Any report on Saturday's meeting at the Deva Stadium that ignored the first ten minutes and the last ten minutes would reflect favourably on Sutton, playing some attractive football at times, although not taking the chances that came their way, and restricting Chester to only a rare sight of goal. Unfortunately for U's, the start and the end of the game proved the decisive periods, as they were chasing a two goal deficit by the 7th minute and, having looked perfectly capable of rescuing the situation even as the game approached its closing stages, were then sunk by a controversial penalty decision which saw Chester go three up, and a subsequent strike from Kane Richards which proved irrelevant if annoying, as had the penalty decision gone the way most people in the ground expected Richards would probably not have been on the pitch to score it.
Chester came out with attacking intent and penned Sutton back from the start. Inside the first minute they won a corner on the right and the ball fell to Tom Shaw, whose shot crashed back off the post and whose second effort was headed off the line by Kevin Amankwaah. It was only a breif respite, though, as Ryan Burge slid in to a challenge on Evan Horwood which would probably have produced a booking had the game not been only two minutes old and the surface extremely greasy after a heavy shower in the early stages. The resulting free kick on the left was swung in by Elliott Durrell and glanced inside the far post by tallcentre back Blaine Hudson.
Worse followed soon afterwards as Bedsente Gomis was dispossessed on the edge of the Chester penalty area and the home side broke quickly. Richards went through on the left, evaded a fairly untidy attempt by Craig Eastmond to stop him, and although Ross Worner parried Richards' shot the ball ran across goal and Ryan Lloyd couldn't miss.
To their credit Sutton steadied things after the double blow and created chances of their own. Dan Fitchett stabbed a shot just wide after a cross from the right had landed at his feet, and Chris Dickson, starting in the league for the first time, hit a fierce shot from Burge's fine through pass that needed a smart stop from Jon Worsnop in the Chester goal. With Richards getting frustrated enough to pick up the first of the game's six yellow cards Chester had few opportunities to add to their lead and Sutton ended the half on top and pressing to get back in to the game.
The start of the second half was a similar story as U's continued to make the running, but they needed to make it count and couldn't, coming closest when Burge's brilliant free kick was matched by Worsnop's save as he clawed the ball away from the top corner. A treble substitution saw U's continue to press, as within five minutes of coming Max Biamou had beaten both central defenders in the air, enjoying more success than Fitchett had in the first half, and a succession of corners followed. The first saw the other two substitutes combine as Ross Stearn's corner was met on the volley by Nicky Bailey, whose shot was deflected just wide. U's worked an identical move from the next corner, again Bailey's volley was blocked and this time Fitchett nodded the loose ball goalwards only for another deflection to take it just wide. This corner was taken short and wasted by an overhit cross from Stearn, and soon afterwards Biamou, perhaps surprised by the speed at which the ball came to him, was unable to take advantage of some fine work by Roarie Deacon, stabbing the ball harmlessly in to the arms of Worsnop after Deacon's cross landed at his feet.
There was then a long hold-up as Theo Vassell collided with a Sutton player after a fine tackle back by Biamou and suffered concussion, requiring lengthy attention before being carried off, and after the restart Chester regained the initiative. Substitute Jordan Chapell forced Worner to stretch and turn his chip over the bar, and then Richards broke down the right and went over as he turned inside Jamie Collins, whose reaction to the penalty award did nothing to dispel the initial view of most observers that contact, if any, had been minimal. Already booked, Richards could easily have been sent off had referee Steven Rushton's opinion gone the other way, but it was Bailey who was booked for complaining about the decision, and to complete an incident that really didn't go Sutton's way, Worner all but saved Shaw's penalty, the ball squirming over the line after the keeper made good contact.
Salt was then rubbed in the wounds after another corner routine between Stearn and Eastmond had gone wrong, and when the counter attack produced a free kick, Bailey deflected Horwood's shot in to the path of Richards, who was allowed time and space to pick his spot in the top corner of the net from about ten yards out.
Chester: J Worsnop, T Vassell(sub W Joyce 75), E Horwood, L George, B Hudson, R Astles, C Mahon(sub J Hunt 86), E Durrell (sub J Chapell 75), K Richards, T Shaw, R Lloyd. Subs n/u L Roberts, S Hughes. Booked: Richards, Shaw, Horwood.