Source: Chester Chronicle
GEORGE Horan scored an injury-time winner as Chester came from behind to beat 10-man FC United for the second time this season on an afternoon of great drama at Gigg Lane.
The captain rifled in from close range to earn the second-placed Blues the win they ultimately deserved from a match that more than lived up to its billing as the biggest in the league.
At one stage Neil Young’s side, who remain three points behind Premier Division pacesetters Northwich Victoria, looked to be heading for their first defeat in nine games after two-goal Carlos Roca cancelled out Chris Simm’s early opener.
But after Adam Jones was sent-off for two bookings in as many minutes, they finally made their dominance count as Simm netted his second before captain marvel Horan struck at the death.
Chester boss Young said: “It was a great spectacle for the sport and for the league. I’m standing here happy because we’ve won, but even if we would have lost 2-1 I still couldn’t have asked any more of my team apart from their finishing.
“They showed battling qualities to keep going in a very difficult arena in which their supporters – like our own – were fantastic. The atmosphere was incredible and I think our fans enjoyed it because for the first time away from home it was in a stadium that they were used to.”
The match, which kicked-off 15 minutes late because of traffic problems around the ground, exploded into life when the recalled Simm broke the deadlock within 90 seconds.
An outswinging corner from Matty McGinn – the other change to the team which started the midweek draw at Buxton – was delivered to perfection and Simm sent an unstoppable 10-yard header past the outstanding James Spencer.
It was no more than the Blues deserved for an impressive start, but the hosts weathered the early storm and tested John Danby with long-range attempts from Jake Cottrell and Roca.
But former Chester City goalkeeper Spencer remained the busier stopper and after he made a flying save from another Simm header, he breathed a huge sigh of relief when Iain Howard volleyed over and Horan managed to miss from almost underneath the crossbar.
Karl Marginson’s men needed a break and they got one in the 32nd minute when the referee awarded them a soft penalty for a push in the box by Alex Brown.
Roca sent Danby the wrong way to restore parity before the same player turned the game on its head with a sublime free kick five minutes later.
Horan was adjudged to have fouled Mike Norton 25 yards from goal and Roca did the rest with a wonderful effort that curled away from Danby and into the top corner.
The winger came desperately close completing his hat-trick seconds into the start of the second half, but from that moment on it was the home goal which lived a charmed life.
In a relentless period of pressure top-scorer Michael Powell somehow volleyed wide from five yards out, Spencer made top stops from Howard and McGinn, before Howard hammered against the post from 20 yards.
FC United were rocking and their cause wasn’t helped when centre-back Jones collected two yellow cards in quick succession, the second coming in the 63rd minute for hauling Simm down when he was through on goal.
Blues boss Young threw on strikers Michael Wilde and Jamie Rainford, but it was his earlier replacement, Wes Baynes, who was to make the most impact.
The right-back sent over a 78th-minute cross which found Horan in space at the back post. Although the centre-back’s header was kept out by Spencer, Simm was on hand to tap in the equaliser and his fifth goal of the season.
And after Rainford and Matty Wolfenden missed golden opportunities at either end, better was to come at the death.
Another Baynes free kick caused chaos in the box and there was Horan to smash in his second goal of the campaign and bring a fitting end to a match which had everything.
FC United: Spencer, Jacobs, Jones, Stott, Neville, Wolfenden, Cottrell, Carr, Roca (Chadwick 63), Deegan (Mulholland 82), Norton. Subs: Platt, Battersby, Grimshaw.
Sent-off: Jones 63.
Goals: Roca 32pen, 37.
Chester: Danby, Brownhill (Baynes 57), Horan, Taylor, McGinn, Booth (Rainford 68), Powell, Brown, Howard, Simm, McNeil (Wilde 68). Subs: Ormrod, Judge.
Booked: Taylor, Brown, Horan, Powell.
Goals: Simm 2, 78, Horan 90.
Oct 16 2011 by Paul Wheelock, Chester Chronicle