Altrincham: Coburn, Moffatt, Smith, Williams,
Young, Edwards (Danylyk 53), Kearney, Doughty, Denham,
Little (Clee 50), Johnson (Heffernan 76). Subs not used:
Chester City: Danby, Roberts, Lynch, Ryan, Lea,
Wilkinson, S.Vaughan, Kay (Blundell 66), Ashton, Alessandra,
Chadwick. Subs not used: Murphy, Meynell, Owen, Ellams. Referee: Andy Halliday (North Yorkshire).
first league visit to Moss Lane saw them get a point in
this Bank Holiday derby clash against a depleted Altrincham
started the brighter of the two Cheshire teams, with
the Alty defence doing well to keep out early efforts
from Lewis Alessandra and Ben Wilkinson.
But the opening spell soon turned
into Altrincham’s favour, when a cross by ex-City
player Matt Doughty flew dangerously in towards the
back post. Colin Little was on hand to head the ball
into the goal and put the home team in the lead.
Chester continued to battle and Altrincham
goalkeeper Stuart Coburn did well to save another good
Wilkinson strike. Soon afterwards City captain Tim Ryan
was cautioned for a foul on Danny Edwards.
Kevin Roberts saw a 30-yard effort
saved by Coburn on the 35th minute, with Alty defender
James Smith making it safe by putting it wide for a
corner. City actually won three corners in the first
half, but none of them came to anything. They were lucky
to go into the break only 1-0 down when a cross/shot
from Little went into the side netting.
Chester started the second half as
the dominant team and on the 52nd minute their pressure
finally produced a result when a poor Coburn clearance
allowed Wilkinson to head the ball in from inside the
City then had another couple of attempts
on goal, with a shot from Neil Ashton being well saved
by Coburn. But the action then switched to the other
end when a John Danby clearance fell to Alty’s
Dale Johnson. He was only six yards out, but his tame
shot was no trouble for Danby.
Gregg Blundell replaced Adam Kay on
the 66th minute, and he made an excellent cross to give
Nick Chadwick a good chance to put City ahead. But Coburn
produced another good save and City won another corner.
Blundell himself headed just over
on the 82nd minute as both sides pressed for the winner.
But there were no serious threats on goal in the final
spell and part-time Altrincham still remain unbeaten
against their full-time Cheshire rivals.
optimism from last week's creditable draw at Luton was
ground out of Chester by a determined and physically stronger
Mansfield side. The visitors arrived with a game plan
to stifle any possibility of flowing football. The pattern
for the game was set early on and when Duffy was awarded
a free kick after tangling with Ryan, a disorganised City
conceded the only goal of the game.
Duffy was on hand to control and shoot from the corner
of the six yard box following Perry's knock down from
the free kick hoisted into the penalty area. As the forward's
shot beat Danby's dive it seemed to be nodded over the
line by another player - despite claims for offside the
goal was awarded and Duffy was credited as the scorer.
Mansfield had the ball in the net a few minutes later
but this time the whistle had already gone for a push
on a City defender. Indeed the whole game was punctuated
with pushing, shoving and physical bumps as the Stags
never let City settle on the ball. Despite this Chester
did manage to carve out a few openings in the first half
- the best attempt came when Allesandra turned quickly
and hit a shot first time which cannoned off the outside
of the post. Ashton saw his fierce shot hit a defender
and bounce away to safety.
