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MATCH REPORTS 2001/02
Pre-Season | August | September | October | November | December | January | February | March | April
DECEMBER 2001
Woking (A) | Morecambe (H) | Southport (H) | Northwich Victoria (A) | Hayes (H)
Saturday 29 December 2001
Chester City 3 Hayes 1
Nationwide Conference
Attendance: 1,250 Half Time: 1-0
Booked: Spink, Ruffer, Beesley, Porter, Carden.

Chester City:
W.Brown, Carden, Jenkins, Porter, Ruffer, Spink, Woodyatt, Blackburn, D.Brown (Collins 85), Beesley (Haarhoff 80), Ruscoe. Subs not used: M.Rose, C.O’Brien, M.O’Brien.
Hayes:
Bossu, Spencer (Ashton 81), Gallen (P.Holsgrove 45), P.Holsgrove, Sterling, Gray, Clark, Dyer, Hodges, Warner, Molesley. Sub not used: Coppard.
Referee:
C.Harwood (Salford).

[Match Programme]Well I’m not quite ready to eat my words yet – and I’m too full up with festive food anyway – but it looked like an entirely different team was playing at the Deva from the also-rans who lost so badly at Northwich just three days ago. Luckily for us, the Hayes team were delayed on the motorway (if I could drive from London to Chester and arrive before 12 noon, why couldn't they?) and kick-off was delayed until 3.50. This gave the Chester supporters further chance to oil their vocal chords with yet more Christmas spirit and meant the Hayes players were distinctly jaded when they finally ran out onto the pitch.

The Blues looked keen to capitalise on their opponents’ late arrival when Mark Beesley ran clear almost straight from the kick-off and shot straight at the goalkeeper. A shot on target within a minute! Beesley was partnered by David Brown, who looked full of promise and was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet at several stages in the game.

The temporary management team of Dean Spink and Andy Porter, dubbed 'Captain Courageous’ by Cleggy, had made a few other changes from the Boxing Day line-up. Lee Woodyatt made his first appearance for some time, and put in a more than creditable performance to prove he deserves first-team place consideration. Scott Ruscoe, who didn't seem to find favour from Steve Mungall, was also back in the starting 11. And Jimmy Haarhoff was back on the bench.

Mark Beesley, who was also making his return to the starting line-up, didn’t seem to be 100% fit, but soon had another chance in the first half following one of many decent Paul Carden through balls. His shot was again blocked by Hayes’ goalkeeper Bertrano Bossu. The lanky Frenchman cut quite a comical figure, with his socks pulled up over his knees – as if he’d left his tracksuit trousers behind on the Hayes coach in his rush to change.

Chester put the comic goalkeeper under pressure several times in the first half, and he was beaten by a David Brown strike – only for it to be headed off the line by Hayes defender Dominic Sterling. But Bossu was soon picking the ball out of the net when Carl Ruffer, on the edge of the area for a Ruscoe corner, latched perfectly onto the ball to spectacularly volley it home on the 33rd minute. Travelsick Hayes only had one real chance in the first half when Wayne Brown had to dive at full length to stop striker Kevin Warner's angled effort.

Wayne Brown was called into action right at the start of the second half – saving from Warner again, then stopping a close-range header. But Chester were soon back on the rampage and Bossu denied an edge-of-the-area strike from Chris Blackburn. Hayes now seemed to be rattled, and the referee helped rub this in. He’d already set his stall out by booking Spink for a minor challenge in the fifth minute, so it was no surprise when he sent off Hayes’ Matt Grey for his second bookable offence for an off-the-ball tangle with Beesley. The ref, who booked nine players in all, also booked Beesley for the incident.

Chester then stepped up a gear and a perfect pass from David Brown let in Blackburn, who slid the ball past the keeper. It was about the best move I’ve seen Chester make so far this season. And just two minutes later, Brown was involved again when he passed to Porter – who rode the Hayes’ challenges before shooting perfectly for home. The exuberant goal celebrations were reminiscent of the third goal scored against Oxford in the FA Cup just over a year ago. Fantastic!

It would have been great to have kept a clean sheet, so giving a confidence boost to Wayne Brown and the excellent Chester defence. For once, Dean Spink kept up with the pace all game and made a number of crucial tackles. Iain Jenkins was absolutely faultless – his return to the club could prove to be vital. But an injury time free kick by Hayes went straight into the top left corner and the Chester copybook was slightly blotted.

