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MATCH REPORTS 2000/01
Pre-Season | August | September | October | November | December | January | February | March | April
DECEMBER 2000
Woking (H) | Hull City (H) Cup | Oxford United (H) Cup | Doncaster Rovers (A) | Hednesford Town (A) Cup | Hayes (H) | Hereford United (H)
Tuesday 26 December 2000
Chester City 2 Hereford United 1
Attendance: 1,658 Half-time 1-0

Chester City: Brown, Fisher, Doughty, Lancaster, Ruffer, P.Beesley, Carden, Blackburn, M.Beesley, Whitehall, Ruscoe (Wright 79). Subs not used: Moss, Kerr, Woodyatt, Berry.
Hereford United: Cooksey, Lane, Sturgess, Robinson, Wright (Wall 45), Gardiner, Clarke, Rodgerson, Giddings (Elmes 45), Williams, McIndoe. Subs not used: Quiggin, Baker, Moran.
Referee:
P.Broadhurst (West Kirby).

[Match Programme]At last! City finally win a Conference match for the first time since the home victory over Kettering Town a mere ten weeks ago.

It took a wonderful solo goal from Steve Whitehall five minutes from time to secure the points after City, who dominated the opening 45 were battered in the second half by Hereford.

City, with Paul Beesley back in defence, started brightly and had enough chances to wrap the game up by the interval.

Steve Whitehall had City's best efforts in the opening minutes, twice going close after being set up by Scott Ruscoe. Indeed Whitehall was guilty of a terrible miss on 18 minutes when he blazed a shot high over the bar from 12 yards after being superbly set up by the impressive Chris Blackburn. Minutes later Ruscoe was put clear by Mark Beesley on the left, but he screwed his shot wide of the left hand post.

City took the lead following a wonderful build-up on 26 minutes. Mark Beesley won the ball in a tussle with Wright and exchanged a one-two with Whitehall on the edge of the box before shooting home past Cooksey from a narrow angle for his first goal in 10 matches. Mark Beesley, Blackburn and Carl Ruffer all had chances to double the lead before the break but failed to make the most of their chances.

The Bulls made a double substitution at half-time and took the game to City for the second 45. Striker Rob Elmes was pushed up front and proceeded to win just about everything in the air. Brown saved from Williams and Whitehall was on hand to clear Rodgerson's shot off the line.

An equaliser seemed destined to happen and it came with eleven minutes to play. Brown was adjudged to have fouled McIndoe and Chris Lane stepped up to hammer home the resulting penalty high into the roof of the net.

City brought on Darren Wright and immediately stirred themselves into action. Beesley forced a smart save from Cooksey before Matt Doughty broke down a move on the right. He crossed the ball to Whitehall on the left hand edge of the box. Whitehall turned his marker and, seeing Cooksey off his line, clipped the ball over the keeper and just under the bar for a magical winner.
Saturday 23 December 2000
Chester City 0 Hayes 0
Attendance: 1,658 Half-time 0-0

Chester City: Brown, Fisher, Doughty, Gaunt (Ruscoe 24 (Wright 64)), Ruffer, Lancaster, Carden, Porter, M.Beesley, Whitehall, Blackburn. Subs not used: Moss, Kerr, Woodyatt.
Hayes: Gothard, Spencer (Coppard 90), Flynn, Watts, Sterling, Goodliffe, Preston (Telemaque 82), Newton, Stevens, Moore, Boylan. Sub not used McKimm.
Referee:
R.Booth.

[Match Programme]Without doubt one of City's worst performances of the season, and, in fact it could have been worse had the visitors made the most of some clear-cut chances that came their way.

City looked jaded and a far cry from the team that had put in some superb cup performances in recent weeks. Craig Gaunt started following Paul Beesley's late fitness test failure, but Gaunt himself only lasted a little over 20 minutes before being substituted himself after suffering a hamstring injury.

Hayes, with former Chelsea star Eddie Newton running things in midfield started the brighter and Newton himself had the game's first shot on target in the opening minute, Brown saving comfortably.

