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Honours Even

By: Rob Sedgwick
Date: 14/03/2009

THE LONG awaited tie which people had been talking about for weeks finally took place on Saturday. Man Utd v Liverpool? No Grimsby v Chester of course, the match with both clubs' league status at place. With Sky and Setanta both ignoring it, the only way to see it was actually to be there!

Home > 2008-2009 Season > Reports > Chester (a)

Over one thousand Grimsby fans followed the call to arms and headed west toward Chester's tiny Deva stadium. Buried in the depths of an obscure industrial estate, the road to Chester's ground is the anti-thesis of Wembley Way. At the end of a long, straight flat, incredibly boring road comprising textile merchants and light engineering companies, the Deva Stadium just about scrapes above the skyline.

The first thing which one noticed when entering the ground was how few home fans there were. With the entrance price reduced to a tenner, the Town faithful's rendition of "You're Supposed to be at Home" was particularly apt. For most of the local population were sat at home bedecked in their replica shirt, and watching the aforementioned Man Utd v Liverpool game on TV.

The second thing to take note of was the wind. It swirled around the ground and would almost certainly have an impact on the day's play.

Town elected to play a 3-5-2 formation once again, but James Hunt came into the midfield.

When the match finally got under way Town spent the first 15 minutes practically camped in Chester's half, despite the prevailing direction of the wind being in City's favour. Hegarty had a great early chance when he was put through by Hunt, but rather scuffed the ball, and the 'keeper managed to get down late to turn it round the post for a corner.

Chester finally came to life after about 15 minutes, and with their front two of Ellison and Lowe they were always going to be a danger. Ellison went close on 15 minutes, hitting the side netting.

Town though deservedly took the lead on 20 minutes. A poor free kick came back into play and eventually found its way to Hegarty who broke free on the left hand side of the box, slotting it past the 'keeper.

Chester almost equalised straight away, but dangerman Ellison fired over from a close range after a quickly taken Chester corner.

Ellison angered the crowd with a late challenge on Henderson but the referee made the right decision to give the Chester striker a yellow card, despite the Town fans' baying for a red one.

Chester continued to have the better of the game and Ellison then again went close with a near post header from a corner. The much vilified Newey then made a fantastic last ditch challenge to scoop the ball from under Ellison's feet as he was bearing down on Town's goal.

On 32 Danny Boshell was replaced by Llewellyn, presumably for an injury. Grimsby were not the same from around this point.

Chester got the ball in the net just before half time but the goal was disallowed for a foul on Henderson.

Half Time: Chester 0 Grimsby 1

Town had deserved to take the lead, but since their goal Chester had been the strongest side and had come closest to scoring. With the wind in their advantage though, hopefully Grimsby could get a second after the break.

Town started poorly after Chester nearly scored straight away when poor defending allowed Roberts to have a shot which went over the goal.

Chester finally got their equaliser when Lowe beat the Grimsby offside trap and went round Henderson to score from close range. It was no more than City deserved.

Grimsby have tried and failed to hang on to a one goal lead many times this season, and it has invariably failed.

With so much at stake both sides retreated into their respective cages and the game became very scrappy. Town were simply not committing enough people forward enough to really trouble Chester and the players seemed more frightened of defeat than they were willing to win.

The introduction of Jar man (who was booked within a minute for a reckless challenge) and Forbes and Town reverting to 4-4-2 failed to make much difference and the game meandered to a rather unsatisfactory draw.

Ellison was lucky to stay on the pitch after a late challenge on Newey. The ref bottled it and failed to show the Chester striker the second yellow his challenge deserved.

Both sides had a chance to win the game. Hegarty could have added a second but volleyed the ball just wide. Right at the death Wilson headed over from a Chester corner.

Full Time: Chester 1 Grimsby 1

Ultimately despite all the anticipation the match was poor. The disappointing thing is that Grimsby had not really threatened Chester enough. Their new formation and whole mindset seemed to be not to concede. With Chester's weakness being their defence and their strength being their front players, this was always going to be a risky policy. However Grimsby have avoided the defeat that would have given them a large hill to climb and there is everything still to play for, starting with Luton on Tuesday.

Man of the Match was Rob Atkinson, who played simply but effectively in the heart of Town's defence.

Chester with their appalling support undoubtedly deserve to go down more than Town, but it doesn't necessarily work like that. We will probably need to win at least three of our remaining nine games to stay up.

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