6 May 2005
Oxford United 0 Chester City
Attendance: 5,055 Half Time 0-0
Oxford United: Tardif,
Mackay (Burton 70), Wanless, Molyneaux, Robinson,
Hackett, Quinn, Bradbury, Corbo (Davies 45), Mooney
(Beechers 78), Basham. Subs not used: Clarke, Cominelli.
Chester City: MacKenzie,
Vaughan, Bolland, Hope, Regan, Drummond, Davies, Carden
(Harris 85), M.Brown, Lowe, Booth (Walsh 73).
Subs not used: Lynch, Ventre, Brookfield.
Referee: M Russell (Hertfordshire).
more like it! After last week’s disappointing end to Chester’s
home campaign for 2004/5, the blue boys ended the season in style with
a last-gasp winner at Oxford's impressive Kassam Stadium.
Ryan Lowe made his case for a place on Keith Curle’s
retained list when the ball came to him just over the halfway line on the
sped into the box, rode a defender’s
challenge, and thwacked the ball home past
U’s ‘keeper Chris Tardif.
It was no more than City deserved after one of the better
of the 27 performances I’ve seen this season and it was a fitting thanks
to the 374 travelling
supporters who were enthused to hail their heroes when the
blew a couple of minutes later.
Both ‘keepers had been tested almost from the off,
with Chris MacKenzie saving from Oxford’s
Lee Bradbury not long after kick-off and Lowe marking
intentions with a shot across Tardif’s
goal. The U’s ‘keeper had barely
put down the two player-of-the-season awards he’d been given before kick-off.
But it was MacKenzie who was back in action next – this
time called on to make a save from Oxford’s
leading scorer – the much-travelled Tommy
Mooney. Oxford then hashed the chance of a re-bound. This was a much more
game than City’s last away day at Leyton Orient.
Stewart Drummond, who seems to have come on leaps and
bounds since the turn of the year, had another good midfield performance.
I also have to
give 100% for effort to Ben Davies, who seemed to be playing to earn himself
a place in next season’s team. I lost
count of the number of corners Chester won
the first half, but I’m afraid Davies
didn’t make the most of taking them
– it was almost as if he was actually trying too hard.
Chester also seemed to be trying a new tactic – the off-side
trap. I can’t say I’ve
seen City use it quite so often and so effectively as they did
this match – or perhaps it’s because 33-year-old Mooney has lost
or two of pace since his Watford days.
Mooney gave us all a chuckle not long after the second half re-start when
he ran dangerously clear, then tapped the ball just too far forward for
his own good. He belted after it, but it went out of play, and he crashed
into an advertising hoarding – which came off a little worse for wear!
Both sides continued to play some reasonably entertaining football as
the weather turned – British-style – from warm sunshine to dark clouds,
torrential rain and even hailstones. Both Davies and Drummond continued
to run the
midfield, and had their own bursts into the box, but they came
to nothing without real support.
Oxford made a claim for a penalty when Steve Basham fell over in the box,
but the referee waved their claims away. Soon after he got out his only
yellow card of the game when he booked Phil Bolland, who was making
his first return to Oxford, where he made 20 appearances under Mark Wright.
The nearest we came to a goal until the death was when
Drummond managed to slice a clearance against his own post. Captain Paul
Carden was replaced
by Andy Harris on the 84th minute. Carden handed his captain’s
armband to Bolland and received a standing ovation from the away fans– I wonder
see him in a City shirt next season? He certainly seemed to give
us a big
farewell wave, as if it really was for the final time.
Just when we were settling for the last match of the
season to end honours even and to leave us reflecting on a decent morning
in historic Oxford
centre, a pre-match drink with the U’s fans in the 12th century
haunted Priory Arms, which is oddly situated next to the 21st century
bowling alley complex, and with thoughts drifting to our summer holidays,
up popped Lowe and his spectacular goal.
After the final whistle, the City players came over to
celebrate with the Blues supporters. Ryan Lowe was soon stripped of almost
all his clothes
– taking the sweatshirt off another player’s
back to restore some decency! Phil Bolland also joined in the Full Monty
show, in scenes nearly reminiscent
of last season’s end-of-season display at Hereford.
As we left the Kassam Stadium there was a rainbow overhead and a few smiling
Chester fans were clutching boots, shorts and shirts from various players.
actually be the last time we'll see many of them in a City shirt
– but thanks to them for giving us a final day to remember.
League Two table.
