Chester endured a frustrating start to 2012 as they were held to a draw by Nantwich Town, to ensure the Dabbers complete the season unbeaten against Young’s men. Chester have a special affinity with Nantwich, as “The Dabbers” was suggested as a nickname for the Exacta club by people who want CFC to be less a football club, and more an ongoing taunt towards former Chester City Chairman Steven Vaughan, who once made a snide remark about The City Fans United meeting in bingo halls.
It was a day of records at the Exacta Stadium as opposition midfielder McPherson broke an Exacta record, previously held by Robbie Booth, for the most alarmingly receding hairline, and the attendance record was also smashed as 3560 people needed something to do to take their mind off their impending return to work.
Young rang the changes from the Boxing Day Wrestle Mania at Northwich as Robbie Booth and skipper George Horan, improbably absent from the Northwich card fest, returned to the starting XI. There was also a surprise appearance from Jerome Wright, who was delighted at winning a festive raffle to guarantee his place in the line up.
The Blues dominated possession during the opening 45 minutes but found peculiarly-named goalkeeper Jon Brain in fine form. The brain is of course the centre of the nervous system , but despite the keeper keeping cool, his defensive colleagues proved very nervy. Whilst the Jestrian faced a struggle with spectacularly contrived puns, it was Antoni Sarcevic who came closest when he rattled the crossbar from a close range thunderbolt.
Despite being unable to break through, good news was to follow early in the second period when Rob Clegg announced the record breaking attendance, which prompted one of them strange moments where everyone applauds themselves for actually showing up.
C Block regular Barry Badbreath spoke of his delight at turning up;
“The wife wanted me out of the house today, but the way I got in the car, navigated the traffic and took to my seat was truly sublime, and it’s nice to get a moment to give yourself a pat on the back”.
The attendance news proved a distraction as Captain Horan got caught gazing around the Exacta doing that thing where you ponder how on earth you’d get another couple of thousand in the ground, and was turned by the impressive Mike Lennon who slid the ball past Danby to give the Dabbers a surprise lead.
The two coolest characters on the pitch combined almost immediately to hoist the home team back in the tie. The Nantwich midfield stood back and admired just how slick Christian Smith is as the ice cool left back effortlessly found box of tricks Sarcevic who turned his marker and thundered the ball past the despairing dive of Brain.
Both teams used their three options from the bench in an attempt to swing the game in their favour, although the crowd were visibly perplexed as Young Joe Ormrod was introduced instead of Popular Chris Simm. This ensured that when Simm did eventually come on, loads of people bellowed ‘Simmooo’ way more than what they usually would, thinking that it would somehow convey their disgust to Young that he wasn’t introduced earlier.
Despite both teams coming close, a draw was the final result, and probably a fair reflection of the 90 minutes, despite the Blues enjoying the majority of possession. The game was a typical encounter for this time of the year, with many spectators who aren’t regulars turning up to annoy those who are, by loudly conducting conversations like they’re experts or something.
“Who’s the number four? Hourang, or something. He’s not good enough,” said Jimmy Knowledge, who last attended the Exacta a year previously, when he told all around him that Michael Wilde wouldn’t even make it to ten goals for the 2010/2011 season.
Neil Young was quizzed by the media gang but instead reflected on matters away from football.
“You're all disappointed that you're going back to work tomorrow but think about me. I get no time off at Christmas - I was in on Boxing Day for goodness sake. Give me a break. Trains and football teams don’t just run themselves, you know,” ranted the Blues Boss to a gaggle of bemused journalists, who had merely asked about Matty McGinn's injury.