Despite going behind twice Chester FC fought back to beat Harrogate Railway Athletic in a rousing clash at the Exacta Stadium.
Blues boss Neil Young made two changes to the side that beat Woodley Sports 3-0 in midweek. Goalkeeper Richard Whiteside came in to replace Adam Judge who is nursing a groin injury whilst Tom McCready took the place of Ashley Williams, returning to the starting eleven following his successful loan spell at Airbus UK Broughton FC.
The Blues began strong and should have taken the lead with just 23 seconds on the clock when Chris Simm picked up a great ball from Iain Howard, but couldn’t quite keep it down chipping over the Harrogate keepers’ head and just over the bar.
After soaking up the initial pressure the visitors took the lead with their first clear cut chance of the game. Centre half Wayne Harrett couldn’t believe his eyes when he smashed in a superb half volley from around 30 yards out, the ball going in off the underside of Whiteside’s crossbar.
The Blues, clearly rattled, had their work cut out and immediately went in search of an equaliser but were frustrated by a well organised Harrogate outfit for long periods. Midway through the half Booth sent in a searching cross for Wilde who struggled to connect, then Howard stung the keepers fingers before following up with a powerful header just wide.
A goalkeeping blunder moments later handed Chester an equaliser in the 27th minute. The Harrogate keeper struggled to deal with a Michael Taylor header, the keeper flapped, pushing the ball onto George Horan’s back with the loose ball bobbling into an empty net.
The Blues had the ball in the net four minutes later when Chris Simm followed up Robbie Booth’s initial shot, Simm’s strike bounce back into play off the right post and into the path of Wilde, who side-footed home only to see the linesman flag for offside. With the clock ticking down, the Blues came close before the interval when Greg Stones whipped in an inviting cross, with Wilde and Simm unmarked the visitors managed to head the danger clear.
Chester FC were forced to pick themselves back up when the visitors regained the lead just five minutes after the break when Steve Palfrey took advantage of a sluggish Chester defence to hoof the ball into the top corner, past the despairing reaches of Whiteside.
The visitors were reduced to ten men when goalscorer Harrett was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence. Almost immediately Chester capitalised, coming back from behind for the second time in the game when Chris Simm sent home a darting header from an excellent Booth cross.
In an ill-tempered second half that saw Harrogate’s manager sent to the stands, the Blues eventually took the lead when Bradley Barnes latched onto a neat Iain Howard corner. Barnes laid the ball back to Simm who rifled it home through a crowded area and into the net.
Urged on by a Harry Mac terrace in full voice, Simm squandered a great opportunity to complete his hat-trick sending a piledriver high and wide Neil Young’s men held firm to bag the points.
The Blues return to the Exacta Stadium on Wednesday night when they face promotion hopefuls Curzon Ashton in a mouth-watering clash that could turn out to be a pivotal game in the Blues charge for promotion. Kick Off is 7.45pm.
Chester: Whiteside, Aspin, Horan, Taylor, Stones, Booth, Barnes (Beck 73), McCready (Wilson 57), Howard, Wilde (Barlow 88), Simm. Subs: Field, Ruffer.
Booked: Barnes, McCready, Horan, Wilson.
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