Sunday 28 April 2002
Dagenham & Redbridge 3 Chester
Attendance: 3,939 Half Time: 0-0
Dagenham & Redbridge: Robert,
West (Vickers 87), Smith (Cole 46), Goodwin, Jones
(Broom 83), Janney, Terry, McGavin, McDougald, Stein,
Shipp. Subs not used: Charlery, Gothard.
Chester City: W.Brown, Lancaster, M.Rose, M.Williams, Carden (Woodyatt
66), Brabin, Blackburn, McGorry, Collins, Whittaker (Haarhoff 66), D.Brown
(Ruffer 62). Subs not used: Peacock, Spink.
Referee: K.Woolmer (Kettering).
traumatic season finally came to an end in the cold
and wet east London on Sunday. The Blues were eventually
well beaten 3-0 by a Dagenham side that had to be
content with a runners-up spot behind champions Boston
The highest league crowd of the
season 3,939. packed into Victoria Road with
about 300 making the trip down from Chester to cheer
on the sky blues (why do we still wear the unpopular
Smith kit?) who had a chance of finishing as high
as eighth with a victory.
It was Chester that settled better
at the start with winger Stuart Whittaker looking
lively down the left. In fact, Whittaker's cross
for a Chris Blackburn header was the first action
on goal after 15 minutes. Danny Collins, playing
up front with David Brown, chased everything and
set Brown up on a couple of occasions but the forward
was unable to take advantage shooting wide and seeing
another effort blocked by veteran goalkeeper Tony
Twice Dagenham threatened to open
the scoring minutes before half-time. From a free
kick Wayne Brown had to make a full length save to
tip Steve West's free kick round his left hand post.
Then, minutes later, that post came to City's rescue
as Lee Goodwin saw a free header from an inswinging
corner bounce off it to safety.
Right on half time Whittaker, cutting
in from the left, saw his close range shot from an
acute angle smothered by Roberts at the near post
as City went in at the break fully deserving to be
Ten minutes after the break a controversial
moment as Whittaker, put though by Collins, went
on another of his forging runs, was sent sprawling
in the box following a sliding tackle by Cole. The
City fans in front of the incident howled for a penalty
but referee Woolmer waved play-on.
Minutes later the heavens opened
up and the threatened downpour ensured that fans,
without the basics of a roof, got drenched in the
process. Any chance of seeking refuge from the downpour
against the wall at the back of the terrace was stopped
The Daggers took the lead on 61
minutes and a simple goal it was too. Dangerman Mark
Stein was left totally unmarked in the middle to
tap home from six yards after Wayne Brown had parried
Paul Terry's shot.
Five minutes later it was two.
Junior McDougald turned Mark Williams down the right
and his low cross was met once again by Stein at
the far post.
City brought on Carl Ruffer and
he was unlucky to see a header from a Mike Rose corner
blocked by Roberts before the home side added a third,
defender Cole heading home McGavin's corner at the
near post with four minutes to go.
So a disappointing last 45 minutes
of the season for the Blues. Manager Mark Wright
gave the team a 30 minute dressing down after the
�In the first half we were in control
and they did not look like breaking us down. But
we stopped playing after the break and they deserved
to win on their secondhalf performance. In 15 games
we have lost just three and the players deserve a
lot of credit for that. But when it came to the crunch
it wasn't quite there. Two of their goals were a
shambles and a disgrace and I can't have that. The
players have to show me more than they did in the
second half here. We have to be stronger and better
than that and next year we will be making a lot of
changes. We should have had a penalty when it was
0-0, and then I maybe thought we should have played
a 4-5-1 formation because we were hesitant going
for the ball in midfield and Junior McDougald made
one of our players look a little bit silly when he
turned on the ball, and we went 1-0 down which was
21 April 2002
Chester City 5 Stevenage Borough 1
Attendance: 1,866 Half Time: 1-0
Chester City: W.Brown, Lancaster,
Brabin, M.Williams, M.Rose, McGorry (Ruffer 61),
Carey (M.O'Brien 70), Blackburn, Whittaker, D.Brown,
Collins (Haarhoff 54). Subs not used: Spink, Woodyatt.
