The FA Youth Cup dream came to an end this evening for Chester FC, losing 2-0 in a spirited effort at the One Call Stadium.
Arguably the better side for an hour, a penalty from Jimmy Knowles and a scrambled goal from Riley O’Sullivan sealed Mansfield Town’s passage into Round Three.
A physical battle, the Blues had their share of chances. Cain Noble’s header forced Keaton Marrs into a save early on.
The long throws of Zak Butterworth were a constant source of danger in Mansfield, Lloys Marsh-Hughes firing over from the first ball into the box; before just before the break the Mansfield defence blocked and scrambled to clear from Dion Jones and Noble.
After the break the Chester pressure continued as Stuart Crilly twice went close. Firstly firing wide via a deflection, and then unleashing a fierce 30 yard volley which was tipped over by Marrs.
But then, against the run of play, the hosts won a penalty. Knowles stepped up to take it, and despite Ben Gale going the right way, it nestled in the back of the net to give John Dempster’s side the advantage.
The Football League Alliance side grew in confidence after taking the lead, and Riley O’Sullivan scrambled home from a corner on 81 minutes. This was moments after George Macready had brilliantly blocked on the line after Knowles had rounded up Gale.
Marsh-Hughes had a penalty appeal turned down late on and was booked for simulation, and Louis Hayes was denied well by Marrs in stoppage time.
Despite the result, the Chester FC Youth side did the club proud yet again – and have been on a memorable journey.