Hayes had to face the long journey back through the snow without anything to show for their efforts. But their day ended with a half smile on all their faces – I saw them queuing alongside the happy Blues’ fans for fish-and-chip suppers in the Sealand Road chip shop. The Chester players had huge grins when the full-time whistle went. They must remember that winning feeling and make sure it is repeated over-and-over again in 2002.

Sue Choularton
Wednesday 26 December 2001
Northwich Victoria 3 Chester City 1
Nationwide Conference
Attendance: 1,930 Half Time: 1-0
Booked: Carden, Porter.

Northwich Victoria:
Gibson. Walsh, Talbot, Ingram, Barnard, Sedgmore, Norris (J.Collins 86), Devlin, Garvey (Burke 60), Quinn (Mike 86), Blundell. Subs not used: Knowles, Skinner.
Chester City:
W.Brown, Carden, Porter, Halford (D.Collins 70), Spink, Jenkins, C.O’Brien, Ruffer, Blackburn, D.Brown (Beesley 66), M.O’Brien. Subs not used: Ruscoe, Higgins, M.Rose.
Referee: M.Russell (St.Albans).

[Match Programme]Well, if the Three Wise Men of Mungall, Malkin and Stevens turn up at the Deva Stadium on Saturday, they’ll find no room at the inn – or even in the bar. Sorry, that’s the Christmas corn out of the way. You’ll find no festive cheer from here on. Chester were a shambles for most of this game – their final league appearance at the historic Drill Field. And as we bade farewell to Northwich’s ground for the final time, we also said our ‘cheerios’ (or, err, something similar) to manager Steve Mungall, physio Chris Malkin and coach Gary Stevens. Mungall simply had to be sacked after a 3-1 defeat in a dismal Boxing Day derby.

The players who currently sport the blue-and-white stripes, or even the vile yellow-and-black away squares, seem to have no passion for the club. I’ve only been following the Blues a mere 14 years, and sometimes it seems like only yesterday when we were a match for Bradford, Bolton, Preston, Stoke, West Brom, Crewe, Tranmere, Rotherham, Birmingham etc, etc. But, at the turn of the year, it seems depressing to reflect that the current crop of players don’t have the bottle to secure a mere draw against Northwich Victoria. It makes matches at Valley Parade and The Hawthorns seem like two generations ago.

Once again we gifted a goal to the opposition towards the end of a tedious first half in which neither side looked like scoring. The most interesting part of the first 30 minutes was sussing out Chester’s formation. Paul Carden seemed un-natural in the right-back position, but did his best to win the ball and set up some half chances. Scott Ruscoe, who’s been playing in that position for most of the season, was on the bench – and remained there all game.

Dean Spink was back in his utility-playing role – this time at centre half. He seemed to want to shy away from the ball and the opposition for most of the game – not a good sign in a centre half and prospective manager. Chris Blackburn spent most of the game playing as striker – a position he also seemed uncomfortable with. And Jimmy Haarhoff, the hero goalscorer in our last visit to the Vics, wasn’t even on the bench.

There was no real action until the 37th minute when goalkeeper Wayne Brown came way out of his area to clear the ball – only to pass it straight to Vics player, Mark Devlin. His response was instant - he aimed straight at the open goal and was bang on target.

The travelling army of 600 Chester fans did their best to stir the team into some sort of response. But there wasn’t much forthcoming. Spink is our senior player and should be one of the talismen – but he’s definitely lacking in that role too.

The team tried to make some sort of fight of it when they came out for the second half. For the first 15 minutes we were definitely on top. Before long, there was a wonderful passing interchange between Paul Carden and Mick O’Brien. Unfortunately, O'Brien’s shot was deflected onto the bar by Vics’ goalkeeper Paul Gibson.

But the Blues fightback continued for a while. New boy David Brown hit a Northwich defender as he aimed for home on the 55th minute. Luckily for Chester, the ball landed straight at the feet of Chris Blackburn and he took delight in scoring against the club where he started his footballing career. At 1-1, and with both teams looking below average, it looked odds-on for a draw.

However the luck, and the passion, was with Northwich. Player manager Jimmy Quinn seemed to have all the time in the world to slot home a 25-yard strike. Brown also had all the time in the world to save it – but somehow the ball eluded him and it slipped by his left hand and into the goal.

Just a few minutes later we had our West Cheshire noses well and truly rubbed in it when a Gregg Blundell shot was deflected onto the post by Brown, only for Blundell to hit home the rebound. Blundell responded to his goal just as he did at the Drill Field last season, by whipping off his shirt and rallying the home supporters.

