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Saturday 6 May
Chester City 0 Shrewsbury Town 1
League Two
Attendance: 3,744 Half Time 0-1
Booked: Hessey.

Chester City:
MacKenzie, Regan, Dimech, Hessey, Asamoah, Curtis, S.Vaughan, Davies, El Kholti, Blundell, Edwards. Subs not used: Harrison, Dove, Rutherford, Walker, Tait.
Shrewsbury Town: Hart, Herd, Burton, Hope, Ashton, Edwards, Sorvel, Tolley, McMenamin, Langmead, Stallard. Subs not used: Thompson, Cowan, Hogg, Cadwallader, Evans.
Referee: C.Webster (Tyne & Wear).

City’s 2005/06 season ended in anti-climax as Shrewsbury completed the double over the Blues with a single goal victory at Deva Stadium. The breakthrough came early and although City had a couple of good chances to equalise after the break couldn’t find a way past Joe Hart in the Shrews goal.

With the City squad carrying injuries manager Mark Wright recalled Craig Dove from his loan spell at Forest Green Rovers to sit on the bench.

There were no Player of the Season presentations made before the start of play, the latest recipient Stewart Drummond will be plying his trade elsewhere next season after turning down the contract offered to him, it was disappointing that his efforts weren’t acknowledged in public though.

Kicking towards a packed away terrace City had the first effort, Derek Asamoah shooting over from 20 yards as City looked for the breakthrough but it was to be the visitors who opened the scoring.

The goal came on nine minutes as Kelvin Langmead stooped to send a header past Chris MacKenzie from an outswinging left wing corner from Neil Sorvel, the ball appearing to take a deflection off a City defender on its way into the net.

Moments later Sagi Burton almost added a second as his free kick sailed over the City wall and just wide of the post as City struggled to get a foothold in the game with the midfield being controlled by Shrewsbury.

Despite the early setback City tried to push the ball around to set either Asamoah or strike partners Gregg Blundell and Jake Edwards free but, as in the last home match against Barnet, the offside flag appeared all too often.

Asamoah was proving his tricky self and before the break he saw a shot deflected wide by Ashton after he’d made a penetrating run and cut inside on the right wing.

Five minutes after the interval City should have drawn level. Ben Davies raced through on goal, the linesman’s flag stayed down. As the midfielder tried to round ‘keeper Joe Hart he hesitated briefly allowing Ben Herd to make a last ditch tackle.

At the other end McMenamin and Tolley combined well to set the former through on goal only for man of the match Sean Hessey to block his shot for a corner.

Jake Edwards flicked a header over from a near post corner and headed over again from 12 yards after a teasing cross by the hard working Davies and Tom Curtis shot over from 30 yards as City came more into the game.

City had one last chance to draw level as Blundell was put through on the left but he saw his los shot across goal asved well low down by Hart. Try as they might, the equaliser wasn’t going to come though in fact Mackenzie had to produce a brilliant save to deny Langmead a second goal

At the final whistle the players trooped off to the applause of the home fans left in the stadium. Ben Davies hung around the centre circle until the others had left before running over to the north terrace to give his shirt away to a fan in the corner then running off alone to an ovation from those remaining. Was this to be a last goodbye from the popular midfielder? Only time will tell.

Final League Two table

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Saturday 29 April
Northampton Town 1 Chester City 0
League Two
Attendance: 7,114 Half Time 1-0
Booked: Edwards, Curtis.

Northampton Town:
Harper, Crowe, Chambers, Doig, Smith, Low, Rowson, Hunt, Johnson, Kirk (Jess 62), McGleish (Lee 75). Subs not used: Bunn, Dyche, Hand.
Chester City: MacKenzie, S.Vaughan, Hessey, Dimech, Regan, Blundell, Walker (Asamoah 45), Davies, Curtis, El Kholti, Edwards (Tait 80). Subs not used: Dove, Rutherford, Harrison.
Referee: P.Armstrong (Berkshire).

A single goal from Scott McGleish was enough to give Northampton the three points they needed for automatic promotion to League One as City failed to spoil the Sixfields promotion party. Early on it had looked like the occasion was getting to the home side, with City rarely troubled, but the goal on 26 minutes settled the Cobblers nerves.

Blues manager Mark Wright stayed away, opting to watch the Wrexham v Oxford United match so his coaching assistant Kelham O’Hanlon took charge of team affairs.

As expected Stewart Drummond and David Artell both missed the game through injury, Stephen Vaughan and Justin Walker deputised while Abdel El Kholti replaced Derek Asamoah who started on the bench.

After just five minutes City were awarded a dangerous free-kick just outside of the box after Gregg Blundell had been fouled by Jason Crowe. Ben Davies took the kick but his shot was blocked by the wall and the danger cleared.

With such a lot at stake it was a full 15 minutes before City ‘keeper Chris MacKenzie, who was born in Northampton, had anything to do, comfortably saving a header from Smith following a quick right wing break. Minutes later he had to come out smartly to save at the feet of McGleish but couldn’t prevent the striker from opening the scoring on 26 minutes. The Cobblers were awarded a throw-in, David Hunt launched it into the area where McGleish out jumped the City defence to head home from eight yards out.