• 2004/05 Match
30 April 2005
Chester City 0 Northampton
Attendance: 3,455 Half Time 0-1
Chester City: MacKenzie, Vaughan, Bolland, Hope, Regan, Davies, Drummond,
Carden, Foy, Booth (M.Brown 55), Lowe. Subs not used: W.Brown, Harris,
Northampton Town: Harper, Togwell,
Chambers, Willmott, Murray, Low, Rowson (Richards
89), Hearn, Smith (Williamson 45), Kirk (Sabin
78), McGleish. Subs not used: Bojic, Galbraith.
Referee: R.Booth (Nottinghamshire).
2004/05 home campaign came to a disappointing end with this
defeat at the hands of play-off contenders Northampton
goal in each half from Andy Kirk was enough to see off a poor
were also guilty of missing a golden chance to reduce the arrears
towards the end.
New manager Keith Curle greeted the
supporters on the pitch prior to the kick-off. He takes over
his duties on Monday so it was left to David Bell to take
charge for his fourth match.
With both Sean Hessey and Joe O’Neill
suspended, Stephen Vaughan and Robbie Booth were drafted in
to the side
that were well beaten at Leyton Orient last Saturday. Phil
Bolland played despite suffering in the week from double vision
while forward Michael Branch missed the game with a groin injury.
This was a must-win game for Northampton
who started the afternoon one place behind the play-off zone
and they were backed by a large following.
It was The Cobblers
who forced the early initiative, with both Chris MacKenzie
and then Ben Davies clearing a succession of corners in the
Northampton took the lead midway through
the first half as Hearn’s through ball caught out a static
defence leaving Kirk the chance to score in the bottom corner
from 18 yards.
Five minutes later City forced their first
corner of he game but Robbie Foy’s inswinging effort
was easily cleared by a Cobblers defender.
As the game wore on it was the visitors who
looked the more likely to score. Sam Togwell shot over when
well placed after the Blues defence had failed to clear a corner.
Minutes later Martin Smith screwed a shot wide as Northampton
Scott McGleish saw a header his the bar before City
had Carl Regan to thank for keeping the score down as he headed
The best Chester could offer before the break
were a couple of cross shots following good work from Foy and
Ryan Lowe but City couldn’t get a blue shirt on the end
of them as Stewart Drummond arrived late at the back post.
It didn’t take long after the
restart for the City defence to be breached once again.
McGleish picked the ball up in midfield and slipped
a though ball to Kirk, he reacted quicker than Richard
Hope to find himself through on goal to slot the ball
past MacKenzie in front of the ecstatic traveling support.
It was all Northampton and minutes later
MacKenzie pulled off a great save to deny Kirk his hat-trick
from 20 yards and then produced a double save to twice deny
Rowson from close range.
Bell attempted to change things bringing
on Michael Brown for winger Robbie Booth. Indeed the next effort
came City’s way as Bolland stole in at the back post
to direct a Lowe free-kick onto the post with Harper well beaten.
Five minutes later the post was hit at the
other end as Kirk jinked past two defenders before shooting
across MacKenzie only to see his shot rebound off the woodwork.
With ten minutes remaining City had a great
chance to pull a goal back as Davies was brought down in the
area by Chris Willmott. The midfielder picked himself up and
retrieved the ball to take the spot-kick himself, which he
yards wide of the right hand post. Two minutes later he
found himself in the referee’s book for unsporting behaviour.
In the closing minutes The Cobblers hit the
post again as City’s home campaign ended in an eighth
defeat. Fifteen minutes after the final whistle the players trudged
out to acknowledge the couple of hundred City fans who had
stayed behind to give them one last ovation. I wonder how many
will be seen again at the Deva come August?
23 April 2005
Leyton Orient 2 Chester City
Attendance: 3,192 Half Time 2-0
Booked: Carden, Lowe. Sent-off: Hessey, O’Neill.
Leyton Orient: Harrison, Barnard, Lockwood, Miller, Zakuani, Simpson,
Mackie, Duncan (Carlisle 87), McMahon, Alexander, Echanomi (Youngs 81). Subs
used: Morris, Saah, Palmer.
Chester City: MacKenzie, Carden, Bolland (Vaughan
16), Hessey, Hope, Drummond, Davies, Regan, Lowe (M.Brown 86),
Branch (O’Neill 83), Foy. Subs not used: W.Brown, Booth.
Referee: K.Wright (Cambridgeshire).
says it all that the highlight of our return to London’s
East End was when the false teeth of a middle-aged
fan taunting the neighbouring City supporters nearly dropped
his mouth in mid-jeer!
