Chester FC continued their unbeaten start to the season with a battling 0-0 draw at Dover Athletic.

There was no Operation Stack to stifle Blues fans journey down to Kent and they weren't treated to a classic, but it's three games unbeaten and three without conceding a goal, a pretty remarkable improvement from 12 months previous.

The Blues hit the woodwork three times but, in truth, a draw was a fair result after the home side had plenty of chances of their own.

Steve Burr named an unchanged side from the one that beat FC Halifax Town at The Shay in midweek, with Craig Hobson replacing Tom Peers on the substitutes bench after overcoming a knock.

The first half was an evenly contested, physical affair with both sides creating chances at either end.

Ricky Miller had the first meaningful effort of the match, cutting in from the left hand side, ghosting past Ryan Higgins before firing low and hard through a crowd of bodies, but Jon Worsnop was down well to deny the Dover frontman.

Ben Heneghan went close for the Blues on nine minutes heading a deep John Rooney free-kick at Whites stopper Mitch Walker. But the home side should have taken the lead four minutes later when Stefan Payne was denied by a superb last-ditch tackle by Blues midfielder Luke George, but the Dover striker wasted a second bite of the cherry, blazing over from 12 yards.

Rooney hit a thunderous strike that stung Walker's palms on 25 minutes and, at the other end, Payne wasted another golden chance after he headed over from eight yards from a superb delivery from Nicky Deverdics.

But it was Chester who came closest to breaking the deadlock when Ross Hannah raced onto a long ball on the left hand side of the area before driving a superb left-footed strike at Walker's goal, thundering the woodwork with the England C stopper well beaten.

Five minutes before the break, former Torquay United striker Duane Ofori-Acheampong should have done better when he blazed over from 12 yards after he out-muscled Blues full-back Ryan Higgins.

Dover almost took the lead 10 minutes into the second period when the dangerous Miller found himself in space in the Chester area, prodding his effort over the advancing Worsnop but Hunt reacted quickly to acrobatically hook the ball over for a corner. Grimes firing wide from the resulting corner.

The hosts, in full control of the contest midway through the second period, went close again on 61 minutes, Miller again the protagonist. Craig Mahon lost possession on the halfway line and a through ball from Payne set Miller free, with the ex-Luton striker checking back inside of Higgins before striking a weak effort at a grateful Worsnop when he should have done better.

The Whites had a solid shout for a penalty turned down when Higgins appeared to handle in the area, but referee Constantine Hatzidakis was having none of it and Wornop had to be smart to tackle Miller on the edge of the area on 70 minutes when Miller was free.

Bizarrely, the ever-dangerous Miller, a constant thorn in the side of the Blues all afternoon, was replaced with 20 minutes left, much to the bemusement of press and fans alike.

After being on the back foot for so long, Chester almost broke the deadlock on 77 minutes when Tom Shaw's clipped cross was met by substitute Craig Hobson who guided a header onto the bar when well placed.

Talking points

Ross Hannah needs a foil: Hannah does a lot of good work but was snuffed out of the game by Dover for much of the contest. It wasn't until Hobson came on that Hannah seemed to have more room on the ball. Playing as the lone striker doesn't seem to suit his game and he doesn't possess the physical presence to boss and bully defenders. He needs a helping hand if he is going to be the Blues 20-goal-a-season striker they so crave.

Johnny Hunt stronger in midfield than as a full-back?: Hunt was the saviour for Chester when he cleared a goalbound Miller effort off the line. Hunt is quality player but he was found wanting defensively all too often. The Dover wide players gave him a torrid time for much of the afternoon. Going forward he is always a an option on the flank but the Blues were caught out too often at full-back.

Sharps and Heneghan's partnership: Three games played, no goals conceded. The pair's partnership has flourished in the opening weeks. Sharps' experience and nous combined with Heneghan's potential is paying dividends at the back for the Blues. It's a defensive combination that can only get better. Heneghan will no doubt be attracting admiring glances from clubs higher up the pyramid after such a storming start. It's not the hallmark of a Steve Burr side but his defensive duo have added steel to the Blues backline.

Match facts

Chester FC: Worsnop, Hunt, Higgins, Sharps, Heneghan, Shaw, Rooney, George, Chapell (Thomson 72), Mahon (Hobson 62), Hannah.

Subs: Forth, Kay, Tonge.

Booked: George, Hannah, Hobson.

Dover Athletic: Walker, Magri (Wynter 66), Raggett, Orlu, Bellamy, Miller (Diallo 72), Ofori-Acheampong, Grimes, Sterling, Deverdics, Payne.

Subs: Young, Parkinson, Rafferty.

Booked: Sterling, Ofori-Acheampong.

Referee: Constantine Hatzidakis.

Attendance 801.

Star man: Luke George.


The Blues were under the cosh for large periods but the emerged from a tricky away day with a valuable point. It wasn't pretty at times but a reward from such a long trek was vital. It keeps the strong start to the season going and allows the Blues the chance to keep building momentum. There were issues, with the lack of firepower worrying, but 0-0 at The Crabble is a handy result.