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King’s Lynn Town (H) | Southport (H) | Pontefract Collieries (FA Cup 2RQ H) | Buxton (A) | Chorley (A)
Tuesday 27 September
Chorley 2 Chester 2
National League North
Attendance: 1,679 Half Time: 0-1
Booked: Williams, Morgan, Lynch.

Chorley: Urwin; Henley, Wilson, Leather, Nolan (Tomlinson 77), Whitehouse, Calveley (Johnson 80), Ustabasi, Shenton (Sampson 65), Blakeman, Hall. Subs not used: Challoner, Owens.
Chester: Tyrer, Morgan, Burke, Williams, Coulton, Devine, Kenyon (Roberts 61), Murray (Lynch 56), Thomas, Willoughby, Stephenson. Subs not used: Dudley, Heywood, McHugh.
Referee: S.Morland.

Goals from Adam Thomas and Darren Stephenson looked to have set up a win until a late Magpie’s equaliser at Victory Park.

Chester started the better side with Kurt Willoughby dragging an early shot wide, and Darren Stephen saw a header drift wide, but their early pressure paid off on 16 minutes when Lewis Coulton’s far post cross was met by Thomas who headed past Matt Urwin to open the scoring.

The goal spurred on the home side but Harry Tyrer was on hand to save from Adam Blakeman and Scott Wilson to preserved the slender lead.

Chester almost doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time as Thomas saw an effort hit the crossbar before the ball dropped to for Urwin to gather.

Six minutes into he second period the Magpies drew level as Ollie Shenton put Connor Hall through and he chipped a shot over the advancing Tyrer.

Chorley were having the majority of the possession now without really creating and chances and it was the Blues who struck next taking he lead 13 minutes form time as Stephenson slammed home a loose ball from 25 yards.

The Blues were just three minutes from victory when substitute Jack Sampson headed home from Jon Ustabasi’s deep cross to give Chorley a share of the points.

League Table | Match highlights [YouTube]

Saturday 24 September
Buxton 0 Chester 0
National League North
Attendance: 1,217 Half Time: 0-0
Booked: Roberts, Lynch.

Buxton: Richardson, Burke, Brisley, Newton, Clarke, Meikle, Kirby, Sargent (Hardy 76), Bunn, De Girolamo, Boden. Subs not used: Andoh, Moult, Gilchrist, Tasdemir.
Chester: Tyrer, Morgan, Burke, Williams, Coulton, Roberts, Devine, McHugh (Lynch 56), Hall (Dudley 12 (Thomas 68)), Willoughby, Stephenson. Subs not used: Kenyon, Murray.
Referee: Helen Conley.

It’s another clean sheet for Chester who extended their unbeaten run to five games following this draw at the Tarmac Silverlands Stadium.

Chester suffered an early blow with striker Kole Hall limping off with an injury after just 12 minutes to be replaced by Anthony Dudley. And it was Dudley himself with the first effort on goal which Theo Richardson in the Buxton goal parried, Kurt Willoughby was on hand but put the rebound inches wide.

It was a game of very few chances. Matty Williams denied Scott Boden a goalscoring chance and former Blue Sean Newton saw a free kick just before half-time gathered by Harry Tyrer.

The only efforts of note in the second period came in the dying minutes as another ex-Chester player James Hardy had a great chance to break the deadlock but shot straight at Tyrer. Then in the final minute Willoughby met a Lewis Coulton cross only for Richardson to save the striker’s effort on the line.

Picture © Terry Marland

League Table | Match photographs | Match highlights [YouTube]

Saturday 17 September
Chester 2 Pontefract Collieries 0
FA Cup Second Round Qualifying
Attendance: 1,502 Half Time: 0-0
Booked: McHugh.

Chester: Tyrer, Burke, Kenyon, Willoughby, Dudley (Stephenson 53), Roberts (Williams 72), Devine, Coates, Hall, Heywood, McHugh. Subs not used: Stanway, Morgan, Coulton, Murray, Daly.
Pontefract Collieries: Allinson, Greenhough, Spratt, Brown (Brook 67), Picton, Clarke, Baxendale, Vann, Lumsde (Porritt 90), Rothery, Priestley (Dunn 72). Subs not used: Kelsey, Falk, Adamson, Bailey.
Referee: Luis Griffiths.