Stevenage Borough: Greygoose, Sodje, Goodliffe, J.Campbell,
Fraser, Fisher (Evans 45), Wormull, McMahon, Williams (Hamsher
77), Armstrong (Jackson 45), D.Campbell. Subs not used: Midson,
Referee: M.Atkinson (Leeds).
Hugh Lloyd signed copies of his new autobiography
in the club shop he remarked how unusual it was to
anticipate a match in which Chester were involved
without being doubled up with worry. It certainly
made quite a contrast to the last couple of years
in which events both on and off the pitch have given
City fans nightmares. Now, with Conference survival
ensured last Tuesday night, we turned up to enjoy
a meaningless game against Trophy finalists Stevenage.
Mid-table mediocrity has never seemed more attractive.
I was sure today was going to be
an anti-climax after the brilliant but often tense
campaign against relegation which Mark Wright's City
have been involved. There were more end of season
awards than you could shake a stick at beforehand
in a rarified Deva atmosphere of relaxation. Pleasingly
both Mark Beesley and Gary Brabin received player
of the season awards Mark because his goals
had kept a sinking ship afloat in the dark days of
the early part of the season; Brabin because he epitomised
the uncompromisingly positive belief in Conference
When the game kicked off Stevenage
showed they were worthy Trophy finalists, and were
the better team. This was their fourth game in seven
days but they did not have a jaded look. They should
have taken the lead when Williams' powerful shot
was beaten away by Brown only for the rebound to
be headed against the post and the ball was then
scooped over the bar by an over anxious 'Boro forward.
Chester took the lead on the half
hour mark following good play by David Brown who
released Collins to centre low into the box. Brown's
shot was blocked by a defender but looped up invitingly
for Whittaker to open the scoring.
After the break Stevenage came
out strongly at City but when the gangling Collins
was replaced by the diminutive Haarhoff the game
was transformed. Haarhoff linked up with Whittaker
on the right who dribbled the ball to the edge of
the area before unleashing a shot which ripped into
the back of the net. Chester began to buzz now and,
incredibly, added three more goals in the next ten
minutes. Stevenage were caught in a whirlwind as
first Brown broke free and picked out Whittaker to
complete his hattrick. Jimmy Haarhoff should have
scored himself before recovering to centre for Brown
to whip a shot into the top of the net. And to crown
it all, Carl Ruffer who returned after a long lay
off through injury, glanced in Mick O'Brien's free
City fans were punch drunk what
a way to finish the season. More City goals could,
probably should, have been added but in the end no
one (Apart from perfectionist captain Brabin) begrudged
Stevenage a consolation goal towards the end. Happily
Chester's home record now reads won 7 drawn
7 lost 7 just like the winning line on the
old fruit machine. It certainly felt like they had
hit the jackpot at just the right time.
The Blues did their lap of honour
and then the crowd spilled on to the pitch to demand
an appearance by Mark Wright and by the rest of the
players. No-one quite knew what to say but written
on everyone's faces were relief; thanks; congratulations;
here's hoping for a relaxing summer and a positive
build up to a new season without all the uncertainty
that there has been for the last couple of years.
16 April 2002
Chester City 1 Farnborough Town 0
Attendance: 1,386 Half Time: 0-0
Chester City: W.Brown, Lancaster,
Bolland, Whittaker (M.Rose 80), Blackburn, Brabin,
Carey, McGorry, Collins, Peacock (M.Williams 22),
Spink (Haarhoff 69). Subs not used: McElhatton, Ruffer.
Farnborough Town: Benfield, Harper (Crawshaw 80), Gregory,
Taggart, Bunce, Warner, L.Piper (Vansittart 65), Watson, C.Piper,
Lee (De Sousa 80), Green. Subs not used: Benstead, Hicks.
Referee: M.Williams (Hereford).
Stuart Whittaker couldn't have
picked a better time to score his first goal for
the club as his 49th minute strike brought City victory
by a solitary goal and guaranteed Conference football
at the Deva Stadium for another season. Manager Mark
Wright gave a full debut to young striker Danny Collins
who played upfront alongside Dean Spink, Mark Beesley's
hairline fracture keeping him out of the side once
It was Farnborough, visiting the
Deva for the first time and on a run of five successive
wins that started the brighter forcing Chester back
in the first 20 minutes with wingers Justin Gregory
and Tony Taggart causing all sorts of problems down
the City left.
