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Tuesday 30 September
AFC Telford United 1 Chester 2
Football Conference Premier
Attendance: 1,871 (556 Chester) Half Time 1-1
Booked: Hobson, Touray.

AFC Telford United: Hedge, Higgins, Clancy (Cooke 73), Byrne, Akrigg, McDonald, Poku, Grogan, Phenix (Deacey 59), Gray (Barnett 87), Farrell. Subs not used: Pryce, Platt.
Worsnop, Heneghan, Charnock, Kay, Mahon, James (Harrison 77), Rooney, McConville, G.Roberts, Hobson (Iwelumo 46), J.Hall (Touray 46). Subs not used: Winn, C.Roberts.
Referee: Martin Coy.

Chester bounced back from their defeat at Grimsby Town with this hard fought victory at bottom of the table AFC Telford United. Over 550 Chester fans made the midweek trip to the New Bucks Head. Jadan Hall replaced Ibou Touray in the only change from the starting line-up at the weekend.

Last weeks here Ben Heneghan was soon in the action smartly blocking from both Mike Phenix and former Blue Sean Clancy in the opening eight minutes as the home side started the netter of the two sides.

It took Chester 18 minutes to get their first sniff of a chance with Sean McConville seeing an effort deflected, moments later though the home side opened the scoring. Gareth Roberts was beaten to the ball on the right by Ryan Higgins and his cross wasn’t dealt with by Michael Kay in the centre of the Blues defence allowing Mike Grogan to smash the ball home past Jon Worsnop from close range.

Worsnop saved well from Phenix as Telford looked to add a second goal but it was Chester who found the net in emphatic style to level the game on 27 minutes. Craig Hobson, who had earlier found himself in the referee’s notebook, was fouled on the left edge of the box by McDonald. Up stepped John Rooney to curl the resulting free-kick round the wall and into the Telford net.

Mahon headed wide following a fine Hall cross and at the other end former Chester striker Tony Gray just failed to connect with a Higgins cross as the half ended all-square

Manager Steve Burr introduced both Chris Iwelumo and Touray as the second half got underway. Both sides saw half chances go begging before the Blues took the lead on 66 minutes. Rooney took a short corner to Touray, his cross was knocked down by Kay for McConville to score in front of the packed away terrace.

Godfrey Poku saw a long range effort beat Worsnop but fly inches wide as Telford now began to press for an equaliser with McConville heading off his own line in the dying seconds to deny the Bucks and preserve all three points for Chester.

Picture © Rick Matthews (Chester Leader)

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Saturday 27 September
Grimsby Town 3 Chester 0
Football Conference Premier
Attendance: 3,183 (146 Chester) Half Time 1-0
Booked: Heneghan, Kay.

Grimsby Town: McKeown, Parslow, Pearson, Nsiala, Magnay, Mackreth, Brown, Clay, Neilson (McLaughlin 78), Hannah (Arnold 84), Oates (John-Lewis 74). Subs not used: Disley, Walker.
Worsnop, Heneghan, Kay (Harrison 61), Charnock, G.Roberts (Riley 37), Mahon, James, Rooney, Touray, McConville, Hobson (Hall 60). Subs not used: Iwelumo, C.Roberts.
Referee: Adrian Holmes (West Yorkshire).

Manager Steve Burr made one change to the starting line up from the team that produiced the dramatic victory over Wrexham with teenager Ibou Touray starting in place of Jadan Hall.

Chester started brightly but it was the Mariners who had the first chance on ten minutes with Jon Worsnop pulling off a save to deny Ross Hannah. Worsnop was called into action again soon after to deny Aristote Nsiala’s header before the home side took the lead on 18 minutes as Shaun Pearson rose unmarked in the box to head home a Scott BRown corner.

The Blues responded and had a great chance to level eight minutes later but Craig Hobson headed wide rom a John Rooney cross.

Four minutes after the break Grimsby doubled their lead. Kingsley James lost out in a tackle with Hannah who fired past Worsnop from 18 yards. The home side were on top with Worsnop saving well from Scott Neilson before GRimsby were awarded a penalty after Kieran Charnock brought down Jack Mackreth in the box.

