April 5, 2015
Blues’ end of season slump continues with a heavy defeat at the Memorial Stadium.
(This Match Report is kindly provided by Jim Green from The Chester Chronicle.)
Bristol Rovers punished a performance that, at times, was unacceptable as Chester FC were thrashed 5-1 at the Memorial Stadium on Good Friday.
The damage was done in the first-half with the Blues rolling over, conceding three goals in less than 20 dreadful minutes.
It might have been different had Sean McConville not missed a golden chance to give them the lead, but there can be no excusing the lack of fight.
Chester did improve in the second period and Oliver McBurnie pulled a goal back but that was cancelled out with two late strikes in a miserable start to Easter.
Steve Burr had preached the importance of continuing to push for results to the end, but despite his message performances and results had tailed off.
A single win from the past seven games illustrated that fact and it would require a major improvement to halt that slump over Easter.
Chester could therefore have done without a late arrival at the Memorial Stadium, bank holiday hold ups on the M5 meaning the team coach did not reach the ground until gone 2pm.
Following a quick change, the team showed three changes from the 3-2 defeat to Woking last time out with recalls for Gareth Roberts, Michael Kay and Oliver McBurnie, back from international action.
Given the size and standing of the club, relegation from the Football League at the end of last season had been difficult to take for Bristol supporters.
Rovers boss Darrell Clarke had to contend with fans’ questioning his credentials and high expectations, but results had gradually won the doubters round.
Clarke made two changes from a goalless draw at Macclesfield Town with captain Lee Mansell from suspension and winger Adam Dawson recalled
Rovers, who were just a point behind Barnet, had the backing of an 8,000-strong crowd, who expected them to keep up the pressure on the leaders.
There wasn’t much entertainment value in a ragged opening 10 minutes with both teams unable to keep the ball on the floor.
Bristol had the first sight of goal with Jermaine Easter volleying over from 20 yards but should have gone behind in the 14th minute.
Will Puddy made a total hash of a routine clearance and Sean McConville pounced on the loose ball, rounded the Rovers keeper and somehow managed to roll his shot wide of the right from three yards.
It was an unbelievable miss and one that was to be punished as Rovers took the lead on 16 minutes with an assist from referee Rob Whitton.
Craig Mahon’s pass struck the official, the hosts countered with pace through Dawson and his cross found Matty Taylor, who headed home from close range to put his side 1-0 up.
Chester had a case for feeling hard done to, however that couldn’t excuse the next 20 minutes from them, which were dire.
Easter almost doubled the lead in the 23rd minute, his header beating Worsnop but not Michael Kay on the line.
Three minutes later and Rovers did go 2-0 up as Ben Heneghan tried to block Mansell‘s long range strike and the ball deflected off the defender and past the wrong-footed Worsnop.
Again there was an element of bad luck involved, however the response from the Blues was non existent.
It was far too easy for Bristol, who went further ahead in the 33rd minute when poor defending let in Ellis Harrison, who had replaced the injured Easter.
Worsnop kept his shot out but the ball fell for Andy Monkhouse, who slammed home on the follow up to make the score 3-0.
Chester offered almost nothing in return apart from a tame Rooney shot and it was a relief to hear the half-time whistle, ending a rotten 45 minutes.
Burr’s assessment of the performance was clear, withdrawing the disappointing Rooney and McConville during the interval, sending on Brad Abbott and Tom Peers.
There had been nothing in the first-half to suggest Chester, who are no strangers to comebacks, could salvage this and Rovers could have gone four up if Chris Lines had kept his shot down.
Chester improved, it was hard not to, and worked themselves into the game with Abbott‘s introduction making a difference in midfield.
Rovers were going through the motions and paid for that on the hour when Mahon sent over a cross and McBurnie‘s well placed header squeezed between Puddy‘s palm and the post to bring the Blues back to 3-1.
The home fans became frustrated as the hosts laboured, although Harrison and Lines wasted good chances to put the result to bed.
Chester’s second-half showing restored a little of the pride lost in the opening 45 minutes but the comeback was never on and as the Blues pressed towards the end, the hosts picked them off.
Bristol got a fourth in the 83rd minute when the ball fell for Monkhouse on the edge of the box and he drilled a left foot shot into the net, although Worsnop should have done better.
A fifth soon followed, substitute Nathan Blissett’s flick releasing Harrison and his emphatic finish gave Worsnop no chance to make the score 5-1 with three minutes to go.
Rovers were rampant in the final minutes but, thankfully, that was that.
Chester FC: Worsnop, Higgins, Kay, Heneghan, Roberts, Rooney (Abbott 46), James, Mahon, McConville (Peers 46), Hughes (Hobson 82), McBurnie.
Subs: Viscosi, Brown.
Bristol Rovers: Puddy, Leadbitter, Lockyer, Parkes, Brown, Dawson (McChrystal 76), Lines, Mansell, Monkhouse, Taylor (Blissett 85), Easter (Harrison 28).
Subs: Mildenhall, Balanta.
Referee: Rob Whitton (Essex).