On paper, it will have looked a very comfortable 3-1 home victory, but it was more than that at The Exacta Stadium last night. A result which you feel could be a deflating blow to Guiseley and the other rivals who saw Chester overturn going a goal down, to produce a stunning comeback thanks to goals from Tony Gray, Matty McGinn and Nathan Jarman. It now leaves Neil Young’s men 19 points clear at the top of the league as we enter March and the ‘business end of the season’. Very satisfying from a team who have still only lost one league game all season.
Here’s my thoughts from last night’s game against Gainsbrough:
Back in 2005, some people laughed when the word ‘bouncebackability’ entered the Collins English Dictionary along with the words ‘chav’ and ‘asbo’.
Last night though, the team showed the 1918 in attendance that they don’t just have skill – but also a stern character and, of course, bouncebackability.
Gainsborough, on the back of a victory over the Conference leaders, Wrexham, will have felt they could’ve upset the Blue Sq Bet North title race – and when Craig Nelthorpe slammed home from 10 yards out, it looked for a moment as though the dark and cold evening at The Exacta may be a difficult encounter.
Instead of heads dropping, and fans jeering, the blues – led in particular by Captain George Horan – showed a passion to win every single ball, tackle, header – you name it, those 10 outfield players battled for it. After a fortuitous goal for Tony Gray, it almost became routine for the players to rise through the gears and finish the game with two more superb efforts.
The word ‘Bouncebackability’ may be in the Collins English Dictionary, but at the minute, the word ‘Defeat’ isn’t in the Chester FC version… and long may that continue.
Last night, as I stood in the PA room with Mr Clegg, we had our regular home match chat around 15 minutes from time – Who is your Man of the Match today?
Last night, I didn’t envy our Matchday sponsors! Choosing one player during a team performance as good as the one on show last night was difficult. However, I’ve trawled through DevaChat and seen the Horan’s, Gray’s and Sarcevic’s mentioned along side the winner Matty McGinn as outstanding performers. However, I feel one lad has been harshly overlooked. Nathan Turner.
We didn’t see much of him at first, but from Droylsden away onwards, we’ve seen exactly why this lad on a professional contract at Leeds. His positional play last night was second to none, and I can’t remember too many times he gave the ball away. He flew into challenges won his fair share of headers, and steadily ploughed through another quietly superb midfield display.
Neil Young doesn’t get too many loan signings wrong, think back to Sarcevic, Glennon, Mills, Danny Williams and Curran to name five. He spoke originally at the fact Nathan was ‘highly rated’ at Leeds, and it’s clear to see why.
If – and I mean If – we get promoted to the Conference, I think it would be a massive coup to secure Nathan for another year, for him and the club. Will he break into the Leeds first team squad next year? Could another loan be on the cards for young Nathan to gain more first team experience? He’s kept Ashley Williams and Scott Brown out of the team in recent weeks, two players who are very highly rated at this level of the game.
Next season, I’d love to see him partner Ashley Williams and Antoni Sarcevic, than Michael Brown and El-Hadji Diouf – but that is purely personal!
The Forward Line
Currently, we have a strikeforce of Jarman, Williams, Gray, Trundle and – not forgetting – Altrincham loanee Ben Mills. Wow, just wow. For anyone who saw Drewe Broughton and Kevin Rapley at Chester City, you know where I’m coming from…
Those five strikers currently on the clubs books would walk into every other Blue Sq Bet North side. I’m confident of that statement. I’d even take it as far to say at least half the Conference Premier can’t boast a forward line with as much experience and qualityas ours. It really is a top draw non-league forwarding option.
Neil made the choice to start with Jarman and Gray last night. It was Gray and Trundle on Saturday, and Jarman and Williams last week at Workington. They are all getting game time. Last night though, the pairing of Jarmna and Gray was superb. Jarman’s movement and touch was superb all night long, looking all the player who is currently the Club’s Top Goalscorer with 16. Last night’s winner though was Tony Gray. The Southport man scored 20+ goals in Conference Premier last year, and even Neil Young has said ‘he hasn’t had a fair crack of the whip here’. Honest, and true. Last night, Gray walked off the pitch upon being substituted to a standing ovation – A far cry from the questions about his future on DevaChat just days before, and proving that he can be a big part of our promotion push in the last couple of months.
You’ll hear this a lot in the near future, but three years ago we couldn’t dream of having a squad with a front line of that calibre. How refreshing to have a front line like that!
Last night after stints with the written press and radio, Neil came down to do an interview with me for Blues Player and The Seals Podcast. Usually, that’s the lot, and the gaffer can go and get a well deserved meal in the Legends Lounge. Last night though, he stayed outside in the stands, conducted a full scale press conference in Block F of the Exacta Stand to around 15 Journalism students from Liverpool John Moores University.
Bare in the mind, the guy is now full time at the club, and must have spent the best part of 13/14 hours in ‘work’ yesterday. That makes it even more impressive.
Also remember that he takes in games midweek, and is not just scouting our opposition, but potential signings for next season and some of the teams we may come up against.
More importantly though, he has a family, and a young family who he somehow crams in alongside the endeavor to make Chester FC ready for the Blue Sq Bet Premier.
The man is terrific, and seeing him at 66/1 for the Luton job last week was horrible, but a recognition of the fantastic job he is doing as the leader of the pack.
Maybe we can fund raise for a bed in his office for evening games though – save’s a trip home!
The magic number ‘100’
After last years 1-1 draw at home to Rushall Olympic on the opening day of the 2011/12 season, if you’d have told me that we would win two successive Championships and score 100 goals and amass 100 points in both campaigns, well I’d have ordered you off with men in white coats for a mental examination. To do it once would have been realistic. To do it twice would be incredible and only achievable on FIFA 13.
Roll the clock forward to today, and it finally dawns on me – and I’m sure a lot of Chester fans – that this achievement is within touching distance, and simply outstanding. Incredible. Unprecedented, maybe? This could be one of the greatest moments in the history of football in Chester.
Three years ago, we would’ve been happy just watching a team wearing Blue and White again. We were prepared for Runcorn Linnets in the Vodkat League. We just wanted to own our club and have what had been disgracefully taken away from us. It’s a stark reminder of our brutal handling on the pitch during the 3 years that we now share a disappointment in drawing a game!
So, on March 10th, when it’s the 3rd anniversary of the club being wound up at the High Court, raise a smile to what’s been achieved in 36 months, and what could be achieved in the 6 weeks afterwards. Let’s join the 100 club for the second season running…
Right, seeing as we have a weekend off, hope to see you all at the Cheshire Senior Cup game against Tranmere. Don’t know about you, but I’m dreaming of the Blue Sq Bet North and Cheshire Senior Cup double…!