To their credit though City didn’t lie down and Jake Edwards saw an effort fly high and wide and Vaughan brought out a save from Harper in the home goal just before the break.

If the opening period had been a close affair the second wasn’t. Asamoah replaced Walker but it was Northampton who upped the tempo and attacked City for long periods throughout.

MacKenzie pulled off a tremendous save back peddling quickly to deny Andy Kirk who tried to lob the City keeper from the edge of the box after spotting Macca off this line. Minutes later Mackenzie, having an excellent match, saved with his feet to deny what looked to be a certain second goal from Low after he’d intercepted a poor pass out of the City defence.

Urged on by a noisy home following, Northampton pressed again. Smith saw a shot saved and Vaughan was well placed to head full length off the line to deny David Rowson who’d headed goalwards from a corner.

At the other end City tried to feed Asamoah and although he got free on a couple of occasions he was well marshaled by the home defence. Edwards headed just over on a rare attack and was replaced ten minutes from time by Paul Tait, though the on-loan striker hardly had a touch of the ball.

As the game moved into injury time Davies received the ball breaking through on the left and unleashed a great shot from 20 yards that flew unfortunately straight into the hands of Harper.

Seconds later it was all over as referee Armstrong’s final whistle was cue for a pitch invasion from the ecstatic home fans.

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Saturday 22 April
Chester City 0 Barnet 0
League Two
Attendance: 2,367 Half Time 0-0
Booked: Dimech.

Chester City:
MacKenzie, Artell (S.Vaughan 45), Dimech, Hessey, Curtis, Drummond (El Kholti 26), Blundell, Davies, Regan, Edwards, Asamoah. Subs not used: Harrison, Tait, Walker.
Barnet: Flitney, Hendon, Warhurst, Clist, King, Fuller, Kandol, Hessenthaler, Sinclair, Bailey, Hatch (Strevens 90). Subs not used: Reed, Roache, Vernazza, Gross.
Referee: M.Pike (Cumbria).

City secured the point that should eventually guarantee another season of League Two football, but they were made to fight all the way by a Barnet side who will consider themselves unfortunate not to take all three after a spirited second half showing. The Blues have extended their unbeaten run now to seven games as Chris MacKenzie kept four clean sheets in the past five games.

The Blues cause was not helped by first half injuries to Stewart Drummond who limped off with a knee injury midway through the first half and David Artell who suffered a broken nose and a depressed fracture of the cheekbone on the stroke of half-time.

As early as the fifth minute Jake Edwards was guilty of spurning what would prove be City’s only clear-cut chance of the game as he hooked over the bar from six yards after a delightful cross from the left by Gregg Blundell that was deflected straight to the big striker.

Just a minute earlier MacKenzie had to move smartly out to smother a chance for Nicky Bailey as the Barnet midfielder hesitated after being put through.

Edwards fired straight at Ross Flitney ten minutes later as City looked for an opening.

As the half wore on though it was the Bees who started to create. Hatch headed over from close range following an inswinging corner and Mackenzie was called into action twice after some hesitancy in the home defence. A last man tackle by Luke Dimech prevented Fuller bearing down on goal.

On 27 minutes came the first forced change with Abdel El Kholti replacing Drummond and he was soon in the action chasing in midfield but City, who were enjoying the greater possession, were being increasingly frustrated by the linesman’s flag as the forward line, Blundell in particular, were caught constantly offside. Several times balls were played through only for the flag to be raised, late on a couple of occasions.

Artell was involved in a goalmouth scramble just before the interval and after receiving several minutes of treatment on the pitch from Joe Hinnigan slowly walked off holding a towel to his face not to return. He was replaced at the break by Stephen Vaughan.

It was Barnet, themselves looking for points to ease their relegation worries, who had much the better of the game after the break.

Blundell though had the first effort as he met a floating cross from Derek Asamoah at the far post only to head down and straight into the hands of a relieved Flitney from six yards.

Just over the hour mark Tresor Kandol should have given the Bees the lead but he headed wide when unmarked in front of the travelling fans.

The City defence was stretched as the Bees enjoyed a 20 minute spell of domination. Dimech twice cleared the danger as City’s defence rocked under pressure.

Towards the end the visitors had a great chance to open the scoring as Bailey went through alone on a one-on-one with Mackenzie, he placed his shot towards the bottom corner but Macca just managed to deflect the ball wide for a corner.
And when MacKenzie was finally beaten from the resulting flag-kick, Tom Curtis was on the line to clear the danger for the Blues as Fuller’s shot looked goalbound.

The home fans were treated to a bit of Asamoah magic late on as the tricky winger intercepted a ball being marshalled out for a goal-kick, took it to the corner and bamboozled two markers with some nifty footwork before crossing, – worth the admission money alone, minutes later he just failed to meet a teasing cross with a diving header.

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Monday 17 April
Bury 0 Chester City 0
League Two
Attendance: 3,421 Half Time 0-0
Booked: Davies.

