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Vanarama National League North match
played on Tuesday, 6 August 2019, at 7.45pm


Altrincham were robbed of a hard-earned victory by a 93rd minute heavily deflected equalizer from Chester captain Gary Roberts, following a long throw-in of dubious legality by Taylor. But, with Altrincham not causing the home keeper too many problems a draw was arguably a fair outcome.

Altrincham had led from the twelfth minute when a slick move up the right, featuring a driving run by Andy White which led to John Johnston's low cross which Chester's Livesey put through his own goal.

But, for Altrincham supporters, the main talking point of the evening was a series of unfathomable decisions from referee Richard Holmes. Inside the first minute Chester's Waring might well have seen red for an elbow on Hampson which left the Alty captain's nose bloodied and the Chester no.9 completed the match despite several other foul challenges and a couple of attempts to win freekicks by throwing himself theatrically to the ground. Mr Holmes was adept at applying bookings for minor infringements but chose to ignore more serious breaches of the Laws of Football.

And even the Chester FC website admitted that "Simon Grand may well have found himself sent off for a second bookable offence on 65 minutes but was lucky to stay on", such was the referee's avoidance of making important decisions.


REFEREE: Mr Richard Holmes

Altrincham were without Nathan Arnold who was believed to be ill, so Lewis Walters made his full debut on the left wing. Simon Richman returned from injury to replace Walters on the bench. Josh Hancock was serving his second game of his three-match suspension whilst Jake Moult remained unavailable after his operation.


CHESTER FC (All blue): 1. Russ Griffiths, 2. Kevin Roberts, 3. Joel Taylor, 4. Gary Roberts (c), 5. Danny Livesey, 6. Simon Grand, 7. Bradley Jackson, 8. Gary Stopforth, 9. George Waring, 10. Danny Elliott, 11. Anthony Dudley. subs: 12. Scott Burton, 14. J Roberts, 15. Jamie Morgan, 16. Craig Mahon, 17. TBC

ALTRINCHAM (Grey shirts and shorts, white socks): 1. Steven DRENCH, 2. Andy WHITE, 3. Connor HAMPSON (c), 4. James JONES, 5. Tom HANNIGAN, 6. Conor BRANSON, 7. John JOHNSTON, 8. Sean WILLIAMS, 9. Jordan HULME, 10. Max HARROP, 11. Lewis WALTERS. Subs: 12.Tom PEERS, 14. Simon RICHMAN, 15. Shaun DENSMORE, 16. Toby MULLARKEY, 20. Tony THOMPSON


Both teams were seeking their first wins of the season after a defeat for Altrincham and a draw for Chester last Saturday.

Altrincham had not lost at Chester on their previous three visits. Mike Garnett's data on previous encounters is below.


Chester kicked off and, within seconds, Waring elbowed Hampson in an aerial challenge leaving the Alty captain with a bloodied nose which required the insertion of two plugs before he could resume. As a signal of what was to come Mr Holmes showed a yellow rather than red card.

A routine save by Drench from Elliott was the first shot on target (4 mins). A foul on Johnston soon confirmed Chester's robust approach (5 mins) but, when Harrop was taken out by an opponent soon afterwards, Mr Holmes chose to ignore it. However, Alty then put together a slick movement as White advanced purposefully up the inside-right channel before passing, outside, to Johnston.

Johnston's low cross was then turned into his own net by Livesey to give Alty a twelfth-minute lead.

Waring now clattered an Alty man again, which the referee ignored. Having weathered Chester's early pressure, Alty were now established in the game and, next, Hulme turned smartly and lashed a shot at goal which narrowly evaded the incoming Walters but won a corner (14 mins).

Given Mr Holmes's reluctance to address Chester's robust approach, his double standards were in evidence when he showed no hesitation as he booked Hampson for a routine foul on Jackson (17 mins).

Despite their lack of protection from the man in black, Altrincham were now doing well. When Waring, whose behaviour was well described by his name, now fouled Hannigan it came as no surprise that no action was taken. And next, Grand escaped punishment when his two-handed push on Harrop was overtaken by an offside decision against the Alty man.

But even Mr Holmes had to produce a card after Grand's two-footed launch flattened Harrop but, unsurprisingly, it was only a yellow (37 mins).

Sean Williams then retreated 70 yards to stop an impressive run by Jackson inside his own penalty area at the cost of a corner. Livesey's forearm across the back of Jordan Hulme's neck went unnoticed before another Chester corner was taken confidently, in a very crowded goalmouth, by Steven Drench (41 mins).

Following a good Johnston run Walters did not get hold of his shot which ran to the keeper. As the interval approached, Stopforth felled Harrop before a comical episode ensued as Waring dramatically threw himself to the ground, complete with a yell, but even Mr Holmes was not fooled by the theatricality (45 mins).

Alty saw off a late corner before half time arrived at which point Waring left the field moaning to the referee about some perceived injustice which was presumably not the one that related to his own continuing presence on the pitch.

Half-Time: CHESTER FC 0

The second started like the first with a crude challenge from Waring, this time leaving Hannigan on the ground. Again he escaped a second card.

Also mirroring the first half, it was the hosts who started the better albeit without treatening to score until the 56th minute when Jackson interchanged passes with a team-mate before his shot was blocked.

After Altrincham had withstood Chester's early pressure, the hosts brought on Mahon for Elliott (61 mins). Walters, who had had a quiet first hour, was now brought down by a trip from the booked Grand who escaped further punishment (64 mins). Just as Walters had begun to get into his stride he sat down, injured from the earlier challenge, and was replaced by Peers (69 mins).

Alty won themselves two corners in succession, which came to nothing and, minutes later, two Chester men tackled each other to concede a third corner to the visitors.

Next, Max Harrop was booked for Alty and the resulting freekick led to a home corner (79 mins). White then gave the referee the chance for a simple yellow card decision when he picked up the ball before dropping it again after a home freekick had been awarded (85 mins).

A brief but steady shower of rain fell before Altrincham brought on Mullarkey for Harrop (89 mins). Somehow five minutes of added time were felt to be necessary and, in the third of these, Chester won a throw on their right. Taylor took a long throw and, not for the first time, he had one foot off the ground as he hurled the ball in.

The ball came to Gary Roberts whose pot-shot from 20 yards took a big deflection and wrong-footed Drench before finding the net for Chester's equalizer (90+3 mins).

There was still time for Waring to win a freekick with another dramatic fall to the ground before Mr Holmes had a protracted converstiton with one of his assistants before seeming to show a yellow card to someone in the Chester technical area.

Chester had settled for a point as they elected to bring on Burton for Dudley in the seventh added minute.

A draw was probably a fair outcome as Alty failed to test the home keeper but the visitors had generally played well and come close to leaving with a win. Neveretheless, for the fourth successive time, they had left Chester undefeated in a game in which the referee had become the main talking point for all the wrong reasons.

Full-Time: CHESTER FC 1