Chester’s pre-season schedule concluded with a narrow defeat in an entertaining game this afternoon at Nantwich Town.
Anthony Dudley and Declan Weeks had twice levelled for the Blues in each half – but a late header from Joel Stair saw the Northern Premier Side win the match.
Playing with a patched up side at the back which saw striker George Waring play the full 90 in central defence, the Seals got off to a bright start playing their usual pleasing brand of football. John Johnston, George Glendon and Weeks all had half chances but failed to hit the target in the opening quarter of an hour.
But it was the Dabbers took the lead on 26 minutes following some nice play of their own. A diagonal pass found the run of Callum Saunders, who squared for debutant Shaun Miller to tap home.
Nevertheless, Chester were on equal terms within seconds of the restart. James Hardy notched another pre-season assist, cutting back from the right for Dudley to slam home his fourth goal of pre-season.
It kickstarted the Blues’ best spell of the game. Dudley almost had another immediately after, but Cameron Terry got a hand to the ball as the forward tried to round him up. Moments later the ball fell kindly inside the box for Glendon but his shot was stopped by a brave block.
Then Dudley went even closer to a brace. Skipping away from two challenges, his low left footed effort beat the keeper and bounced back off the foot of the post.
Louis Gray was called into action on three separate occasions before the break in a back and forth, open encounter. He denied Miller, Saunders and Sean Cooke in quick succession.
Both teams had opportunities just after the interval. Waring came up from the back to nod Hardy’s free kick towards the bottom corner, but Terry pushed it away. Then Saunders volleyed inches wide on the counter after a super cross from Troy Bourne.
The Dabbers were back in front on 68 minutes though. Stair’s thunderous volley from outside the box struck the post, before rebounding into the path of Miller to score with a composed finish.
Chester thought they’d responded straight from the kick off yet again when Dudley found Stephenson in the box – a brave block on the line foiled the number eleven. However it was all square on 74 minutes.
Hardy made in nine assists in nine matches; superbly sliding a pass through for Weeks to coolly dispatch.
A game filled with plenty of entertainment swung once more late on. Cooke’s deep free kick was headed home by Stair to seal the win for the home side.
However, Chester could have got back square for the third time in the match late on when impressive sub Jude Oyibo tricked his way into the box and won a penalty following a trip. Dudley stepped up but the spot kick was well stopped by Terry.
CHESTER: Gray, Morgan, Waring, Grand (Trialist B 83), Trialist A (Oyibo 64), Weeks, Glendon, Hardy (Marsh-Hughes 76), Johnston, Dudley, Stephenson.
SUBS NOT USED: Worsnop, Cartwright, Lowe.
GOALS: Miller 26 & 68, Stair 82; Dudley 27, Weeks 74.