Schmeichel, Brass, Fitzgerald, Challinor, Woodthorpe, Ross, Flitcroft (Tipton 62), Mattis, Barry-Murphy, Daly (Speight 57), Pugh (Kennedy 75). Subs not used: Youngs, Parrish.
Chester City: MacKenzie, Hessey, Dimech, Artell, Regan, Davies, Asamoah, Drummond, Curtis (El Kholti 43), Edwards (Tait 66), Blundell. Subs not used: Harrison, Rutherford, S.Vaughan.
Referee: G.Salisbury (Preston).

The points were shared at Gigg Lane as both sides looked to pull clear of the relegation scrap at the foot of League Two that is going to go right to the wire.

With Scott McNiven injuring a shoulder on Saturday defender Carl Regan was called into the same starting X1 that beat Wycombe Wanderers while Paul Rutherford was added to the 16 man squad.

Over 1,000 City supporters made the trip to Lancashire and they say their side make a nervy start before settling down.

The Blues conceded a dangerous free-kick on three minutes after a foul by David Artell on Marc Pugh, but the quickly taken effort was headed wide of the left hand post by John Fitzgerald, though he was penalised for being offside. Two minutes later Brian Barry-Murphy’s inswinging corner had to be punched clear by Chris MacKenzie under pressure.

Barry-Murphy showed a good turn of pace on ten minutes as he took control of the ball on halfway, carried forward through the City defence before unleashing a dipping shot from 20 that just cleared MacKenzie’s crossbar.

At the other end Derek Asamoah was in the action with a spectacular overhead kick from long range after a through ball from Luke Dimech, but the striker’s shot was caught in the Shakers goal by Kasper Schmeichel.

Former City favourite Dave Flitcroft was well placed to dispossess striker Gregg Blundell as he latched on to a Asamoah through ball, and Stewart Drummond shot wide as City came more into the game.

Bury forced a couple of corners and from the second of these Flitcroft shot high and wide when well placed at the far post.

Ben Davies picked up a yellow card for a foul on Dwayne Mattis whilst former player Colin Woodthorpe also found himself in the referee’s notebook on the stroke of half-time after he was adjudged to have fouled Regan after a mazy run upfield.

Just before the break City were forced to make a change as Tom Curtis limped off with a groin strain to be replaced by Abdel El Kholti.

Five minutes after the break the Blues had a good chance to open the scoring as Blundell raced through on goal down the left, however he could only find the side netting after good defensive work from Fitzgerald.

The home side enjoyed a good spell of pressure but were finding the City offside trap well marshalled. Barry-Murphy was forced to shoot from long distance though his effort was blocked and cleared by Drummond. Paul Tait replaced Jake Edwards midway through the half

Drummond saw a shot blocked by Fitzgerald and Asamoah had an angled shot cleared off the line by Chris Brass as Chester pressured without success for the closing ten minutes.

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Saturday 15 April
Chester City 1 Wycombe Wanderers 0
League Two
Attendance: 2,797 Half Time 0-0
Booked: Edwards.

Chester City: MacKenzie, Artell, McNiven (Regan 28), Dimech, Curtis, Drummond, Blundell, Davies, Hessey, Edwards (El Kholti 59), Asamoah. Subs not used: Harrison, S.Vaughan, Tait.
Wycombe Wanderers: Talia, Senda, Johnson, Antwi, Martin, Burnell (Williamson 82), Lee (Oakes 69), Bloomfield, Betsy, Mooney (Stonebridge 79), Easter. Subs not used: Williams, Griffin.
Referee: G.Lewis (Cambridgeshire).

The Blues notched a fifth successive victory and at the same time dented the play-off hopes of Wycombe Wanderers. The visitors lost a fifth game on the run creating an unwanted League record for the Chairboys. The game was a tight struggle and it took City’s new found resolve and determination to grind out the three points. A few weeks ago City simply would have got nothing from this match but the newly-found confidence that a winning run has brought went a long way to securing victory.

They did so without defender Mark Albrighton, the defender was allowed to return to Doncaster Rovers despite there being no clause-back agreement in his extended loan arrangement. His departure meant a recall for Luke Dimech who played alongside David Artell and Sean Hessey in defence.

It was the visitors who started brighter with Jermaine Easter unable to control a decent chance early on as City’s back line struggled to cope with a penetrating through ball. All City could muster at the other end was a Stewart Drummond header from a free-kick.

Manager Mark Wright was forced into a change on 28 minutes when Scott McNiven fell awkwardly on a shoulder and after several minutes treatment from physio Joe Hinnigan left the field to be replaced by Carl Regan.

Chances were at a premium in this game, indeed it was 40 minutes before the game’s first corner! Man-of-the-moment Derek Asamoah was as expected in the thick of what action there was, twice he was set up by Drummond and Jake Edwards but couldn’t force a save from Talia in the Wycombe goal as his cross-shot flew just wide of the far post.

The only other chance of note came when Chris MacKenzie was well positioned to save a header from Johnson.

Following the break it was Wycombe who started well and almost took the lead. Easter made a powerful run and crossed for Kevin Betsy whose shot flew over the bar, and the noisy Wycombe fans, from close range. Mooney sent in a shot that MacKenzie was equal to as the Chairboys’ quick breaking were causing City problems at the back.

