United (A) | Lincoln
City (H) | Wycombe
Wanderers (A) | Shrewsbury
Town (A) | Stockport
County (H) | Macclesfield
3 May Chester City 0 Macclesfield
Attendance: 2,396 (511 Macclesfield) Half Time 0-0
Chester City: Danby, J.Vaughan, Kelly, Linwood (Roberts 45), Sandwith,
Partridge (Rule 72), Hughes, Grant, Rutherford (Mitchell 55), Murphy, McManus.
Subs not used: Palethorpe, Wilson. Macclesfield Town: Brain, Teague, Walker, Dimech, Reid, Reid
(Edghill 73), Tolley, Ashton, Green (Evans 63), Rooney, Gritton (Blackman 63).
Subs not used: Thomas, Creswell. Referee: John Moss (Leeds).
2007/8 season ended with a dismal game that matched
City’s final League Two placing, a sorry third
from bottom and with the worst home performance of
any side in the division.
It was really hard not to drift
off in this match, as thoughts turned to the summer
ahead, while both sides failed to impress and could
only muster a 0-0 scoreline.
City fans could at least relax
because there were finally no looming relegation
fears, but the crowd did little to add to the atmosphere
Chester’s best first half
chance came inside the first 10 minutes with a
well-timed John Murphy pass to Richie Partridge.
The Irishman only had the goalkeeper to beat, but
his shot sailed over the bar.
Soon after, Macclesfield had
a near-miss when 17-year-old John Rooney, brother
of Wayne, saw a thunderous strike hit the crossbar
and ricochet out. It was enough to make several
of the more boisterous 511 Macclesfield fans strip
off to their waists!
Other than a Murphy header which
went reasonably close in the dying spell of the
first half, there was little first half action
The second half saw City running
out without captain and newly-crowned player-of-the-season
Paul Linwood. He was replaced by Kevin Roberts.
The final 45 minutes was very
much like the first. Paul Rutherford and Paul McManus
both made threatening runs into the box, but neither
went near the target. McManus was later named man-of-the-match,
with Shaun Kelly also putting in a creditable performance.
As both managers gave some of
their fringe players a run-out as substitutes,
including Andy Mitchell making his home debut for City,
it seemed less likely a goal would be coming from
The announcement of four minutes’ injury
time bought one of the biggest ‘oooohs’ of
the day from the home crowd. But referee John Moss
did us all a favour and called time on the season
about 90 seconds later.
There followed a lap of
the ground by the players, but no-one – either
on or off the pitch – could really generate
any enthusiasm and I can’t be the only
one glad to see the back of the 2007/8 season.
Now, when are the fixtures out?
was a night of high drama and high blood pressure’s
at Deva Stadium as City dug in deep to
glean the solitary point required to maintain their
Football League status for another twelve months.
The relief on the faces of players and fans at the
final whistle told their own story as City, who almost
topped the table in October, scraped the point that
saved their skins but relegated Mansfield Town in
the process. The Stags will join rivals Wrexham in
the Blue Square Premier next season.
This was a real team effort but at either end of the pitch two players stood
out. In goal John Danby made a series of fine saves to deny the Hatters while
at the other end John Murphy won almost everything in the air and ran himself
into the ground for the cause.
City had to do without Kevin Ellison who picked up an injury at Shrewsbury on
Saturday and was replaced in the starting X1 by Mark Hughes. The Blues showed
no signs of nerves at the start and had the better if the opening exchanges.
Kevin Sandwith tried his luck from long range early on only to see his effort
sail over the bar. Conrad Logan in the visitors goal then had to deal with Hughes
header and from a poor back pass hit a wayward clearance against the onrushing
Murphy that deflected wide of goal.
County manager Jim Gannon was forced to replace top scorer Liam Dickinson with
Anthony Proudlock and would have to make two more changes before the opening
period was over.
The visitors failed to create anything of note and City faired slightly better
as Hughes stooped to head over after Murphy had knocked down Laurence Wilson’s
back post cross five minutes before the interval.
