30 August 2000
Boston United 0 Chester City 0
Attendance: 2,078 Half-time 0-0
Boston United: Bastock, Gowshall, Lucas,
Hoyle, Howarth, P Lodge (Fewings 84), Stanhope, De Souza, Rawle,
Livett, Raynor. Subs not used: Rennie, Minett, Costello, Martin.
Chester City: Brown, Lancaster, Doughty, Gaunt, P.Beesley, Woods,
Carden, Blackburn, Evans, M.Beesley (Finney 53), Ruffer (Kerr 78). Subs
not used: Richardson, Greygoose, Shelton.
Referee: P.Canadine (Rotherham).
Stump, visible from eight miles away as we approached Boston,
stood silent sentinel behind the Town End against the backdrop
of a clear evening sky. About a hundred City fans had made the
cross country trip to South Lincolnshire.
Cheshire's finest took to the field in their
fetching all white strip whilst the Pilgrims had reverted to
their renowned black and anmber stripes. If automatic promotion
had been in force in the sixties and seventies surely Boston
would have dipped their toes in League football by now. Their
ground seems easily capable of hosting League status apart
from the fact that just two portaloos were available to the travelling
supporters. Tormented bladders were the order of the evening.
When Doncaster visit, the suffering could be extreme.
The Pilgrims are adjusting to life in the Conference
as much as we are. They won the Dr Martens League by a country
mile last season, having migrated south from the Unibond the
previous year. Still looking for their first win, Boston settled
earlier of the two teams on the night. Paul Raynor, turning up
like a bad penny to haunt City, blazed a long range shot well
over the bar.
Barrow chose Brown in preference to Greygoose
who was nevertheless on the bench. Earlydoors Rawle might have
made more of confusion between Beesley and Brown when he nipped
in between them and his lobbed shot dropped wide of the goal.
As the half wore on City came more into the
game and seemed to have more imagination going forward. Their
best spell came before the interval when Beesley (M) got clear
and his shot was dropped by Bastock, who recovered sufficiently
to smother Blackburn's follow up. Evans then had a promising
effort which was unconvincingly saved by Bastock.
Soon after the break Barrow replaced Beesley
with Finney. But City were making little headway in scoring that
all important goal. They really needed the three points to be
within touching distance of Rushden's coat tails. Lancaster had
a superb half volleyed shot which fizzed towards the top corner
but again Bastock got his hands to it.
Boston began to exert some pressure but never
really looked like scoring. City's defence looked fairly solid
and the midfield tackled back when danger threatened. Gaunt was
booked in a tussle with Rawle and then Beesley was harshly judged
to have fouled Lodge (who nevertheless was carried off) and was
booked also. Miguel DeSouza threatened occasionally with the
odd classy touch but in truth Brown didn't have a save to make
Not a classic by any means but at least we
came away with a point and another clean sheet.
We went for a pint in the Ship Inn and returned
to the chip shop by the ground only to find that the City
squad had beaten us to it and scoffed the lot. Hope they pay
for it in training this afternoon.
26 August 2000
Chester City 1 Dover Athletic 0
Attendance: 2,273 Half-time 0-0
Chester City: Greygoose, Lancaster (Shelton
53), Doughty, Gaunt, P Beesley, Woods, Carden, Blackburn, Finney
(Evans 53), M Beesley (Wright 82), Ruffer. Subs not used: Richardson,
Dover Athletic: Hyde, Munday, Norman, Leberl (Hudson
15), Shearer, Strouts, Carruthers, Le Bihan (Hogg 38), Vansittart,
Pinnock (Browne 45), Beard (McRobert 87). Sub not used: Moore.
Referee: A.Marriner (Coventry).
Tuesday night's classic against Doncaster this was bound to be
an anticlimax. The contrast could not have been greater. Portents
did not look good as we stared at a completely empty away end.
It obviously wasn't worth staffing as Dover's travelling support
of 54 (I counted them during one of the innumerable stoppages)
were easily accomodated in the West Stand. But it was a soul
destroying sight and the reality of being stuck in the Conference
began to hit home.
The pattern of play was soon set in concrete
and no side seemed to be able to vary it from the scrappy, abysmally
dull spectacle it provided. The visitors packed the midfield
and gave City no room for manouvre. As a result the ball was
in the air more than it was on the pitch and Chester's midfield
engine, so effective against Doncaster, tended to be by-passed.
