Barrow's Chester make right moves

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The Independent Online

The football folk of Chester had their first sight of the Nationwide Conference on Tuesday and liked what they saw. After a traumatic relegation from the Football League last May, Chester City launched their Conference campaign with a 2-0 loss at Rushden & Diamonds last Saturday. That was hardly a disgrace, though, as the Northamptonshire side have more quality within their ranks than most Third Division clubs.

The football folk of Chester had their first sight of the Nationwide Conference on Tuesday and liked what they saw. After a traumatic relegation from the Football League last May, Chester City launched their Conference campaign with a 2-0 loss at Rushden & Diamonds last Saturday. That was hardly a disgrace, though, as the Northamptonshire side have more quality within their ranks than most Third Division clubs.

On Tuesday Chester took on another full-time outfit, Doncaster Rovers, as the Deva Stadium hosted its first non-League fixture. The home fans in a good crowd of 2,616 had something to cheer after just 43 seconds, when Mark Beesley put City ahead with a superb left-foot finish.

Chester repelled all assaults, legal and otherwise, from a physical Doncaster side and doubled their lead on the hour with another well-taken goal from Beesley. Eight minutes from the end, after the home goalkeeper, Dean Greygoose, had saved a Carl Alford penalty, Paul Carden completed City's emphatic 3-0 win with a stylish third goal.

It was a highly satisfying outcome for Chester's new manager, Graham Barrow, who returned for his second spell in charge when Ian Atkins was tempted away by Carlisle United after failing to rescue City from the drop last term.

"We've set our standards and now we have to maintain them," he said. "It was a great performance against one of the best teams in the league."

Two new players, who share a surname but are not related, will play a big part in Chester's campaign. The 35-year-old former Sheffield United and Leeds centre-half Paul Beesley did a fine job organising the defence on Tuesday. He has a role to play off the pitch, too, as Barrow's assistant. The 20-year-old Mark Beesley, released by Preston North End in the summer, looks like an exciting replacement for last season's top scorer Luke Beckett, sold to Chesterfield for £150,000 in the summer. "He goes out there and expects to score," said the City chairman, Terry Smith.

As well as his new signings, Barrow can call upon the best of last season's squad, such as the full-backs Martyn Lancaster and Matt Doughty. Chester's future looks a lot brighter than it did last season.

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