Marcus Bignot suffered his first defeat as Chester FC manager as his side were beaten 2-0 at home to an impressive Woking side.

Despite seeing plenty of the ball and having the majority of the chances, the Cards claimed the points thanks to a first half header from Kane Ferdinand and a Jamie Philpot strike 18 minutes from the end after a defensive mix-up.

The Blues have played far worse than this during this campaign but their deficiencies were punished by a Woking side who looked every inch a play-off chasing side who continue to surprise in the National League.

Had Ryan Astles’ second half header crept in rather than cannoning back off the post and across goal then it could have been oh so different, but the game did at least give Bignot plenty to ponder about some of the first team squad he has inherited and where he needs to address.

The Blues came into the game on the back of a desperately frustrating weekend that saw them left without a game after the scheduled clash with Eastleigh was postponed at 12.30pm owing to a drainage issue with a part of the pitch, with Chester just 15 minutes away from the Hampshire sides Ten Acres home.

But Bignot stated on Saturday that the lack of a game would not hamper his teams preparation for the home clash with a Cards side who had exceeded expectations up to this point.

Lying seventh in the table and just two points off the summit coming into the game, manager Anthony Limbrick had enjoyed an impressive start to life at the helm of the Surrey club.

The former Southampton youth coach had lead his side to three wins from their four games before the visit to Chester, with their last defeat coming on September 9 at Maidstone United.

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And history was certainly on Woking’s side, with the Cards having won the last six meetings between the two sides.

Chester’s last success over Woking came in January 2014 when a Jamie Menagh strike earned the Blues a 1-0 win at the Kingfield Stadium in what was then manager Steve Burr’s second game in charge. Like Bignot, Burr, too, had won his opening game as Blues boss and a clash against the Cards offered Chester the chance to rise out of the National League relegation zone, just as it had done for Burr.

Bignot opted to keep faith with the same side that defeated Maidenhead United 2-0 ten days ago, with the five substitutes also remaining the same.

Woking had their first sight of goal within the opening 60 seconds when a high ball was headed away cleanly by John McCombe with the ball falling to Charlie Carter 12 yards out who snatched at it and saw his effort skew just wide of Alex Lynch’s left-hand post.

Fabio Saraiva tried to catch Lynch out from 25 yards with a low left-footed free-kick that whistled just wide as the Cards threatened going forward.

And the visitors had the lead on 10 minutes when a superb right wing cross from Matt Young found Ferdinand at the back post who thumped a header well beyond Lynch.

Woking were impressive, moving the ball around with pace and purpose and exploiting space and it was easy to see why they had enjoyed such a fine start to the season.

Chester tried to muster a response in the minutes that followed but a Ross Hannah half-chance from 12 yards and a Lucas Dawson effort from 25 yards never looked like restoring parity.

The Blues were dealt a blow on 20 minutes when winger Craig Mahon was caught by a late challenge and was forced off, replaced by Liam Davies.

Everytime Chester found themselves in possession they were closed down by a yellow Woking shirt with the youth and exuberance of a Cards side galvanised under Limbrick clear.

While Chester weren’t dominating things like they were against Maidenhead they still managed to fashion some chances of their own as they showed signs of improvement.

Davies set James Akintunde free with a weighted ball with the Blues striker managing to put in a low ball across the box under pressure, finding Hannah whose touch goalwards was forced behind by Nathan Baxter.

And Kingsley James may feel he should have done better from the resulting corner, nodding well wide from a Dawson delivery when well placed.

Woking’s quick press and swift movement dropped a notch or two as the half played out, although they remained a threat whenever they made their way into the final third.

The Cards started the second half in much the same way they began the first and pegged the Blues back in the opening exchanges.

But it was Chester who had the first effort when Dawson fired at Baxter from 18 yards after some good hold up play by Hannah on the edge of the box.

Chester were trying to up the ante and a great chance went begging when Andy Halls played a neat ball in to Hannah who raced into the area, cutting back for Akintunde who, in turn, touched on to Tom Shaw but the Blues midfielder was closed down just as he was about to pull the trigger from close range.

The Woking pressing game that had served them so well was fading and it was the Blues who went close again before the hour mark when Shaw volleyed over from the edge of the area after a Dawson free kick was punched clear by Baxter.

For all their chances Chester were unable to find a way through and it seemed destined not to be their night on 70 minutes when Astles flicked on a Lathaniel Rowe-Turner ball which hit the post and bounced back across goal before being cleared to safety.

Two minutes later, out of nowhere Woking doubled their advantage in calamitous circumstances.

Halls underhit a backpass to Lynch, who had barely had to make a save all game, which left the Chester keeper scrambling to beat an interested Philpot to the ball with a slide challenge on the Woking striker seeing him come off best, rounding Lynch before rolling into an empty net. A real gut punch to the home side.

The goal visibly deflated the hosts and they toiled in search of something from the game during the closing stages, with Bignot opting to throw on Nyal Bell at the expense of centre back John McCombe.

It was, though, to prove in vain as the visitors held on for the three points to move up to third while Bignot was left to contemplate the task ahead.


Chester FC: Lynch, Halls, McCombe (Bell 80), Astles, Rowe-Turner, James, Shaw (Turnbull 66), Dawson, Mahon (Davies 20), Akintunde, Hannah. Subs not used: Joyce, Sheron.

Bookings: Hannah.


Woking: Baxter, Young, Staunton, Wynter, Saraiva (Stojsavljevic 71), Isaac, Ferdinand, Carter, Bawling (Ward 66), Charles-Cook, Philpot (Effiong 80). Subs not used: Orlu, Appau.

Bookings: Carter, Philpot.

Goals: Ferdinand 10, Philpot 72.

Referee: Glen Hart.

Attendance: 1,658.

Star man: Ryan Astles.