There were times during the first half when Collieries’ supporters cheered every Chester pass as they moved the ball from side to side, mainly across the back four. The visitors were delighted at the frustrating press they managed to impose on the Blues which led them to missing out midfield altogether. Pontefract, as Chester McIntyre had warned were not to be underestimated. Ollie Heywood at left back for City, for instance, was pitted against the widely experienced Adam Priestley. The youngster held his own but the press on the whole defence was relentless.

Harry McHugh broke the pattern by pinpointing a superbly weighted cross-field pass to find Coates charging forward. He got behind and crossed but the chance was smothered. Otherwise City were limited as an attacking force, with a following wind making the long ball especially difficult and the ball ending out of play on countless occasions.

Ponte fans may have had even more to cheer about if Lumsden had converted Spratt’s pinpoint left wing cross. He met it cleanly and his header had ‘goal’ written all over it until Tyrer pulled off an unbelievable save to keep City on level terms.

There were signs that City were beginning to find a direct route to goal when Burke’s forward pass held up well for Hall who almost found a path through. But the game was truly transformed with the introduction of Darren Stephenson. Suddenly Blues were able to hold the ball higher up the field as the Jamaican wizard marauded down the left and linked up play. Ponte were now on the back foot and within five minutes of Stephenson entering the fray, City were ahead. He fed the overlapping Heywood whose cut back cross was deftly turned in by Willoughby.

With City boosted in confidence and Collieries beginning to tire the home side began to dominate. Willoughby scored a cheeky second when Chester were awarded a free kick just outside the area. The referee wrested the ball from a Pontefract player who tried to delay the kick. Then while the visitors were still lining up the wall and the keeper was stood by the post, Willoughby asked the ref for permission to take it and clipped it into the far, unguarded corner of the net. Dismayed Colls players surrounded the referee but he stood firm and allowed the goal to stand.

Chester finished well in control and might have added to the score but for a fine save by Allinson from Hall. After a spirited and disciplined display, credited as such by McIntyre after the game, Colls bowed out and City avoided slipping on this particular banana skin. They were rewarded with a home tie to Hanley Town on 1st October.

Colin Mansley

Match highlights [YouTube]

Tuesday 13 September
Chester 1 Southport 0
National League North
Attendance: 1,714 (99 Southport) Half Time: 0-0
Booked: Hall.

Chester: Tyrer, Coulton, Burke, Kenyon, Stephenson (Dudley 73), Willoughby, Devine, Coates, Murray (Roberts 46), Hall, McHugh (Williams 90). Subs not used: Morgan, Heywood.
Southport: McMillan, Oliver, Doyle, Evans, Woods (Watson 71), Archer, Walton, Hmami, Vassallo (Lusiama 80), Bainbridge (Munro 46), Carberry. Subs not used: Doyle, Anson.
Referee: Michael Crusham.

The Blues ground out a slender victory against the Sandgrounders to tuck into a solidly mid-table position after eight matches.

Southport started the stronger of the two sides, dominating possession and probing for the opening goal. Walton and Woods got behind down the flanks on a number of occasions despite the close attentions of Coulton and Coates respectively. City struggled to clear their lines and failed to make the ball stick when they did get it up the field.

Hall, however, put through on the right by Devine, made inroads towards goal and, as he cut inside, went down as ‘keeper McMillan dived at his feet. The referee awarded a yellow card to Hall rather than the penalty Blues were expecting. The veteran keeper had the honesty to admit it was a definite penalty after the game.

At the other end it seemed like a goal was coming for the visitors. Woods was first to a bouncing ball forward from Bainbridge and headed over the onrushing Tyrer. City were relieved to see it pass narrowly pass the outside of the post. Another effort across goal from the left clipped Kenyon’s heel and just missed the goal on the other side. Blues defended a number of corners but defended them well, first to headers and making sure the ball was cleared.

Debutant McHugh, on loan from Wigan showed some fancy footwork in right midfield to beat a couple of opponents and surge towards the penalty area. Bainbridge’s lunge to bring him down earned a yellow card for the Sandgrounder and led to his withdrawal at half-time, Liam Watson not wanting to risk a second caution and see his side reduced to ten.

As the match entered first half stoppage time Chester had the best chance to score so far. Willoughby latched on to Hall’s header but before he could shoot McMillan was out to touch it away from his feet. The ball was quickly re-cycled and Hall himself saw his shot blocked by the retreating ‘keeper.