The embarrassed O’s fan gave me
one of the biggest laughs I’d had at a football match – and
there was certainly nothing
on the pitch to give the 235 travelling supporters nearly
Hopes had been high that we’d recreate
our last visit to Brisbane Road when we won 2-1 in one
of Chester’s most
memorable performances of recent years. And City, welcoming
back Michael Branch
from injury, did make a relatively bright start, winning
two corners within
the first few minutes.
But Chester made no impact with the corners
and the Blues’ defence were soon caught napping by
the Orient attack.
The O’s had a couple of chances on goal, before really
on the 14th minute. The ball was crossed to Efe Echanomi
on the left-hand
side. He took the ball well and shot into the right-hand
the outstretched Chris MacKenzie.
The 18-year-old Nigerian, standing in
for Orient’s flu-struck leading scorer, Lee Steele,
certainly earned himself one
of the most flamboyant goal celebrations I’ve ever
seen. Was it
three back flips and a somersault? If I was a gymnastics
judge, I’d have given
him ‘10’ for that display.
Soon after, Chester’s chances of getting
back into the match were made less likely when Phil Bolland
with an injury, to be replaced by Stephen Vaughan Junior,
from a bout of mumps.
It wasn’t long before Echanomi
was back in the spotlight, when Sean Hessey bought him
down in the
box to earn a penalty
for the O’s. Matt Lockwood had no problem slotting the
ball home in
the right-hand corner. It certainly marked a miserable
to Brisbane Road
for MacKenzie, who made 35 appearances for Orient in 1998-9.
The City ‘keeper was lucky to see
another Orient attempt hit the post before the half-time
and the O’s
also had a goal disallowed for offside. At the other end,
Lee Harrison was
largely untroubled. Robbie Foy ran clear and had a chance
on goal, but his
shot went straight at Harrison.
City set their stall out in the second
half – frankly, that of a team who had nothing to
play for and couldn’t
really care less who went home with the three points.
Within four minutes of the re-start, Hessey was red-carded
for a foul on Gary Alexander. I was just emerging from
the excellent tea-bar as he sloped off, but most of my
seemed baffled by his sending-off.
If Chester actually had a shot on target in the second
half, I missed it. Perhaps it happened when I was watching
in amusement at the City fans who strolled into the Orient
cheekily sat next to Mr False Teeth, much to his surprise!
I do know that
Orient had at least three near misses, rattling the post
with one of them.
They also had another goal disallowed.
There was one glimmer of hope when Ben
Davies, who seemed to be one of Chester’s only real tryers,
took a free kick
just outside the area towards the end of the game. But
his shot went
straight into the Orient wall.
The final drama came when Joe O’Neill,
who had replaced Michael Branch just six minutes earlier,
for leading with his elbow as he jumped to challenge with
seemed another harsh sending-off, taking City’s seasonal
red card total to 11.
Referee Kevin Wright blew up soon after,
and was roundly jeered by City fans as he walked off the
pitch. But he
wasn’t the only reason for Chester’s defeat.
I suppose it would
have been different
if we’d needed a point to secure our League Two future
– I’d like
to think so.
16 April 2005
2 Bristol Rovers
Attendance: 2,475 Half Time 0-2
Booked: Hessey, Bolland.
Chester City: MacKenzie, Edmondson (Regan 36), Bolland, Hope,
Hessey, Drummond, Carden, Davies, Booth (O’Neill 59), Foy (M.Brown
90), Lowe. Subs not used: W.Brown, Walsh.
Bristol Rovers: Clarke, Edwards, Anderson, Elliott,
Lescott, Williams, Hunt, Savage (Disley 74), Ryan, Walker, Agogo.
Subs not used: Forrester, Trollope, Bass, Sinclair.
Referee: L.Mason (Lancashire).
Caretaker manager David Bell was delighted after seeing
his side stage a spirited second-half fight back to
pick up the point that guarantees League Two football
the Blues next season.
Bolland returned to the City side for Andy Nicholas
but there was still no appearance from
injured striker Michael Branch with Robbie Booth
once again partnering Robbie Foy and Ryan Lowe up
The Pirates manager Ian Atkins
received a fitting ovation from
the crowd that was nearly 500 up on last Saturday’s
– albeit boosted
by a healthy away following of 460.
City started the brighter of
the sides though it was ex-City striker, the golden-booted
Junior Agogo, who tested Chris MacKenzie with a long
range header that the Blues keeper dealt with comfortably.