Although it was 3-1, Chester finally acted as though they could still get something out of the game. The referee even gave us a helping hand with a mammoth six minutes of stoppage time. But it wasn’t to be, and Northwich beat us in the league for the first time ever (where have you heard that before?). We must now look to our next two home games, including the New Year return game against Northwich, for a vital six points. The new management team have to restore the club’s fighting spirit before then. I wish them luck.

Sue Choularton
Saturday 15 December 2001
Chester City Youth v Macclesfield Town Youth
Football League Youth Alliance

Match postponed due to a frozen pitch.

[Youth Alliance]  
League Table
P
W
D
L
F
A
GD
Pts
 
Rotherham United
11
7
3
1
27
10
17
24
 
Port Vale
10
8
0
2
29
14
15
24
 
Stockport County
11
6
2
3
32
15
17
20
 
Shrewsbury Town
10
5
2
3
22
17
5
17
 
Mansfield Town
10
4
3
3
16
12
4
15
 
Macclesfield Town
10
1
6
3
9
10
-1
9
 
Lincoln City
10
2
2
6
11
23
-12
8
 
Chester City
10
1
4
5
8
23
-15
7
 
Chesterfield
10
1
0
9
12
42
-30
3
 
Table as at 17/12/01

Saturday 15 December 2001
Chester City 0 Southport 2
Nationwide Conference
Attendance: 1,473 Half Time: 0-0
Booked: Porter.

Chester City:
Brown, Jenkins, M.Rose, Ruffer, Halford, Porter, Carden, Blackburn, M.O'Brien, D.Brown (Haarhoff 65), Beesley. Subs not used: Ruscoe, Spink, C.O'Brien, S.Rose.
Southport: Dickinson, Lane, Clark, Teale, B.Jones, Howell, S.Jones, Grayston, Elam, Parke, Whitehall (Sullivan 84). Subs not used: Whittaker, Bauress, Connolly, Morgan.
Referee: A.Marriner (Birmingham).

[Match Programme]Travelling to the game, we listened to Steve Mungall talking about his latest signing from Buckley Town – on the evidence of this performance he's taken a step down in quality as City were, sadly, below par once again.

With memories of first-half setbacks in the majority of our recent matches it made a pleasant change to get off to a positive start with the Blues at least matching their better-placed opponents in terms of possession.

The return to the first XI of Carl Ruffer did much to inspire confidence and he issued a warning to the visitors with a teasing cross from the right which begged for a finishing touch.

Southport had their fair share of chances, the impressive Jones having their best opportunity of the first 45 before firing well over. Neil Greyston also went close but was denied by Wayne Brown.

In the latter stages of the half, on-loan forward David Brown played an increasing role, working well with Beesley but failing to produce much effort from opposing goalkeeper Dickinson.

It was therefore ironic that Chester’s best bit of play in the match came deep into first half stoppage time and was prevented from taking it’s natural course by the half time whistle. Still, it left us optimistic of continued City pressure after the interval.

Of course, it wasn’t to be and the problems that have recently been afflicting us in the first half came back to haunt us in the second. Following some initial attacking pressure, Southport came back into it and seemingly took a lead when they claimed the ball had crossed the line. It looked rather dubious and we got away with it, but it would even itself out later on.

Haarhoff replaced Brown early on to little effect, Jimmy unable to find a way through the defence and not given much chance to display any skill on the ball.

Beesley fired in a fair few attempts, criminally never testing a seemingly uncertain goalkeeper who took plenty of abuse for his ability or lack of it.

Despite their efforts going forward, Chester had looked continually unsafe in defence and so it happened that with ten minutes left to hold on, the assistant referee appeared to go to sleep and gift Southport a goal that was clearly offside. That said, the defence was as much to blame for allowing ex-Blue Whitehall through. Brown stood no chance as he was rounded for Whitehall to finish. The scorer was promptly substituted with the damage done.

Minutes later, another hint of offside preceeded a second Southport goal which had the majority heading for the exits, Simon Parke completing another afternoon of misery for the Blues with a left footed drive that had Brown beaten again.

Further disappointement came when Haarhoff bundled the ball into the goal following a goalkeeping error, only for it to be ruled out for an infringement.

Another game lost then and a Winter of discontent shows no sign of stopping for Blues fans who paused only to boo the team for another poor show. Boxing Day at Northwich will hopefully provide some festive cheer but unless the defence is seriously strengthened there seems little hope of a return to form. Up front also seems to be a problem, Beesley the only man capable of anything and even he was kept out of it here. Improvements are now essential if the rot is to stop.

