Chester FC 1 Boreham Wood 2: Blues woes continue after latest home defeat

Reporter:

Charlie Croasdale

Chester paid the price for a lacklusture first-half display as Boreham Wood became the latest team to claim all three points at the Deva.

The Blues, languishing in the National League relegation zone, were second-best for much of the opening half as goals from Shaun Jeffers and Bruno Andrade handed the visitors a two-goal advantage.

Marcus Bignot’s side showed plenty of heart and desire in the second-half – both badly missing in the first period – and pulled a goal back via subsitute Nyal Bell’s terrific strike, but it was too little too late in treacherous conditions and the Blues have now won just once at home since last December, a shocking run, and mustered just two shots on target all afternoon.

Bignot handed full debuts to new arrivals right-back Reece Hall-Johnson and striker Offrande Zanzala, with Tom Shaw and Jordan Chapell also recalled in place of Andy Halls (suspension), James Akintunde (injury), Paul Turnbull and Matty Waters.

Hall-Johnson did well to keep possession on five minutes and John McCombe's ball foeward found Harry White 25 yards out, who turned superbly and fired a low shot which Grant Smith gathered.

There was a break in play a minute later as assistant referee Gareth Hubbard received treatment for a hamstring strain, but he was fit enough to continue running the line.

Lucas Dawson's lofted ball almost found Jordan Chapell in the box, before Lathaniel Rowe-Turner's error on the halfway line gave Shaun Jeffers the chance to run at the defence but his subsequent lay-off was poorly placed.

Hall-Johnson had made an assured start at full-back as he linked well with Zanzala who was deployed as a right forward. Chapell's dinked cross was headed behind by Dean Wells but Tom Shaw could only blaze over from the resulting corner.

The blustery conditions were making life difficult on the pitch although the Blues were at least trying to get the ball down and play.

Rowe-Turner strolled for on 18 minutes, cut past Kane Smith and dinked a cross in for Zanzala at the near post who nodded wide.

Shaun Jeffers was inches away from an opener for Wood on 23 minutes as he curled an effort wide from 18 yards with Alex Lynch stood motionless.

Rain began to pelt down at the Deva with Dawson getting a crucial interception to deny Andrade inside the Blues' box.

Chester were architects of their own downfall on 31 minutes as Luke Garrard's visitors took the lead. Firstly, Rowe-Turner, under no pressure whatsoever, turned back towards goal and miskicked his back-pass inexplicably out for a corner.

From Andrade's resulting delivery, Jeffers thumped a free header past Lynch, with the forward left completely unmarked in the area. Basic mistakes from Bignot's defence.

Just seven minutes later and Wood deservedly doubled their lead. Smith whipped a ball in from the right wing, which Ryan Astles failed to hook clear, and Andrade was left with an all-too-easy task of firing home from eight yards out, as the boos began to echo around the Deva.

The Blues players showed a real lack of desire and energy to get back in the game, all bar midfielder Shaw, and Smith nearly made it three on the stroke of half-time as Lynch got down well to beat away his fierce shot, as Chester were booed off at the break for a second successive week.

Ross Hannah was brought on at half-time for the ineffective Chapell and was immediately involved as he lofted a pass into Zanzala's direction but Smith was out quickly to gather.

Hannah carried the ball 40 yards and unleashed a shot from distance which flashed wide, before Tom Champion was cautioned for a cynical pull-back on Zanzala who was clean through on goal.

There was more heart about the Blues in the second period, as White was replaced by Bell on the hour mark, but a cutting edge was still lacking.

Andrade waltzed past McCombe who brought him down on the edge of the box, Wood's top scorer picking himself up to curl the free-kick over the bar.

The excellent Andrade battled to win a corner off Dawson before making a fool of the Blues midfielder from the resulting passage of play, crossing deep for Balanta who could only head over.

The Blues were handed a lifeline on and it was substitute Bell who grabbed the goal. Cutting past his man after Kingsley James' cross from the left, Bell swung a left foot at it from 15 yards out which flew into the far corner past a diving Smith.

Bell’s appeals for a penalty were waved away before McCombe’s towering late header was deflected over off Wells, as the visitors clung on for the points.

Chester: Lynch, Hall-Johnson, McCombe, Astles, Rowe-Turner, Shaw, Dawson (Turnbull 72), James, Chapell (Hannah 45), Zanzala, White (Bell 63); Subs not used: Mitchell, Jones.

Boreham Wood: G Smith, K Smith, Woodwards, Ricketts, Wells, Stephens, Jeffers (Holman 77), Champion, Balanta (Shakes 85), Murtagh, Andrade; Subs not used: Turley, Benson, Turgott.

Email:

charlie.croasdale@nwn.co.uk

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