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
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
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.
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
Grimsby sealed the three points
in added time as substitute Nathan Arnold scored with
ease past Worsnop after being set-up by Mackreth.
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
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
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.
garnered a much needed three points in their quest for
Conference survival as they defeated Merseyside rivals
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.
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.
13 September Woking
1 Chester 0
Football Conference Premier
Attendance: 1,629 Half Time 0-0
Warner, Cestor, McNerney, Clarke, Payne, Rendell, Sole
(Goddard 76), Lewis (Newton 56), Jones, Morgan (Murtagh
76), Arthur. Subs not used: Little, Arnold.
Chester: 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 Woking’s
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. He’s
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
best chance of the second half came from a John Rooney
free kick. But Woking’s
on-loan ‘keeper, and man-of-the-match, Ross Warner
held onto it.
Chester pressed as full-time approached
and you couldn’t
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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