Goals from Michael Wilde and Nick Rogan ensured Neil Young’s Chester carved out a hard-earned victory at the Exacta Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The visitors looked threatening in the opening stages as Chester made a cautious start, struggling to adapt to the blustery conditions around the Exacta Stadium.
Roger Sharrock did well down the left wing, creating space and forcing a save from the keeper early on. But the first real chance fell to Garforth. It came through Liam Ormsby, who forced a great fingertip block by Richard Whiteside to parry his free-kick over the crossbar.
This spurred the Blues on and after upping the tempo Chester began to carve out a few chances of their own. Defender Greg Stones struck a low drive straight at goalkeeper Lee Kelsey midway through the first half. Stones’ effort was too hot for the keeper to handle, but Michael Wilde failed to capitalise on the lose ball thanks to some stern defending from the Miners.
Stuart Graves struck an 18 yard thunderbolt well over the crossbar before Chester we’re forced into some desperate defending at the other end with the Blues having Chris Williams to thank for clearing a dangerous low cross from Adam Priestley.
Nick Rogan had a great chance to open the scoring in the 38th minute when he picked up a neat flick on from Wilde. Rogan beat off his marker but just struggled to control the ball, lifting it over the crossbar.
Two minutes later though, Chester opened the scoring in emphatic style thanks to a terrific 12 yard volley by goal poacher Wilde, giving the Garforth shot stopper no chance.
The visitors almost equalised when Priestley broke free from his marker, only to see his low drive knocked out of play by the legs of Whiteside. At the other end Bradley Barnes saw an overhead kick cleared off the line after wonderful wing play down the right flank by Sharrock. At the other end Whiteside was called into the action as the half drew to a close, collecting a Priestley header with ease from a Chris Fisher free-kick.
After the break Chester almost doubled their lead when Sharrock set up Mark Peers, only to see the midfielder send a shot well wide of the right post. Ten minutes into the second half, Blues boss Neil Young chose to freshen things up, bringing on Mark Connolly for Stuart Graves, but Garforth seemed to grow in belief as the half grew on.
Live wire winger Roger Sharrock almost made it two when, in a mazy run, he rounded three defenders inside the Garforth penalty area but only managed to shoot directly at the legs of the visiting keeper.
But the Blues cemented their lead in the 69th minute when Grey Stones turned and twisted his way past two Garforth players before Rogan caught his cross on the half volley, riffling the ball home into the top corner.
Moments later substitute Mark Connolly sailed a 20 yard pile driver over the Garforth bar. Another substitute, Tom Field, almost got his name on the score sheet after losing his marker, but he sent a right footed shot agonisingly close to the far post.
Chester: Whiteside, Stones, Ruffer, Horan (Field 71), Williams, Peers (Booth 61), Barnes, Graves (Connolly 55), Sharrock, Wilde, Rogan.
Subs: Hopley, Meadowcroft.
Booked: Barnes, Horan.
Goals: Wilde 40, Rogan 70.
Garforth: Kelsey, Collentine, Turner, Marron, Villerman (Collins 66), Priestley (Lynn 75), Small, Ormsby (Aujla 39), Fisher, Walker, Howarth. Subs: Fella, Greaves.
Referee: Paul Marsden (Lancashire).
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