Hessey almost opened the scoring for City when, out of the blue, he sent in a thunderous volley from outside the box that Talia did well to parry wide for a corner.

City continued to press and on 64 minutes took the lead. Ben Davies delivered an outswinging corner from the right, Artell rose head and shoulders above the Wycombe defence to head the ball goalwards and Drummond was on hand to flick the ball home from close range.

From then on it was the visitors who came closest to scoring the next goal. MacKenzie made a tremendous one handed save low down to deny Mooney. Drummond almost sent a looping header into his own net, and a Wycombe free-kick from substitute Stefan Oakes sailed over the wall, past a statuesque MacKenzie and fortunately inches wide of the post.

With time running out Davies almost added a second as he drove a shot that went just past the far post following good work by substitute Abdel El Kholti.

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Thursday 13 April
Chester City Reserves 0 Bury Reserves 1
Pontins Holiday League
Attendance: 22 Half Time 0-1
Booked: -.

Chester City: Brookfield, Wade, Potter (Jack Rowlands 78) Kelly, Marsh-Evans, Scales, Rutherford, James Gregory (Kieren Morrin 60), Cadwallader, Holroyd, Newton (James Owen 72). Subs not used: Phil Clarke, Craig Vernon.
Bury: Grundy, Parrish, Peatfield, Mattis (Quigley 46), Bentley, Clarkson, Adams, Buchanan (Stephens 67), Tipton (Worrell 80), Seddon, Burns. Subs not used: Holmes, Stepien.
Referee: L.Hodgson.

With a hectic Easter fixture programme coming up Chester fielded a weakened team, with Paul Rutherford being the most experienced player in their line up. The rest of the squad was made up from youth team players and six under sixteen’s. Against a Bury team that contained five first team players, they would need a miracle if they were to maintain the five game unbeaten run built up in recent weeks.

Chester starting with a 4-4-2 formation, got of to a decent start in the very 1st minute, when Gregory was put through 1-on-1. However, Grundy in the Bury goal quickly snubbed out any danger, and despite this early chance, they only ever threatened Grundy’s goal on two more occasions in the 59th and 62nd minute.

Starting off with a strong wind behind them Chester failed dismally in their game plan, and continually over-hit the ball, resulting in kicking practice for Grundy. The words ‘teeth’ and ‘pulled’ would be an understatement. However, more disbelieving was the fact that it took Bury a good twenty minutes to get going!

Having spent the opening 20 minutes with matchsticks propping up my eyelids, Nicky Adams brought the game to life when starting of in his own half, he ghosted past Newton, Gregory and Scales where he then slipped the ball to Tipton, whose shot was deflected behind for a corner. From the corner, Adams set the ball back to Parrish on the right wing, and his cross to the back of the box was headed down to the feet of Tipton who smashed the ball home to make it 1-0.

From the restart, Chester continued to just punt the ball long, and time after time the ball just went out for a goal kick. Chester were so poor that it took them until ten minutes from the half to play some decent stuff, when Rutherford instigated a spell of short passing that resulting in the ball falling to Cadwallader who had wondered offside. And, so it was, that the half just dwindled away, and spectators alike where left wandering what the second half would bring?

Unfortunately, in regards to football, the crowd of 25 where left wondering just why they had even bothered! The first chance went to Bury after five minutes, when they got a free kick in a central position. Having lined up his wall, Brookfield made a comfortable save down to his left. From the clearance, the ball was worked up field and across the Bury penalty area resulting in Wade’s shot going wide of Grundy’s goal.
Just before the hour mark, Chester worked a short corner between Newton and Rutherford, with Newton finally crossing the ball towards the far post. With Cadwallader miss kicking, the ball fell to Marsh-Evans whose shot was deflected onto the bar and over.

Shortly after the corner Chester made a tactical change, with Morrin replacing Gregory and Rutherford moving to centre midfield alongside Scales. The effect was immediate, with Morrin playing the ball up the right wing to Holroyd who whipped in a good cross to Cadwallader on the far post. However, just when you where expecting to be celebrating he glanced his header wide of the Bury goal. It was a golden opportunity that should have ended up in the back of the net! Nonetheless, worse was to come, when in a moment of recklessness, Scales got himself sent off for a sickening challenge on his opposite number, Buchanan.

With Kelly and Buchanan challenging for the ball, both players went to ground and with Buchanan prostrate on the ground Scales stormed in with a two- footed challenge stamping down onto Buchanan’s leg. Thankfully, due to the rapid intervention of referee Hodgson Scales was quickly segregated from the irate Bury players, and was immediately dismissed from the field of play. After some lengthy treatment Buchanan returned to the fold, but was withdrawn a couple of minutes later, unable to continue.

Being a player short, Chester adopted a 3-4-2 formation with Wade now moving into centre midfield. However, up against an experienced team and one player light Chester struggled for the remaining 26 minutes, and Bury failed to increase their lead on at least three occasions, with Brookfield denying Seddon on two occasions in the 77th and 79th minute.

