Chester City 3 Preston North End 2 (2/4/94)
During this easter weekend, Chester City took a massive step towards promotion back to Division 2 with a memorable win over Preston North End. Let's today look back at the game and events of the time…
This Easter Saturday fixture assumed the status of Chester's biggest match of the season, with City top of Division 3 and Preston fifth, just five points behind and with a game in hand. City had drawn 1-1 at Deepdale at Christmas in front of 12,790, but with the Blues unbeaten at home since September and North End struggling away from home, Chester fans were confident of victory. In the visitors line-up was future City legend Stuart Hicks, while City were as follows: David Felgate, Spencer Whelan, Joe Jakub, Roger Preece, Mark Came, Colin Greenall, Dave Thompson, Graham Barrow (Stuart Rimmer), Mark Leonard, Graham Lancashire, David Pugh. None of Chester's team that day are currently playing in the Football League, although Felgate and Preece have both appeared in the Conference this season, for Leigh RMI and Telford United respectively.s
Sadly, the game was partly overshadowed by an infamous lock-out of hundreds of fans of both sides after the unfortunate decision was made not to make the game all-ticket. 5,638 made it inside to witness a titanic struggle and they were the lucky ones as they witnessed an end-to-end affair. This was despite a howling wind that made conditions difficult. City also made life difficult for themselves after conceding a 13th minute opener from Gareth Ainsworth, before loan-man Lancashire bundled home an equaliser ten minutes later. Yet they still went in behind at the break after the prolific Tony Ellis struck shortly after the half-hour mark to the delight of the travelling hordes.
City were missing the leadership of Chris Lightfoot in midfield, and after Barrow ended his own league career at half time, the side looked a little depleted in the middle. But after weathering a North End storm at the start of the second half, City came back into the game and levelled on 67 minutes through a looping header from Leonard. The impetus was now with City, who scored a dramatic winner three minutes from time. Pugh's cross eluded goalkeeper Steve Woods and Lancashire was on hand to score from close-range to send the Deva into raptures.
Chester gained eight points from the next four games to clinch promotion on St. George's Day after beating Hereford United 3-1, finishing runners-up to Shrewsbury Town. Preston had to be content with a place in the play-offs, where they lost to Wycombe Wanderers.
Despite their reputation as a giant of non-league football, Yeovil endured a miserable mid-1990s. The 1993/94 season saw them finish a lowly 19th in the Conference, just avoiding relegation (which they duly suffered a year later). They did though experience some success in cup football, finishing runners-up to Macclesfield Town in the Conference League Cup and eliminating 2nd Division Fulham from the FA Cup.
Where Were They Then?
A number of our current staff had cause to celebrate in 1993/94. Iain Jenkins played a key role in our promotion team, while Ted McMinn (Burnley), Andy Porter (Port Vale) and Dean Spink (Shrewsbury Town) all helped their sides go up. Meanwhile, Gary Brabin appeared in the FA Trophy final for Runcorn and was in the England semi-professional side, while teenagers Wayne Brown (Bristol City) and Stuart Whittaker (Bolton Wanderers) both made their league debuts in the First Division. Brian McGorry was transferred for £60,000 from AFC Bournemouth (where Michael McElhatton was starting his career) to Peterborough United but was unable to save the Posh from relegation to the 2nd Division. Mark Wright was a regular in the Liverpool team that finished in a lowly (by their standards) 8th position.