Chester FC’s pre-season preparations continued last night with another solid workout – and in the process they captured the Supporters Direct Shield.
With both sides being fan-owned, there was an added incentive bestowed on the match. After a shaky opening 45, the Blues fitness and clinical finishing in front of goal made it a convincing win in the second half.
The warning signs came early from 1874, as Harry Cain burst forward and unleashed a shot on goal – but Russ Griffiths made a strong stop.
However the Blues keeper was helpless as the home side took the lead on 18 minutes. A shot deflected into the path of Sam Hare, who kept his composure brilliantly, moving the ball away from an attempted block before finding the net.
Bern and Jonno’s side struggled to create in the opening half, but Akwasi Asante and Matty Hughes got some crucial minutes before being replaced by Anthony Dudley and Danny Elliott on 38 minutes.
Dudley was to be the man to draw the Blues level. He bagged from the spot after Jamie Morgan capitalised on some hesitation in the defence and nipped in to beat Northwich keeper Tony Aghayere to the ball as he was fouled in the area.
That goal came at a crucial time, and it sparked the Blues into some second half creativity. The 1874 trialist keeper made three good stops – to deny Elliott, Dudley and Iwan Murray.
Nevertheless, he couldn’t stop the storming run of Simon Grand on 75 minutes. Murray’s corner was pinpoint accurate, and the onrushing defender powered his header into the far corner.
It was then game, set and match on 83 minutes. A good move forward, started by Gary Stopforth, involved Murray, Kevin Roberts and Craig Mahon. The Irishman slid the ball through for Dudley who had beaten the offside trap – and the forward made no mistake to make it five goals in five pre-season games.
The icing on the cake came in stoppage time courtesy of another clinical counter attack. The outstanding Dudley was the catalyst, skipping a challenge and his pass was precise for Danny Elliott – with the attacker holding off his man and sidefooting home for his second Chester FC goal.