MATCH REPORT | Chester 4-2 Banbury United
Chester made it three wins in a row in a six-goal thriller over Banbury United.
The Blues got off to the perfect start, taking the lead after just two minutes as Rhys Hughes swept home a free flowing move. An Adam Thomas brace, interrupted by a long delay to a serious injury to Liam Edwards, put Chester in complete control at the break.
At the start of the second half the Blues hit the woodwork twice but were almost made to rue their missed chances as a Harrison Burke own goal offered Banbury hope and when Kelvin Langmead added the visitors second five minutes later the contest was very much back on.
In the end the match was settled by Kurt Willoughby’s 25th goal of the season as the Blues’ forward stepped up to curl home a stunning free kick with one minute of regular time remaining, with the Deva Stadium erupting in adulation as a result.
The Blues made three changes from the side that won two-one at Hereford during the week as Kieran Coates, Alex Brown and Adam Thomas came in for Jamie Morgan, Ollie Heywood and Iwan Murray.
Chester made the perfect start as they took the lead with just two minutes on the clock. Declan Weeks played it out wide to Thomas, who cut it back for Hughes to finish first time.
Banbury were moving the ball well and looked threatening when going forward and forced the first save of the afternoon from Harry Tyrer from Captain Giorgio Rasulo’s long range effort.
The game was wide open as Weeks picked up a stray ball forward, he picked out Willoughby but his left footed effort was saved by Ben Taylor. Another chance was quick to follow as Hughes started a counter-attack, Weeks then hung a cross for Caton but he couldn’t get it on target.
The Blues were playing some good football, with Banbury wide open at the back and got their second in the twenty-sixth minute. Caton’s exquisite delivery picked out the run of Thomas, who powered a header into the top corner.
Two almost became three moments later as Weeks’ cross picked out Caton but again he couldn’t get his header on target.
The chances kept coming as Liam Edwards flicked a cross on to Willoughby, who saw his shot blocked into the path of Thomas, but he couldn’t keep his effort down.
A nasty head injury to Edwards, as he bravely headed the ball away, caused a long stoppage at the end of the first half but despite being a worry as soon as Edwards went down somehow the referee allowed play to continue and Banbury won a free kick on the edge of the area.
With eleven minutes added the visitors took the free kick and Rasulo curled it over the bar.
In the eighth minute of first half stoppage time the Blues added their third. Banbury were far too casual playing out from the back and Hughes’ ball forward found Thomas, who swivelled and fired beyond Taylor.
Four minutes into the second half and referee Richard Aspinall found himself at the centre of the action again, Blues ‘keeper Tyrer was clearly fouled when going to claim a cross but Banbury players ran back to the halfway line with the ball. Thankfully cool heads prevailed and the free kick was awarded.
A minute later and the Blues almost had a fourth. First Caton’s header was cleared off the line before an outstretched Burke saw his effort bounce off the crossbar.
Chester still looked like they could score every time they went forward and were denied by the woodwork again five minutes later as Hughes’ corner was met by Matty Williams, who powered a header against the bar.
The chances kept coming as a minute later Weeks’ stunning cut back picked out Thomas, who crossed low for Caton and he was denied well by a Jak Hickman block.
The Blues were made to pay for their inability to add the fourth as just two minutes later Banbury pulled one back, Ben Acquaye’s low cross was turned into his own net by Burke.
The visitors were then suddenly back in the game when they pulled back another as 37-year-old Langmead glanced home a header to reduce the deficit to one.
Banbury enjoyed a spell of extended possession as they searched for an equaliser and Chester couldn’t gain a foothold, but the visitors struggled to create clear-cut chances.
Caton almost added a fourth as his deflected effort looped goalwards but was tipped over by a backpedalling Taylor.
With one minute of normal time remaining the Blues secured all three points as Weeks won a free kick on the edge of the penalty area, up stepped Willoughby to brilliantly curl home his twenty-fifth of the season.
CHESTER: Tyrer, Coates, Williams, Edwards (Burke 45), Brown, Roberts, Weeks, Hughes (Murray 73), Thomas (Stephenson 90+1), Caton, Willoughby.
SUBS NOT USED: Dudley, Earl.
SCORERS: Hughes 2, Thomas 26 & 45+8, Willoughby 89; Burke (OG) 59, Langmead 64.