City's main threat came from the left. Blackburn
with a clever turn and cross set up Lancaster but his diving
header crept just wide. Beesley (P) heded over from a corner
when he might have done better. Woods had tremendous power but
no direction behind another headed chance. The least said about
Finney's diving header the better. Dover did not threaten much
although one lobbed effort went close and hit the side netting
- Some Dover fans thought it went in and we heard them shout
for about the only time in the game.
Soon after the break Barrow made a double substitution
replacing Finney who showed some good touches but still
seems to lack confidence with new loan signing Andy Evans
from Barnsley. He nearly got his head on a corner straight away
and a minute later rounded the keeper only to see his narrowly
angled shot cleared off the line. The other substitution was
Shelton for Lancaster. City were not getting the ball out wide
often enough and as a result were reduced to pumping hopeless
balls forward which were easily dealt with by the tall Dover
centre backs. You could say it was like waves breaking on the
white cliffs of Dover but on the other hand....
The odd booking apart it was desperate stuff
and a poor advert for football. Dover's time wasting tactics
were infuriating. The left back pretended not to have noticed
where the ball had gone every time it went out for a throw.
Mark Beesley had run himself ragged to little
avail and could hardly summon up the strength to get off the
pitch when he was replaced by Darren Wright. A last throw of
the dice for City this. Dazza made an almost immediate impact
playing a one-two and dashing into the box before being clobbered
by the gargantuan Lee Shearer. To our trepidation Dazza picked
up the ball for the resultant spot kick and shuffled awkwardly
backwards. He blasted his penalty into the top right hand corner
of the net to our immense relief and swiftly followed this with
his trademark back flip and somersault.
Three points ground out at least made the previous
86 minutes of tedium almost bearable. Dover had defended well
but City also played into their hands. It made for an absolutely
dire game. The last four minutes, however, were quite entertaining an
early goal for City might have made a lot of difference.
22 August 2000
Chester City 3 Doncaster Rovers 0
Attendance: 2,616 Half-time 1-0
Chester City: Greygoose, Lancaster,
Doughty, Gaunt, P.Beesley, Woods, Carden, Blackburn, Finney (Wright),
M.Beesley (Shelton), Ruffer. Subs not used: Richardson, Fisher,
Doncaster Rovers: Warrington, Marples (Watson 78), Ryan
(Shaw 13), Atkins, Walling, Barnard, Paterson, Kelly, Alford,
Halliday (Duerden 73), McIntyre. Subs not used: Foster, Richardson.
Referee: Mr A Butler (Wigan)
all Conference football is like this, all I can say is: Where
have we been for the last 69 years? It was a cracking match with
action from start to finish.
It didn't take long for Chester to open their
Conference account 45 seconds to be precise. Mark Beesley,
starting in preference to Wright hit a left foot screamer
from the edge of the box which flew into the far corner. The
move had begun down the left with Matt Doughty hitting a probing
ball forward. Beesley retrieved it and crossed into the box.
When the Doncaster defence failed to clear properly, Carden picked
up the pieces and fed the ball back to Beesley in space and he
did the business to put us one-nil up.
A tough tackling, swashbuckling game ensued.
Doncaster, all brawn and Yorkshire grit Chester bristlin
and combative in reply. Ruffer made an impressive debut, covering
backwards and forwards and not afraid to tackle. He and Carden
were like a couple of pocket battleships all night.
Chester carved out the better of the chances.
Finney made a great opportunity for Beesley to get another. Lancaster
got behind the defence and Ruffer shot narrowly wide from his
knock back. Finney chested down a Paul Beesley free kick and
smacked his shot goalwards but Warrington parried to safety.
There were some familiar faces in the crowd
once again and on the pitch. Halliday, late of Carlisle, played
up front for them but looked a lot less lean than when he was
last at the Deva. Jamie Paterson brought his considerable experience
to Rovers' Midfield. The closest Donny came to scoring was when
Ruffer muffed a clearance and Paterson popped up to send a shot
into the side netting.
