Chester’s dreams of a Wembley appearance have been crushed once again, this time at the hands of National League South side East Thurrock United at Rookery Hill.
The Blues started the game on the front foot but eventually saw themselves pinned back by a determined set of hosts, hoping to make it through to the Last 16 of the FA Trophy for the first time in their history.
The Rocks then earned the perfect start, Ageymang’s effort beating Sam Hornby before Calvin Ekpetita tapped home into an open net to open the scoring on 17 minutes.
East Thurrock continued to dominate the play but a combination of good goalkeeping and poor finishing meant that the Blues rode the storm into half time, still a goal down.
Blacon-born Gary Roberts made his Chester debut, coming on for Lucas Dawson, but completed a nightmare start having picked up a red card for a late challenge.
Following this, the determined and passionate East Thurrock side earned a deserved place in the Last 16 of the Trophy, as the Blues’ travelling support endured heartbreak yet again at the hands of lower league opposition. Here’s my player ratings after Saturday’s defeat…
Sam Hornby – 7/10
One of just two players earning a seven or above, Hornby attempted to give his all for the cause today. Perhaps the Blues ‘keeper could be blamed for the first goal but the defence was not on hand to pick up the loose ball in the box. He made some brilliant saves and gave Chester their best chance of staying in the tie.
Kingsley James – 4/10
I’m a huge fan of Kingsley James, in central midfield, but not at right back. Why a central midfielder is being played in the full back position, I will never know – and this was matched by his poor performance today as the Rocks were allowed to dominate the flanks.
Ryan Astles – 6/10
Astles tried his hardest today but nothing seemed to come off. Coming forward often, the central defender attempted to knock on the ball for the forwards but was given no luck in doing so.
James Jones – 5/10
Someone who has been lighting it up since his emergence in the first team, Jones wasn’t at the races today. He missed a crucial chance in the second half, heading wide a free header from a Gary Roberts corner. Defensively, he was not as sound as the fans are used to seeing.
Jordan Gough – 4/10
A brilliant player but, just like James, allowed far too much reception down the flanks. This allowed the assist for the first goal, with Hornby having to cover for the defensive error and failing to do so. Seen much better and he is much better than today suggested.
Paul Turnbull – 5/10
Only had the first half to make an impact before being substituted, and in that time the whole team was off the pace. Again, he’s better than Saturday’s performance suggested.
Lucas Dawson – 5/10
One of Chester’s more creative midfielders, Dawson still didn’t provide much in the way of chances. After being subbed for Roberts, you could see the stark contrast in creativity between the two.
Tom Shaw – 4/10
Lacked the effort needed, there were several balls across the course of the match that Tom could have battled to win but next to no fight was shown in those circumstances, especially when the Blues needed it.
Harry White – 5/10
Decent but he’s been so much better in recent weeks. His role seemed to be to knock on the ball for Akintunde and Hannah, with this working at times. Shame he didn’t provide much in the way of attempts on goal.
James Akintunde – 5/10
A bang average performance sadly, although Akintunde continued to push and push to try and work an opening. That’s all well and good, but hardly any of these moves came off and often the play broke down between himself and Hannah.
Ross Hannah – 4/10
Has to pick himself up quickly because he’s a quality player, but Saturday was poor from Ross. The play often collapsed under his control and he had a couple of crucial opportunities to level up the tie, neither of which were taken.
Lathaniel Rowe-Turner – 4/10
Didn’t create much at all from a creative midfielders role, granted he isn’t a creative midfielder. Had 45 minutes to help the cause but was very quiet.
Craig Mahon – 8/10
Never thought I’d give someone an eight based on that performance, but Mahon was phenomenal. As soon as he came on, the Blues were on the front foot and had several opportunities to level up the tie, the vast minority of which coming through him. My Man of the Match.
Gary Roberts – 4/10
It’s difficult to rate his performance, because Gary was at times the best and worst player on the pitch. He took one corner which was floated beautifully to Jones and played a pass through to Hannah that cut open the Rocks defence. However a late challenge let down the team today and removed the pressure on East Thurrock. When disciplined, Chester have a great player on their hands.
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