Hannah stepped up and sent his penalty straight down the middle but Worsnop stood up to it and saved the spot-kick well.

A sickness bug in the Blues camp forced Burr to make changes with Hall and Danny Harrison coming on but the nearest Chester came to pulling a goal back was when a clearance from home ‘keeper James McKeown bounced off Sean McConville and went just wide.

Grimsby sealed the three points in added time as substitute Nathan Arnold scored with ease past Worsnop after being set-up by Mackreth.

Picture © Rick Matthews (Chester Leader)

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Monday 22 September
Chester 2 Wrexham 1
Football Conference Premier
Attendance: 3,183 Half Time 0-1
Booked: Charnock, Rooney.

Chester: Worsnop, Heneghan, Kay, Charnock, G.Roberts, Mahon (Riley 73), James, Rooney, J.Hall (Touray 59), McConville, Hobson (Iwelumo 83). Subs not used: C.Roberts, Harrison.
Bachmann, White, Hudson, Smith, Roberts, Clark, Evans (Keates 65), Durrell (Holman 81), York (Bailey-Jones 76), Jennings, Moult. Subs not used: Bishop, Tomassen.
Referee: Ross Joyce (Billingham).

One of the most thrilling derbies in recent years hit a sensational climax when Ben Heneghan scored his first ever goal to snatch victory for the Cestrians with the last kick of the match. There were scenes of apoplectic joy around the Blue half of the stadium whilst the visiting supporters stared in utter disbelief at how the match had unfolded.

The infamous Bubble Match arrangements and the fact that the game was being screened live on TV meant that there was a lower than usual attendance but no reduction whatsoever in the level of high intensity anticipation from both sets of fans. The scenes behind the away end as we approached the stadium were like something from the miners’ strike in the Thatcher years – a phalanx of vans and a line of police officers standing like a military unit waiting for imminent attack.

Ironically this was also the 80th anniversary of the Gresford Colliery Disaster when 266 men and boys died. Perhaps it was over optimistic or even naive to hope for a minute’s silence in the context of this cross border rivalry. The atmosphere was like a tinderbox. It only takes one idiot to ruin a silent observance and sure enough an idiot turned up in H Block to shout out something unsavoury after only twenty two seconds of hush. The referee blew his whistle to curtail the act of remembrance and sections of the crowd surged forward to confront each other only to be rebuffed by the strong cordon of police. A red flare whizzed out of the Wrexham end and blazed red on the pitch.

The match itself exploded like a fire cracker too. The reds swept forward in their Dennis the Menace retro-style shirts. From a free kick on the left Wes York burst forward and crossed to the far post. Manny Smith headed down and then Moult headed the ball goal-wards from the top of its bounce. Worsnop pawed it away but only as far as the tall Blaine Hudson who caught it on his chest and then stabbed the ball into the back of the net. City were a goal down inside the first minute.

Wrexham had Chester on the back foot for the first half an hour at least as they struggled to cope with York’s pace. Once again he cut in from the left and his dipping shot thudded against the bar and back into play. City’s defensive frailty down the left was exposed once more when Moult blazed his shot over the bar. On the half hour mark Ashton cut along the by-line and drove the ball low across goal for Connor Jennings to shoot at the open goal. Much to the Harry Mac’s relief and to his chagrin his effort flew wide. It was such a bad miss we wondered if it might be a turning point.

Blues were gradually beginning to get a toe-hold on the game as half time approached. They struggled to keep possession at the back as the Reds continued to press high up the pitch but once or twice began to carry the game to their opponents. Mahon was causing them problems down the right and from a central position he fizzed a shot which swerved just wide of Bachmann’s left hand post. At least the Blues were still in the game as the half time whistle blew.

Urged on by incessant support City drove forward for an equaliser. Mahon was up-ended by Evans and Rooney teed up a free kick. His curling shot beat the wall and the keeper but not the post, thwacking against it and out for a throw. Chester began to move the ball around quicker and better and find space down either flank. Rooney escaped with a booking for a foul on York and Hudson was also booked for his reaction to it. An already vibrant match was beginning to get feisty.