In the second half, however, chances were fewer for the
home side. A goal for City looked marginally more likely
when Greg Blundell came on for the tiring Kay. Blundell's
cross from the left almost drifted into the goal by the
far post. But by and large City were out muscled and did
not have the speed or guile to put pressure on the Mansfield
It was not a pretty match and threatened to boil over
in the second half when the referee's patience evaporated
after some over-eager physical exchanges and he produced
a flurry of yellow cards (4-2 to Mansfield). This bruising
encounter will have given Chester a measure of the scale
of their task this season. To reach the target of 70 points
needed simply to survive in this division City need to
be a cut above the rest. On this evidence they are a long
way from achieving that and the gap to a position of safety
is widening fast.
this stage of the season, it’s hard to know if we
saw Chester on a good day, or Luton on a bad day, or perhaps
a combination of the two. Whatever it was, this unexpected
0-0 scoreline gave City fans some early survival straws
The game started with City fans trying
to figure out who the new arrivals were, with the away
programme not offering any real clues. It took a while
for us to work out that Chris Lynch, Adam Kay and Lewis
Alessandra were all making their Chester league debuts.
City made a bright start, with a foray
into the Luton box within the first six minutes. It
was cleared by the Hatters and as the game settled down
in the August sunshine, it was good to see Chester passing
the ball about on the ground.
After Tuesday’s midweek performance
against Oxford, the 85 travelling supporters were anticipating
a hatful of goals against the Blues, but Luton weren’t
anywhere near as threatening as rampaging Oxford.
Luton, newly sponsored by Easy Jet,
were clad in smart orange tops and white shorts. A last-minute
kit clash meant Chester wore their home shirts, but
yellow shorts and socks. It was a strange mix and perhaps
it wrong-footed the opposition as the first realistic
chance to score fell to Chester , with a Nick Chadwick
shot over the bar.
Ten minutes after, and City had another
good spell with two or three chances on goal. Luton
‘keeper Mark Tyler, arguably their man-of-the-match,
was equal to them all. Tyler’s best moment of
the game came in his save from a Chadwick header, which
he just tipped onto the crossbar.
But not long after, he had a “Grobbelaar
moment” went he went AWOL from his area and failed
to win the ball. Chadwick had a looping shot at the
open goal, but it was just saved on the line by a Luton
So it was encouraging that Chester
had the best of the first half and could easily have
been ahead on 45 minutes. But City’s travelling
support had seen an identical scoreline at the same
stage on Tuesday night, and were obviously hoping not
to see a repeat of that performance.
They actually got their wishes, as
Chester more than matched their first half performance.
Chadwick came close to scoring again on the 55th minute
with a great shot across goal that was pushed behind
by Tyler for a corner.
Luton made a couple of substitutions
after that, but they didn’t seem to change the
direction of the game and the Luton fans got increasingly
frustrated with their players, as well as the match
officials. When Chadwick was treated on the field for
a head injury, they took their ire out on him as well.
Luton’s best spell of the match
came in the final 15 minutes, but the Chester defence
remained resolute, with Lynch making an excellent debut
and Roberts putting in another good performance. Tim
Ryan and Michael Lea also had solid games. The Hatters
had their chances in the closing spell, which included
five minutes of injury time, but didn’t come close
City even had a chance to win the
match in the final few minutes when they had a couple
of corners. The best resulted in a Lea shot being blocked
on its way to goal.
Luton were undoubtedly the team most
relieved to hear the final whistle, and as they went
off they were roundly booed, while City were rightly
cheered by the away end after an excellent all-round
return to Oxford was a very different affair to their
last two encounters in the Football Conference, with a
buoyant United making easy meat of a City team clearly
lacking match fitness.
fans were at least grateful to see their team running
out at Oxford – something that seemed unlikely
just a week before. But it was hard to think of any
other highlights for them.
The new-look Blues did start the game
with a reasonably well-organised defence, marshalled
by captain Neil Ashton. They did well to keep Oxford
away from goal for the opening 20 minutes.
But Oxford soon started getting into
the game, and had a couple of shots which either missed
the target or were easily dealt with by goalkeeper John
Danby. The first half saw Chester make no impression
on the Oxford end, apart from an early free-kick, taken
by Tim Ryan, which was in no danger of threatening the
Most of the 131 travelling fans seemed
relieved to go into half-time with a respectable 0-0
scoreline, but it didn’t stay that way for long.