Lowe was prompting and probing
for City up font and saw an 18-yarder disappear over
the bar into the away fans on five minutes after
a swift counter attack, minutes later Lowe saw another
similar effort saved by Ryan Clarke.
With City continuing to push
forward Shaun Hessey tried his luck from over 30
yards but saw his shot fizz wide, minutes later he
became the first player in the book following a challenge
on the tricky Agogo. Christian Edwards lifting the resulting
free-kick over the bar.
City were looking to set Foy free and in one smart
move the forward was given the ball out on the left
wing, he cut inside and sent over a first time cross
half-volley by Stewart Drummond only for his flicked
effort to just clear the bar with Clarke beaten.
took the lead halfway through the first period. City
failed to clear an
attack from half-way, Ben Davies, dived in but failed
to make his tackle. The ball broke to Agogo who’s
shot was defected into the path of Ryan Williams.
The Blues rearguard appealed in vein for offside
as Williams smashed the ball past MacKenzie.
Lowe tested Clarke again before the Pirates doubled their
lead on 29 minutes. Williams raced away down
the left and was allowed to get a pinpoint far post cross
for Agogo to head home unchallenged at the back post.
Carl Regan replaced the injured
Darren Edmondson at right back and with Booth making
little or no
impressing down the right,
Foy as City
get something from the game before the interval.
However, despite their early dominance it was Rovers
who looked more likely to add to their tally before
the break as David Savidge and James Hunt went close.
City forced two quick corners after
the break, and on 59 minutes reduced the arrears.
Davies’ cross fell to Drummond near the penalty
spot and he steered a right foot shot into the top
corner. Drummond was in the right place again seconds
later only to see his header clear the bar.
The was a flare-up involving several
players right in front of the dugouts as Phil Bolland
took exception to a kick on the shin from Richard
Walker as the players battled for a ball heading
into touch. Both players entered the book for their
Anderson had the ball in the net
for Rovers, following up a flick-on from a corner,
minutes later though the assistant's flag
rescue and the score remained 2-1.
Joe O’Neill replaced the
ineffective Booth and City’s
persistence paid off with an equaliser on 72 minutes
ball home from close range to the delight of the
City fans behind the goal.
Both sides had chances to grab
the winner but the best fell to O’Neill. He
was sent racing through, the flag stayed down and
he slipped his shot past Clarke but agonisingly just
wide of the right hand post.
As the game entered the final minutes Rovers
were awarded a free-kick right on the edge of the
box following a foul by Richard Hope. City’s
six-man wall did its job and the ball was cleared
for a corner that Mackenzie met with a safe pair
to preserve City’s point.
Caretaker manager David Bell said
after the win: “I thought Stewart thoroughly deserved
his man of the match award for managing to keep the
players going. To be fair to Stewart, in the dressing
room at half-time he was the one who was most positive
and he wanted to get the players going, and showed
that in his second half performance.
We believed we could get back into
the match at half-time. I said to the players that
we could still cause Rovers problems if we remained
confident and positive in what we did. Eventually
I thought we could have won the game if Joe O’Neill
had scored after we had equalised, but he unfortunately
didn’t – but you’ve got to get
into that position to miss.”
9 April 2005
Chester City 2 Boston United
Attendance: 2,040 Half Time 1-1
Booked: Davies, Hessey, Carden.
Chester City: MacKenzie, Edmondson, Hope, Hessey, Nicholas,
Drummond, Carden, Davies, Lowe, Foy, Booth. Subs not used: W.Brown,
Boston United: Abbey, White, Ellender,
McCann, Maylett, Holland, Rusk, Noble (O’Donnell
Pitt (Thomas 80), Easter (Thompson 57), Lee.
Subs not used: Raynor, West.
manager David Bell saw his side get off to
a winning start as goals from Robbie
Booth and Ryan Lowe brought victory and three
precious points against Boston United.
With central defender Phil
Bolland suspended and striker Michael Branch
injured Bell was
forced into a couple of changes and in came
Sean Hessey and Booth.
the second home match on the run though
the Blues had to
fight back after conceding
an early goal to the opposition following a
sluggish start in a game that saw eight bookings.
A low crowd of just
over 2,000 saw the visitors open the quicker
with Simon Rusk shooting over from long
range in the first minute and Darren Edmondson
clearing a near post corner minutes later.
Ryan Lowe shot with
with City’s first effort on goal
early pressure paid off with the opening
minutes. David Noble who was left
in space as the City defence failed to
clear Maylett’s cross and had as
easy task to score from close range.