Chris Hughes

Sunday 16 December 2001
Chester City Ladies 10 Wilmslow Albion Ladies 0
Cheshire Shield Quarter Final

The girls Vhit back’ on Sunday as they defeated Wilmslow Albion of the North West Division 3 (South) 10 goals to nil in the quarter final of the Cheshire Shield! The girls now eagerly await the results from the other ties to see who their opponents will be in the semi final.

The game, watched by about twelve members of the ISA and three Father Christmas’ was always stacked in Chester’s favour. The management team chose to remain with the side that was cruelly defeated by Newcastle United in the FA Cup and the home side remained in control throughout. It was important the girls showed their confidence remained intact after such an unexpected exit from the national competition a week a go. The expected goal feast was just the tonic. Cally Reid, Clare Reynolds, Jo Reynolds, Leigh Broadbent, and Lisa Pritchard all got their names on the score sheet and if not for another fine display by a visiting keeper, there could have been many many more goals.

The girls now travel to Scunthorpe United on Sunday 30th December. ‘Scunny’ were one of the Leagues early pace setters but have recently struggled to find any decent form having lost their last league ganme 2-0 to Blackburn Rovers, a team that Chester have already beaten twice this season.

Good news at the weekend also came in the form of a defeat for leaders Blackpool as they went down 3-1 to Middlesborough, the team that Chester defeated in the second round of the FA Cup! With just seven points separting the top 6 clubs and with Chester having two games in hand on some of those, at the halfway stage there's all to play for. 
Sunday 9 December 2001
Chester City Ladies 1 Newcastle United Ladies 2
Womens FA Cup Round 3

Chester City: Laura Edwards, Michelle Hounslow, Linda Grainger, Annette Jones, Joanne Reynolds, Claire Reynolds, Helen Cann, Lisa Pritchard, Michelle Brady, Sarah Tyson, Caly Reid (Leigh Broadbent 60).

The girls found themselves up against a very bright Newcastle side who played well on the break. Within 35 minutes the visitors were 2-0 up and a lack lustre Chester side could do little to stop the onslaught. Poor passing, little supply through to the forwards and an absent midfield meant that the home side were unable to gain any time and space on the ball.

The home manager introduced Leigh Broadbent 30 minutes from time and the effect was immediate. Cally Reid made way for the substitution and Clare Reynolds moved forward to join Sarah Tyson and with 13 minutes remaining, a bobbling ball fell to Clare Reynolds who had time to strike the ball toward the left corner. The Newcastle keeper, who had played superbly to keep the Geordies, in the game during te second half, could only palm the ball into the net. Time after time the home side then threatened but even at the death couldn't convert the pressure into goals, when Clare had a similar chance but this time the ball rebounded off a defender to safety.

Many thanks to everyone who took the time to come and support the girls but it was a very disappointing afternoon for everyone concerned. The girls have a chance to bounce back when they are again in cup action against Wilmslow Albion in the Quarter Finals of the Cheshire Cup – at home kick off 14:00hrs.
Saturday 8 December 2001
Chester City 1 Morecambe 1
Nationwide Conference
Attendance: 1,466 Half Time: 0-1
Booked: Blackburn, Jenkins.

Chester City:
Brown, Jenkins, M.Rose, Halford, Carden, Lancaster (S.Rose 25), C.O'Brien, Blackburn, Ruscoe, Beesley, Malkin (Williams 16). Subs not used: Haarhoff, Higgins, Woodyatt.
Morecambe: Mawson, Fensone, McKearney, Murphy, Hardiker, Drummond, Perkins (Black 45), Thompson, Talbot (Norman 62), Arnold, Rigoglioso (McGuire 66). Subs not used: Curtis, Willcock.
Referee: M.Williams (Hereford).

[Match Programme]It was certainly a day of firsts. It was my debut trip to Chester this season, we heard Cleggy’s voice back on the PA for the first time in months, Iain Jenkins was making his first appearance for the Blues in nearly four years, and we saw Paul Carden return to the Deva. But sadly we didn’t claim the most important first of all – a much-needed home and away double. We had easily beaten Morecambe 3-0 less than two months ago, just after Steve Mungall was put in charge of the team. But when the Shrimps returned to face us at home, we couldn't repeat that performance.

The Blues started with some confidence, with birthday boy Mark Beesley looking determined to match Stuart Rimmer’s 21st celebration – four goals against a team from Lancashire. Carden was also straight into the action, and a perfect pass on around ten minutes saw Beesley have an early sight of goal. But it was a difficult angle, and the ball hit the side netting.