Burr replaced Hall with Touray and he gave City’s midfield a solidity on the left. Rooney and James were starting to get the upper hand in the centre and the Wrexham defence was rattled as City put them under pressure. Rooney’s shot was parried by Bachmann and Hobson back-heeled into the net but City’s joy was curtailed by the linesman’s flag – raised for offside. Wrexham continued to be a menace on the break. Durrell shot when well placed to cross and then Jennings sent a header narrowly wide.

Wayne Riley came on to replace Craig Mahon who looked like he’d taken a knock. What a substitution it proved as - with his first touch - Riley flicked the ball back from the goal line to open up space for Rooney. His shot was going wide until Hobson flicked the ball waist high with his left foot and it flew into the corner of the net.

A quarter of an hour remained and now it was the Dragons on the back foot as the momentum was with the Boys in Blue. City’s patient possession and passing style was paying off as they continued to push the Reds back, winning a succession of corners. Touray saw his shot saved just under the bar and had the ball taken off his head by Bachmann’s flailing hand. Heneghan went up for a looping cross with the Wrexham keeper and they clashed titanically with both needing attention. Though the latter also got a yellow card for time wasting.

By now Iwelumo had replaced the excellent Hobson, assured of legendary status because of his goal. This tremendous game boiled to a climax. Both sets of fans were drowning out even the noise of the police helicopter hovering overhead. Wrexham pushed forward and in typical pessimism we feared they might snatch a winner. Incredibly though it was the Blues who sent us wild with delight at the death. James’ hopeful punt into the box was watched all the way by Heneghan who stroked it on the volley past a static Bachmann.

Words cannot describe the sense of euphoria on the Harry Mac. Jubilation was rampant as the long-suffering Cestrians savoured the sweetest of moments. The Blues Bar rocked and then erupted when scenes of dejection in the Reds’ dressing room were shown on the screens to be followed by the ecstatic Blues. It was a game which could and possibly should have been over by half time but Chester’s undaunted spirit under Steve Burr had won a famous victory – and all under the gaze of the TV cameras too.

Colin Mansley

Picture © Rick Matthews (Chester Leader)

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Tuesday 16 September
Chester 2 Southport 0
Football Conference Premier
Attendance: 1,790 (143 Southport) Half Time 2-0
Booked: -.

Chester: Worsnop, G.Roberts, Charnock, Kay, Mahon, James, McConville, Rooney, J.Hall (Harrison 89), Heneghan, Hobson (Touray 43). Subs not used: Iwelumo, Roberts, Riley.
Porter, Collins, Connor (Hattersley 80), Fitzpatrick, McDonald, Gorman (Smith 46), George (Mitchell 79), Kay, Rutherford, Marsden, Brodie. Subs not used: Lynch, Joyce.
Referee: Wayne Barratt (Bromsgrove).

Blues garnered a much needed three points in their quest for Conference survival as they defeated Merseyside rivals Southport.

Last season this fixture was a tense affair, played at the business end of the campaign in March, the original fixture postponed from New Year’s Day. This time the attraction of Champions League on TV probably had an adverse effect on the size of the crowd.

Though too early in the season to be designated a six-pointer this was still an important encounter as both sides have made an indifferent start to the new campaign. It was Chester who began much the brighter and got their noses in front from the beginning. Mahon won a corner on the right. Rooney delivered to the near post and Kieran Charnock, revelling in his new role as captain, nodded in.

Within a couple of minutes Mahon might have added a second as Rooney’s cross eluded everyone, Mahon’s first time shot flashed across the goal. City continued to move the ball about crisply and, following a nice interchange of passes down the left ended with McConville threading a pass through to Hobson. He held off the challenged of Dominic Collins and drove the ball past debutant Porter in the Sandgrounders’ goal.

Southport tried to respond but didn’t manage a shot on target until just before half time when Worsnop grabbed Brodie’s driven effort at the second attempt. City fans suffered a few anxious moments as the Blues’ admirable possession football nearly came unstuck a couple of times dwelling on the ball too long or a pass went astray. The only disappointment for Chester came just before the interval when Hobson had to be substituted due to injury. Ibou Touray, signed on a non-contract basis came on to shore up left midfield whilst Hall adopted the centre-forward role.