In first half stoppage time, Wilson slipped and miscontrolled a ball on halfway
and while he was on the ground ex-City player Ryan Lowe lunged in with a two-footed
tackle that warrented a straight red card. Referee Woolmer produced a yellow
but Gannon has seen enough and immediately withdrew Lowe.
The second half began with Paul McManus producing a fine save from Logan after
just 30 seconds as the young striker latched onto a pass 12 yards out after good
That attempt appeared to shake the visitors up as they exerted themselves on
the game and proceeded to carve out a few openings. Gary Dicker headed over from
a good position as the City defence failed to cut out the cross from a free-kick.
Twice Pilkington put Proudlock through on goal but on both occasions Danby came
out to save well. There were appeals from the visitors for a penalty after Proudlock
fell under a Paul Linwood challenge but referee Woolmer waved play on.
davies made a double substitution replacing Richie Partridge and McManus with
Tony Grant and Paul Rutherford. As soon as he’d come on Rutherford made
a quick run down the right and forced a corner in front of the home fans. No
sooner had the flag-kick been whipped in it was dispatched to the other end as
County broke quickly and put the overworked City defence under immediate pressure.
Logan still saw action at
the other end though. Following another fine Rutherford
run the Blues were awarded a free-kick on the right
outside the area. James Vaughan swung in the cross
and Murphy met it with a glancing header that the
visiting keeper dived low to his right to save
on the line.
With nine minutes remaining the visitors looked certain to take the lead as
Paul Turnbull’s cross was nodded on by Gleeson to Proudlock who saw his
header from six yards superbly saved one handed by Danby. His reflex save pushed
the ball into the air and he recovered in time to push the ball over as it
dropped down towards the bar.
Danby, named man of the match, made further saves from Gary Dicker and Tommy
Rowe to preserve the precious point.
City were being pushed back in the closing stages as the visitors looked for
a winner. Agonisingly, twice in added time City gave away free-kick’s
on the edge of their own area but on each occasion the ball was scrambled away
before Woolmer blew his whistle to signal the memorable scenes of celebration
Pictures to followSaturday
26 April Shrewsbury Town 0 Chester City
Attendance: 6,417 (816 Chester) Half Time 0-0
Booked: Sandwith, Ellison.
Shrewsbury Town: Bevan, Herd, Kempson, Murdock
(Leslie 63), Tierney, Humphrey, Moss (Hall 55), McIntyre,
Davies, Hibbert (Constable 63), Madjo. Subs not used:
Garner, Pugh. Chester City: Danby, J.Vaughan, Kelly,
Linwood, Wilson, Partridge, Sandwith, Roberts, Ellison
(Rutherford 39), Murphy, McManus (Hughes 81). Subs not
used: Palethorpe, Grant, Rule. Referee: Rob Styles (Hampshire).
got to be honest and admit that this 0-0 scoreline reflected
just what the game was – a bore draw, played out
by two teams who both seemed almost incapable of finding
It would have been a fine performance
at this stage of the season, had it not been for the
Blues needing a win to help make League Two survival
a near certainty.
I’ll kick off with my biggest
impression of the day – and that was the fine
job that Shrewsbury have made of their new ground.
Perhaps the April sunshine made it look even better,
but it was certainly a stadium of which they can be
My second thought was that it was great to see an excellent turnout of Chester
fans, with more than 800 in the away end, doing their part to remind the Blues
that a win was vital.
However, City did little to show
that they were playing for three points. They started
brightly enough, with Paul McManus running at the Shrewsbury
defenders and having a shot in the opening spell.
Shrewsbury were captained by Ben Davies and everyone knew when he had the ball,
as he was roundly booed by the Chester end. Both Davies and Kevin McIntyre,
one of three ex-Blues in the Shrewsbury line-up, were able to get in some decent
first half crosses.
The closest they came to scoring
in the first 45 minutes was when a Chris Humphrey strike
was cleared off the line by well-placed Laurence Wilson.
There was little else to report from the first half, apart from Premiership
referee Rob Styles booking Kevin Ellison for dissent after he appealed for
Shrewsbury missed a good chance to
go ahead in the early stages of the second half when
a good Humphrey cross was just missed by both Dave
Hibbert and Guy Madjo.
