was great to see the smiles back at the Deva Stadium as
Chester’s new attacking brand of football rewarded
them with four goals and a healthy spot in the League
Both Simon Yeo and John Murphy thoroughly deserved their
brace of goals, but credit must also go to the battling
midfield, and a defensive line that’s not seen City
concede a goal at home so far this season.
And as the evening sun beckoned, it was also good to see
the management team of Bobby Williamson and Malcolm Thomson
feeling relaxed enough to enjoy a spot of banter with
the fans – by light-heartedly taking issue with
two supporters leaving a few minutes before the end.
You could hardly blame Bobby though – City had scored
four goals inside 40 minutes and were looking like making
a fifth right until referee Stuart Attwell blew his whistle
after (a surpising) three minutes of stoppage time.
The first-half had been largely a forgettable affair,
with newly-promoted Dagenham and Redbridge – cheered
on by a band of 146 travelling fans in the corner of the
West Stand – making the best of the first 10 minutes.
Both goalkeepers, City’s John Danby and veteran
Welshman Tony Roberts, in the Dagenham goal, were tested
in the first 45 minutes, but nothing to cause them any
City did make more of the game towards the end of the
first half, but a goal didn’t seem likely and the
half-time talk in the home stand was all about the considerable
scope for improvement in the second half.
And boy – that’s exactly what happened! City,
spurred on by firing towards the home end, were soon playing
in a different class from their ex-Conference opponents.
Within five minutes of the re-start, hard-working Kevin
Ellison had made a perfect pass to Yeo. He took it well,
and chipped past Roberts to register his first goal of
Soon after, the Daggers had a chance at the other end,
but Danby made a great diving save and put the ball out
for a corner. Dagenham could do nothing with the corner
and soon the ball was at the other end again.
Richie Partridge made a couple of dashing runs down the
wing and, just seven minutes after the first goal, he
laid on a great pass for Yeo, who had no trouble slotting
it past Roberts again.
At this stage Daggers looked well-beaten and Roberts took
the anticipated banter from the home terrace in good humour.
But the smile was wiped off his face yet again when City
piled on the pressure and the ball fell to Murphy in the
box. He had no trouble notching up his first goal since
his move back to Chester.
It was no less of a ‘welcome home’ than Murphy
deserved and soon after he was back on the scoresheet
again after an impressive diving header from another excellent
Partridge cross. I’d forgotten what it’s like
to almost lose count at a Chester game!
So let’s all savour the moment of being unbeaten
in the League and riding high in the table. I really hope
it stays with us, but Dagenham weren’t the toughest
of opponents and the trip to Rotherham will be a sterner
registered their first win of the season at Spotland thanks
to an injury time winner from summer signing Kevin Ellison.
Ellison was sent through by a precise Kevin Sandwith pass
to beat the offside trap and shoot under the advancing
James Spencer to pinch all three points to the delight
of the large City following.
again City had to do without the services of John Murphy
and Richie Partridge and with Jamie Hand joining Lincoln
City there was a debut in midfield for youngster Kevin
Chester had an early wake up call
as Glenn Murray missed the target by inches in the opening
minute as he took advantage of some uncertainty in the
City defence. The home side continued to dominate the
opening period with Rory McArdle and Adam Le Fondre
both bringing saves out of John Danby.
Midway through the first period Dale
took a deserved lead. Danby came out to the far post
to clear a high looping corner, his punch however lacked
any authority and deflected in to the air was knocked
down by Murray who saw his goalbound shot blocked by
Paul Linwood but straight into the path of Ramsden who
tapped home from two yards.
At the other end City were struggling
to create anything, Simon Yeo made a hash of a chance
after being set up by Nathan Lowndes.
Gary Jones almost added a second just
before the break but Danby was on hand to save and keep
the half-time score to 1-0.
The Blues started the second period
in a more determined fashion with Ellison in the action
straight from the off going on a bustling run through
the Dale defence before shooting wide across goal. Danby
produced another fine save from Murray before City hit
the equaliser just before the hour mark.
Once again Ellison was the key player,
he showed a great turn of speed down the left wing,
beat his marker and cut inside to drag back a cross
that just eluded Lowndes but not Tony Grant who slotted
the ball home at the far post.
Butler sent a glancing header just
wide of the far post as City came more into the game.
But the home side still created openings and Murray
headed wide to remind City they were still in the game.
Danger man Ellison produced a save
from Spencer and Danby did likewise from Le Fondre before
the dramatic conclusion to the game.
The home side looked to have grabbed
the three points in the final minute with Le Fondre
putting the ball in the net at the far post only to
be ruled offside; but seconds later and with the game
heading into injury time Sandwith, who had replaced
Lowndes ten minutes earlier, picked up a knock down
midway in his own half and played an inch perfect through
ball for Ellison to run through on goal from half-way
and secure victory with a clinical finish.