City slowly came into
the game, their best efforts coming from
set pieces. Pilgrims ‘keeper Nathan
Abbey was in the right pace to save from
Drummond header and he did well to push
a well-worked Lowe free-kick round the
post for a corner.
Ben Davies, Paul
Carden and Sean Hessey all found themselves
in referee Stroud’s notebook before
the Blues equalised in first-half stoppage
time as Lowe’s clever back-heel played
in Robbie Booth who beat a defender to
score his first senior goal for the club
– and what a great time to get it.
City fans breathed
a sigh of relief just after the break when
Jermaine Easter missed a golden opportunity
lead as he headed
wide from six yards out when well placed.
At the other end Robbie Foy saw shot saved and
Drummond saw a header sail over the bar
from an inswinging Lowe free-kick.
Drummond shot wide from
a Foy corner, before City
had a slice of luck – and
had many this season – as
they took the lead on 77 minutes. Foy tapped
a short free-kick to Lowe who
saw his 20-yard shot deflected by a Pilgrims
player to leave Abbey no chance in the Boston
goal. That was Lowe’s third goal in
four appearances since his deadline day signing
from Shrewsbury Town.
City forced a series of
corners as they looked for a third goal to
kill the game, but Abbey dealt comfortably
with the flag-kick’s.
As the game drew to
a close Bradley Maylett saw a shot saved by
MacKenzie in the City goal, with the
shot-stopper also saving from Danny Thomas
during the five minutes of added time as
the Blues held out for a crucial victory
to leave them three points from guaranteed
2 April 2005
Darlington 1 Chester City 0
Attendance: 3,778 Half Time 0-0
Booked: Lowe. Sent-off: Bolland.
Darlington: S.Russell, Fleming, Clarke,
Appleby, Hughes, Gregorio (Convery 67), Webster,
13), St’Juste, C.Russell (Sodje 69), Wijnhard.
Subs not used: Petta, Wainwright.
Chester City: MacKenzie, Edmondson,
Hope, Bolland, Nicholas, Drummond, Davies (M.Brown
85), Carden (O’Neill 85), Lowe (Sestanovich
80), Branch, Foy. Subs not used: Hessey, Regan.
Referee: P.Prosser (West Yorkshire).
City came away pointless from their first-ever visit
to the Williamson Motors Stadium. A penalty, conceded
by Darren Edmondson, fifteen minutes from time was
enough to ensure the double for Darlo over City that
drops them to 21st.
Rush made one change from the side that started the
last game against Bury with
Edmondson coming in
for Carl Regan as City once again took the field in
their third kit of all maroon, without a sponsors
There’s no doubt that this
has to be one of the grandest stadiums in League
but with the crowd of under 4,000 dwarfed
by the rows of thousands of empty seats there was
little or no atmosphere at all.
The game got off to a slow start
with City enjoying the greater share of the play
though neither goalkeeper was seriously tested in
45, with most efforts coming from long range.
Robbie Foy saw a shot pushed out
for a flag-kick, while Lowe’s free-kick suffered
a similar fate. In fact City’s best efforts
were coming as a result of Lowe’s corners,
though most were dealt comfortably by the home defence
other end Chris MacKenzie was catching everything
that came his way.
Stewart Drummond should have done
better as he saw a shot from six yards saved by Sam
Russell and just
before the break Lowe picked up another booking for
dissent before the
sides left goalless.
City had a great chance to take
the lead just after the restart. Michael Branch
was sent racing through by Foy on the left, but instead
of taking the ball on into the box he elected to
whose shot lacked power and was comfortably gathered
by Russell in front of the travelling fans.
It was the home side though who
had the lions share of the game for the second period.
MacKenzie’s goal came under a barrage of corners
and a double substitution seemed to give the home
side fresh impetus. On a rare foray up the other
end Phil Bolland headed over from a Lowe cross.
The goal that finally decided the
match came on 74 minutes. Edmondson clumsily impeded
Webster with his arm on the six yard box and referee
had no hesitation in pointing to the spot, Wijnhard
sending MacKenzie the wrong way with the resulting
Rush’s reaction was to bring
on Ashley Sestanovich for Lowe and Michael Brown
Joe O’Neill at the expense of the midfield
pair, Davies and Paul Carden, who had another good
game for City.
Despite the changes City never
threatened Russell and were reduced to ten men at
the end after Bolland had inexplicably kicked out
at goalscorer Wijnhard
with three minutes remaining.