Chester’s love affair with the FA Youth Cup continued on Thursday night as they reached the second round proper after a come-from behind win over Barnsley.
After previously dispatching Sandbach United, Marine, Wrexham and Hartlepool United tonight saw the biggest test for the young Blues as they came up against the professional development league north league side – Barnsley.
Chester made two changes from the 4-2 victory over Hartlepool with Will Goodwin and Dion Jones coming into the side in place of Danny Edwards and Tom Ruffer.
Three first half goals in four minutes from Will Goodwin and Cain Noble gave the Blues a 2-1 lead over their Yorkshire opponents at the break – who had gone in front thanks to Kareem Hassan-Smith on the half hour mark.
A red card for Barnsley’s goal scorer (Hassam-Smith) midway inside the second half gave the Blues a man advantage – and they saw the game out to complete their giantkilling.
Before kick-off there was torrential rain over the Swansway Chester Stadium which troubled both teams in the opening 10 minutes, as neither side could establish any sort of authority on the game. However, on six minutes Cain Noble had the first sight of goal – testing Henry Kendrick in the Barnsley goal from all of 30 yards.
As the first half grew older it was Chester that started to grab the game by the scruff of the neck. Excellent pressure from Lloyd Marsh-Hughes, Stuart Crilly and Louis Hayes started to cause some problems for the visitors and the Blues could sense something from this cup tie.
However there’s a reason why Barnsley are seen as Chester’s toughest opponents at youth level to date and they quickly started to regain possession and frustrate the Blues to long balls midway inside the first half.
Their edge soon rewarded them with the first goal of the evening. Superb patient play from the visitors ended with Hassan-Smith brilliantly getting beyond his man and drill his effort past Ben Gale in the Chester goal.
But this Chester side never quits. 120 seconds later they were level. Excellent build up play saw Louis Hayes cross-come shot fell kindly for Stuart Crilly – his shot was parried out only to the feet of Will Goodwin who simply couldn’t miss and Chester had the wind beneath their sails.
That goal rocked Barnsley, so soon had they gone in front – it was 1-1 and the Blues sensed they could get another. More good work from Marsh-Hughes winning a free kick on the edge of the Barnsley penalty area which Harry Molyneux whipped an inviting delivery into the box. Henry Kendrick in the Barnsley goal flapped at the cross and the ball fell kindly to Cain Noble who smashed the ball home and gave the Blues the lead – three goals in an incredible four minutes.
In the second period Chester continued to pressure Barnsley and on 53 minutes they gained a man advantage. From a Barnsley corner Chester broke away through Lloyd Marsh-Hughes and the Welshman found himself one on one. He was brought down outside the box by goalscorer Hassan-Smith.
The Barnsley full back was shown a straight red card and Chester now had 30 minutes with a man advantage.
With just over ten minutes left the 648-strong crowd were playing their part in willing the boys home as they could almost touch the Second Round.
On the 86th minute Stuart Crilly had the chance to kill Barnsley off. Excellent determination from Louis Hayes in the middle allowed him to feed the ball into the path of Crilly who fired inches wide of the far post.
With minutes remaining Barnsley won a corner – from it the substitute Michael Ononye rose highest amongst a crowded penalty area and to the relief of the vast majority of the Swansway Chester Stadium he glanced his header wide by the slightest of margins.
With an additional seven minutes added on the young Blues had to dig deep to maintain their slender advantage but eventually the referee blew his whistle which sparked scenes of jubilation on the pitch as young Blues added Barnsley to now ever growing list of FA Youth Cup upsets. Forget upsets, this was a giantkilling.
Chester FC: Gale, Butterworth, D.Jones (c), Macready, Molyneux, Noble, Cottrell, Hayes (Edwards), Crilly, Goodwin (Kendrick), Marsh-Hughes Subs: Ruffer, Woodburn, Dean
Match Report by Matty Johnson.