There was heart and there was desire, but the lack of quality available to Chester FC proved the deciding factor as Wrexham gave their play-off hopes a boost and, in doing so, hammered another nail in their rivals’ National League coffin with a 2-0 win.

Goals on 62 and 69 minutes for Scott Quigley and Nicky Deverdics earned the Dragons the three points and the bragging rights in a keenly contested clash at the Racecourse.

Chester battled and played their part in what was for long periods an entertaining derby clash, but they were beaten by a stronger side with more quality. Simple as that.

There was to be no magic moment in what has been a season of despair for Blues fans and it’s hard to imagine the two sides meeting in the National League next season.

Coming into the match there was little hope among even the most optimistic of Chester fans that their beleaguered side could snatch anything from their visit to the high-flying Dragons.

Five defeats in their last six game and near certainties for relegation to the National League North after a season from hell had seen apathy among the supporter base - and with good reason, too.

But over 700 Blues fans made the short trip down the A483 for the 156th meeting between the old foes, with the two teams needing the points for very different reasons.

Chester boss Marcus Bignot made two changes to the side that lost 2-0 at home to Dover Athletic in midweek, with injured midfielder Gary Roberts being replaced by Lucas Dawson while James Akintunde came into the side to replace Harry White who dropped to the bench.

There was no place in the squad for new signing Karl Cunningham but there was a Racecourse return for former Wrexham favourite Dominic Vose, now in the blue and white stripes of Chester.

It was the home side who started the better of the two sides, putting the Blues under early pressure with a high press and a desire to hassle off the ball. It was a tactic that saw the Blues hurry in possession and fail to settle.

Matty Waters runs down the wing for Chester FC against Wrexham

It was pretty tasty, too.

Sam Wedgbury knew what he was doing on nine minutes when he left a foot in on young Tom Crawford, leaving the teenager down in agony on the floor. Somehow, referee Neil Hair didn’t deem it severe enough to go into the book.

Quigley fashioned the first chance of the game when he found room to cut inside after receiving Deverdics’ pass with the outside of his boot, but the former TNS man could only curl high and wide from 18 yards.

Wrexham were dealt a blow on 11 minutes when influential centre-back Manny Smith was forced off through injury, while former Chester City winger Paul Rutherford went close minutes later with an angled effort after Andy Halls had given away possession in a dangerous area.

At the other end Jordan Archer could have done better when he headed over from eight yards under pressure following Halls’ right wing cross.

Crawford, who showed composure and maturity beyond his years in the opening half, got his own back on Wedgbury with his own late tackle, but this time Mr Hair deemed the offence worthy of a yellow card.

Wrexham’s initial pressure had abated and the Blues were now getting on the ball and able to start to get a foothold in the game.

Dawson saw a speculative half-volley fly well over on the 30-minute mark while, at the other end, Wrexham went close through a Quigley header.

Chester did fashion a good chance late on in the first half when Akintunde cut a superb ball back for Crawford, but the midfielder couldn’t take it in his stride and his first-time effort skewed well off course.

But heading into the changing rooms at the end of the break the groans from the natives were easy to hear and Bignot would have been a happier manager than his opposite number, Dean Keates.


Chester came out of the traps in positive fashion early in the second half and Dawson saw his well-struck 20-yard strike pushed away for a corner by Chris Dunn as the Blues found some room to operate.

And some great work from Akintunde and Vose set up Archer who used his strength to get round his man and get a shot away that was saved by Dunn, trickling inches wide of the post.

But the Dragons would soon come to life.

They started to gain some momentum and had the Blues pegged back, and Firth had to be alert to get down and hold a drilled Wedgbury effort from 18 yards.

But, just as it panned out on Tuesday, Chester were behind after the hour mark having done well up until that point.

The pressure told when Quigley found himself in room on the left side of the box, shifting the ball onto his left before finding the bottom corner of Firth’s net to cue delirium among the home faithful.

It was rough on Chester.

Chester FC striker James Akintunde sees a shot blocked by the Wrexham defence

And just as happened on Tuesday night, it was 2-0 before too long.

Chris Holroyd’s wayward shots found the figure of Deverdics, who had looked to be in an offside position, all alone and he glanced up to send a low shot into the bottom corner of Firth’s net.

Not often this season have Wrexham thrown away a lead from a position of strength - and they didn’t look like doing so here.

Chester lost the spark that they had in the opening exchanges of the second period and there looked to be no route back into the contest against a well-drilled, hardworking but unimaginative Wrexham side.

The home side were disciplined and comfortable and looking assured for the three points down the home stretch.

The last cross-border derby we will see for some years, you feel.


Wrexham: Dunn, Smith (Carrington 10), Pearson, Raven, Wedgbury, Quigley, Holroyd, Deverdics (Wright 76), Rutherford (Ainge 87), Kelly, Roberts. Subs not used: Franks, Boden.

Bookings: Kelly.

Goals: Quigley 62, Deverdics 69.

Chester: Firth, Halls, Anderson, Astles, Hobson, Dawson, Crawford, Vose, Waters (Mahon 79), Archer (Hannah 72), Akintunde (White 72). Subs not used: Jones, Jaaskelainen.

Bookings: Crawford, Anderson.

Referee: Neil Hair.

Attendance: 6,511 (702 from Chester).

Star man: Ryan Astles.