It was actually Chester who had the first chance to
notch up a goal when an Ashton header led to a bit of
a goalmouth scramble. But U’s keeper Ryan Clarke
held onto the ball, and it was soon back at the other
Within five or six minutes, it was
Oxford who scored when an excellent passing move found
James Constable free in the box, and he had no trouble
slotting the ball home.
City didn’t immediately let their heads drop though,
and Lloyd Ellams ran tirelessly for the ball until he
eventually ran himself ragged and was replaced by James
Owen on the 66th minute.
He’d not been on for long, when
a ball from Stephen Vaughan Junior came to him in front
of goal. Unfortunately he couldn’t get a powerful
shot on the end, and City’s second real chance
of the evening went begging.
Soon after, it was nearly 2-0 to Oxford
when another rampant attack on the 63rd minute saw the
post save Danby from picking the ball out of the net.
But it was back at the same end again just moments later
when another good move saw Matthew Green gifted an opportunity
right in front of goal. He made no mistake and at 2-0
it looked like ‘game over’ for City.
But there were still goals to be had
and another excellent pass on the 83rd minute found
Constable back in space. It was easy for him to make
it 3-0, and a few City fans started to head for the
Constable was now on a hat-trick and
it came all too easy for him on the 89th minute when
he ran into the box and hit the target again to make
it 4-0 to Oxford.
It looks like City have a mountain
to climb if they are to get anywhere near zero points
this side of Christmas (or even Easter) and Southern-based
fans need to be warned to make the most of season 2009/10.
Blues were relieved to finally get their new season underway
a week late but it was a former City forward, Chris Holroyd,
who came back to spoil the perfect start afforded the
Blues thanks to some slack defending. In fact, Holroyd
was one of four ex-City players in the visitors line-up
taking his place alongside Paul Carden, Wayne Hatswell
and Paul Beesley.
In blustery conditions City could have not got off to
a better start. Just 32 seconds were on the clock when
new signing Ben Wilkinson latched on to a Michael Lea
high through ball, flicked it past the onrushing U’s
goalkeeper Danny Potter before steering the ball into
the unguarded net.
Five minutes later Beesley saw a header saved by John
Danby after he’d connected with an Andy Parkinson
free-kick. Manager Mick Wadsworth was forced into a substitution
minutes later as Anthony Barry hobbled off following a
challenge from Hatswell and was replaced by Neil Chadwick.
Wilkinson saw a free-kick saved by Potter just before
defender Hatswell gifted City a second goal on 19 minutes.
His weak backpass was intercepted by Chadwick, and the
forward who only signed for the club yesterday, steered
the ball home into the bottom corner.
Playing into the wind in the first half the visitors were
having problems. Holroyd got himself into a good position
but a great saving challenge from Roberts prevented the
young striker reducing the arrears.
City looked to be heading for a comfortable interval lead
but the game took a dramatic change as the visitors scored
twice on the stroke of half-time. On the stroke of half-time
kevin Roberts was adjudged to have fouled Beesley in the
area and referee West pointed to the spot. Holroyd blasted
the resulting spot-kick straight down the middle past
Danby. And in stoppage time Vaughan fouled Holroyd outside
the box and Robbie Wilmott’s free-kick took a deflection
off the City wall and flew past Danby to send the teams
into the break on level terms.
Wadsworth made another substitute at the resumption of
the second period. Youngster James Owen replacing Lea.
The Blues started well and Wilkinson saw an effort on
56 minutes curle just wide of the post.
Holroyd’s pace was causing problems and he set up
Parkinson who tested Danby with a 25-yarder.
On 75 minutes the fight back was complete as the visitors
took the lead. Parkinson was set free down the right and
his cross was met by the unmarked Holroyd who produced
and acrobatic overhead kick giving Danby no chance.
The same combination wrapped things up in the final minute
as Holroyd completed his hat-trick with ease steering
home Parkinson’s right wing cross from close range.