An early mistake saw a Chester shot, nearly turned in by striker & defender. Connell was then involved thrice in a good movement, but Cummings suffered a shin/ankle injury in clearing upfield as his oppo came in. He resumed after treatment, but never had “push-off” after the incident. Younger put in a classic tackle, Spicer broke & O’Connor shot wide. Broadie nearly nicked it in from a free, but elsewhere too many of our passes were misplaced – at or behind the recipient, or worse. This let Chester make the plays with 2-3 shots over the bar including from inside the area, not least from the No.4 who turned his marker too easily. This meant Spicer played too deep – but even so never struck up a good understanding with Browning, whose tackling & distribution left a lot to be desired all game. However, Supa did put a side-header just beyond the post, but the game had become a real muddle in the windy conditions.
Connell put in our first on target, left-foot from 20 yards but straight at the ‘keeper. Chester had a shot across our goal, then we had a corner on our right wing. It came back to the taker, O’Connor, who fired it into the box. Brief pin-ball, & Maher knocked it in. 1-0, 33 mins. However, the scoreboard was defunct – why? Moss was nearly chipped, then Supa’s excellent header put O’Connor up the left to feed Spicer who almost put it into Connell’s path. As it was, HT 1-0 was unfair on Chester. We had lost the ball too easily, defence & midfield were out of synch., & Wader was rarely in the game so with Cummings struggling we had little down the flanks.
From the restart, Wader put in a great cross, & Chester had a long shot that led to several defensive mistakes by the Cherries. Chester were bossing it, until Cummings put over a cross at which the goalie flapped, & Wader tapped it in unhindered. 2-0, 56 mins. At this point, Purches (25 this Friday, 14th) replaced Cummings & immediately we had some decent left-side control, leading to Connell’s trickery & shot into the side netting. He then pressed & won the ball on our right side, but the cross was cleared. However, he never linked with Supa who, apart from 1 or 2 moments, exhibited his usual random style of control as balls bounced off him in various directions.
Hayts replaced Connell on 68, with Chester still looking better than Swindon 3 weeks ago or Bristol City in August. At this point, the central defensive triangle stopped communicating; I think the main error was Moss’s, & the no.11 nipped in for a tap-in. 2-1, 69 mins. But Hayts injected pace, movement, style & class into our attack, & a comedy of errors in the away defence ended with Supa heading over. He & O’Connor linked, with the latter’s back-heel sending Spicer down the inside-left channel but again it ran out over the goal-line. Soon after, Spicer kicked the ball into the hoardings below us on having been harshly penalised for an apparent foul, so he was yellowed. A 10-yard advance was down – I think – to Wader’s subsequent comment. Maher was good on the ball & in the air all game, but I’m uneasy about his pairing with Broadie who just got on with things at the back but didn’t seem to lead the back four as Howe does. Hayts was winning free-kicks, but Moss misjudged a shot & it slipped off his gloves round the post. Deadly replaced O’Connor on 90, at the start of 4 added minutes, so really the substitution was on 86. Cherries played the corners a lot in the last 5-6 minutes, not the mark of a side confident in its own abilities (& a compliment to Chester), but the win’s the bottom line. FT: 2-1.
The team needs a dose of ipecacuanha to rid itself of bad habits in defence & midfield - & instead play it simple & communicate. Moss had a bad day at the office – good on crosses but iffy otherwise. Younger was generally solid, especially when looking to go forward, but the no.11 had too much room too often. Wader was better in the 2nd half, but I don’t see how “Football First” gave him MoM. O’Connor was the most consistent of the midfielders, but had to do too much to plaster over the others’ deficiencies & his game suffered as a consequence. But at least we’re in the hat…
AFCB: Moss, Young, Broadhurst, Maher, Cummings, Elliott, Browning, Spicer, O'Connor, Fletcher, Connell
Subs: Stewart, Purches (on for Cummings, 57), Hayter (on for Connell, 70), Holmes (on for O'Connor, 90), Rodrigues
Peter Wicks, Greenford, Middx