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Match report: Chester FC 1 Barrow AFC 2

Jim Green watched the Blues crash out of the FA Trophy in hugely disappointing fashion

Chester FC manager Neil Young apologised for his side's display(Image: Ian Cooper)

An abject second half showing sent the Blues crashing out of the FA Trophy in disquieting fashion.

Barrow were deserved winners, demonstrating the desire and pride that the hosts' lacklustre performance woefully lacked.

Chester seemed to be sailing into the second round as the first half ended, well on top in possession terms, coping comfortably with the visitors attacks and leading 1-0.

But something, somewhere went badly wrong and the second half display was quite simply unacceptable.

Losing a home tie against a side struggling badly in the league below is bad enough, but the manner of the defeat leaves many questions to be answered in the coming days.

Neil Young made three changes with Paul Linwoond replacing the injured Ross Killock and loan signings John Rooney and George Miller coming in for Craug Lindfield and Ashley Williams.

Chester started the brighter and Rooney settled straight in, linking up well with Craig Mahon in the second minute but the winger was unable to put his cross into the right area.

Mahon made a telling contributing moments later as the Blues took the lead on three minutes. He released the overlapping Kevin McIntyre and the left back squared across goal where Gareth Seddon tapped home.

Rooney produced some classy touches throughout the opening half and forced visiting keeper Tony McMillan into a good stop on 10 minutes, unleashing a low drive from outside the box.

Barrow had little of the ball but were presented with a decent chance two minutes later. Marcus Carver found himself with acres of space on the right wing and cut inside but Danny Higginbotham blocked well.

Rooney had another strike from distance on 18 minutes and this time McMillan spilled the ball, although Mahon was flagged offside on the follow up.

Following an entertaining opening, the game settled down and both sides struggled to make much  impression for the rest of the half.

Two minutes before the interval, Rooney found Higginbotham in space and he drove forward but his long-range strike was deflected wide as the Blues went into the break ahead.

Again it was the hosts with greater impetus early in the second half and McIntyre whipped a fine cross towards Seddon on 49 minutes but defender Duran Reynolds managed to head away.

McMillan was called into action on 56 minutes when Rooney curled an effort goalwards but the Bluebirds keeper clawed away and recovered to grab the loose ball.

For all the hosts' possession, the one-goal lead always looked fragile and the Blues were punished two minutes later.

A defensive lapse gifted the ball to Jamie Allen on the edge of the box and John Danby did well to parry his low shot, but the Carver steered home the rebound from close range.

That proved the turning point as the hosts shrivelled in confidence and the visiting Bluebirds began to sense an upset.

Young threw on Ashley Williams and Alex Titchiner but the damage was already done and the Blues descended into disarray.

With the hosts struggling to string a pass together, the visitors began to find themselves with time and space across the park.

Nick Rushton should have done better after being sent clear on 66 minutes but the warning sins were there.

Barrow went ahead on 74 minutes when Rushton exposed some inept defending and crossed to an unmarked Carver, who side-footed into the back of the net.

Young threw Higginbotham up front and brought Jamie Reed off the bench as the Blues tried to get themselves back in the game.

With five minutes left, the Blues had a wonderful chance to draw level but McMillan palmed away a stinging Titchiner volley and was able to help Seddon's follow up strike over the bar.

Higginbotham went even closer in time added on when Seddon slid the ball across the face of goal but the makeshift striker was unable to connect.

In truth, the hosts did not deserve an equaliser and it was Barrow who held firm and rightfully progressed to the next rouind.

 

Chester FC: Danby, Turner, McIntyre, Linwood, Higginbotham, Jarrett, Miller (A Williams), Lester (Reed), Rooney, Mahon (Titchiner), Seddon.

Subs: Heath, Horan.

Goals:  Seddon 3.

Booked: Jarrett, McIntyre, Miller, Turner, Linwood.

Barrow AFC: McMillan, Burns, Edwards, O'Donnell (R Williams), Reynolds, Allen, Harvey, Sheridan, Lacey, Rushton, Carver (Arnison).

Subs: Thomson, Radcliffe, Parkinson.

Goals: Carver 58, 74.

Referee: Peter Wright (Southport)

Attendance: 1,409.

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