Match report: Chasetown FC 1 Chester FC 1

Mark Branch scrambles away with the ball. Pic: Pamela Mullins

Mark Branch scrambles away with the ball. Pic: Pamela Mullins

For 83 minutes this match was a typical Chasetown performance of late – little ambition and lacklustre football with table-toppers Chester FC dominant, but in the closing minutes the Scholars turned things around and could even have stolen an unlikely victory.

Goalkeeper Ryan Price was the hero of the day with a string of fine saves including a penalty, while Dean Perrow’s late efforts warmed the home fans among the big crowd and many believed he was unlucky not to add to his 84th-minute equaliser in the closing seconds.

Chasetown’s first chance of the day came courtesy of a Mark Branch free kick but Perrow’s attempt was cleared, while skipper George Horan headed a long ball into the box wide for the visitors on eight minutes.

The game continued at an even pace with Christian Smith firing high over the bar for Chester while the Scholars were working hard in midfield. Horan departed on 36 minutes after picking up an injury in a clash with home keeper Ryan Price, while a cross from Stefan Cox flew straight to the keeper four minutes later.

The tight midfield play meant the hosts were struggling to find chances while Jimmy Turner and new signing Scott Lycett were working to block every effort from the league leaders, the half ending goalless in a close encounter.

Ryan Price makes a good save. Pic: Pamela Mullins

Ryan Price makes a good save. Pic: Pamela Mullins

Price punched away a corner to begin the second half, but three minutes later the Scholars defence were caught out down the right and Antoni Sarcevic broke clear to slide the ball under Price’s body and open the scoring.

Skipper Richard Teesdale cleared a cross off the line on 59 minutes as Chester began to dominate proceedings with Price working overtime between the posts, blocking a shot from Jerome Wright on 66 minutes.

Kidderminster Harriers loanee Jack Cresswell made his Chasetown debut when he replaced Mark Hands midway through the half, while substitute Michael Powell had the ball in the net for Chester but the flag was up for offside. Gary Birch was introduced to the Scholars attack for the final 15 minutes just before Chester were awarded a penalty after a foul by Chris Slater but Price dived low to his right to cling onto Matty McGinn’s spot-kick.

With six minutes to go Chasetown equalised against all the odds when a trademark Mark Branch free kick found Perrow who just got his head to the ball to glance past keeper Adam Judge. Wright looked certain to have restored Chester’s lead when he burst down the left and fired past Price with three minutes to go but the flag was up for offside, while there was frustration for the Scholars in the final minute as Perrow’s last-ditch effort was disallowed for a foul and the spoils were shared.

Chasetown now prepare to visit Stocksbridge Park Steels next Saturday before travelling to Ashton United on February 29.

Chasetown: Price, Lycett, M Branch, Slater, Turner, Teesdale (c), Hands, Stride, Quinn, Perrow, Downes. Subs: Birch (Lycett 76), Farmer, L Wright (Downes 82), Cresswell (Hands 64), Birt (GK).
Chester: Judge, Brownhill, McGinn, Horan (c), Taylor, Brown, J Wright, Smith, McNeil, Sarcevic, Cox. Subs: Powell (Horan 36), Booth (Cox 68), Howard, Simm (Sarcevic 73), Baynes.