Aside from Altrincham’s crunch match at AFC Telford United, which finished 1-1, there were three other fixtures in the Vanarama National League North last night (Tues). Stockport County’s convincing 6-0 victory over Chester saw them rise to the top of the table, whilst, at the other end, relegated Nuneaton suffered a 4-1 defeat to Blyth Spartans. Hereford embarked on a journey to Derbyshire, where their mid-table clash with Alfreton ended in a 1-1 draw.
Goals from Nyal Bell (2), Samuel Walker (2), Darren Stephenson and Jordan Keane ensured a night of misery for Chester, as Stockport leapfrogged Chorley to go top by one point.
It took just nine minutes for Bell to score the opener, after Adam Thomas nodded the ball across the face of the goal towards the forward, who bundled it into the back of the net. Just 10 minutes later, the visitors doubled their lead, when Walker struck an effort from 12 yards out that deflected off a Chester defender and past Grant Shenton.
Bell made it a brace against his former club after latching on to Matthew Warburton’s through ball in the 33rd minute and slotting it past the Chester goalkeeper. The hosts came close to getting a goal back just before half time, but a brilliant save by Ben Hinchcliffe denied Danny Livesey’s header, following a corner, leaving the score at 3-0 at half-time.
Stephenson scored County’s fourth, burying a close-range strike following a Dan Cowan cross from the right, and a penalty in the 82nd minute, coolly converted by Walker, made it 5-0. After coming on as a substitute in the 53rd minute, Keane completed the rout with a low drive from 25 yards which completely deceived the unsuspecting Shenton.
Blyth Spartans ran out 4-1 victors over Nuneaton after goals in the first half from Sean Reid and Kieran Green and two in the second from Adam Wrightson and Alex Nicholson.
A wonder goal from Reid put the Spartans ahead after only 10 minutes. Daniel Maguire charged into the box and delivered a cross to Reid, who acrobatically pulled off an overhead kick to smash the ball past Cam Belford. Green then scored just before the half-time, striking the ball home from the edge of the box.
Wrightson latched on to a through ball and slipped it past Belford in the 63rd minute, as Blyth further extended their lead. Nuneaton did manage to grab a consolation goal in the 85th minute, thanks to a Taylor Allen strike, but Blyth had the last word with a Nicholson effort seconds from time.
Over in Derbyshire, Alfreton’s close encounter with Hereford ended all-square. What looked an uneventful first half finished goalless, though there could have been a sting in the tail, had penalty appeals for handball in the 45th minute not been turned down.
The second penalty shout of the game was given, however. Hereford’s Thomas Owen-Evans converted the spot-kick in the 59th minute, sending Sam Ramsbottom the wrong way, just as Alty's John Johnston did on Saturday, after Martin Riley brought down Symons in the box.
Alfreton equalised less than 10 minutes later, when Richard Peniket tapped home the rebound after his initial header came back off the crossbar. Hereford came agonisingly close to a late winner, but some terrific goalkeeping from Ramsbottom saw Owen-Evans denied his second of the game, leaving the teams tied at 1-1.
Since the weekend’s fixtures, there has been only once piece of transfer news. FC United of Manchester have extended Andrew Fisher’s loan move from Blackburn Rovers until the end of the season.