The visitors brought Smith on for Gorman after the break and began as if they meant business. Home fans began to grow anxious as Southport began to have more possession. Rutherford had Heneghan on toast on a couple of occasions but Kay and Charnock were able to clear the danger. City were lively on the counter attack too and McConville’s rasping shot was parried by Porter who recovered enough to distract Hall – whose shot on the rebound blazed over the bar.

It began to be clear why the Sandgounders have not won on their travels for over a year as, despite much second half possession they struggled to fashion a clear chance on goal. The play began to become stretched as the game wore on and City probably should have added to their tally. Roberts saw his shot from distance go wide and then Porter pulled off great saves to deny Hall and tip the ball just off Heneghan’s head. The useful-looking Touray might had scored a debut goal from Hall’s cross but fluffed the chance with his standing foot. Even the threat of substitute Hattersley – who had done so much to wrest City’s 2-0 lead from them last March - could do nothing to loosen the Blues’ grip on victory.

Colin Mansley

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Saturday 13 September
Woking 1 Chester 0
Football Conference Premier
Attendance: 1,629 Half Time 0-0
Booked: McConville.

Woking: Warner, Cestor, McNerney, Clarke, Payne, Rendell, Sole (Goddard 76), Lewis (Newton 56), Jones, Morgan (Murtagh 76), Arthur. Subs not used: Little, Arnold.
Worsnop, G.Roberts, Heneghan, Charnock, Kay, Harrison (Morris 79), James, Rooney, McConville (Mahon 59), J.Hall, Hobson (Iwelumo 79). Subs not used: C.Roberts, Jourad.
Referee: Nicholas Kinseley.

Steve Burr’s visit to Woking was not as profitable as the last time, when the newly-crowned Chester manager celebrated an away win and it looked like his team were heading for a higher-placed finish than the Cards.

It was an encouraging performance from the visitors though, that could have earned them a valuable away point if luck had gone in their favour.

A nervy start saw the unbeaten home team pushing ahead from the off, and Chester defender Gareth Roberts was in the right place to clear the ball off the line after a corner in the first five minutes.

Chester settled into the match after that, with new boy Jaden Hall making some promising runs. A Hall cross into the box saw Sean McConville head it wide in front of Wokings incongruously-sized main stand. Hall was prepared to take people on, and another cross/shot had to be cleared from the box by the Woking defence.

But it was Kingsley James who had the best chance for the Blues before the end of the first half when the ball came to him outside the area. His powerful shot from 25 yards out thundered against the inside of the crossbar, but dropped on the wrong side of the line. The linesman signalled for offside straight after that when Craig Hobson tried to connect with the rebound.

An appeal for a Chester penalty when McConville seemed to be pulled down inside the area was turned down. It was a decision that the Woking fans felt was lucky to have gone their way.

The second half saw Chester attacking towards the smaller Kingfield Road terrace. The away fans tried to generate an atmosphere in the more enclosed space – but nothing could match the noise at Kidderminster the previous month.

And just when the Blues fans were in full voice, a defensive blunder by Chester saw Woking go 1-0 up. Chester ‘keeper Jon Worsnop came out of his goal as Woking pressed forward, when a good pass found Guiseppe Sole in space. Hes already scored nearly 100 goals for Woking during his career, and made no mistake this time.

He was taken off when Woking manager Garry Hill made a double substitution on the 73rd minute. Burr held back from putting Chris Iwelumo on until the 79th minute, but the target man had another ineffectual performance. Chesters best chance of the second half came from a John Rooney free kick. But Wokings on-loan ‘keeper, and man-of-the-match, Ross Warner held onto it.

Chester pressed as full-time approached and you couldnt fault Hobson for effort around the area. But a goal was not forthcoming and it was a disappointing return to Woking for Steve Burr, who later argued that his team had missed out on a first half penalty.

Sue Choularton

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Tuesday 9 September
Chester 0 Torquay United 2
Football Conference Premier
Attendance: 1,954 Half Time 0-0
Booked: Charnock, Kay, James, Rooney.

