Saturday 24 April 1999
Chester City 2 Halifax Town 2
Chester City: Cutler, Davidson
(Reid 63), Cross, Richardson, Crosby, Woods, Flitcroft, Priest,
Murphy, Beckett, Fisher (A.Shelton 75). Sub not used: Moss.
Halifax Town: Martin, Thackeray, Bradshaw, Sertori,
Brown, Stoneman, Newton, Hulme, Jackson (Paterson 55), Lucas,
Butler (Hanson 80). Sub not used: Murphy.
Referee: L.Cable (Woking).
truth this was a game City could have, and should have, won but
the point at least ensures another season of Football League football
(takeover permitting of course).
After Neil Fisher and the impressive Luke Beckett
had shots on goal, the Blues took the lead on 21 minutes when a
quality diagonal pass from Ross Davidson picked out Jon Cross down
the left. He centered for the unmarked Priest to give Town keeper
Lee Martin no chance. City continued to have the bulk of the possession
without troubling the keeper though.
Jackson wasted a great chance for the visitors,
shooting high over the bar but they drew level on the stroke of
half-time as Chris Newton unleashed a shot from 25 yards which
seemed to go under Neil Cutler's outstretched arms.
The second half started slowly with most of the
play contained in midfield. Shaun Reid replaced the injured Ross
Davidson on 63 minutes and two minutes later City regained the
lead. John Murphy beat Sertori in an aerial dual and Beckett picked
up the loose ball to fire home with the aid of a deflection. The
City striker was then unlucky with a couple of other chances, and
Dave Flitcroft too had a shot well saved.
The three points seemed to be City's until a
second equaliser with three minutes remaining, Bradshaw shooting
home in spectacular fashion from 35 yards past a helpless Cutler.
Ratcliffe added: "They scored with two
quality strikes but I've seen him (Cutler) save both types of
goal in training. They travelled a long way but I'd have to look
at the video to be fair."
Luke Beckett puts City 2-1 up (pic
Saturday 17 April 1999
Rochdale 3 Chester City 1
Rochdale: Edwards, Farrell,
Bayliss (Barlow 56), Hill, Monington, Lydiate (Painter 60), Carden.
Holt, Morris, Peake, Bryson. Subs not used: Barlow, Hicks.
Chester City: Brown, Davidson, Cross, Richardson,
Crosby, Woods, Flitcroft, Priest, Murphy, Beckett, Moss (Conroy).
Subs not used: Fisher, Reid.
Referee: F.Stretton (Nottingham).
A second half hat-trick from Andy Morris dumped
City to their third successive defeat and brought an angry response
from manager Kevin Ratcliffe.
The Blues were firmly in control in the first
half and took a deserved lead through Luke Beckett on 25 minutes.
Beckett played a neat one-two with Chris Priest and then fired
a low 25-yarder past keeper Edwards. Manager Ratcliffe brought
in youngster Darren Moss and he had an impressive all-round first
After the break Jon Cross had a fierce free kick
tipped round the post by Edwards. Dale then made a double substitution
and were soon level.
Wayne Brown mad a mess of a punched clearance
- more height that length - and striker Morrris hooked the ball
back in over his shoulder. On 78 minutes the striker made it two
when he headed home Andy Barlow's left wing cross. City's capitulation
was complete when Morrris outpaced Andy Crosby, who slipped over
in the process, leaving the striker clear to slot the ball home.
"That's garbage, that for me wasn't
gooe enough. As a manager and a supporter you cannot be happy with
that display in the second half. I wasn't happy with any of their
gaosl, we got sloppy after playing some good stuff in the first half,
maybe we thought we had a divine right to play it again in the second,
but you have got to earn that right." added a frustrated
13 April 1999
Chester City 1 Brentford 3
Chester City: Brown, Davidson,
Cross; Richardson, Crosby, Woods, Flitcroft, Priest, Murphy, Beckett,
Fisher (Conroy 73). Subs not used A Shelton, Moss
Brentford: Woodman, Boxall, Anderson, Hreidarsson,
Powell, Quinn, Scott (Folan 73), Bryan, Owusu, Mahon, Evans.