City's first effort came on ten minutes with Neil Fisher's angled drive being tipped over by visiting 'keeper Paul Gothard. But chances for the Blues were at a premium as they found it difficult to create anything from midfield. Indeed, their closest effort on goal came courtesy of a Hayes clearance from Alvin Watts who sliced the ball against his own post following a useful cross from Scott Ruscoe.

Hayes finished the half the stronger and had a golden chance to take the lead but Wayne Brown somehow managed to get a hand to a close range effort from Newton when a goal looked a certainty.

City had more urgency following the break but once again they lacked any invention to break down a well organised Hayes defence. Whitehall and Mark Beesley were both denied by the impressive Gothard but the visitors nearly had the last laugh with Boylan shooting across goal in the last minute.

"It was disappointing. Unfortunately we tired and that's unacceptable. We lost the plot, particularly in the second half, and to be frank they could have stolen it, such was our poor quality towards the end" said City manager Graham Barrow afterwards.

Despite the offer of free admission for under-12s, the crowd of 1,658 was the lowest of the season at the Deva. The club also decided not to produce a new match programme, instead selling at full price, £2, the issue produced for the original match way back on 16 September, containing as it did (in some copies anyway!) photocopied notes from the chairman.
Tuesday 18 December 2000
Hednesford Town 1 Chester City 3 (AET)
Nationwide Variety Club Trophy Round 2 Replay
Attendance: 147 Half-time 0-0 · Score after 90 minutes 1-1

Hednesford Town: Gayle, Shakespeare (Goodwin 65), Lake, Picknell, Griffiths, Bagshaw, Sedgemore, Owen, Colkin (Blake 45), Russell (Brown 83), Bonsall. Subs not used: Rhodes, Jenkins.
Chester City:
Price (Mackin 90), Moss, Gaunt, Ruffer, P Beesley, Fisher (Kerr 65), Carden, Porter, Ruscoe, M Beesley, Wright (Woods 61). Subs not used: Lancaster, Berry
Referee:
D Drysdale (Lincoln)

This has to be one of the coldest nights I've ever watch City in action, it was also nearly called off because of the fog! £7 quid to get in – not bad but there was only about 200 in total, a few Chester in some in the stand – though not many. First half went by without incident – can't really rember much action from it.

At the beginning of the second half though Hednesford were awarded a free-kick, it was at the far end on the ground so I couldn't see who gave it away – anyhow they hit the bar and put away the follow up, Hednesford 1 City 0.

From then an though it was pretty much all City, with Carden and Ruscoe running midfield. City had a few chances and hit the post, Woods (who was on as sub), should have scored but somehow, their keeper kept it out, then with about 15 minutes to go, Ruffer strode forward to coolly finished into the corner to make it 1-1. Now there really was only one winner. The game went into extra time and Hednesford down to ten men when one of there players was stretchered off (again at the other end of the ground) as they had already used their subs.

Midway through first period of extra time, Matty Woods hit a cracker into the far right corner (another Matty Woods special). In the second period City took real control and Hednesford threatened only once more and after a slight mix up in the City defence.

City made it three towards the end through Carden and we are on our way to Southport!

For those who we're there I was the one who kept singing and jumping up and down behind the goal – well I had to do something to keep warm!

A very Happy Christmas and a hopefully a great New Year.

Matthew Perkins

Saturday 16 December 2000
Doncaster Rovers 1 Chester City 0

Attendance: 2,553 Half-time 1-0

Doncaster Rovers: Richardson, Marples, Hawkins, Kelly, Miller, Ryan, Caudwell, Atkins, Turner (Campbell 90), Whitman, McIntyre. Subs: Morris, Paterson, Watson, Walling.
Chester City: Brown, Fisher, Doughty (Woods 80), Gaunt (Wright 60), Lancaster, P.Beesley, Ruffer, Porter, M.Beesley, Whitehall, Blackburn (Ruscoe 46). Subs not used: Kerr, Moss.
Referee: B C Sygmuta (Northallerton).

It's now over two months since City won a Conference match and this latest defeat, their first since Yeovil on 9 September, leaves them 19 points off the Conference leaders (and 11 from a relegation place).

Craig Gaunt replaced the suspended Paul Carden with Carl Ruffer moving to midfield in an otherwise unchanged team.

Doncaster, who were comprehensively beaten at the Deva back in August, were out for revenge and got just the start they needed, and City didn't, with a goal after just two minutes.

