Preview: Darlington (H)

    The curtain comes down on the 2023/24 season on Saturday as the Seals host Darlington at the Leap76 Stadium hoping to end the campaign on a high.

    After an impressive win on the road at Gloucester City, Calum McIntyre’s men were defeated by Brackley Town in Northamptonshire last Saturday, a result which put an end to our play-off hopes.

    Darlington have avoided relegation following a huge fight against the drop all season, with former Blues boss Steve Watson picking up vital points since his arrival in late December.


    After spending 39 out of 46 games inside the relegation zone, the Quakers have been in fine form recently which has pulled them away from the bottom four, with three wins in their last three games sealing safety.

    The latter of those three was the most crucial, as Steve Watson’s men beat fellow strugglers Farsley Celtic thanks to second half goals courtesy of Jake Lawlor, Aidan Rutledge and Cedric Main. 

    Victory meant Darlington avoided a nervy final day, while Farsley now face a battle with Blyth and Rushall over the last relegation place.

    It has been a disappointing campaign overall though after the club narrowly missed out on the play-offs last term by just a single point.


    As previously mentioned, former Seals boss Steve Watson has been in the dugout at Blackwell Meadows since December.

    It is Watson’s first managerial stint since leaving CH1 in the summer of 2022 after a 16th-placed finish in the National League North.

    At the time of Watson’s appointment the club were sat in 23rd, but he has succeeded in his task of pulling the club up the table, having had a 57% win ratio during his 21 game tenure.

    The gaffer had an impressive playing career, featuring over 200 times for Newcastle United between 1990 and 1998, before going on to play for Aston Villa, Everton, West Bromwich Albion and Sheffield Wednesday.


    Attacking midfielder Matty Cornish has impressed since joining from NPL side Marske United in January, scoring six times in 18 appearances.

    The 26 year-old has netted in crucial wins over Southport, Blyth Spartans and Scunthorpe United in recent months, combining well with fellow attacking players, Cedric Main and Cameron Salkeld.

    Before joining Marske, Cornish spent time in the USA, featuring for Michigan Stars and Asheville City.


    Chester FC | W18 D14 L13 | F58 A37 | Pos: 11th

    Last three

    Alfreton Town (H) | L 0-2 | Scorers: None

    Gloucester City (A) W 1-6 | Scorers: Burke x2, Peers, Glendon, Thomas, Tollitt

    Brackley Town (A) | L 3-1 | Scorers: Tollitt

    Darlington FC | W16 D7 L22 | F52 A72 | Pos: 18th

    Last three

    Warrington Town (A) | W 1-3 | Scorers: Aidan Rutledge, Cameron Salkeld x2

    Southport (H) | W 2-0 | Scorers: Cedric Main, Matthew Cornish

    Farsley Celtic (H) | W 3-1 | Scorers: Jake Lawlor, Aidan Rutledge, Cedric Main

    Match Preview by Tom Bird.


    Kick off is 3pm on Saturday at the Leap76 Stadium. The postcode for the ground is CH1 4LT.


    The quickest and easiest way to buy match tickets is via our online ticketing platform at Online sales will now be available until kick off and you simply need to present your printed ticket or mobile phone to be scanned at the turnstile.

    We still strongly encourage supporters to purchase tickets in advance via the below link, as purchasing in advance prior to matchday also provides a saving on the price.


    Card/contactless payments are also available at the turnstiles for all open stands.

    Supporters can pay with contactless, chip and pin and Apple Pay and Google Pay for The Gary Talbot (East) Stand, Harry McNally (North) Terrace and Swettenham Chemists’ Community (West) Stand. Please note the relevant turnstile further down in this article.

    If you wish to pay with cash, you will need to buy your ticket from the Ticket Office before the game, however we advise arriving earlier than normal to reduce queuing times. Cash is not accepted at the turnstiles.



    There’s plenty going on at the Leap76 Stadium as we face Darlington…


    This weekend’s game at the Deva Stadium against Darlington is our annual Academy Day fixture!

    The day is dedicated to Chester FC Academy and during half-time, we will be recognising the Academy’s achievements across the 2023/24 campaign as well as introducing our new intake of scholars for next season to the Chester FC crowd.



    Our Official Health and Wellbeing Partners, Nuffield Health, will also be outside the ground prior to the game with plenty for supporters to enjoy!


    The Cestrian bar opens from 12pm on Saturday showing all the live football on the big screens with a wide variety of drinks on offer.

    Once again, it’s HAPPY HOUR between 12pm and 1pm tomorrow in the Cestrian – with all draught ales just £4 a pint on the main bar!


    We will have food available outside the ground prior to the  game – as the footy scran recognised loaded fries are available inside the street food van!

    Inside the ground there’s plenty of food and drinks to enjoy – with our kiosks serving the famous Cowards Pies and fantastic Hot Dogs.


    Ginger Cat Coffee will be serving their barista style hot drinks outside the ground before the game in their pop up tent, as well as Iced Coffees!


    The Cestrian Programme will be available at the game, and the 40-page publication costs £2.50 at the ground.

    Sales will also be available online: CLICK HERE


    • We will have full, FREE match commentary on Seals Live from 2.40pm on Saturday. Tune in by visiting our Match Centre: CLICK HERE

    There is also updates from the ground on our social media channels throughout the day, including…

    • Match Updates on our Twitter page. CLICK HERE
    • HT/FT Updates on Facebook and Instagram. CLICK HERE
    • A full time match report on CLICK HERE
    • A post match interview with Calum on Chester FC TV. CLICK HERE