Subs not used Oatway, Rowlands.
Referee: P Robinson (Hull).
A desperately low attendance on a pleasant but
unseasonably cold night. Only 1,766 and that included about two
hundred from Brentford. Where are the stay away fans and why? Is
it because City have little left to play for this season as the
result at Hartlepool showed or is it because, with still no definite
news of a buy out, the club appears to be going no where.
Well whatever those who stayed away missed
a cracking game. I was completely hoarse by the end.
It was a horrendous start for City who found
themselves two goals down after four minutes. As we were one of
the few games to kick off at 7.30 as opposed to 7.45 - A later
start would have suited City as our players were caught absolutely
cold at 7.32 and 7.34. The defence was absolutely static as Bees
left back Ijah Anderson comleted a one-two into the penalty area
and lifted the ball over a flat-footed Brown into the net. The
dust had hardly settled when Paul Evans (A recent acquisition from
Shrewsbury) spotted Brown on walkabout off his line and drove the
ball into the net from forty yards. In both cases City failed to
close players down. The Bees by contrast were swarming all round
any City player on the ball and gave very little space to play
in all evening.
The visitors should have been three nil up when
Crosby slipped up and let Owusu clean through he finished
wide of the post, however. But Chester fought their way back into
the game and strove for a vital goal back before half time. They
didn't have a clear chance though they won several corners and
turned up the pressure.
After the interval City played some brilliant
football. Priest and Richardson fought really hard in midfield
to wrest control from a strong and pacy but not overly skilful
Brentford. Davidson had an absolute blinder, overlapping powerfully
and never ever shirking a tackle on a night when some fairly hairy
ones flew in.
In one flurry of pressure the ball struck a defender's
arm and Chester won a harsh but legitimate penalty. Crosby was
delayed an age while the referee sorted out a jostling for position
between Priest and two Brentford forwards. But the skipper's nerve
held and he smashed the ball confidently into the back of the net.
Several near misses followed as City battled
for the equaliser their football deserved. Murphy came closest
when he met a Cross cross at the far post which shaved the paint
off the woodwork.
Murphy was lucky to stay on the field when yellow
carded for a wild tackle. Then Evans was booked for an equally
reckless challenge which incensed the home crowd. Brown and a Brentford
forward were also cautioned for a skirmish on the goal line.
Several times Brentford threatened to finish
the game as they broke from defence with speed. They finally achieved
this just before the end when Bryan pounced on a Woods error and
lashed the ball past a defenceless Brown.
It had been an excellent game played at a furious
pace shame that Brentford were 2-0 up before Chester had
mentally left the dressing room.
Time for some trivia:
1. The setting sun caused the llinesman problems in front of the main
stand which prompted him to take drastic action when was the
last time you saw a linesman wearing a cap? (It looked like a Brentford
2. I saw an oyster catcher circling the Deva before the match. Last time
I saw it we had just lost to Scunthorpe. Nice bird bad omen?
3. The first swallow of the season swept up and down under the eaves of
the Sealand End.
Saturday 10 April 1999
Hartlepool United 2 Chester City 0
Hartlepool United: Hollund,
Knowles, Ingram, Barron. Westwood, Hughes, Stokoe, Beardsley, Freestone,
Jones, Clark. Subs not used: Wilcox, Stamp, Bull.
Chester City: Brown, Davidson, Cross, Richardson,
Crosby, Woods, Flitcroft (Wright 74), Priest, Conroy, Beckett,
Fisher (Smeets 54). Sub not used: Lancaster.
Referee: E.Wolstenholme (Blackburn).
After playing so well a few days earlier against
Barnet, City hit rock bottom with this disappointing performance
against the divisions bottom side Hartlepool.