Gaunt lost out under pressure from Mike Turner, the ball fell invitingly for Kevin McIntyre whose shot deflected off Paul Beesley and past Wayne Brown in the City goal. Turner almost made it two powering through the City defence before Paul Beesley came to the rescue with a well timed tackle.

City were creating chances at the other end too with Steve Whitehall having a long eange free kick pushed over the bar by Barry Richardson while Andy Porter also went close with another effort well saved. Ruffer then missed a golden opportunity for the equaliser, heading over from close range.

Scott Ruscoe replaced Chris Blackburn at the break as City searched for the equalised. It was Donny though who came closest with McIntyre hitting a post from close range.

Mark Beesley and Whitehall had a couple of half chances but anything City created was matched by Richardson in the home goal.

City pushed Matt Woods forward in a last desoperate attempt to level but it took a fine tackle by Martyn Lancaster to deny Rovers a second at the end.

The Blues have three home games over the festive period against Hayes, Hereford United and Telford United and will be looking to bounce back from this defeat and pick up maximum points.
Saturday 9 December 2000
Chester City 3 Oxford United 2

AXA F.A.Cup Round 2
Attendance: 2,798 Half-time 1-2 

Chester City: Brown, Fisher (Wright 53), Doughty, Lancaster, Ruffer, P.Beesley, Carden, Porter, M.Beesley (Ruscoe 75), Whitehall, Blackburn. Subs not used: Gaunt, Moss, Woods.
Oxford United:
Knight, Jarman (Whitehead 75), Brown, Richardson, Linighan, Beauchamp, Hackett, Fear, Murphy, Gray, Anthrobus (Omoyinmi 83). Subs not used: Glass, R.Weatherstone, S.Weatherstone.
Referee:
L.Cable (Woking).

[Match Programme]No doubt one of the most exciting cup game seen at the Deva this one had just about everything! City’s dramatic fightback from 0-2 down to win 3-2 earned them national headlines as the Blues reached the third round and a tie at Blackburn Rovers on 6 January.

In driving rain it was Chester who started the brightest, Neil Fisher instrumental in City’s most probing runs down the right. Several times City worked the ball through the United defence but were unable to create any clear-cut chances, Whitehall’s shot from 25 yards being the only serious effort on goal. Despite having tmost of the play, the visitors came closest to opening the scoring when Phil Grey swept the ball against the bar from close range following a fine cross by the tricky Chris Hackett.

City were easily matching their League opponents in every department, but, on 23 minutes (and to be fair against the run of play), Oxford took the lead. Carl Ruffer gave the ball away in the middle and it was quickly despatched to livewire Hackett. His cross, hard and low, was bundled home by Gray despite being surrounded by a couple of City defenders. Two minutes later and the advantage was doubled with Lee Jarman beating Wayne Brown to the ball and heading home at the near post following an inswinging Beauchampe corner.

It was crucial that City clawed somethang back before the break and on 35 minutes they did just that. Neil Fisher’s curled free kick was met at the far post by a stooping Paul Beesley who glanced home his first goal for the club. Suddenly the atmosphere changed as City fans could sense a way back.

Following the break Darren Wright replaced Fisher and within a minute City were level.

United keeper Knight failed to hold a harmless cross and Steve Whitehall pounced. Two shots were cleared off the line as the keeper remained on the ground, injured in the follow up, and at the third attempt Whitehall hammered the ball home from 12 yards. The noise from the home crowd was amazing as City, sensing an upset was on the cards, pressed forward once again. Two minutes later and the Blues were in front.

Man of the match Paul Beesley won a header on the edge of the United box and knocked the down for Whitehall to lob Knight from the edge of the box. It’s impossible to describe the tension in the remaining 30 minutes as Beesley and Carl Ruffer were magnificent in defence as City, showing great spirit, held firm for a never to be forgotten victory.

