Chequers recorded a fifth straight defeat after Houghton United Reserves left Stockwood Park with the points in yet another tight game that the Purples somehow contrived to lose.
John Roullier returned from injury in goal, and Barry Wilson featured in the defence alongside Michael Towler, Chris Fagan & Tom Tracy. Tim Warne and Michael Ryan ran the wings either side of Wayne Mardel and Gavin O'Brien, and Tom Smith moved further up the pitch in support of striker Dean Hinton.
Chequers almost made the worst possible start, as within 2 minutes of kick off a United striker cleverly nutmegged his marker on the edge of the Chequers box and his curling shot clipped the crossbar on it's way over. The away side had started strongly, and created another good chance minutes later as a cutback was met with a powerful first-time shot on the edge of the box that had Roullier diving away to his right to push wide. Shortly after, Roullier was again in the thick of the action as he saved with his feet after a United player was sent clean through on the angle. It seemed just a matter of time before the Purples went behind, but suddenly they came to life in a 15 minute spell that began when Warne was released on the left of the area and sent his shot narrowly off target. Chequers were then to miss 2 gilt edged chances in a matter of moments; first Dean Hinton somehow scooped a shot from inside the 6 yard box over the crossbar, before Tom Smith arrived on a brilliant Hinton cross only to head back across goal and wide of the far post. The same combination combined to great effect again as Smith cleverly stepped over a through ball which sent Hinton clear, but an extremely dubious offside flag was raised as the striker calmly slotted past the United 'keeper. This succession of missed opportunities was to prove pivotal as the Houghton side grabbed the lead with half an hour on the clock. A routine goal kick was sent long down the field and Tom Tracy was unable to get anything on the ball to stop it bouncing over him and into the path of a United striker, who expertly lobbed the onrushing Roullier to put the away side ahead 0-1. As usual Chequers almost allowed themselves to be killed off immediately after conceding, as some poor defending saw a United player blaze over the crossbar from 12 yards when he should have perhaps doubled his side's lead before the break.
Rob Mardell made a return to action as a half-time replacement for Towler at left back, but the tide hadn't yet turned and United almost doubled their lead within seconds of the restart; a striker driving a low shot inches past the far post with Roullier well beaten. Alex Dell was introduced in midfield at Warne's expense, and the energetic midfielder started to pull the strings as he dropped deep to collect the ball from the defence. Smith then tried his luck from 20 yards, but once again his luck was out and his powerful shot cannoned back off the face of the crossbar with the United goalkeeper grasping at thin air. Just as in the first half, the away team scored during a Chequers purple patch on 65 minutes. The defensive line was naively way too high at a free kick from the halfway line, allowing a United player to stride through unchallenged onto a lofted pass and prod past Roullier to double the lead against the run of play at 0-2. Chequers kept going, with O'Brien in particular showing great battling spirit to win every aerial battle in the middle of the park. The deficit was almost halved as Hinton met Mardel's cross with a low goalbound shot that was blocked, but they weren't to be denied for much longer. The influential Dell picked up a loose ball on the edge of the area and crashed a ferocious shot off the underside of the crossbar, onto the goal line and up into the roof of the net to bring his side back into it at 1-2. Dell then tried his luck from a free kick which was comfortably saved, and with Fagan and Mardell getting forward from defence the home side really had their opponents on the rack for the final 10 minutes. The Purples forced a number of corners as United began to creak, and the chance they had been waiting for came in injury time as a deep cross was met by O'Brien from point blank range, but he thumped his header wide of the mark and the away side held on to claim victory.
As seems to be the case at the moment, a number of positives can be taken from a match that Chequers controlled for long periods. However, as the cliche goes, the scoreline is the only stat that really matters.
Man of the Match went to Tom Smith for the second week running after another good all-round performance just lacking a well-deserved goal.