Chester secured their place in the Fourth Qualifying Round of the Emirates FA Cup with an impressive 3-1 home win over Spennymoor Town.
Their league opponents on Saturday had opened the scoring through Ryan Hall’s tap-in but Jamie Morgan returned the favour at the other end midway through the first half.
Then after the break, Danny Elliott scored his fourth goal of the season, and second from the penalty spot after Dale Eve took him out in the box.
Finally George Waring secured the win with an outstretched boot from Brad Bauress’ corner.
Chester made three changes from the win against Leamington on Saturday. Firstly Anthony Dudley and Morgan replaced Kevin Roberts and goalscorer Waring, whilst Bradley Jackson returned from injury in place of his namesake Bauress.
However, similarly to the weekend, the hosts started slow and went behind early on. A low cross into the box found the waiting Hall who slid his effort below the outstretched Louis Gray.
The Blues immediately attempted to force an equaliser, Elliott outsmarted the offside trap and laid the ball off for Jackson, whose effort was deflected behind for an unsuccessful corner. Declan Weeks then won a free-kick in a promising position which John Johnston whipped just over the crossbar.
20 minutes passed and Chester kept the pressure on. Firstly, Weeks’ lofted pass found Elliott perfectly. He lobbed Eve from a tight angle, but as his shot trickled towards goal it was hacked off the line by Jordan Boon.
However, try and you shall succeed, and the hosts kept going as Jackson’s testing effort was parried into the path of Morgan to slam into an open net. Momentum had well and truly shifted in the Blues’ favour.
They were let off just before the half hour mark though, dangerman Glen Taylor took on a cross with a vicious volley but it was off target. Weeks went forward with a powerful effort of his own and smashed a shot goalbound from 30-yards, it flew just inches wide of the top corner.
There was time for one last chance before the break – Joel Taylor, on an unconventional run down the right channel following a corner, crossed for the leaping Elliott who couldn’t find the net with his header. Despite a slow start, Chester went into the break level, edging the contest.
In a stark contrast to its previous, the start to the second half was uneventful until Bauress slid Elliott through on goal. Slow off his line, Eve took out the Blues forward as he was rounded. Dusting himself off, the number nine slotted his penalty into the bottom corner to turn the contest on its head.
Scott McLean began the North-East side’s resurgence, bursting into space and passing to Taylor. Closed down, Spennymoor’s top scorer last season fired a hopeful curling effort over. Stephen Thompson kept the pressure on shortly afterwards, but dragged his effort across and wide of Gray’s goal, much to his frustration.
Taylor continued to threaten for the visitors as he was left unmarked from a corner, a succession of which followed before a great effort on the line from Chester’s Taylor to keep the Moors out. A skewed header from Danny Livesey set up Thompson for the bicycle kick but he made more contact with the head of Simon Grand, a lengthy stoppage putting an end to their flurry of chances.
In the end, that turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the Blues. Bauress’ superb corner found the feet of substitute Waring who smashed the underside of the crossbar. Whether it bounced over the line or not was dubious, but a deflection in the melee found the back of the net eventually.
As the clock ticked into five minutes of additional time, Gray had to be alert to keep out Taylor’s deflected free-kick with his feet. Chester managed to scramble the ball away and maintain their two-goal cushion through to the final whistle.
These two sides go again on Saturday in a return to National League North action – as the Blues look to maintain their 100% start to the season.
CHESTER: Gray, Morgan, Taylor, Weeks, Livesey, Grand, Johnston, Glendon, Elliott (Waring 78), Dudley (G. Roberts 78), Jackson (Bauress 46).
SUBS NOT USED: K. Roberts, Hughes, Marsh-Hughes, Clark.
SCORERS: Morgan 24, Elliott pen 56, Waring 81 – Hall 6.
REFEREE: Matt Corlett.
MATCH REPORT BY ALEX BULLIONS.