Wayne Brown was in the action as
early as the first minute gathering a 20-yarder from
Dean Brown and he was in the thick of the action
again 15 minutes later making a mess of a clearance
though Piper failed to take advantage.
To counter the threat down the
left manager Mark Wright replaced Richard Peacock
with defender Mark Williams and City began to steady
things at the back.
City's first chance of note came
on 25 minutes when Stuart Whittaker tested Bonfield
in the visitors goal with a cross shot. Minutes later
Spink headed on Brown's goal kick to set Collins
though but the striker placed his shot wide.
The woodwork came to Boro's rescue
on 33 minutes as Whittaker's curling free-kick, following
a foul on Chris Blackburn, grazed the outside of
Keeper Brown was called into action
again soon after and saved superbly from Green and
Piper both from close range to keep City level at
Three minutes after the interval
came the winner. Blackburn was put through on goal
and was blatantly brought down by Gregory just outside
of the box. The defender, despite being the last
one between Blackburn and the goal, only received
a yellow card for his foul. Whittaker stepped up
to send his curling shot past the outstretched arms
of Bonfield into the corner.
Bunce and Vansittart both had chances
for Boro as the visitors looked in vain for an equaliser
that wasn't to come. In fact the best chance in the
dying minutes fell to substitute Jimmy Haarhoff whose
low angled shot on 82 minutes was well saved.
The final whistle brought great
jubilation as news of Stalybridge's defeat at Northwich
confirmed City's survival and, for once, we can sit
back and relax for the last two games of the season.
13 April 2002
Chester City 3 Dover Athletic 0
Attendance: 1,660 Half Time: 1-0
Booked: Carden, Carey.
Chester City: W.Brown, Lancaster,
Bolland, Brabin, Carden, Carey, McGorry, Blackburn,
Peacock (Haarhoff 68), Spink (Collins 69), D.Brown
(Whittaker 75). Subs not used: M.Williams, M.Rose.
Dover Athletic: Hyde, Seabury, Norman, Leberl, Shearer,
Le Bihan, Ramsay, Strouts, James, Scott (Bathgate 80), Kelly.
Subs not used: Smith, Cloke, Lane.
Referee: J.Tattan (Liverpool).
it, you've got your own pet reason why Chester City
have been doing so well in 2002. It could be down
to you wearing the same green badge on every matchday,
or it must be your lucky boxer shorts, then again
perhaps it's the polo shirt you've been wearing at
games for the last six years, or even that black
cat that crossed your path last week.
Well forget all those thoughts.
There's one key reason why the Blues have been riding
high since the turn of the year it's our Captain
Colossus, Gary Brabin. Most centre-backs would be
more than content with doing their part in keeping
a clean sheet in a desperate relegation tussle. But
Brabin did much more than that when he succeeded
in scoring two crucial goals against a fading Dover
His second goal sealed a perfect
day for any Chester fan. Those who started it at
lunchtime when Stuart Rimmer and Iain Jenkins were
signing Chas Sumner's new book in the city centre,
must have been in seventh heaven by 4.50pm. For once
we'd had nothing but good things to think about Chester
for the best part of the day. A pleasant change as
the end of season looms.
Stand-in striker David Brown played
his part in our revelry when he opened the scoring
at the Deva from a Richard Peacock corner after just
90 seconds. Boy, was I glad I was wearing that same
old lucky shirt!
The game then settled into a tedious
phase livened up by referee Jim Tattan's obsession
with booking players for the slightest of pushes.
Meanwhile he somehow missed Brabin wrestling a hapless
Dover player to the ground in a move that was reminiscent
of Mick McManus at his best.
But it was Wayne Brown that kept
Chester in front at this stage. Dover's Leon Kelly
was about five yards out and unmarked when he tried
to power home a header. But Brown pulled off one
of the best instinctive saves I've seen him make
all season. Dover's resulting corner stood almost
no chance when it came into the box. Brabin and Phil
Bolland were in the right place almost all the time
throughout the 90 minutes. Thankfully when they did
put a foot wrong, the run of the ball went Chester's
way each time and at half-time it looked like Dover
would be relegated at the expense of three vital
points for Chester.
The Blues came out inspired in
the second half, with Peacock and Paul Carden, who
was very unlucky to get booked for barely touching
a Dover player, running themselves ragged. Big Dean
Spink also played his part - unsettling the shaky
Dover defenders as he 'put himself about' on the
edge of the box.