Chester: Worsnop, Heneghan, Charnock, Kay, Roberts, James, Rooney, Harrison (Morris 67), J.Hall (Mahon 60), McConville (Riley 71), Hobson. Subs not used: C.Roberts, Iwelumo.
Torquay United:
Rice, Tonge, Cruise, Downes, Young, Bowman, Ajala, Chapell, Richards, MacDonald, Ofori-Acheampong. Subs not used: Pearce, Yeoman, Wakefield, Seabright, Sullivan.
Referee: Karl Evans (Wigan).

Manager Steve Burr named an unchanged side as he looked to build on Saturday’s win over Macclesfield Town but the Blues turned in a poor performance and were eventually beaten by a stronger Torquay outfit.

Jon Worsnop was called into action in the opening minutes saving well from Ryan Bowman before denying the Gulls player again moments later when he was sent through on a one-on-one with the ‘keeper.

It was a frenetic start with the action switching straight to the other end where Craig Hobson was just unable to divert with a Kingsley James effort on goal.

Torquay always looked a threat going forward and Jordan Chapell saw an effort clip the crossbar with Worsnop beaten.

There was controversy on 30 minutes when referee Karl Evans gave a second yellow card and sent-off Kieran Charnock in a case of mistaken identity after Michael Kay had brought down Gulls dangerman Ryan Bowman. The decision was overturned after protests from players and officials and Kay was eventually booked when normality resumed.

Ben Heneghan shot over high and wide as Chester looked to get on top in the closing stages of the opening period but the final effort of the half saw Torquay hit the woodwork again as Duane Ofori-Acheampong’s effort came back off the post.

Ofori-Acheampong forced Worsnop into a fine save after the break before the visitors took the lead on 60 minutes as Aaron Downes headed home Luke Young’s corner.

Burr made three substitutions, including a debut for Callum Morris, as Chester looked for an equaliser but Torquay added a second goal to seal the three points in the 78th minute as Bowman raced onto a through ball to beat Worsnop from close range.

Picture © Rick Matthews (Chester Leader)

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Saturday 6 September
Chester 1 Macclesfield Town 0
Football Conference Premier
Attendance: 2,612 Half Time 1-0
Booked: Kay.

Chester: Worsnop, Heneghan, Charnock, Kay, Roberts, Rooney, Harrison, James, J.Hall (Mahon 70), McConville, Hobson. Subs not used: Roberts, Riley, Morris, Iwelumo.
Macclesfield Town:
Taylor, Halls, Pilkington, Waterfall, Barrow, Moke (Holroyd 43), Lewis, Turbull, Gnahoua, Fairhurst, Rouse (Haining 80). Subs not used: Cowan, Diaz, Branagan.
Referee: Richard Wigglesworth (Doncaster).

Chester finally got their home season up and running with a hard fought victory against a previously unbeaten, but rather disappointing Macclesfield side. Believe me, this was a vastly improved performance from the Barnet debacle which I witnessed. The effort and hard work was apparent and they looked organised and at last like a team. Chester are no means the finished article, but this performance gives hope going forward that the struggles of last season will be a thing of the past. Only time will tell.

The winning goal came after 14 minutes from a sublime John Rooney free kick, after Craig Hobson had been fouled off the ball. Buoyed by the early lead, the confidence flowed through the team and various half chances were not converted as there was a lack of cutting edge in the final third.

Ironically, the main chance of the first half fell to Macclesfield, but Worsnop (unfairly singled out for criticism after the Barnet game – let’s face it they were all poor!) saved at the feet of Macclesfield forward Gnahoua

The second half began with Chester still in control. Hobson brought a great save out of Taylor from an outrageous chip and loanee Hall caused problems with his pace up front. Kingsley James was outstanding as Chester controlled midfield andKay and the returning MOTM Charnock comfortably marshalled a poor Macclesfield forward line. The only clear cut chance for Macclesfield fall late on to Holroyd, who produced a brilliant save out of Worsnop.

There was a cracking atmosphere as the game drew to a conclusion, with the vocal support second to none all afternoon. More performances like this both on and off the field and the future will be brighter.

Alan Parry-Jones

Picture © Rick Matthews (Chester Leader)

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