: 1. Chris Gemmell
, 2. Lucan Spittle ©, 3. James Skedgel, 4. Mitchell Tolley
, 5. Sean Platt, 6. Jonny Haynes, 7. Christian Dacres, 8. Alex Forde (Keenan 46), 9. Matt Lewis (Adaggio 71), 10. Ahmed Obeng
(Melbourne 46), 11. Mark Briggs. Subs: 12. Marco Adaggio, 14. Richard Blythe, 15. Decio Gomes, 16. Alex Melbourne, 17. Louis Keenan.
: 1. John Danby, 2. Wesley Baynes, 3. Matthew McGinn, 4. George Horan ©, 5. Michael Taylor, 6. Christian Smith (Mackin 71), 7. Jerome Wright, 8. Michael Powell, 9. Matthew McNeil (Simm 79), 10. Antoni Sarcevic, 11. Rob Booth (Wilde 63). Subs: 12. Michael Wilde, 14. Christopher Simm, 15. Jamie Rainford, 16. Iain Howard, 17. Levi Mackin.
: Mr. J. Law (Worcester)
Free-scoring Chester FC consolidated their position at the summit of the Evo-Stik League Premier Division table as they boosted their goal difference with an emphatic four goal victory against eighth place Rushall Olympic at Dales Lane.
The hosts maintained the starting line-up that accounted for neighbours Chasetown on Bank Holiday Monday, but their moral boosting victory at the Scholars Ground ultimately counted for little as the Blues slammed in three second half goals to extend their advantage over Northwich Victoria to three points.
Chester were straight out of the staring blocks at the commencement of the contest and as early as the sixth minute Jerome Wright progressed dangerously into the left side of the box, before picking out Rob Booth whose effort was blocked by Christian Dacres. However, as the rebound fell nicely for Booth again but he could only fire wide of the target.
In their very next attack the Cestrians Antoni Sarcevic tried his luck with a pacey strike from distance, but although on target Chris Gemmell
simply took the sting out of the initial shot and proceeded to gather safely.
On ten minutes Matt McGinn’s corner curled in from the right was met by a downward header from Michael Powell that deflected off the back of a Rushall defender to yield another flag kick.
Three minutes later more sustained pressure from the visitors almost paid dividends as Sarcevic’s spectacular scissor kick from 12 yards out was brilliantly saved by Gemmell in the home goal who pushed the ball around his left hand post for a corner. However, when the resulting flag kick broke down Olympic struggled to clear the danger and as Powell was found in space he sent his lofted drive from just inside the penalty area over the bar.
As the midpoint of the first period approached the game had settled down appreciably following the visitor’s lively opening. However, the Seals upped the ante once more in the 27th minute when a spell of pressure saw both Powell and Sarcevic have chances repelled before James Skedgel finally cleared the danger.
The defining moment of the opening half arrived on 29 minutes when Chester forged into what ultimately turned out to be an unassailable lead. A severe lack of communication from the hosts along their left flank saw possession relinquished all too easily to Wright who rapidly centred towards the edge of the box. As MATT McNEIL
took up possession defender Mitchell Tolley
impulsively dived in, allowing the front runner to turn his marker and drill a clinical finish into the top left corner.
Ten minutes prior to the interval Blues’ Matt McGinn headed the ball forward and a nice touch by Wright found Sarcevic in an off-side position, but the midfielder also shot wide of the target.
As play moved swiftly to the other end a vocal penalty appeal rang out as top scorer Ahmed Obeng
went to ground far too easily, but referee Mr. Law remained unmoved.
In the 37th minute Olympic enjoyed arguably their first real effort of the game when good work be Skedgel saw the defender work the ball to the left by-line before pulling it back into the penalty area where Matt Lewis flicked on to Lucan Spittle whose first time drive flew straight into the waiting arms of the John Danby.
With the hosts enjoying a useful spell of pressure some excellent work by Lewis went unrewarded as the forward cut inside from the left channel to a central position and unleashed a venomous 25 yard drive that surged over ‘keeper Danby and cannoned off the underside of the crossbar before being gratefully directed to safety by the Chester defence.
On 40 minutes Obeng was played into a good position but found himself offside as the Blues custodian dived on the ball at the front runner’s feet just to make sure.
Right on the stroke of half-time and Chester once more came into the ascendancy but Christian Smith could only hook wildly yards over the woodwork from the edge of the box after finding himself in a good position.
Half-Time: Rushall Olympic 0-1 Chester FC
Rushall faced a major reshuffle at the commencement of the second period as Obeng, who passed a late fitness test prior to kick-off and Alex Forde, had to be replaced by Alex Melbourne and Louis Keenan.
Within four minutes of the restart the hosts were given an uphill task as the Cestrians doubled their advantage. A throw-in from the right hand side by Wright was flicked on into the penalty area where POWELL
instinctively latched on to the ball in a crowded goalmouth and hooked into the net from close range.
Two minutes after falling further behind Olympic responded when a great centre in from the right by Melbourne put Danby under pressure in the Chester goal, but as Keenan darted in to challenge and got a foot to the ball, the danger was ultimately cleared.
Three minutes prior to the hour mark and as McNeil took up possession within the left wide of the home penalty area Spittle’s challenge from behind only succeeded in hauling the forward down from behind to concede a spot kick.. Although the Rushall skipper failed to attract a caution, his team received the punishment as Blues top scorer McGINN
made no mistake from the 12-yard mark by consummately converting into the left side of the net, sending Gemmell the wrong way in the process.
The Seals were again on the offensive in the 65th minute when a deep free-kick delivered from the left caused problems amongst the home defensive ranks as they failed to deal with the danger and Powell’s effort had to be denied by Gemmell with a good save to concede a corner.
Five minutes later and Chester striker McNeil tried his luck from 25 yards out with a pacey drive that the Pics custodian did well to tip over.
As the game moved into its closing stages Gemmell was again called into action for the hosts on 87 minutes, making a save at close quarters before Wesley Baynes drove the loose ball over the bar from distance as the danger was only partially cleared.
Two minutes later and the visitors were again pushing to extend their advantage further as Chris Simm’s shot was well saved by Gemmell, only to see fellow substitute Michael Wilde hook the loose ball into the net from close range, just as the assistant referee raised his flag for an off-side decision.
As the 90th minute ticked by there was a muted penalty appeal within the confines of the Rushall box as Simm went to ground under a sliding challenge from Spittle, but the referee was having none of it.
In the third minute of stoppage time Olympic shipped a fourth goal that somewhat flattered the leaders when substitute LEVI MACKIN
made it a goal scoring debut for Chester as the home defence opened up all too easily to give the midfielder time and space to rifle in a venomous drive from the edge of the box beyond Gemmell into the left side of the net.
Full-Time: Rushall Olympic 0-4 Chester FC