All in all, this was a dismal performance by both teams, Bury failing to take the upper hand against a much younger and less experienced Chester team. The thought of the day was with ‘Big Si’ and one wonders, whether or not he won his battle with his better half, and if so was it really worth all the hassle?
Wednesday 12 April
Chester City 2 Wrexham 1
League Two
Attendance: 4,801 Half Time 0-0
Booked: Albrighton, Regan, Hesey.

Chester City: MacKenzie, Artell, McNiven, Albrighton, Curtis, Drummond, Blundell (Regan 70), Davies, Hessey (El Kholti 85), Edwards (Tait 90), Asamoah. Subs not used: Harrison, Vaughan.
Wrexham: Ingham, Pejic, D.Williams, Lawrence, Spender (Walters 78), Crowell (S.Williams 83), Ferguson, M.Jones, Holt, Derbyshire, McEvilly. Subs not used: M.Jones, A.Smith, M.Williams.
Referee: S.Mathieson (Stockport).

Second half goals from Ben Davies and Derek Asamoah gave Chester a first League win over their arch rivals for 20 years and lifted City three more points clear of the relegation zone. For the first time this season the Blues notched a fourth successive victory and the run couldn’t have come at a more crucial time.

Kicking towards their own fans City started well. Jake Edwards set up Gregg Blundell who forced a corner in the opening minutes, though referee Scott Mathieson blew for a push by David Artell from the resulting Davies flag-kick.

The visitors created their first real chance of the night on ten minutes as Spender broke down the right and pulled a cross back for Matt Derbyshire who was inches away from connecting with it at the back post.

Stewart Drummond did well to head away a Darren Ferguson corner from the near post, the midfielder was called upon to do the same again ten minutes later.

Midway through the half Edwards had a glorious opportunity to open the scoring but the ex-Wrexham striker dragged his shot wide from 18 yards after good approach work from Blundell.

City were looking to set Asamoah away at every opportunity and the pacy forward made two quick-fire breakaways but Shaun Pejic matched him for pace and cleared the danger on both occasions.

With the atmosphere highly charged it came as no surprise when on the stroke of half-time Mark Albrighton and Dennis Lawrence found themselves in the referee’s notebook after an off the ball clash.

Eight minutes after the restart the Blues were head in controversial circumstances. Blundell racing through on the right following an Asamoah through ball, appeared to have his heels clipped by Danny Williams racing back. The referee pointed to the spot and Davies stepped up to smash the ball into the top left giving ‘keeper Ingram no chance.

Ingram was called into the action ten minutes later when he produced a great one handed save low down to deny Asamoah who had pounced on a stray pass. That save looked to be crucial as just sixty seconds later the scores were level.

Ferguson crossed from the left and Lee McEvilly lost his marker at the back post to head the ball down and past Chris MacKenzie.

Manager Mark Wright reshuffled the pack and introduced Carl Regan for Blundell. Two minutes later Regan found himself in the notebook following a robust challenge on Andrew Holt.

With the game swinging from end to end the Blues scored a second, and decisive goal, on 75 minutes. Stewart Drummond, who had an excellent game throughout, intercepted a mis-placed pass from Matt Crowell. He looked up and played an inch perfect ball for Asamoah to run on to. The striker bore down on goal ahead of two chasing defenders, as Ingram came out to narrow the angle he slipped the ball under him into the far corner with a clinical finish in front of the massed travelling support.

Wrexham made two changes in an effort to keep alive their play-off aspirations but the City back line, with Albrighton outstanding, held firm for the remainder of the match to record a historic win and more importantly, three vital points.

Pictures by David Jones.

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Saturday 8 April
Oxford United 0 Chester City 1
League Two
Attendance: 5,754 Half Time 0-1
Booked: Regan, Albrighton.

Oxford United: Guatelli, Mansell, Willmott, Dempster, Robinson, Quinn, Smith (Horsted 45), Hargreaves, Burgess, Sabin (Sills 78), Basham (N’Toya 45). Subs not used: Turley, Roget.
Chester City: MacKenzie, McNiven, Artell, Hessey, Regan, Albrighton, Drummond, Davies, Asamoah, Blundell (Curtis 67), Edwards (Tait 83). Subs not used: Harrison, S.Vaughan, Dimech.
Referee: T.Probert (Gloucestershire).

Derek Asamoah kept up his inspired run of goalscoring with the only goal of the game to secure three precious points against another of the division’s strugglers Oxford United in front of 421 traveling fans at the impressive Kassam Stadium.

Indeed, such was City’s dominance in a game made difficult by a swirling wind, that goalkeeper Chris MacKenzie hardly had to make a save all afternoon.

With the exception of Torquay United all the other sides near the bottom picked up points on Saturday, so tight is the division that this win lifted the Blues to 18th position as it looks certain that over 50 points will be needed to avoid the drop to the Nationwide Conference.

Once again there was no sign of former captain Michael Branch, as man-of-the-moment Asamoah lined up with Jake Edwards in City’s attack while Tom Curtis, now recovered from injury took a place on the bench.

