Chester advanced into the last four of the Cheshire Senior Cup with a deserved victory over League One side Tranmere Rovers.
Danny Elliott’s first half penalty was the difference – his sixth in this competition in just three games this term. Hyde United await the Blues in the Semis.
It was an exciting start to the game as chances came at both ends inside the first five minutes. A strong Rovers side featured forward Stefan Payne, and he went close early on. His shot from range took a wicked deflection off Harrison Burke – who put in a mature performance aged just 16 in the heart of defence – debutant goalkeeper Louis Gray was alert to make a super stop on this occasion.
Moments later, Matty Waters’ superb deep cross was headed just wide by a masked George Waring on his return from injury. The frontman has been out after suffering a facial injury at Guiseley at the start of January – and put in a super hour shift in this game with some strong hold-up play.
On 17 minutes, Chester went even closer to hitting the front. Elton Ngwatala, who was crowned Man of the Match, was played through after Gray’s long kick was flicked on. The Frenchman was stopped by Luke Pilling and, as Elliott pounced on the rebound and looked destined to score, it took a heroic block on the line by George Ray to deny him.
Nevertheless, Elliott wasn’t to be stopped a few minutes later. He confidently converted from the spot after youngster Stuart Crilly showed his trickery inside the box to draw Jake Caprice into a foul.
Five minutes later, Rovers captain Evan Gumbs headed just over from Danny Walker-Rice’s corner. But it was the Blues who finished the half stronger after this.
Ngwatala almost teed up Elliott for a brace with a superb reverse pass in behind the defence, but Pilling denied him. Then Waters curled just over before Waring’s chest and volley on the turn also missed the target prior to the half time whistle.
After the interval, Elliott’s dipping drive was well held by Pilling – before Payne got through on goal back up the other end – only to be stopped by Gray once again.
The game reached a lull throughout the middle of the second period, before Tranmere’s Ollie Banks almost had a chance to level as he broke into the box with the ball – but Blues skipper for the night Gary Roberts showed his experience by putting in an outstanding last ditch challenge.
Chester youngsters combined late on looking to seal the tie, Will Goodwin releasing Louis Hayes, but Pilling denied the substitute. Nevertheless, the Blues held on for an excellent win.
CHESTER: Gray, Morgan, Burke, Jones, Waters, Ngwatala (Hayes 65), G Roberts, Stopforth, Crilly, Elliott (Hughes 61), Waring (Goodwin 61).
SUBS NOT USED: Griffiths, Cottrell.
SCORERS: Elliott (pen) 21.