So City went in to a 1-0 half-time lead and
a standing ovation. Rovers came out strongly after the break
and began to stir their travelling army of 5-600 or so into vocal
support. Within a couple of seconds of the kick off Carl Alford
clattered into Ruffer but the referee chose to ignore it. Paul
Beesley contined to be in commanding form at the back. Breaking
away, Blackburn's long ball found Finney who set up Mark Beesley
to run at their defence. He foxed his defender and then shot
low from outside the box to the keeper's right and into the net.
Another classic goal perhaps the keeper was a bit slow
to get down.
Tempers began to fray when the referee who
had bee inconsistent and weak all evening failed to stamp his
authority on the game. A fracas involving about ten players broke
out after a flurry of wild tackles. Kelly was rightly sent off
for an outrageous two footed flying tackle. Warrington, the goal
keeper who had raced fifty yards to get involved was also booked
for his pains.
Doncaster were fired up now and appealed for
a penalty when the ball struck the arm of a City defender. The
referee gave it. Beesley was booked for protesting. Alford lumbered
up to take the kick. He hit it very hard but straight at Greygoose
who stopped it then dropped on it on the line. He grew in confidence
after that and made several great saves to preserve Chester's
Ruffer was sent off for two bookable (Hardly)
offences very hard done by I felt as the referee booked
him on the strength of Paterson's reactions to his two tackles.
The coup de gras was applied when Carden's
raking passw found Beesley who held the ball up on the left while
re-inforcements arrived. He the played a beautiful one-two with
Carden, for the latter to finish the move he had begun with a
curling shot just inside the keeper's left hand post.
All in all an excellent performance against
one of the sides fancied for promotion. Mark Beesley was awarded
man of the match for his two superb goals. My vote would have
gone to Paul Caden who had an absolutely magnificent match.
19 August 2000
Rushden & Diamonds 2 Chester City 0
Attendance: 3.966 Half-time 0-0
Rushden & Diamonds: Turley, Mustafa,
Rodwell, Warburton, Underwood, Brady, Butterworth, Mills, Burgess,
Jackson, Darby. Subs: Sigere, Bradshaw, Setchell, Wormull, Naylor.
Chester City: Greygoose, Lancaster (M.Beesley 67), Gaunt,
P.Beesley, Woods, Doughty, Carden, Blackburn (Richardson 53),
Kerr (Ruffer 53), Finney, Wright. Subs: Fisher, Shelton.
Referee: P.Barnes (Peterborough).
baking hot day welcomed City's opening Football Conference match
at Nene Park with the team turning out in unfamiliar pale blue
shirts (with sponsors name but no club crest!) with black shorts
and socks. Is this our third strip or just a one-off?
A large and vociferous away support got behind
the team from the start and following a flurry of free-kicks
from the home side Chester eventually settled down. However it
was Duane Darby who missed the best of the opening chances twice
heading wide of Greygoose's goal, the second time from point
City took time to settle down and when they
did Steve Finney shot wide from 15 yard's and soon after, Matt
Doughty's teasing left-wing cross was headed over from close
range by Darren Wright. Another cross from the same source flashed
agonisingly across an empty goal.
The half-time talk was on the lines of "if
this is the best the Conference has to offer we've not got too
much to worry about." Two minutes after the break we were
a goal down, thanks to Darby's close range finish from Burgess's
With City lacking any creativity in the midfield
department. Barrow made a double substitution introducing Richardson
for the ineffective Kerr and new-signing Carl Ruffer replaced
Chris Blackburn. Gaunt hit his own bar from six yards as the
home side piled on the pressure, but City weathered the storm.
Mark Beesley replaced Lancaster and for the
last 20 minutes City pressed more for the equaliser, with the
young forward finding space well. In fact Beesley came closest
with a rasping shot that was tipped over the bar and Finney also
had a shot smartly saved.
Paul Beesley had a close range shot hacked
away following a rare City corner, but in injury time Jackson
made it 2-0 to Rushden and was promptly booked for his unnecessary
celebration antics in front of the City fans.
So, all in all a disappointing result but not
too much to be worried about. More creativity in midfield and
a little more punch up front is required at the moment. The main
difference between the sides was the finishing, and Rushden paid £300,000
in the summer for just that.
Next up are Doncaster Rovers on Tuesday,
another of the bookies favourites for promotion, it remains to
be seen if Graham Barrow persists with the same formation or whether
he opts to start with a bit more experience in the form of Fisher