It was a tough afternoon at Siddington Playing Fields for Chesterton AFC as they continued their quest for the County Cup trophy against Chalford Fourths.
With this being the first competitive action for the home side since the Christmas break, heavy legs and a slight drop in match sharpness were to be expected and this showed in the opening minutes of the game.
As both sides struggled in possession and chances seemed impossible to come by, the fixture looked as though it would be close to the final whistle.
However, in the 33rd minute, the hosts were dealt a blow as some sloppy play at the back allowed the visitors in on goal.
Making the most of their chance, Chalford took the lead, putting Chesterton in very unfamiliar territory as they trailed a game for just the second time in the club’s short history.
After going behind, and faced with the prospect of exiting the cup being on the cards, Chesterton knew they had to up their game and apply the pressure. With the visitors now dropping deeper to defend their unexpected lead, the hosts were finding it easier to dictate possession and the game.
Despite their increased foothold, Chesterton were unable to find a reply before the half-time break. The only time they came close to scoring was in the dying seconds of the half as Will Power hit the post with a well-struck effort from outside the box.
1-0 down at the interval, managers Jordan Stallard and Tim Bond had some stern words for their players, knowing they were capable of so much more. With a fire ignited within, the home side came out for the second half looking to turn the game around.
Chesterton looked like a different side in the opening minutes of the second period as they mounted constant pressure on the away defence. This lead to an opportunity in the 58th minute from a corner.
Aaron Perry took the set-piece and delivered a delightful in-swinging corner, right on top of the keeper. This delivery was met by the head of striker George Peare, who fired into the back of the net to bring the men in claret back on level terms, 1-1.
The game was now firmly in Chesterton’s control but the scoreline remained too close for comfort.
This forced the hands of Stallard and Bond who, in the 68th minute, withdrew the tired legs of holding midfielder Chris Linnell to bring on the more attack-minded Matt Lammond to try and shake things up in front of goal.
The tactical switch had the desired effect as the hosts earned themselves another corner on the same side they scored from.
Perry was on hand again, looking to replicate the set piece that earned the earlier equaliser. However, this time, he would go one better as he proceeded to put the ball in the back of the net direct from the set play. The full-backs first goal of the season, from an unlikely position, put the hosts 2-1 up.
With the visitors running on tired legs from trying to withstand the Chesterton barrage, the game looked out of reach for them.
This was then confirmed in the 80th minute as Power set himself to take a free kick just inside the Chalford half. Power dropped the ball in behind the defence, finding skipper Dan Jones, who calmly controlled the ball on his thigh before smashing the ball past the onrushing keeper and into the top corner to make it 3-1.
But Chesterton were not done there. In the 87th minute, the hosts worked themselves one more chance that saw a through ball from Lammond fall behind the defence, into the path of Joe Stratford who played a low cross to feet of Peare. True to form, the centre forward tucked away his second of the game with a brilliant first-time finish.
Celebrations were initially put on hold as the referee addressed an offside decision from the linesman. Nonetheless, after a lengthy discussion, the man with the whistle pointed to the centre spot and gave the goal, making the full-time score 4-1 to Chesterton.
Joint MOTM: Dan Jones and Danny Bishop