The Blues thought they’d taken the lead on 14 minutes. Ben Davies took a corner that found David Artell at the back post his effort appeared to be well over the line before home ‘keeper Guatelli clawed the ball back, City turned away in celebration only for referee Probert to wave play-on after the linesman West refused to flag.

Four minutes later though the Blues did open the scoring. Edwards knocked the ball down following a Hessey free kick into the path of Asamoah, the striker looked to be offside but without hesitation turned and slid the ball home at the far post for this sixth goal in three matches.

Stewart Drummond headed over the bar as City, kicking into the wind, looked comfortable. With Hessey, Artell and ex-United player Scott Mcniven in control at the back chances were few and far between for the home side.

On a rare home attack Chris Hargreaves, who had been booked minutes earlier, headed wide and two minutes before the break MacKenzie was called into action to save a header from John Dempster.

Home manager Jim Smith made a double substitution at the break but If anyone looked like scoring after the restart it was City. Just three minutes in, Asamoah chased down some hesitant defending by Dempster to rush though on goal. He draw Guatelli and slipped an angled shot past him but agonisingly a foot wide of the far post.

Edwards, holding the ball up well, shot wide and Gregg Blundell almost got onto the end of a teasing cross as City pressed for a second.

Manager Wright replaced Blundell with Curtis and seven minutes from time Edwards left to a standing ovation to be replaced with Paul Tait.

During the final minutes the home side pressed in vain. Burgess saw an effort to straight into the hands of the underworked MacKenzie while two other home efforts sailed his and wide into the wind and City saw the game out for three well deserved points.

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Wednesday 5 April
Chester City Reserves 1 Carlisle United Reserves 0
Pontins Holiday League
Attendance: 22 Half Time 0-0
Booked: S.Vaughan.

Chester City: Harrison, Wade, Potter (Kelly 87), Cadwallader, Marsh-Evans, Dimech, S. Vaughan, Rutherford, Roberts, Holroyd, Newton. Subs not used: Brookfield, N.Humphreys, Philip Clarke, Kris Jones.
Carlisle United: Williams, Combe, Blake (Hoban 79), Joyce, Kirkup, Grand, Ferris (Vipond 61), McGill, Murray, Rivers, Hackney. Subs not used: Hardman, Baker, Bradley.
Referee: R. Fletcher.

This being their second game in three days, City rode their luck at times with the woodwork coming to their rescue on three occasions. Starting with a 3-4-3 formation, it soon became apparent that they missed the height of Tait up front, with Cadwallader being the main target man. In fairness, he was up against two big central defenders and at times he found it nigh impossible to hold the ball up for the likes of 19-year-old Holroyd and 18-year-old Rutherford playing along side him.

Despite a promising start that saw a couple of half chances go wide and over, it was Carlisle who had the first real opportunity in the 5th minute. With Marsh-Evans conceding a free kick, the ball was curled in from the right wing, where it fell to Murray on the edge of the six-yard box. Keeping it low he placed it with precision towards Harrison’s bottom right corner, but Harrison produced a fine save, palming the ball only back towards him. With a scramble occurring in the six-yard box, Harrison and Dimech blocked the follow up, and the ball went behind for a corner.

From that moment on the game turned into a dour affair, with neither team taking the initiative. Albeit Chester at times squandered possession rather cheaply, Carlisle lacked that killer instinct and failed to capitalise. One such incident came in the 20th minute when Holroyd, then Marsh-Evans made schoolboy errors in their own half, only for the opposition to squander the chance.

After half an hour it was obvious that the weary legs of Chester where making hard work of it, the front three failing to win anything in the air from the long balls out of defence, and Vaughan and Wade getting overran in the middle of the park; and for the remaining quarter of an hour Carlisle had the better of the play. With twelve minutes remaining in the first half, Hackney broke free on the left wing and glided past Potter and Roberts with ease. His cross being too deep was headed back into the middle of the six-yard box, where Rivers headed the ball goal-bound, Harrison again producing a fine save to his right. After the ball bobbled around for a few seconds it was hooked away up field by Rutherford, to Holroyd who ran into trouble. In dispossessing him, Joyce drove through the middle of the park, until Roberts tackled him just outside the area. With the ball squirming away, it fell kind for Murray, whose resulting shot cannoned of the crossbar.

With Chester now on the defensive, Carlisle started to turn the screw and where unlucky not to go ahead in injury time, when a corner from the right hand side landed inside the six-yard box, where it hit Murray on the hip and fell straight into the welcoming arms of Harrison.

Due to the somewhat lack lustre performance of the first half, it was evident that the Blues would have to make changes, and so it came as no surprise to see Rutherford move to centre mid along side Vaughan and Wade, now playing a 3-5-2 formation. Despite the change, Carlisle, for a short while carried on where they had left off, and went close two minutes into the half. From the Harrison goal kick, the ball was intercepted and eventually played to Hackney, who then found himself one-on-one with Harrison. Having seen his first shot saved, he then hit the side netting with his follow up. If anything this served as a wake up call for the weary looking home side, and in the 49th minute after some good possession play and short sharp passing, they managed to force a corner.

