled their lead. A spell of pressure led to Glennon
rushing his clearance and McGinn went close as the ball
fell to him and he tried to lob the back-pedalling keeper
from distance. Then McGinn’s cross from the left
wasn’t cleared and Hankin picked the loose ball
up to shoot with precision just inside Glennon’s
right hand post.
City reverted to sitting deep once again and allowing
the visitors plenty of time on the ball and this time
they paid for it when Worthington was given space to fire
them back into the game from the edge of the area. Fearon,
a late replacement for Danby was called into action a
few moments later as Jason St Juste – looking twice
the player he was when he was on loan to us – shot
venomously from the left.
The momentum seemed to have shifted decisively to the
visitors but then City began to wrest it back. Marc Williams
came on for Jarman and Mackin replaced Ashley Williams
and both substitutes helped City to win and retain possession
in the middle of the park. Marc Williams in particular
was excellent playing just behind Mills. He set his strike
partner up with a great chance to seal victory as City
countered but Mills snatched his shot wide.
Jamie Rainford came on for Johnson and, given the verbal
abuse he had received as he warmed up down the touchline
seemed fated to equalise. One effort rolled agonisingly
(for him) wide of the far post but in the end City held
out for all three points.
It was a magnificent show by
the Blues and, as several of the players slumped to
the ground in sheer relief they were applauded to the
rafters by a jubilant home support.
Chester fans enjoyed an extension of their summer holiday,
with three points gained during a glorious sunny afternoon
at the Damson Park home of Solihull Moors.
The Blues supporters were barely getting their heads round
the tweaks made to the Chester team – with George
Horan, Dom Collins, Matty McGinn and Sean Clancy in the
starting line-up – when Nathan Jarman put them 1-0
ahead. His eighth minute volley was simply impossible
for goalkeeper Jasbir Singh to save.
Chester settled back on their lead for a while, but Solihull
– who were rather confusingly playing their numbers
9 and 10 as the centre halves – continued to press.
They had around six corners in a 25-minute spell, without
any of them making a real threat. This was their most
attacking part of the game.
But all their pressure came to nothing just before referee
Ian Dudley blew for half-time. A McGinn cross into the
Solihull box found Jarman’s head. He nodded it to
loanee Ben Mills, who had no trouble slotting home his
fifth goal of the season. I don’t think we'll tire
of seeing his trademark celebration now.
So it was a cheerful half-time for Chester fans, with
many joining the lengthening queue for ice-cream –
blue sauce being a popular addition. It was a shame this
was one of the lowliest-attended of the new club’s
matches, as Solihull had really pulled all the stops out
to make the travelling supporters welcome.
Not long after the re-start, John Danby had to make a
good save from a Solihull strike and Horan also had to
make a strong tackle to maintain the 2-0 lead. But the
match settled into a rather quiet spell, with neither
side looking like scoring.
Levi Mackin came on for Ashley Williams and, as the rest
of the Chester bench started to warm up, it was clear
there would be more changes. Marc Williams replaced goal
hero Mills on the 66th minute. The final change came when
Iain Howard replaced Clancy with six minutes’ of
normal time remaining.
It wasn’t long before Howard made an impact after
a Marc Williams strike was parried by Singh. Howard had
an easy header near the goalline to put the Blues 3-0
up on the 89th minute. There was no way back for Solihull
at this stage and it looked liked all had weary legs when
the referee blew for full-time.