Kevin Roberts replaced Murray after the break and, together with the absence of Bainbridge for the opposition, it meant that City saw more possession in midfield in the second half. Willoughby worked hard to shield the ball and was fouled by a frustrated Carberry. McHugh drove the free kick from the right wing into the box and Hall, having lost his marker, chested it and then volleyed the ball emphatically into the back of the net. A superb finish and one in which both players and fans took great delight.

There was still over half an hour to go however and Southport went close to equalising soon after when Tyrer did well to smother Hmami’s shot before Archer could slide in to prod it home. Hmami went even closer later when he glanced a header on to the post and saw it rebound to safety. But this was the closest the visitors came as City defended resolutely in all areas of the field and strove to put the game beyond Southport as they came forward for a second. Dudley came on for Stephenson and had a half-volley just over the bar from the edge of the area. Willoughby too put a direct free kick narrowly over.

It was the kind of game cynical City fans might have expected the Blues to concede an equaliser late on but – without wishing to tempt fate – this season’s side seems more resilient defensively. They held out for a narrow but nevertheless hard-fought win. Considering the depletions through suspension and injuries it was a result which will please Calum McIntyre and the supporters alike – especially with a couple of difficult away fixtures to come up next. Before that though City entertain Pontefract Collieries in the FA Cup on Saturday.

Colin Mansley

Picture © Terry Marland

League Table | Match photographs

Saturday 3 September
Chester 3 King’s Lynn Town 3
National League North
Attendance: 1,695 Half Time: 0-3
Booked: -.

Chester: Tyrer, Coulton, Burke, Kenyon, Stephenson (Coates 46), Willoughby, Devine, Williams (Dudley 72), Murray (Heywood 83), Hall, Edwards. Subs not used: Morgan, Roberts.
Kings Lynn Town: P.Jones, A.Jones, Crowther, Coulson, Denton, Stephens (Barrett 70), Widdrington, Clunan, Hargreaves, Ponticelli (Walker 79), Omotayo. Subs not used: Fleming, Charles, Keller.
Referee: Benjamin Tomlinson.

After a dearth of goals in the Harry Mac end of the stadium, City fans were treated to half a dozen in this one match. The problem for the home faithful was that by half time, King’s Lynn, the league leaders, were three goals ahead. Incredibly though, Chester mounted a second half comeback which saw them score three themselves and earn a share of the spoils.

Kick off was delayed a few minutes after what was reported to be a clash of goalkeepers’ kits which the referee required to be sorted out. Once the game began however, City were caught in a maelstrom as the visitors scored twice within the first five minutes. They took the lead when Omatayo flicked a header into the box and Ponticelli was first to react to it. As he fought to bring the ball under control Kenyon tugged the forward’s shirt and he went sprawling in the penalty area. Omatayo stepped up to convert the spot kick.

Barely a minute later The Linnets scored a breath-taking second. Burke lost possession under pressure in midfield and Widdrington hit a first time shot from within the centre circle which did not bounce before it hit the back of the net. A bewildered Tyrer could get nowhere near it. A shell-shocked City fought to get a toe-hold back in the game and restricted the visitors until shortly before half time. Ponticelli took advantage of slight hesitation from Tyrer to poke another Omatayo header past him for a third goal. His cheeky celebration in front of the home end rubbed further salt into Cestrian wounds.

Calum McIntyre made some adjustments at the break withdrawing Stephenson in favour of Coates and swapping Burke from midfield back into defence with Kenyon going the other way. Within a couple of minutes of the resumption, City had a goal back. Murray began and finished a neat move involving Willoughby and Coates and stroked the ball past Jones in goal.

Although the goal might have appeared nothing more than a consolation at first, Chester began to build momentum as the half progressed with a better shape and balance to their play. Belief in a comeback became tangible when Devine chested Kenyon’s chipped pass into the box and swivelled to hit a superbly calm finish past Jones with twelve minutes to go.

The atmosphere inside the Deva came to a crescendo as the Blues swept forward continually in search of an unlikely equaliser. It came with five minutes remaining as Heywood – who replaced Murray moments earlier – floated a free kick to the far post. Coates controlled it, beat a defender and sent a bobbling pass across the face of the goal. Time seemed to stand still while Willoughby brought it under his control before stroking the ball gleefully into the net.

There was still time for King’s Lynn to threaten to snatch the lead again as Barrett got through only to fire wide. But three-all it remained and Blues fans were left to reflect whether they had seen many finer or more unbelievable comebacks in the Deva’s thirty-year history than this one.

Colin Mansley

Picture © Rick Matthews

League Table | Match photographs | Match highlights [YouTube]























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