Now feeling a little more confident Chester started to get into the game and five minutes later Holroyd made good progress on the left wing, unfortunately on breaking into the penalty area he lost his footing and the resulting danger was cleared effectively up field to Joyce, where his long range effort produce a finger tip save from Harrison. From the resulting corner, Carlisle looked to have broken the deadlock, however, referee Fletcher deemed that Dimech had cleared the ball off the line, and not from behind it.

With Rutherford now bolstering up the middle of the park, Chester where able to enjoy a good spell of possession, which took the sting out of visitors’ game plan and for the next ten minutes or so Chester played some good football, with chances falling to Holroyd, and Cadwallader. Nevertheless, if Chester thought they had weathered the storm, Carlisle reminded them of the dangers of becoming complacent, when Murray’s shot rattled of the crossbar in the 70th minute. If anything, this let off seemed to give the home side a lift, and after some good passing, Rutherford produced some delightful footwork out on the left wing culminating in his cross being whipped in across the face of the six-yard box, where Cadwallader headed home from point blank range.

The goal was like a kick in the proverbial(s) for Carlisle, and it was them, who now resorted to kicking the ball long and aimlessly. From one such ball, Harrison kicked the ball long up field, where Rutherford took it in full flight on his chest, unfortunately his reverse pass intended for Cadwallader was intercepted and the ball was put out for a throw-in on the left wing. From the throw-in Sean Newton delivered a wonderful ball into the penalty area, where an unmarked Holroyd headed agonisingly wide.

In the 87th minute Chester nearly doubled their lead, when Rutherford forced an error out of goalkeeper Williams and centre half Grand. However, Rutherford’s left footer was blocked by a combination of both players. Shortly afterwards Vaughan had a free kick go narrowly wide.

Overall, this was a tenacious performance by Jim Hackett’s team, and when the ‘Chips’ where down they dug in and weathered the storm. With obstinate performances all around, the unbeaten run is extended to five games.
Monday 3 April
Chester City Reserves 2 Wrexham Reserves 1
Pontins Holiday League
Attendance: 96 Half Time 1-0
Booked: S.Vaughan.

Chester City: Harrison, Wade, Potter (Newton 81), Dimech, Cadwallader, Marsh-Evans, S.Vaughan, Scales (Roberts 88), Tait, Rutherford, Holroyd. Subs not used: Brookfield, Kelly, N.Humphreys.
Wrexham: Jones, G.Evans, Williams, Bayliss, C.Evans (Roche 81), Mackin, Gray (Flemming 81), Smith, McEvilly, Williams, Done. Subs not used: Edwards, Taylor, Braisdell.
Referee: M.Matadar.

With Saturday’s game, and Asamoah’s winner still fresh in everyone’s memory, there was an air of anticipation around the SHS last night, and those present witnessed a magnificent strike from James Scales that clinched all three points for Chester.

Chester started the game with a 3-4-3 formation, consisting of a back three of Cadwallader, Dimech and Marsh-Evans and a front three of Rutherford, Tait and Holroyd.

The game got off to a bright start, with both teams looking to take the initiative, and in fairness, Wrexham looked the more dangerous, with Evans at centre-mid spreading the ball freely out to Done on the left, and Gray on the right, both players putting in decent crosses that came to nothing. In realising that Wrexham where orchestrating the play in midfield, the shout came from MW in the stands for Jim Hackett to change the system, so in the 13th minute Rutherford was pulled back into midfield to do a man-to-man marking job on Evans. Although Rutherford’s usual style of play suffered because of this, the danger in midfield was cancelled out and Chester soon started to get a grip of things. With Wrexham’s build up play now stubbed out, they resorted to long balls, and the dominance of Dimech, Marsh-Evans and Cadwallader quickly extinguished any aerial threat.

With Chester now on top, and passing the ball with good effect it wasn’t long before they had their first real chance, which came in the 21st minute, unfortunately Holroyd was adjudged to be offside and his effort was cancelled out. In a spell of good pressure, Wrexham started to concede silly free kicks, and in particular singled out Potter who was causing problems on the left flank with some good crosses. On the 26 minute mark, Wade headed one such cross into the arms of Jones, and with a poor clearance up field Wade cut the ball back to Rutherford on the right angle of the penalty area, where his cross/shot went narrowly over.

The good spell continued for Chester, with Vaughan delivering some menacing long passes and dead-balls that caused some concern for Wrexham, and equally Holroyd done well in the 33rd minute when he turned inside the area and crossed the ball into the six yard box, where Jones flapped at it, only managing to smother the ball at the second time of asking.

With Chester in full control it wouldn’t be long before they took the lead, and with Potter the victim of yet another foul, Vaughan delivered a wonderful ball from the left flank into the far post, where it was met by Cadwallader who volleyed the ball past Jones with the instep of his right foot.

With Chester continuing to dominate, they had two more half chances before the break, one from a Tait header down to Holroyd, whose effort was snubbed out on the edge of the area, and the other when Rutherford flicked on Harrison’s goal kick into the path of Holroyd, whose shot went wide.

