Maidenhead Utd 3 Chester FC 0: Terrible week for Blues continues with heavy defeat at York Road

Reporter:

Charlie Croasdale

Facing financial turmoil off the field, Chester's relegation plight worsened as they were comfortably brushed aside by Maidenhead United.

Just 48 hours after the full details of Chester's dire financial crisis were revealed to the shock of Blues' supporters far and wide, Marcus Bignot's current crop of players did little to raise any cheer on the pitch as they found themselves 3-0 down at half-time and reduced to 10 men after James Jones was sent off for a professional foul on Sean Marks.

Harry Pritchard converted the resulting penalty and bagged another just 90 seconds later before Sam Barratt sealed the points for Alan Devonshire's outfit with a fine curling effort on 34 minutes.

Sam Hornby produced some fine saves in the second period to keep the scoreline from becoming embarrassing, as Chester sunk further towards the National League relegation trap door and remain four points adrift of safety with 14 games left.

Things could get even worse in the coming days with Chester looking to offload senior players on decent wages in order to cut costs and stay afloat, with £50,000 needed within the next month in order to keep the club in business.

Bignot named an unchanged team from the side who held fellow crisis-club Hartlepool United to a 1-1 draw on Tuesday night.

The Magpies had the first meaningful chance on three minutes as Sean Marks failed to make a clean connection with James Comley's cross into the centre of the penalty area, with the ball looping up back off the top of the bar and behind.

The Blues were roared on by a cracking away following and there was some early cheer for the long-suffering faithful as Tom Crawford crunched into an early tackle on Comley while Harry White almost charged down a stray back-pass.

An early encouragement quickly turned to dust for Bignot's side however in an horrendous three-minute period which saw Chester concede twice and have Jones sent off.

Pritchard fired a 20-yard effort which Sam Hornby found too hot to handle and 18-year-old defender Jones was subsequently adjudged to have pushed Marks over as he was on the verge of heading home into an empty goal.

It was a heartbreaking decision against academy graduate Jones, as Pritchard grabbed the ball and confidently slotted the penalty high into the roof of Hornby's net.

Bignot's made an immediate substitution as John McCombe replaced Lucas Dawson in a defensive reshuffle but the Magpies were two-up within 20 seconds of McCombe's arrival, as Comley picked out Pritchard inside the box who held off the challenge of Andy Halls and blasted the ball into the corner of Hornby's goal.

It was nearly three just moments later as the dangerous Pritchard fed a low cross into Marks' path but he could only turn it wide.

The excellent Barratt was the next to try his luck as he crashed a 22nd minute drive goalwards which Hornby tipped behind.

Ryan Upward's low effort trickled safely into Hornby's arms but the Blues were offering no threat going forward and desperately needed to establish a foothold in midfield.

Craig Mahon earned a free-kick 25 yards out after he was bundled over on 32 minutes and teenager Crawford bent a wonderful free-kick towards the top corner which was kept out by a big hand from Carl Pentney.

On 34 minutes it was 3-0 as Barratt got in on the act. The winger robbed Ryan Astles of possession just 25 yards from goal, took the ball into the area and curled a fine effort into the far corner past Hornby.

Remy Clerima broke into the area but struck his shot narrowly over the bar, before Harry White was cautioned for a rash tackle on Clerima 30 yards inside the Maidenhead half.

Odametey's low drive was comfortable held by Hornby before Halls' weak clearance gave Marks another opportunity but he scuffed his effort into the ground.

Bignot sent Jordan Archer on at the interval for James Akintunde, before Crawford fizzed a 25-yard effort narrowly wide.

Marks cracked a shot goalbound on 52 minutes which Hornby gathered, Barratt then finding his own team-mate Marks in the way after getting on the end of a deep cross to the back post.

Pritchard's square ball found Barratt for a tap-in but the goal was chalked off for offside, before Pritchard's powerful free-kick was well held by Hornby. Jake Hyde then saw his low drive well saved down low by Hornby.

Archer produced a lively display when he came on and his deflected header earned a corner, Pentney flapping at the resulting delivery but Clerima hacked clear. Archer worked tirelessly up front and Chester must try and keep hold of his services despite him being one of a handful of players on longer-term contracts and facing the exit door.

Crawford dwelt on the ball and was booked for dragging back Hyde, with Nathan Brown introduced for his senior debut in place of White.

Hornby made another quality save to prevent Pritchard from grabbing his hat-trick and he was on hand to repel the winger's 89th minute free-kick, the last meaningful action of the game.

Maidenhead: Pentney 7, Clerima 7, Steer 6, Odametey, 7 Massey 7, Comley 7 (Smith 66), Marks 8 (Clifton 71), Barratt 8, Pritchard 9, Upward 7, Goodman 7; Subs: Hyde, Owusu, Peters.

Chester: Hornby 7, Halls 5, Rowe-Turner 3, Astles 5, Jones 4, James 4, Crawford 7, Dawson (McCombe 14), Mahon 5, Akintunde 4 (Archer 45), White 5 (Brown 81); Subs: Firth, Hellawell.

Email:

charlie.croasdale@nwn.co.uk

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