You have to be happy when you’re team go away from home and score four. Chester recorded their 13th win of the season against a Histon side who have more than their fair share of worries off the pitch. First half goals settled the contest, including a Tony Gray double, and one apiece for George Horan and Nathan Jarman. A spirited Histon fightback saw them win the second half, but it was an important day for the Blues who went top of the Blue Sq Bet North on Neil Young’s first full-time day at the club. Here’s my five points on the game;
1. Jekyl and Hyde
First half outstanding. Second half disappointing. That’s the game in a nutshell. On a wet and miserable day, the Blues came out an attacked from the off. The four goals were all from direct play. Brown to Curran to Jarman and dummied to Gray for one, Baynes to Horan to double the lead, Sarcevic to Jarman for three, and finally Gray’s run and finish. It could’ve been more we looked that good going forward. You almost felt we’d score every time we attacked, and I even posted at half time that the game could end up ‘a cricket score’. Conversation at the break was how many would we get? Goal difference on supporters minds. Instead, a resurgent Histon we’re the better side after the break, and fully deserved to win the second half 1-0. Maybe conditions later on were a factor, or knowing that the game was as good as gone and the three points were heading back up north west?
2. Neil Young and Officials
It’s a regular battle between the Blues supremo and non-league referee’s, and one I’m sure will rumble on throughout the season. Yesterday, though, I’m going to fly the flag for Neil Young. He had every reason to be mystified and bewildered by some decisions. In his after match chat with the press, he told us how referee Adrian Quelch had apologised to him at half time for getting the penalty decision wrong. He adjudged Craig Curran had handled in the Blues box. Nobody in the press area or even the stands could see anything. It could’ve been costly. 3-1 and it’s game on – think back to Guiseley and Worcester in midweek. I suppose it was justice when John Danby parried the resulting spot kick.
The other moment of frustration came in the final moment of the game, as Scott Brown received a yellow card – his 5th of the season – resulting in a ban for the game against fellow frontrunners Brackley. I still have no idea why Brown was booked, and neither – by the sounds of it – does NY.
3. John Danby
I think it’s fair to talk about Danby after the game, and – if you weren’t in Cambridgeshire – you may scratch your head as to why when we have won 4-1 away from home. If you were in attendance, you’ll probably agree that he was Man of the Match.
We’ve seen Matt Glennon take plaudits last season, we’ve seen Martin Fearon step in and be called by some supporters for a start after John’s wobble against Worksop, but in my eyes we have the best keeper in Non-League. Not just his penalty save from James Stevenson, but his reactions to Lewis Taaffe’s follow up was just as impressive. He had a personal battle with Histon winger Claudiu Hoban in the second half, plus making great stops from Tolley and Waters – on more than one occasion. To be brutally honest, Histon had enough good chances to get a point, the fact they didn’t is testament to Danby.
4. Formations and 4-3-3
Recently we’ve seen a change from Young’s usual 4-4-2 set-up, and I for one am loving it. It benefits some of the key players in our side. The formation yesterday meant Ashley Williams could sit in front of Horan and Collins. That meant Danny Williams and Wes Baynes at full back could progress up the flanks. It gave licence to Scott Brown to get stuck in, plus use the ball further up the pitch, whilst Antoni Sarcevic could play that no 10 role comfortably. The formation saw Curran on the left and Gray on the right of a front three, spearheaded by Nathan Jarman. The movement and fluidity of our first half meant at times we were unplayable. I look forward to seeing it once again on Wednesday night against Corby.
5. The Ben Mills Effect
Like the Lynx effect, but better. Tony Gray, Nathan Jarman and Craig Curran got the nod from NY to start up front, and they trio played like we have a new striker ready to take their place. Gray looked all the player we hoped we’d signed in the first half, with two great finishes – proving doubting Blues fans that he can cut it. Curran looked like a Football League striker. His touch, awareness and all round play was superb. His hold up play allowed Sarcevic and Brown to get involved. Although he’s only here for a month, it’s a quality bit of business from Neil Young. Finally, Nathan Jarman. Although he was subbed early on – to prevent picking up a 5th booking of the campaign – he did what we’ve come to expect from him, work hard. Grafting, chasing, pressuring and adding a bit of quality to what we did. His goal may be the easiest he’ll score all campaign, but it was thoroughly deserved for his endeavour to the cause.
The proof was in the pudding for the first goal as all three combined beautifully. Curran to Jarman, who was aware Gray was behind, so dummied cleverly to the for Southport man. We may just have to wait for Ben Mills to get his first start as a permanent Chester player.
So then, onto Corby on Wednesday, and a chance to cement ourselves at the top of the league. Hope to see you all there. COYB.