But the day was meant for Brabin.
On the 67th minute, a Peacock corner came out to
him and he thwacked the ball home into the roof of
the net. It took five fellow players to 'chairlift'
their stocky captain into the air as he celebrated
the goal in style. For a few seconds I thought spoilsport
Tattan was going to book Brabin for time-wasting.
But thankfully he didn't taint our day by booking
There was still time for another
goal and Peacock, Spink and Brown were replaced by
Jimmy Haarhoff, Danny Collins and Stuart Whittaker.
With fresh legs on the pitch, it looked inevitable
that something good would happen.
Danny Collins looked comfortable
on the ball during his 20-minute spell a very
encouraging performance. Indeed it was his cross/shot
that resulted in Chester's third goal. There was
a goal-line scramble when the ball came across and
Haarhoff somehow missed it. But who was there to
pounce? Gary Brabin! He just may have helped save
Chester from relegation. And although we will end
2001/2 in our worst position ever, there was enough
hope in that performance to make even the most sceptical
of supporters feel a little bit more buoyant about
But spare a thought for Dover.
Relegation is a nasty business. It always leaves
a bad taste in the mouth when your team puts that
final nail in someone else's coffin. I sincerely
hope to visit the Crabble again.
Saturday 6 April 2002
Bradford City Youth 3 Chester
City Youth 1
Football League Merit Division
Chester City: Louie Mackin,
Tom Coulson, Paul Connolley, John Davies, James Dean,
Scott Bagnall (Tom Leonard), Matt Cooke (Trialist),
Carl Rogers, Lee Reece, Chris Hopwood, Gethin Lloyd.
The youth team went down 3-1 to
Bradford City Saturday. They found themselves 2-0
down at half time and conceded another in the second
half before James Dean scoring their consolation
Due to a lack of funds they
were forced to travel in cars and had to leave behind
two players due to lack of room. Having made a bright
start in Merit Division 2 their morale is now low having
not received any travelling expenses for six weeks
and no wages for the last two months with many training
sessions cancelled. It appears that in the current
circumstances rival clubs could 'pick off' this talent
6 April 2002
Forest Green Rovers 0 Chester City 2
Attendance: 802 Half Time: 0-2
Booked: Bolland, McGorry, Spink.
Forest Green Rovers: Perrin, Jenkins,
Impey, Coupe, Travis (Tearney 73), Foster, Cooper, Allen (Hopkins
79), Futcher (Sykes 78), Heggs, Meechan. Subs not used: Lee,
Chester City: W.Brown, Woodyatt (M.Williams 80), Bolland,
Lancaster, Brabin, M.Rose, McGorry, McElhatton, Carden, Spink
(Blackburn 84), Beesley. Subs not used: D.Brown, Peacock, Haarhoff.
Referee: M.McCoy (Herne Bay).
no mistake, this was a big, big win for City, which does not
really tell the truth of the overall picture of the game. A bumpy,
dustbowl of a pitch, add a strong cross wind and two teams desperate
for points to ease relegation fears, and you have a tense scenario.
Yes overall it was a very poor match. Both sides failed to adapt
to the conditions, passing was at a premium, all of which made
the entertainment value non existent. Still, points are all that
matters as far as City are concerned and in Mark Beesley, with
two late goals, they had the main difference between the teams.
The first half was a midfield stalemate, with
the early exchanges showing ex-City player Carl Heggs prominent
in Forest Green attacking moves. However Heggs faded as the match
progressed as the City defence, again superbly marshalled by
Bolland and Brabin, had a fairly comfortable afternoon. The only
direct shot of the half came from a Cooper free kick well held
by Wayne Brown, while Lee Woodyatt's cross-cum-shot luckily clipped
the top of the post.
The second period was not much better for the
first thirty minutes. Frustrations on City's lack of ability
to create anything in the match boiled over, with angry words
exchanged between the City backroom staff on the bench and the
long suffering travelling supporters. However, just as we were
ambling to a bore draw, the game woke up. On 76 minutes, Chester
won their only corner, Carden's kick was met by Bolland, whose
header hit the post, and in the resulting melee, Beesley scored
from close range. Rovers threw everything forward in desperation.