City supporters were dealt a double blow prior to this
much anticipated cup-tie with Nottingham Forest. Both
Murphy and Partridge were unavailable due to injury leaving
Chester short of attacking firepower.
This, in the end, was City’s downfall but they can
take much encouragement from the way they were more than
a match for the League One promotion favourites. Chester’s
work-rate was prodigious as they closed Forest down and
sought to play the ball to feet in one-touch passing movements.
Chances were limited early on. Hand had an opportunity
when a corner found him in space at the back of the penalty
area. His driven shot was blocked by a defender. At the
other end, Holt found himself in the clear following a
rare slip by Linwood but Danby stood up to his shot and
saved well. At half time City left the field to a standing
ovation for their efforts.
Monsoon conditions enveloped the opening of the second
half and Chester seemed to adapt well. Ellison found more
room on the left and began to get behind the Forest defence.
Lowndes and Yeo worked hard to find an opening but City’s
forward line was diminutive without the presence of Murphy
and they struggled to carve out chances. In midfield City
were outstanding: Grant providing cultured football; Hand
contributing a tigerish presence and Hughes working together
with them both to make a good unit.
With the game in the balance, Holroyd came on for Lowndes
and almost made an immediate impact. From Ellison’s
raking cross the youngster just failed to direct his header.
A few minutes later he had an even better chance and might
have hit the target had he taken it first time but he
chose to control the ball and was closed down.
Forest began to threaten too. Danby tipped Holt’s
close range header over the bar and the visitors had a
goal disallowed for offside. Former Cestrian Agogo replaced
Dobie and was a menacing presence cutting in from the
left to set up a tantalising chance in the six yard box.
The threatened breakthrough seemed to have arrived when
referee Swarbrick looked long and hard at a dive by Danby
at a striker’s feet and pointed to the penalty spot.
But City were reprieved when Holt capped a lacklustre
performance by seeing his shot saved by the City custodian.
Extra time beckoned and the home support, roused by City’s
tenacious display, got behind them for a final push at
eliminating Forest. They breathed a sigh of relief when
Agogo rounded Danby and shot for goal and Wilson slid
in to clear the danger. With Chester’s players visibly
tiring, Williamson threw on Rutherford and Roberts to
inject some youth and pace. They did well but City’s
rhythm suffered and, in truth, did not seem likely to
break through and score.
So to penalties and Forest’s experience triumphed
in the end. But Chester fought a brave fight and can hold
their heads up high. There are the signs of a promising
team in the making here.
gave a spirited performance to draw 0-0 with Chesterfield
in their opening day match at a sunny Deva Stadium.
Both sides squandered chances to take all three points,
and saw a goal chalked off in a game that came to life
after the break.
Manager Bobby Williamson
gave debuts to seven players and their attacking intent
was shown in the opening minutes as winger Richie Partridge,
who go the better of his markers all afternoon, crossed
for John Murphy who almost set up Nathan Lowndes for
a dream opener.
The visitors thought they’d
opened the scoring on seven minutes as Jamie Ward slotted
the ball past john Danby only to see his effort ruled
out by referee Andy Haines for a foul on the City defence
in the build-up. The Spireites were enjoying the better
of the possession and at time cut down the City flanks
Ward, who played for Torquay United
last season, again went close as Danby was well placed
to clear from the goal line The same striker saw a shot
roll inches wide after he’d beaten City skipper
Paul Butler to a through ball. Janos Kovacs and Jack
Lester saw chances go wide.
Danby, player of the season last year
for City, had to dive a full stretch to keep out a Peter
Levin free-kick. At the other end City were struggling
to make headway . Lowndes saw a flick header go wide
and their only real chance of note came in stoppage
time when John Murphy sneaked in at the back post only
to hit a shot into the side netting.
Attacking the home end, the Blues
looked lively after the break using wingers Partridge
and Kevin Ellison, who’d had a quiet first half,
to good effect. Feeding off Murphy’s knock-down’s,
Lowndes pulled a shot wide. Moments later Partridge
again found the head of Murphy with his right wing cross
but the big striker saw Barry Roche in the Chesterfield
goal pluck the ball from under the bar.
Murphy found the net on 58 minutes
but referee Haines had already blown for an infringement
by the striker to rule out the goal. Ellison shot over
before the Spireites started to com back at City.
Danby came to the rescue on a couple
of occasions and made the save of the match six minutes
from time to deny danger man Ward who walked through
the City defence unchallenged and should have opened
the scoring in front of the 1,000+ away following now
seated behind Danby’s goal.
Right at the death City had a great
chance to snatch the points as Simon Yeo, who’d
replaced Lowndes 15 minutes earlier, was sent through
on goal, he took the ball wide of the diving Roach on
the left only to turn and drag his shot across the open
goal and wide of the far post.