Chester FC 1 FC Halifax Town 1

editorial image

Town scored late to earn an FA Cup replay against Chester - but the game was marred by fighting between the two sets of fans while the match was being played.

Fighting broke out between groups of fans in two separate first half incidents - the first of which occured in the third minute when fans from the away section jumped over the hoardings and attacked the home fans behind the goal.

Twenty minutes later there was more fighting - this time at the other end, as the police and stewards struggled to deal with the violence.

Tempers were also frayed on the pitch with Dale Johnson and Chester skipper George Horan given straight red cards after appearing to grab each other by the head in an off the ball incident early in the second half.

The bad feeling overshadowed a game which would otherwise have been memorable for two fantastic long range goals - Antoni Sarcevic opening the scoring with a long range screamer just before the hour, which was matched by a strike of equally quality by substitute Simon Hackney with ten minutes to go.

But the two sides will meet again at the Shay on Tuesday after niether side was able to produce a winner in this FA Cup third qualifying round tie.

Neil Aspin named the same side who beat Histon last weekend - and the same Xi which went down 2-1 to Chester 31 days earlier when the sides met in the Conference North, while the hosts made three changes from the side which eventually overcame Gainsborough Trinity after extra time in last Tuesday night’s second qualifying round replay - Dom Collins, Ashley Williams, and debutant Tony Gray coming in for Paul Linwood, Dave Hankin and Iain Howard.

The game itself began in lively fashion, Paul Marshall seeing his early penalty appeals waved away after he claimed his drive was blocked by a defender’s hand after 90 seconds, and Chester got their first shot away after nine minutes, Nathan Jarman’s shot easily saved by Matt Glennon.

Liam Hogan missed a great chance to give Town the lead when he rose unmarked to nod Ryan Toulson’s cross across the six yard box but nobody was on hand to turn it in.

Town could have gone ahead on 19 minutes when a crunching tackle from Jon Worthington won the ball back and found Gregory who linked up with Johnson, who then clipped the ball back his strike partner but Gregory’s volley went narrowly wide of the back post.

Worthington could have opened the scoring himself just before the half hour but a smart block by Williams kept the midfielder out as Town dominated despite the off field distractions.

In a rare venture forward, Jarman tested Glennon after cutting inside Toulson but the ‘keeper held on to the shot with Gray following in.

Johnson, Gregory and Worsley all saw shots blocked as the half neared it’s conclusion, which coincided with Chester best spell of the game. A minute before the break an inswinging corner resulted in a scramble in the Town six yard box which was eventually hooked clear by Toulson as the teams went in level at the break.

The Shaymen started the second half brightly with Johnson seeing his 20 yard drive beaten away by John Darby in the Chester goal, and he eventually gathered Jason St Juste’s low cross a minute later with Johnson lurking as Town started the second period brightly.

But the game changed on 52 minutes when the referee issued two red cards, one for Johnson and the other for Chester skipper George Horan, after both players started grappling each other by the head in a bizarre off the ball incident.

Five minutes later and Chester were ahead.

Antoni Sarcevic picked the ball up 35 yards out and hit a screamer into the top corner beyond the desperate dive of Glennon, who had no chance of stopping the strike.

Two minutes after that Toulson went in hard and was given a yellow card for what looked a fair challenge despite the home fans calls for another red.

With both sides stretched, Town began committing bodies forward and sub Gareth Seddon was unlucky to see his diverted effort go straight at the ‘keeper.

Seddon saw another header saved by Danby - but with just under 10 minutes to go Town were level - this time another sub, Simon Hackney, unleashing a rocket of his own past the Chester ‘keeper which just clipped the bar as it flew into the net.

Gregory and Seddon both missed late chances and Glennon made a stunning save too as the game finished level after seven minutes of injury time.

The replay will be at the Shay on Tuesday night.

Chester FC: Darby, Baynes (Hankin, 30 mins), McGinn (Mackin, 10mins) , Horan, Collins, Brown, Gray (Clancy, 55 mins), Sarcevic, Jarman, Marc Williams, Ashley Williams. Unused subs: Howard, Fearon, Powell, Booth.

FC Halifax Town: Glennon, Toulson, St Juste, Hogan, Jarrett (McManus, 46 mins) Lowe, Worsley (Hackney, 73 mns), Marshall, Johnson, Gregory, Worthington (Seddon, 60 mins). Unused subs: Senior, Qualter.

Attendance: 2,613

Goals: Sarcevic (57) Hackney (82)

HT: 0-0

OFF: Johnson (52) Horan (52)