“I didn’t need a team talk at half time,” added Barrow afterwards. “It’s the best I’ve ever seen a dressing room and there was never any doubt in the players’ minds that they could win the game. “I’ve got nothing but admiration for them and they’re a credit to the club. I’m proud of them all because they’ve brought back some of the pride that has been lost at this club over the years. “To come back from 2-0 down and beat a second division is quite phenomenal. It was just a wonderful day for everyone involved and especially the supporters.
Tuesday 5 December 2000
Chester City 1 Hull City 0

LDV Vans Trophy Round 1
Attendance: 770 Half-time 0-0 

Chester City: Brown, Fisher, Doughty, Gaunt, Ruffer, Lancaster, Carden, Porter, Ruscoe (Wright 72), Whitehall, Blackburn (Woods 67). Subs not used: Moss, Kerr, Woodyatt.
Hull City:
Musselwhite, Edwards, Whitney, Greaves, Goodison, Brightwell, Swales, Harper, Whitmore, Brown, Wood. Subs: Bracey, Morley, Eyre, Whittle, Harris.
Referee:
B Curson (Walsall).

[Free Match Programme]The LDV showed it had lost none of its attraction as 770 hardy souls turned up to watch City defeat their second League side in a week. Unimpressive performances by both Plymouth Argyle and Hull City show that the current team would have been able to comfortably hold its own in Division Three this season. If only…

There were two changes in the City side that played Woking on Saturday. Scott Ruscoe started in place of Mark Beesley, who missed the game with a back injury, while Matt Woods was made the scapegoat for the defensive mistakes against Woking. His place was taken by Craig Gaunt and the defensive changes certainly made a difference as Hull offered few threats on goal. A great deal of credit should go to Martyn Lancaster who received his fair share of criticism after the Woking game. Martyn put in some excellent tackles, kept his concentration throughout the game and showed much better positional awareness. He was ably assisted by Craig Gaunt who guided him through the 90 minutes.

The game started slowly and it was 10 minutes before the first attempt on goal when Whitehall shot straight at Musselwhite. Five minutes later the Hull goalkeeper was almost embarrassed when he horribly sliced a backpass but recovered to scramble the ball away for a corner. Unfortunately both Ruscoe and Whitehall were caught offside on a number of occasions in the first half and when City did get to the line their crosses were too deep to cause any real danger.

City stepped up a gear on the half hour and were unlucky not to take the lead after creating a succession of chances in a five minute spell. Carden had a shot saved from the edge of the area and Musslewhite was able to stop Doughty's follow-up while Whitehall's header lacked the power to beat the Hull keeper who saved well at the near post. It was Whitehall who had the best chance but his attempted chip went wide of the post. This was a similar chance from which Woking had scored on Saturday. On 35 minutes Hull had their first real chance but Wood scuffed the ball after a good turn. Just before the interval Wayne Brown made a fantastic save when he tipped over a Hull shot that had wickedly deflected off Andy Porter.

Chester almost took the lead immediately after the break, when Whitehall turned and shot inches wide, but after 52 minutes City finally got the goal that they deserved. Whitehall, who was a constant thorn in Hull's side, put through a perfect pass for Carden who side-stepped the keeper and put the ball into the net from ten yards. The goal spurred Hull into life and they began to press forward without creating many clear cut chances as City defended more deeply.

On 62 minutes Chester had a penalty appeal turned down when Ruscoe appeared to be caught by a defender. A few minutes later the same player headed the ball onto the crossbar from Neil Fisher's cross although the linesman had flagged for offside. In-between these two incidents Matt Woods had replaced Chris Blackburn which allowed Neil Fisher to move into midfield. As the game entered the final thirty minutes Chester's intentions became clear and when they were awarded a free kick 25 yards from goal Whitehall had little option but to shoot for goal as only one City player ventured into the penalty area. With three minutes to go Hull had a golden opportunity to score from a corner but Brown and Doughty scrambled the ball away after a Hull player was left unmarked in the area. Chester almost scored a second goal in injury time when Carden got to the touchline and pulled the ball back to Doughty who shot disappointingly wide.

All in all it was a comfortable victory despite the scoreline. Chester's biggest threat in the closing stages was themselves as they allowed Hull more possession and tried to defend the lead. When the ball was pushed forward in the final ten minutes there was a tendency to give the ball away cheaply in midfield with some poor passes. However it seems churlish to criticise after such a deserved victory.