Paul Rutherford had replaced Ellison
on the 39th minute, but he made little impression on
the game. Chester had a half chance with a John Murphy
pass to Richie Partridge, but the Shrewsbury defence
dealt with the threat easily enough. McManus also looked
dangerous when he skipped past a couple of midfielders,
but he was stopped before he could pass a threatening
The best goalscoring chance of the
day came when a Shrewsbury cross was met by an unmarked
Madjo, but his header went over the bar.
So it was a very uninspiring
first visit to Shrewsbury’s smart new ground.
As the tannoy announcer read out the other results
when we filtered away past the police cordon, City
fans realised that the point the team had earned
was not enough to guarantee them a re-visit next
season. I’d certainly like to go there again,
and I hope the players feel the same.
Wycombe finished with all the spoils – a guaranteed
spot in the play-offs – after a 1-0 scoreline at
Adams Park left Chester seeking another point or two to
secure League football next season.
It was not for want of trying on City’s
part, as a side fielding yet more youngsters put
battling display, but failed to make the most of
the chances they had.
The first half was
an undramatic one, with most action coming from around
11 corners, none of which led to any serious goal-scoring
opportunities for either side.
Wycombe’s stocky on-loan player,
Delroy Facey, made for a threatening combination with
26-goal Scott McGleish. But the Chester defence, especially
Sean Kelly, were a match for them throughout the first
The closest Wycombe came to scoring
was when a daisy-cutting cross raked in front of goal.
It struck a City player on the way and could have gone
anywhere, but went out for a corner.
Chester’s best chance of the
first half came when John Murphy ran into the box, but
was tackled by a Wycombe defender. Kevin Roberts and
Paul Rutherford also had shots which missed the target.
City had two glorious chances in the
second half. The first came not long after the re-start
when a Murphy pass found Paul McManus clear on goal.
He hastily tried to shoot over the ‘keeper, but
blazed over the bar.
Wycombe were coming more into the
game and a great volley from Stefan Oakes (somehow ignoring
the City fans taunting him with: “Showaddywaddy
were cr*p”) was cleared off the line by Laurence
Chris Holroyd replaced McManus on
the 68th minute and soon after the City fans, sitting
in the corner of the BCUC stand normally reserved for
home fans because the usual away stand was given over
to a handful of Celtic supporters, were disappointed
to see a Kevin Sandwidth corner go straight out of play
without a chance of hitting a Chester head.
The impetus then seemed to switch
to the Chairboys and they scored on the 76th minute
after a free-kick found a free head, and the ball came
to that man McGleish, who hit the ball home.
City didn’t give up though,
with their second great chance of the half coming on
the 85th minute. A Chris Holroyd free-kick found Roberts
clear about three yards from goal. He somehow shot over
the bar and lay dejected on his back across the goal-line
with his hands on his head.
Chester had yet another corner,
but it proved to be no threat. There were two minutes
of injury time, but City could do nothing to conjure
up an equaliser. With just 270 minutes of football left
this season, they’ll have to find the net sometime
suffered their 13th home defeat of the season after failing to capitalise on
numerous chances created through the 90 minutes. Once again injuries forced a
reshuffle of the squad with Paul Butler and Richie Partridge missing through
injury, with youngsters Shaun Kelly and Paul McManus deputising.
The Blues were given a dream start, the game was only four minutes old when they
were awarded a penalty after Imps ‘keeper Alan Marriott had brought down
John Murphy in the box. Kevin Ellison, who scored from the spot last weekend,
stepped up but hit a weak effort down the middle that was comfortably saved.
Chester continued to have the better of the opening exchanges and Paul Linwood
and Mark Hughes both brought out saves from Marriott. Soon after Hughes missed
a great opportunity to open the scoring after being set up by Ellison.
On 16 minutes Marriott had to leave the field with a hamstring problem to be
replaced by Ayden Duffy, four minutes later he was picking the ball out of the
net. Paul Rutherford broke down the right and crossed for McManus to lift the
ball past Duffy for his first goal for the club.
