Date: 12th June 2008 at 9:00pm
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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?

The Build-Up

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

The Match

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 North End had to be content with a place in the play-offs, where they lost to Wycombe Wanderers.