Hopkins hit the bar from a free kick, but deep in injury time,
nerves were settled with a gem of a goal from Beesley, who latched
on to a precise pass from Blackburn, for a class finish.
In summary great result in the step to avoid
the drop. With three home games to come the situation is in City's
hands. Lets also hope that Forest Green also avoid the drop,
as off the pitch, there are one the most friendly clubs in the
Tuesday 2 April 2002
Chester City Youth 1 Carlisle United Youth
Football League Merit Division 2 North
Chester City: Louie Mackin, Tom Coulson,
Paul Connolley, James Dean, Adam Hunter (Sion Griffiths), John
Davies, Kevin Towey, Carl Rogers, Lee Reece, Chris Hopwood, Tom
Leonard (Gethin Lloyd).
The youth team drew 1-1 in a brought forward
home fixture against Carlisle United on Tuesday. Despite taking
an early lead through Carl Rogers they were unable to gain the
upper hand with the visitors drawing level before half time. A
winning goal could not be produced in the second half despite several
1 April 2002
Chester City 1 Yeovil Town 1
Attendance: 1,807 Half Time: 0-1
Booked: Lancaster, Spink, Carden.
Chester City: W.Brown, Lancaster, M.Rose,
M.Williams, Bolland, Brabin, Carey (Carden 43), McGorry, Peacock
(Haarhoff 67), Beesley, Spink (D.Brown 61). Subs not used: Woodyatt,
Yeovl Town: Weale, Lockwood, Tonkin, Skiverton, Pluck,
Brassart (Way 77), Johnson, Crittenden, McIndoe, Kumbar (Thompson
46), Grant (O'Brien 81). Subs not used: White, Sheffield.
Referee: S. Bratt.
mother of all downpours just as the half time break came to an
end changed the complexion of this match. All of the first half
Chester had been chasing the game, defending deep against the side
with an awesome away record. Yeovil nearly scored early in the
game when City's defence got into a terrible tangle down the right
and Brabin cleared a shot off the line. The ball came out to Skiverton
near the penalty spot and he ballooned it over the stand.
Beesley had two chances for Chester in as many
minutes when the score was 0-0. A left foot shot from the edge
of the area fizzed a foot over. Then he ran on to a through ball
which was bouncing awkwardly he might have lifted it over
the keeper, who had committed himself, but instead knocked it past
him and overran the chance.
Yeovil pinned Chester back and the goal their
pressure deserved came when Skiverton put his foot out to divert
a mishit shot past Brown.
News came from round the grounds that virtually
all our fellow strugglers were winning.
Then came that monsoon. The floodlights had to
be switched on, despite British Summer Time, the sky had gone so
dark. The referee seemed to have locked himself in his dressing
room as the two teams got thoroughly soaked waiting for the restart.
The Yeovil fans sought refuge along the back wall of the South
Stand as the rain drove in under the roof at them.
Our only hope seemd to be the hope of abandonment
as the pitch became waterlogged but the wet conditions actually
slowed the game down. Both sets of players started sliding about
but it was Chester who benefited most from the change in the weather.
As the fans stirred in to life too, City began to take the ball
to the visitors and after mounting some considerable pressure equalised
when Lancaster, foraying upfield at a corner lashed the ball at
the second attempt in to the back of the net.
Carey, carrying an injury, had to go off and
was replaced by Carden. He began to provide the midfield dominance
which City had been lacking and urged City forward. Brown replaced
a quiet Spink. Beesley broke down the right and an unmarked Brown
screamed for the ball in the centre, Beesley obliged, Brown took
it round the keeper and hit his shot but not hard enought to beat
the Yeovil defender who had scrambled back to cover.
Jimmy (Without water wings) came on to replace
Peacock. Beesley shot wide when the keeper dropped the ball and
flashed an angled header across the goal. Rose blasted several
direct free kicks well over the bar and City failed to capitalise
on the chance of an unlikely victory.
Not a bad point but with results elsewhere going
against us, Chester are very much in the lottery of a four-way
dog fight for that third relegation place. Kettering went down
last season with 43 points and were thought to be unlucky with
such a big total. Chester, with five games to go, are locked with
three others on 42 points and are by no means safe. A thrilling
scenario for the neutral but I don't know if my frayed nerve ends
can stand it.