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Chester City 1 (1) Doncaster Rovers 1 (1), After extra-time Doncaster win 4-3 on penalties.

ANDY Warrington broke Chester City hearts in a dramatic Conference play-off semi-final second leg in front of a record Deva Stadium crowd yesterday.

ANDY Warrington broke Chester City hearts in a dramatic Conference play-off semi-final second leg in front of a record Deva Stadium crowd yesterday.

The big Doncaster goalkeeper won a personal duel with City substitute Dave Cameron to play a pivotal role in sending Rovers to Stoke City's Britannia Stadium on Saturday to contest the second promotion place with Dagenham and Redbridge.

The 90 minutes of normal time were already up when Cameron, a 76th minute substitute for Ryan Sugden, looked to have snatched a dramatic winner for Chester until Warrington somehow stretched his huge hand far enough to turn the goalbound shot around the post.

And if that wasn't enough he sent the Rovers fans into ecstasy and the Chester fans into despair by saving Cameron's shoot-out penalty which settled the fate of this clash between two teams desperate to get back to the Football League.

Cameron was the fall guy as City's hopes of a return to the third division were shattered in the cruellest of ways, but the burly striker shouldn't have to carry this burden on his own.

As it happened Chester were just about the better side over the two legs, but who would have believed top scorer Daryl Clare would have been the first to miss from the spot when the shoot-out drama began? Again, it was Warrington who continued to dismantle Chester's plans for nest season by keeping out thre striker's spot kick.

Mark Quayle, Ben Davies and the plucky Kevin McIntyre, who would have been ridiculed by the Doncaster fans had he missed against his old club, all found the net before Cameron's costly failure.

Wayne Brown had given the Blues hope by saving from Jamie Paterson, but Greg Blundell, Jason Blunt, Dave Morley and Tim Ryan all held their nerve to beat the City keeper with their spot kicks.

It was a game which didn't deserve to be lost, but that had to be a loser and if there has to be any criticism of Mark Wright's men it must be that they simply failed to make the most of their chances. Doncaster, on the other hand, had only once chance worthy of the name and took it.

City may have finished their campaign with the best defensive record in the Conference, but their inability to cash in on their goalscoring opportunities always threatened to be their undoing at the final reckoning.

When Clare arrived at the Deva he could hardly miss. Lately, though, that sure touch deserted him and the old Clare would surely have converted McIntyre's cross inside the first 15 minutes when the slightest of touches would have given Warrington no chance.

As it happened, City didn't have too long to wait for the breakthrough.

Again, McIntyre was the architect when his cross was headed against his own post by Steve Foster and defender Wayne Hatswell followed up to score from close range.

It was a lead City deserved, for Rovers had done little to threaten Brown as, once again, he was superbly covered by his fellow defenders, especially the ever-improving Danny Collins.

Doncaster had to improve after the break and they did, but not before Warrington had to deny Clare following a good link-up between Ryan Sugden and Jon Brady.

As long as City's lead remained so tenuous Doncaster, as in the first leg, had a chance and the game turned after 57 minutes.

A darting run down the right by Tristram Whitman undid the home defence and after Brown had half-saved Paterson's shot the Conference's top scorer Paul Barnes, who had done little previously, was there to force home the equaliser.

Clare was twice more frustrated by the magnificent Warrington before the Rovers keeper surpassed himself with that astonishing save from Cameron and somehow you always felt that the big man would have the last word.

Chester: Brown, Guyett, Bolland, Hatswell, McIntyre, Carden, Collins, Brady (Quayle 119), Davies, Clare, Sugden (Cameron 76). Subs: Ruffer, Kelly, Twiss.

Booked: McIntyre.

Doncaster: Warrington, Ryan, Morley, Tierney (Blundell 78), Barnes (Watson 111), Paterson, Whitman, Beech (Blunt 67), Ravenhill, Green, Foster. Subs: Doolan, Nelson.

Booked: Green.

Referee: M Atkinson, Leeds.

Attendance: 5,702.

 

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