Frustration for Chester as opener ends in Draw
Chester FC were left frustrated on the first day of the season after a 1-1 draw at home to Rushall Olympic at the Exacta Stadium.
The day started with a tribute to former Chairman, and the man who ensured Chester returned from the exile at Macclesfield in the early 1990's, Ray Crofts, who was given a Guard of Honour by the City Fans United Junior Blues.
The Guard of Honour was also extended to the players as they arrived on to the pitch to kick off the new season, and Chester went close in the opening ten minutes, when Michael Powell just failed to get a shot on goal when battling for the ball inside the penalty area.
The Blues fans didn't have to wait too much longer for the first goal of the new season however, as Greg Stones fired in a deep ball from the left and Matty McNeil challenged the Rushall keeper Chris Gemmell, and McNeil got the slightest of glances on the ball to nod it over Gemmell and into the net for the opener.
Chester were looking to build on the lead, but were also pinned back by an Olympic side who were looking to break on the attack themselves, and they almost got an equalizer when Ahmed Obeng - who was a thorn in Chester's side all afternoon - lobbed John Danby in the Chester goal, but saw his effort bounce off the crossbar and out for a goal kick much to the relief of the home fans.
Then controversy, as referee Patrick Mahon from Liverpool ruled out a second goal for Chester, and instead brought back play, totally failing to play the advantage rule, when Chris Simm was brought down outside the box, but Iain Howard instantly swung a cross in which Robbie Booth fired home, and much to the annoyance of every Blues fan in the ground, not to mention the players and the Chester bench, they had to settle for a free kick which was cleared easily, and this certainly proved a pivotal moment of the game.
Not long later, and Rushall were awarded a penalty, when Danby was adjudged to have brought down Obeng, despite appearing to get a hand on the ball, but Mahon pointed to the spot despite being 35 yards behind play, and Matt Lewis stepped up to convert the resulting penalty to level the game up.
Into the second half, and Chester went looking for the points, and Howard almost smashed home a winner, but was denied by the foot of the post, and Simm couldn't adjust in time to keep his effort on target.
Neil Young, serving a touchline ban, then ordered a double substitution with Jamie Rainford & Alex Brown coming on for Michael Powell and the hardworking Simm, and after 75 minutes, the Blues were awarded a penalty after being brought down in the area, but Rainford saw his effort turned away by Gemmell in the Olympic goal.
Chester's fans despite this then roared encouragement from the stands sensing a goal was on the way, and the kitchen sink was certainly thrown at Rushall, with Horan having an effort cleared off the line, and defenders throwing themselves in front of Chester shots, and despite the introduction of Wes Baynes, the Blues just couldn't find a winner, and were left to rue the referee’s decision to not play the advantage rule for what surely would have been a second goal on the way to a home win, and Neil Young will certainly be feeling that the first home game was ruined by the officials.
Chester: Danby; Brownhill, Horan, Smith, Stones; Booth (Baynes 82), Williams, Powell (Brown 67), Howard; Simm (Rainford 67), McNeil. Subs: Judge, Reed.
Goal: McNeil 13
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