It was inevitable that the Dragons would come out after the break with fire in their bellies, and they started the half of well with a corner in the first minute and some early half chances going over and wide. Such was the pressure that Scales gave away a silly free kick in the 55th minute, more amazingly however, was the fact he wasn’t reprimanded for his two-footed challenge. Nonetheless, Chester where caught knapping when the ball was delivered into the penalty area from some thirty yards out, dropping by the penalty spot, Marsh-Evans, ball-watching, let the ball run past him and into the path of McEvilly who drilled the ball into Harrison’s bottom right hand corner. With Wrexham now on a high they continued with their good spell for another five minutes, and went close on a couple of occasions. However, the killer blow was just around the corner.

On the hour mark, Chester got a throw-in on the left wing, which Potter delivered to Tait, who in turn squared the ball out to Rutherford on the left touchline. Jinking past two challenges, he nipped infield and squared the ball into the path of Scales, who from twenty-five yards out, unleashed a first time shot straight into the keeper’s top left hand corner.

Although there was still half an hour left to play, Wrexham looked well and truly beaten, Scales’ body blow had left them seriously winded, and if there were a towel to be had, it would have been thrown in! From that moment on it was all Chester, and it didn’t go unnoticed that Wrexham had three players cautioned in quick succession, in the 61st, 63rd, and 69th minute. With Chester now a constant threat, Wrexham where lucky not to have their right back, Evans sent off in the 77th minute when he deliberately scythed down Rutherford with a malicious foul. Having latched onto a wonderful through ball by Vaughan, Rutherford flicked it past Evans, and was clean through when Evans deliberately took him out in full flight. Miraculously, Evans escaped without any kind of punishment! A few minutes later, and Chester went close to adding to their tally, with Holroyd and Rutherford coming close to finding the mark.

In the last ten minutes, Wrexham had a couple of attacks that came to nothing, with Done providing a couple of crosses and Roche heading over on one occasion. Being over-committed in the dying minutes they nearly came unstuck, when Tait laid the ball back to Scales, whose curling effort was saved by Jones.

With their recent run of results, the reserves look to have turned a corner, and having not won a game before his appointment, Jim Hackett’s ‘Mean Machine’ now remain unbeaten in their last four games.
Saturday 1 April
Chester City 2 Macclesfield Town 1
League Two
Attendance: 2,939 Half Time 0-0
Booked: Davies, Asamoah.

Chester City: MacKenzie, McNiven, Albrighton, Artell, Regan, Hessey, Asamoah, Drummond, Davies, Edwards, Blundell (Rutherford 85). Subs not used: Harrison, S.Vaughan, Dimech, Tait.
Macclesfield Town: Lee, Teague, Morley (Townson 59), Swailes, Brightwell, Sandwith, Harsley, Navarro, Whitaker, McIntyre, McNeil. Subs not used: Fettis, Miles, Briscoe, Smart.
Referee: D.Drysdale (Lincolnshire).

Midweek hero Derek Asamoah struck again for the second game running to score two vital goals to help City to a second win in four days and help ease their relegation worries.

Manager Mark Wright made just one change from the side that won in on Wednesday at Boston United bringing in Gregg Blundell for Abdel El Kholti as his City side looked for their first back-to-back wins for four months.

With the game starting in windy conditions at the Deva both sides found it difficult to get going early on. Chris MacKenzie was called into action coming out to catch a Paul Harsley cross while at the other end Asamoah had the first shot on target that Tommy Lee in the visitors goal dealt with on eight minutes. The in-form striker was soon again in the action, controlling Sean Hessey’s cross before turning and shooting just wide of the right hand post.

As City pressed Ben Davies tried a shot from 20 yards that flew over the bar and the midfielder saw an inswinging corner cleared by the Macc defence after Asamoah had his crossed blocked for a flag-kick.

The Blues earned a free-kick after former defender Kevin McIntyre fouled Stewart Drummond but City were unable to take advantage.

At the other end the Silkmen saw their first shot on goal as MacKenzie was well positioned to hold a long range effort from Alan Navaro.

Asamoah’s probing runs were causing all sorts of problems in the Macc defence. Jake Edwards dragged a shot wide and Drummond almost gave the Blues a half time lead but he headed wide from 12 yards in first-half added-on time.

Five minutes after the break City took a deserved lead as Blundell knocked down Hessey’s cross for Asamoah to tuck the ball away from six yards. The Blues almost added a second as Davies’ near post corner his the woodwork, and Edwards should have hit the target after being put through by Drummond.

Fifteen minutes from time the visitors drew level as substitute Kevin Townson, left unmarked at the back post, stooped to head home a Matty McNeil left wing cross from close in.

City responded and Edwards volleyed wide following a Davies corner, and Davies and Hessey saw late efforts saved by the overworked Lee.

As the game draw to a close Navarro shot over the bar from long range and that looked to be the last action of the afternoon.

With the game deep into injury time however, and City pushing up for one last effort, Asamoah picked the ball up on the edge of the box, with his back to goal he turned and curled a great effort into the top corner past the stranded lee to send the home fans wild behind the goal.

Pictures: David Jones.

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