Chasetown FC 3 Sheffield FC 1

Gary Hay celebrates with his Chasetown team-mates. Pic: Dave Birt

Gary Hay celebrates with his Chasetown team-mates. Pic: Dave Birt

Chasetown FC bounced back to winning form with a fine 3-1 success over Sheffield at a muddy Scholars Ground on Good Friday.

At one stage it looked touch and go whether the match would go ahead, but the Chasetown ground staff made a superb effort to get the pitch ready which met with the referee’s approval, and both teams justified their work with a fine display of football.

With both sides chasing promotion a close game was in prospect, and in very wet conditions the visitors began in lively fashion and Chris Slater displayed some good defending to counter an early attack, before Ashley Longstaff found a chance but mis-kicked and the ball was cleared.

In the seventh minute Ben Leonard headed Mark Branch’s goal-bound free kick clear as the Scholars began to find their pace, Duncan Horler then heading a corner wide as the fast start continued despite the slippery conditions.

Chasetown took the lead in the 16th minute when Mark Branch sent in a well-placed cross following some good play by Ramone Stephens and Grant Ryan was there to stab the ball past Leigh Walker.

Skipper Dave Egan was the next to charge at the Sheffield defence before a scuffle between Ryan and Leonard in front of goal led to both players being booked.  Ryan shrugged it off to head a through ball from Gavin Saunders wide of the near post on 28 minutes before Egan’s final shot went wide after a scramble following Saunders’ free kick.

Another Mark Branch free kick on 39 minutes went close but the Scholars couldn’t quite find the finishing touch, before a dangerous free kick for the visitors two minutes later was blasted low through the wall by Andrew Gascoigne but home keeper Ryan Price was well-placed to save.

Weather conditions improved slightly for the second half and Stephens continued to show good pace down the right, but the play was soon much more even in the midfield as Sheffield looked to fight back.

Stephens fired in a low cross on the hour mark but Egan was unable to find the target, but the skipper provided a fine cross four minutes later allowing Gary Hay to neatly head in at the far post and double the hosts’ lead.

Walker made a good diving save from Duncan Horler’s attempt on 72 minutes before Stephens beat Ben Starosta on the right and crossed to mark Branch but his shot went over the bar from close range.

Dave Egan scores Chasetown's third against Sheffield FC. Pic: Dave Birt

Dave Egan scores Chasetown's third against Sheffield FC. Pic: Dave Birt

Ryan was then all set to round Walker but the offside flag was up, and Chasetown’s onslaught continued with Ryan beating the defence but Walker dived to his right to push the ball away, but just as it looked as if the ball would roll out for a corner, Egan popped up at the far post to slot the ball in for Chasetown’s third.

Substitute striker Danny Smith found the side netting with four minutes on the clock before he crossed to Hay who forced another fine save from Walker, before four minutes into stoppage time Sheffield pulled one back when Tom Jones popped up unmarked in front of goal.

Easter Monday sees Chasetown visit Belper Town (3pm kick-off) before taking on Leek Town on Wednesday (April 7) for a 7.45pm kick-off.

Chasetown: Price, J Branch, M Branch, Slater, Thomas, Saunders, Stephens, Egan (c), Hay, Ryan, Horler.  Subs: D Smith (Ryan 79), Anslow, Jevons (Horler 74), Miller (Stephens 85), Horton.
Sheffield: Walker, Eagers, Starosta, Jones (c), G Smith, Leonard, Wolley, Ford, Cusworth, Longstaff, Gascoigne.  Subs: Wright, Woodhouse (Wolley 60), Purkiss (Longstaff 69), Roney, Adam (Gascoigne 45).

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