City’s joy was short lived however, a minute later the scores were level.
Dany N’Guessan found Jamie Forrester and he shot home from six yards out.
Two minutes later Forrester was on the mark again to
take advantage of some poor defending as the steered
the ball past Danby following a precise Ben Wright
cross. Danby, making his 100th appearance for City,
did well to save from Louis Dodds to keep the deficit
Ellison forced a save from Duffy and Hughes saw an effort slip wide as City finished
the half strongly.
The Blues introduced James Vaughan for Kelly following the interval.
On 69 minutes the visitors were reduced to ten men as N’Guessan was sent
off for a second yellow card after a foul on Laurence Wilson. City continued
to press but couldn’t convert their chances into goals.
Glenn Rule replaced Rutherford before both Ellison and Paul Roberts missed chances
to equalise. Twelve minutes from time Roberts saw a shot crash off the bar from
close range. In the latter stages the Blues continued to be wasteful in from
the of goal. Ellison, Paul Linwood and Murphy were all guilty of misses, Murphy’s
being cleared off the line, as the Imps held out and City were left to rue all
those missed chances.
been a long while coming for this exiled football fan – but,
at last, a Chester match that I enjoyed and won’t
want to forget in a hurry.
This valiant 2-2 draw was witnessed
by just 190 travelling fans, a far cry from Edgar Street
encounters of recent seasons. But they were treated
to a second half display to match the drama of those
The first half was not so enthralling
from a Chester perspective, but offered reasonable
entertainment value. City started with Kevin Roberts
filling in at right-back and within moments of the
kick-off he made his presence fault with a foul on
The free kick was wasted, but Hereford
were soon pressing forward – with their strikers
running very close to offside. The first 20 minutes
saw most of attacking action coming from the Bulls,
and Paul Linwood was in the right place to block a
goalbound effort from Ben Smith.
Chester did have a couple of chances,
with Wayne Brown doing well to hold onto a Richie Partridge
strike and John Murphy somehow blazing the ball over
the crossbar when he had a one-on-one chance to make
But the first goal went to Hereford
after some ‘head tennis’ around the box,
when the ball came out to Smith, who ran past his marker
to score well past John Danby.
There was a suggestion of offside
about the goal and some of the City fans made their
feelings known to the linesman. He was under fire again
10 minutes later when Gary Hooper ran onto a through
ball, when there seemed to be at least one Hereford
player in an offside position. Hooper took his chance
well and it remained 2-0 to Hereford when referee Phil
Joslin blew for half-time ten minutes later.
Chester emerged for the second half
with Paul Butler replaced, through injury, by Shaun
Kelly. Paul McManus had already replaced Partridge
on the 41st minute.
City seemed more determined from
the start, with Kevin Sandwidth having a shot on target,
which had to be tipped over by Brown. Kevin Ellison
was showing more aggression and was booked on the 50th
minute – ensuring he was roundly booed throughout
the rest of the game by the Hereford faithful.
Young McManus was given a tough time
by the beefier Bulls defenders, but he had a decent
shot blocked. Soon after, Paul Rutherford had a strike
held by Brown.
Chester were very much on the attack,
with even Sandwidth pushing forward. It was just as
well, as the ball came to him on the 67th minute and
he curled a perfect 25-yard shot into the left-hand
corner. The fightback was on!
As Chester drove forward, they were
caught at the back again by Hooper. But Danby made
an excellent stop to keep the score at 2-1 and the
attention soon switched to the other end.
Chester won a corner in the final
three minutes of stoppage time. Murphy almost equalised
when his header struck the crossbar. But when the ball
went back into the box there was a handball by Richard
Rose and the referee gave City a penalty.
Brown did his best to put Ellison
off his spot-kick. But it was to no avail and ‘Super
Kev’ blasted it perfectly to give the Blues a
precious, and deserved, point.
I’ve a feeling we’ll
be back at Edgar Street again next season, and I’m
looking forward to another classic encounter already.
I’m not usually let down.