This was City's first win in this competition since beating Bury in October 1994. It was also Chester's 15th unbeaten game. Their last defeat was at Crewe on September 20th in the Cheshire Senior Cup.

Chas Sumner

Saturday 2 December 2000
Chester City 3 Woking 3

Attendance: 1,694 Half-time 2-3

Chester City: Brown, Woods, Ruffer, Fisher, Doughty, Lancaster (Gaunt 77), Carden, Blackburn (Wright 56), Porter, Whitehall, M.Beesley (Ruscoe 73). Subs not used: Moss, Woodyatt.
Woking:
Matassa, Smith, Hollingdale, Perkins, Wye, Roddis, Steele, West, Kadi (Drewett 82), Randall (Teague 82), Griffin. Subs not used: Alighieri, Ruggles, Baverstock.
Referee:
N. Yates (Blackburn).

[Match Programme]Another game. Another draw. The most frustrating unbeaten run in the history of the universe just goes on and on. To be fair this was a thoroughly entertaining game as Woking exploited the absence of Paul Beesley from the heart of the City defence and at times ran the partnership of Woods and Lancaster ragged. You have to feel sorry for Carl Ruffer who once again played well but was let down by his colleagues. At the other end Chester had plenty of the ball, especially in the second half, and at times put together some excellent passing moves. Three goals at home should be enough to win a game but this is Chester we are talking about and nothing can be taken for granted.

City got off to a dream start, in the 7th minute, courtesy of an outrageous mistake by the referee. The phrase "bad decision" took on a new meaning as the referee failed to spot Steve Whitehall blatantly scoop the ball away from behind the goal line with his hand following a Woking corner. With the Sealand End unable to believe what they had seen Chester promptly took the ball down to the other end and Neil Fisher swept Matt Doughty's cross into the net. Cue mass complaints from the Woking players while Chester fans had a good laugh and awaited the long-awaited goal rush.

The first predictable cry of "Come on Chester you can beat this lot, they're rubbish" was heard on 20 minutes and four minutes later the incredibly irritating Martin Randall scored the equaliser. Poor defending and an excellent dummy saw the ball fall to Randall who finished in fine style from the edge of the area. The Woking players ran over to the Chester fans to celebrate and were met with deserved abuse. This didn't deter them from repeating the celebration after each goal. Ten minutes later Woking were in front when Woods lunged into a tackle and Lancaster was caught on the wrong side of Scott Steele who executed a perfect chip to beat Wayne Brown. A great finish but a goal that should never have been allowed to happen. As Chester fans argued amongst themselves the players responded quickly and the ever-reliable Steve Whitehall found space for himself in the area and curled the ball round Mattassa on 35 minutes.

There were four minutes to go until half time when Woking regained the lead following a dubious penalty decision. Wayne Brown seemed to get to the ball first but Charlie Griffin went crashing to the ground and the referee pointed to the spot. Brown was booked as the linesman flagged frantically to attract the referee's attention. Eventually Mr Holdsworth went over to consult the linesman who can only have said to him "That was another really bad decision but it cancels out your previous appalling mistake." Scott Steele scored from the spot and received more abuse from the disgruntled City fans.

Chester stepped up a gear in the second half and played some decent football. They were rewarded in the 65th minute when Mattassa brought down Steve Whitehall in the area in an almost identical incident to the one which lead to Woking's penalty. The only difference being that Chester's was definitely a penalty while Woking's was totally unjustified. That's even-handed reporting for you.

Andy Porter sent the keeper the wrong way from the spot and the arrival of Darren Wright and Scott Ruscoe prompted another wave of attacking football. Neil Fisher capped an impressive display with a couple of fine runs and some defence-splitting passes. Wright showed what a good substitute he makes by running his heart out and causing all sort of problems with his pace while Ruscoe deserves to start a game on his recent showings as a substitute.

Late in the game Randall once again caught out the City defence but his shot hit the inside of the post while Whitehall almost scored at the other end when his shot\cross shaved the post. A draw was all Chester deserved for their defensive frailties but all credit to Woking for having a go at City instead of just sitting back and soaking up the pressure.

Incidentally this was the first 3-3 home draw since September 1989 (against Notts County) and the first time City have conceded three goals since mid-March (at Southend).

Chas Sumner

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