Chester FC 1-1 Leigh Genesis

Reporter:

Dennis Wall

HOW Leigh Genesis managed to end this match with a share of the spoils was beyond the comprehension of any onlooker.

But the struggling second-bottom side did achieve their objective in the cruellest fashion, by netting an equaliser two minutes into stoppage time.

Chester, who had Carl Ruffer break the deadlock in the 73rd minute, were understandably deflated and deeply frustrated by the whole episode as they missed an opportunity to go joint top on points with Division One North leaders Chorley.

The Blues dominated possession and had created an abundance of goalscoring chances throughout the match, but they always struggled to find a way of breaking down a resilient Genesis defence.

Blues keeper Richard Whiteside was a spectator as his side constantly attempted to break down Leigh’s rearguard, but Chester were punished for their inability to kill the game off with a second goal.

Chester boss Neil Young named a strong starting line-up on the back of Wednesday’s 3-1 League Challenge Cup home win after extra time against Rushall Olympic.

Robbie Booth and Iain Howard provided the Blues with attacking options down the flanks, while leading goalscorer Michael Wilde linked up with Rob Hopley in the front line.

Wilde sparked his side’s first half chance after four minutes when his left wing cross was missed by defender Tony Rendall and gratefully accepted by Leigh keeper Adam Judge.

Wilde, looking lively whenever the Blues ventured forward, received a fine pass from Booth in the 12th minute, but sprayed his shot wide of the target.

Howard then demonstrated his pace and opportunism in the 14th minute when he steered a low shot wide of the right post just ahead of Wilde who was unable to make contact with the chance.

Genesis had no answer to the Blues’ rampaging moves and had to defend for long periods.

Hopley was played through by Tom Field in the 16th minute but his low deflected shot was saved by Judge.

Field tried his luck from 25 yards in the 21st minute, but saw his strike fly wide of the mark after good work from Howard.

Left-sided midfielder Howard was offered a shooting chance after the Leigh defence failed to contend with a high right wing cross from Michael Aspin.

Bradley Barnes unleashed a powerful 22 yard shot in the 32nd minute which flew over the bar as Chester continued to press for an opening goal.

Leigh were successfully holding out under immense pressure as Blues’ fans became increasingly frustrated by their team’s inability to find a breakthrough.

Field tried to up the tempo with a series of cameos from the heart of midfield.

He steered a low shot wide from Howard’s fine run and cross in the 41st minute, and Hopley’s purposeful run and pass seconds later found Howard, but his low cross from the left of the box was turned round the post by Rendell.

Field then produced two further shots within the space of just 30 seconds. His first effort was saved by Judge from 25 yards, and his second was parried by the Leigh keeper and cleared by Rendall.

Barnes resumed Chester’s attacking mode after the break by forcing Judge into a tip over save from his goalbound header in the 50th minute after Booth had provided a pinpoint left wing cross.

Barnes was then replaced by substitute Andy Burgess after clearly struggling with a leg injury.

Hopley turned the ball into the Leigh net in the 58th minute, but his close range effort was ruled out by an offside flag, and Aspin attempted to make an impact in the 62nd minute with a run to the right byline before clipping a shot over Judge and over the bar.

Burgess let fly from 25 yards in the 65th minute and saw his fine shot tipped over the bar by Judge.

George Horan was provided with a perfect chance to break the deadlock in the 71st minute when he headed goalwards from Mark Peers’ cross, but his effort was aimed straight at Judge.

Chester did finally achieve a breakthrough in the 73rd minute when Peers’ free kick found the head of Carl Ruffer who steered a glancing effort into the right corner of the net.

And Hopley was offered a chance to double their advantage in the 89th minute, but his attempted lob over Judge dropped wide of the left post.

Chester were then guilty of conceding an equaliser from Leigh’s only goalbound effort of the entire match when a long ball was back-headed by George Horan into the path of unmarked substitute Rick Gleaves who smashed home from close range.

 

CHESTER (4-4-2): Whiteside; Aspin, Horan, Ruffer, Williams; Booth (Peers 66), Barnes (Burgess 50), Field (Foulkes 74), Howard; Wilde, Hopley. Subs (not used): Jones, Graves.

LEIGH GENESIS (4-4-2): Judge; Scott, Heald, Farley, Rendall; Garnett (Eastham 74), Hopkins, Olsen, Lawless; McKane (Kearns 86), Strode (Gleaves 63). Subs (not used): Brockley,  Maddox.

REFEREE: Peter Dunn.

ATTENDANCE: 2,114.

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