The Blues had two good chances early on. Chris
Priest was guilty of a bad miss following good work by Mike Conroy
and then Conroy himself missed a chance after failing to take advantage
of Ross Davidson's teasing cross. On 21 minutes Priest went close
again with an effort that was cleared off the line by Denny Ingram.
On the half hour it was the turn of the home
side to squander a great chance of the opener. Matt Woods' wayward
back pass left Wayne Brown in trouble and his sliced clearance
fell straight at Chris Freestone 25 yards out, but he volleyed
Soon Hartlepool took the lead. Jon Cross needlessly
conceded a free kick after sliding into Darren Knowles. Ian Clarke's
free kick was missed by Brown and Freestone headed home into an
empty net. Gary Jones added the second on 51 minutes following
Peter Beardsley's through ball.
City were never really in it after that, though
they did have two efforts on goal from sub Smeets and Priest again.
Monday 5 April 1999
Chester City 3 Barnet 0
Chester City: Brown, Davidson,
Cross, Richardson, Crosby, Woods, Flitcroft, Priest, Murphy (Conroy
75), Beckett, Fisher (Smeets 68). Subs not used: Alsford.
Barnet: Harrison, Stockley, Sawyers, Basham
(Hackett 45), Heald, Abber, Onwere, Doolan (Searle 78), Charlerey,
McGleish, Currie. Sub not used: King.
Referee: Andrew Hall (Sutton Coldfield).
A comfortable win for City which had their faithful
fans racking their brains to remember the last time they had a
match sewn up by half time. It certainly hasn't happened this season.
Right from the off Davidson and Flitcroft seemed
to find loads of room over on the right and began to make inroads
into the Barnet defence. The opening goal came from the left however
as Fisher floated a cross to the far post. Murphy challenged for
the ball which popped up inconclusively. The Bees defenders then
stood and admired as Murph planted a follow-up header firmly into
the back of the net.
On half an hour, Beckett broke away on the left
and found Flitcroft, bearing down on goal like an express train,
with his cross. Just as Flicker was about to pull the trigger he
had his legs whipped from under him by Sawyers' despairing tackle.
The referee applied the letter of the law and sent the defender
off (Personally I feel a booking would be more appropriate) and
Crosby compounded Barnet's misery by slamming home the penalty.
Flicker, rightly named man of the match, came
close to scoring a stunning third when he skipped past a defender
and saw his piledriver shot tipped round the post by Lee Harrison.
Now that the Bees had been stung they offered
a bit more threat up front. Brown had to have his wits about him
to save from Charlery and then from Currie (His blond mop redolent
of his famous footballing uncle Tony).
Shortly after half time Beckett killed the game
dead with what is becoming a trademark style goal. He was fed the
ball by Fisher after Barnet's right back had presented it to him
on a plate. Twisting and turning with the ball on the edge of the
box he seemed to have taken too long but then he clipped a curling
shot just inside the post.
The absolute purists might complain that City
didn't go on to fill their boots against ten men but we would all
have settled for this score at three o'clock. We would all have
settled for a midtable position in November/December too with things
looking decidedly dodgy off the pitch.
There can be no more excuses for the mysterious
consortia not to buy the club. "Come out, come out, whoever
Saturday 3 April 1999
Swansea City 1 Chester City 1
Swansea City: Freestone, O'Leary,
Clode, Cusack, Smith, Bound, Roberts (S.Jones 56), Appleby,
Alsop, Watkin (Bird 75), Coates. Subs not used: Lacey.
Chester City: Brown, Davidson, Cross,
Richardson, Crosby, Woods, Flitcroft, Priest, Murphy,
Beckett (Conroy 90), Fisher. Subs not used: Alsford,
Referee: Peter Walton (Long Bucley).
How many Chester City games have you been
to where the kick off has been put back five minutes
to clear a pile of dog muck off the pitch?
Fortunately it wasnt an unlucky omen for what
we were about to receive in this Easter footballing
On came the groundsman with the pooper-scooper and on
came Chester as the party-poopers at a ground where
theyve slipped up more than once in recent years.
