Chester FC booked their place in round two of the FA Trophy after a penalty shoot out victory over AFC Fylde after a pulsating encounter.

Chester had taken the lead on 52 minutes when Ross Hannah latched on to a through ball before rounding the keeper and firing home.

And that looked like it might have been enough until Fylde’s Serhat Tasdemir struck on 90 minutes to force extra time before Danny Rowe made it 2-1 on 96 minutes.

Lucas Dawson levelled matters on 98 minutes to set up penalties when he clipped into an empty net.

And when Jonny Smith missed his spot kick with the shoot out scores at 4-4, Andy Halls stepped up to fire Chester into round two - and deservedly so.

Chester manager Marcus Bignot had spoken in the week leading up to the game about how his side would be taking the competition seriously, and his team selection certainly demonstrated that.

There were just two changes from the team that beat Solihull Moors 1-0 seven days previous as Tom Shaw came in for his 100th Blues appearance while Jordan Gough returned after missing last week following the birth of his daughter.

Lathaniel Rowe-Turner sat the game out after reaching five bookings while Andy Halls had to be content with a spot on the bench.

The Coasters on the other hand chose to switch things up after their FA Cup exploits at Wigan Athletic in midweek, with star striker Danny Rowe dropped to the bench.

Chester saw a reasonable amount of the ball in the openin exchanges and James Akintunde should have done better when he was played through by Ross Hannah, but out raced Rhys Taylor in the visitors’ goal to force the Chester striker into rolling the ball well wide.

At the other end Matt Blinkhorn headed wide from 12 yards after latching on to Jordan Richards’ right-wing cross on 20 minutes as Fylde looked to test the Chester rearguard.

There was little to get the home faithful out of their seats, although Hannah did force a fine save from Taylor, who tipped over a 20-yarder from the Blues striker before Reece Hall-Johnson shot over from the edge of the area from the resulting free kick.

Such was the lack of excitement on the pitch a number of travelling fans, some dressed as Father Christmas and snowmen, decided to do the conga in order to keep themselves amused.

Sam Hornby was called into action in the Chester goal on 36 minutes when he gathered a well-struck Richards free kick from 25 yards at the second time of asking.

The Coasters were finding their stride and went close twice in quick succession just before the 40-minute mark.

Former Wrexham striker Andy Mangan saw his 18 yard strike from a short Richards free kick deflect out for a corner and Tom McCready’s low cross found Blinkhorn seconds later, firing over fist time from 15 yards.

Chester in action against AFC Fylde


With the temperature dropping at the start of the second half the home faithful were in need of something to warm the cockles - and it arrived on 52 minutes.

The Blues pressed well in midfield and Kingsley James' pass was raced onto by Hannah who sprang the offside trap before rounding Taylor and coolly slotting into an empty net from 12 yards.

The Coasters then looked to hit back immediately as the pressurised the Blues backline. But Chester dealt with it and went close at the other end when Ryan Astles headed narrowly over from a searching Lucas Dawson free kick.

Fylde were looking more threatening as the game wore on and Simon Grand spurned a great chance on 69 minutes when a corner found him at the far post, but the former Southport defender could only head straight at Hornby from point blank range.

But Chester wasted a golden chance of their own minutes later to double their advantage.

Hannah picked off a loose pass on the halfway line before bursting clear and freeing Akintunde on the right, with the Blues forward getting into the area, skipping past his man but only managing to fire at Taylor one on one when he really should have scored.

And that miss almost proved costly as the Coasters broke quickly with Hornby having to be alert to deny a low Richards effort.

In a bid to get themselves back on terms Fylde boss Dave Challinor looked to his bench and threw on his talismanic striker Rowe - their star man this season - for the final 15 minutes.

Chester looked to be holding their own but their resistance was broken on 90 minutes when pressure told and substitute Tasdemir capitalised on a loose ball in the Chester box, firing low and hard past Hornby to level matters.

The fourth official then held aloft a mammoth six minutes of added time - and it was frantic.

With one minute remaining Hannah curled a free kick from the edge of the area on target with Taylor saving superbly, but the ball found its way to Hall-Johnson who fired goalwards but saw his effort cannon off a Fylde body and out to safety.

Cue 30 minutes of extra time.


Fylde started extra time on the front foot and Hornby did well to beat away a Jonny Smith effort after he had cut inside the box.

And the Coasters would have the lead soon after when Smith sprang the offside trap and raced down the right, crossing low where Hornby looked to be ready to collect, but the loanee made a complete hash of it and the ball ended up in the path of the prolific Rowe who made no mistake from 10 yards.

With their star men on the pitch it seemed as if Fylde would go on to canter home, but Chester had other ideas.

Substitute Daniel Udoh chased down a ball forward and forced Taylor to race out and try to clear, but the ball went only as far as Dawson who nonchalantly clipped the ball into an empty net.

By now the game had turned itself into a real cup tie.

The Blues came close to regaining the lead just after the 100 minute mark when the hard-working Hannah broke from the halfway line and found substitute Paul Turnbull in the box, but the midfielder could only drag his left-footed effort agonisingly wide.

The second half started at a similar pace as the first had ended and it was Fylde who were the first to go close when goalscorer Tasdemir broke free one on one in the area. But Hornby made amends for his earlier mistake by denying the forward from doubling his tally.

The frenetic pace of the game showed no signs of abating and the Blues had two great chances in quick succession to retake the lead.

First, Udoh was picked out by a well-timed Dawson pass inside the box but the on-loan Crewe Alex striker could only poke wide when one on one when it had seemed easier to score.

And moments later Hannah raced onto a throughball only to be denied by a superb Luke Burke tackle when the Chester striker was about to pull the trigger from close range. Ryan Astles saw his header from the resulting corner held by Taylor.

But the two sides couldn’t be separated after 120 minutes of football and a penalty shoot-out ensued.

After some superb penalties Fylde’s Smith ballooned his effort over with the scores at 4-4 to leave Andy Halls with the task of winning the day, and he made no mistake slamming home to book Chester’s place in round two.



Chester: Hornby, Astles, Anderson, Jones, Hall-Johnson, Gough (Halls 57), Dawson, James, Shaw (Turnbull 76), Hannah, Akintunde (Udoh 82). Subs not used: Lynch, Mahon.

Bookings: Hall-Johnson, Hannah, Anderson.

Goals: Hannah 52, Dawson 98.

AFC Fylde: R Taylor, J Taylor, Mangan (Tasdemir 71), Muldoon (Rowe 76), McCready, Grand, Richards, Blinkhorn (Smith 65), Ezewele, Burke, Edmundson. Subs not used: Montrose, Tunnicliffe.

Bookings: Edmundson, Burke.

Goals: Tasdemir 90, Rowe 96.

Referee: Joseph Johnson.

Attendance: 886.

Star man: Ross Hannah.