And it looked as if The Vetch bogey was about to strike
again as most of the Blues boys looked as if they were
still on the team coach as the match eventually kicked
off four minutes late.
But just as Swansea controlled the first 45 minutes,
the Blues bossed it after the break in what was the
cliche-classic game of two halves.
And manager Kevin Ratcliffe left The Vetch thinking
that his side might have just snatched all three points
after their much-improved second half display.
Thats a sign of how well City did play after the
break. And if they had kicked off the first half as
they did the second, then it would have been a three
pointer all the way for the Blues.
Instead they were lucky to survive a Swans onslaught
from the start when only a world class save from Wayne
Brown somehow kept out Julian Alsops second minute
header from a Stuart Roberts cross.
Richie Appleby then clattered the bar from a rebound
lifting the volume around the volatile Vetch Field ground.
City were on the rack as the ball as pumped up to Alsop
at every given opportunity and it was from Mark Codes
long ball out of defence that saw the Swans go ahead
on five minutes.
There were question marks about whether Brown had the
ball in his hands when the lumbering Alsop challenged
him but Brown didnt exactly go in with any conviction
and referee Peter Walton waved play on. And Roberts
took full advantage as he rammed the ball home from
Roberts would have had a second eight minutes later
but he couldnt stay onside as Jon Coates ran through
the heart of Citys spreadeagled defence.
But they cant be blamed for that because Swansea
were at their most dangerous from corners those
taken by Citys Jon Cross and Neil Fisher.
Every time City had a corner in their first half
and they had six Swansea broke away at speed.
But City held on. Ross Davidson made a goal line clearance
from Roberts while Steve Watkin wasted a great chance
as he dwelt too long on the ball in the box.
Former Wrexham striker Watkin then almost sliced into
his own net from Fishers corner while Roger Freestones
face saved the day as Matthew Bound missed Fishers
left wing cross.
Chris Priest, who had a brilliant game in midfield considering
hes had flu all week, tested Freestone with a
25-yarder while Matt Woods also had a half chance from
another Fisher assist.
Swansea ended the half on top and Brown redeemed himself
as he saved Applebys effort with his feet while
Coates tried to walk the ball in after superbly shaking
off the City defence.
That left both managers with plenty to say at half-time
and Swansea again started the brighter when Watkin was
allowed too much space and time to shoot narrowly wide
on 47 minutes.
But the Swans lost their way and City took over especially
on the right side where Davidson and Dave Flitcroft
Swansea werent helped by a strange substitution
taking goalscorer and lively youngster Roberts
Maybe John Hollins sensed that his side were losing
their grip and just 90 seconds after Steve Jones replaced
Roberts, Chester equalised.
And the equaliser was made up of three elements. The
quality of Cross from Davidson, the intelligent running
of the ever-willing workhorse Luke Beckett and goalkeeper
Freestones flat feet.
Whether he was unsighted by John Murphy or just thought
the ball was going over, a goalkeeper of his experience
should have gobbled it up.
But Becketts header looped up and over and into
That upset the Swans, who were in typically friendly
mood to Ratcliffe and co on the City bench.
The goal sparked a Swansea fight back as they began
pumping high up and unders towards Brown, who was reluctant
to come and face Alsop again.
But he got superb support from Woods and skipper Andy
Crosby and when he did come and was beaten fairly by
Alsop, referee Walton decided to award a free kick to
Chester this time.
Not that the goal would have stood after a spectacular
goal line clearance from Woods.
Browns handling was superb after that as both
sides went in search of a winner in the last 20 minutes.
Fisher should have had a crack at goal from Nick Richardsons
set up but Murphy wasted the best chance after Beckett
had flicked on a Flitcroft cross.
Murphy fired high over the bar from just six yards while
at the other end a great block from Woods prevented
Alsop from grabbing what would have been an undeserved
And the cries of What a load of rubbish
from the Swansea supporters said it all as City scooped
a well deserved point from a ground that has many, many