Our confidence remained buoyant a few minutes later when Chris Malkin hobbled off with a groin injury to be replaced by Gary Williams. Malkin has never looked like the strikeforce he once might have been – while Williams is full of pace, passion and promise. Our defence was even looking slightly steadier with the welcome return of Jenkins. He demonstrated throughout the game that, although he might have lost half a yard of pace, he hasn’t lost that basic consistency – just what we need.

But the game turned against us after 20 minutes. First Morecambe’s Gary Thompson rattled the crossbar when he was gifted a shot on the edge of the area. Then moments later the ref blew for a penalty when he ruled that Steve Halford had shoved Ian Arnold. It was a harsh decision – I didn’t notice an appeal from any of the Morecambe players. But Arnold took a perfect free kick and Brownie dived the wrong way.

Arnold was certainly one of the least popular scorers at the Deva. He went out of his way throughout the game to win free kicks at any opportunity. You probably won't see better acting in this year's Christmas panto.

The Blues’ bad luck continued when transfer-listed Martyn Lancaster, who had been out to prove he deserves a team place, clashed heads with one of the Shrimps and had to be helped off the pitch. I hope it’s not his last appearance at the Deva. He certainly deserves another chance. Lancaster’s replacement, fellow transfer listee Steve Rose, did not do much to impress. I can’t be the only one who doesn’t want him to have another chance.

The highlight of the first half was when substitute Jimmy Haarhoff accidentally tripped the linesman up as the two were running down the line. It bought the biggest cheer of the first half from the Deva faithful.

When the second half began, the unfortunate linesman was at centre stage. For some reason the original ref, Mr Williams from Hereford, was unable to continue. We soon heard the biggest Chester cheer of the day when Beesley had plenty of time to slot home from six yards after a Chris Blackburn cross. Beesley’s birthday celebrations began and with 41 minutes still to go, there was still the chance he could repeat Rimmer’s triumph.

But it wasn’t to be. Morecambe had three or four chances to finish the Blues off. They had at least two open net opportunities that they somehow missed. And the replacement ref didn't endear himself to the Shrimps’ fans, when he refused to believe the ball had crossed the line as Brownie clutched it.

Frankly Chester were lucky to scrape a draw. It could have been far worse if Morecambe had got their shooting boots on. And Brown was lucky the referee didn’t see his cynical foot-up challenge as he clattered into a Morecambe player on the edge of the area in the first half.

It’s hard to think of some crumbs of comfort as we head into Christmas sitting second bottom of the Conference. You may find some cheer in realising that we’ve got more points than Wrexham and only one less point than Manchester United. That seems like a rare treat at this time of year. But remember they’re leagues above us.

There’s plenty of festive football fayre facing us over the next few weeks – we’ve absolutely got to get something out of it other than a stuffing or a roasting.

Sue Choularton

Sunday 2 December 2001
Bradford City Ladies 0 Chester City Ladies 3
Northern Combination League

On Sunday, the girls, supported by our merry band, travelled to play a much improved Bradford City side in a Northern Combination league fixture. The teams appeared to be evenly matched and it was no surprise that at half time the score remained 0-0 although the visitors had pressed and created more chances.

Chester started the second half in the same vein. Passes were going astray and on more than one occasion, Jo Reynolds’ pace was called upon to Chase back and make last ditch challenges. In addition, Laura Edwards was forced to come to the very edge of her box to make a one-on-one save to keep the hosts at bay. After 20 minutes of the second half, the Bradford team simply ran out of steam and Chester revelled in the space that the home team now allowed them. A tiring Rachel McKenzie was switched into a striker’s role to allow Clare Reynolds even more space on the right and within minutes she found herself facing the advancing Bradford keeper. She looked once, and coolly placed the ball past the stranded keeper and into the unguarded net. A similar opportunity presented itself again shortly after and again, ‘sticks’ made no mistake. The Bradford team were in disarray by now and the Chester team were knocking cross field balls around for fun. Lisa Pritchard and Michelle Brady were able to control the pace of the game with ease and Helen Cann and Clare Reynolds remained wide to open up the home side further.

In the final ten minutes, Michelle ‘sass’ Berry replaced Macca to allow Annette Jones to switch to a sweeping role. The icing on the cake came when Helen ‘H’ Cann was released on the left to attack the 18 yard area. Once inside the box, she had the audacity to chip the keeper. The ball nestled in the right hand corner of the net and the referee blew for full time.

The result means the girls remain fifth on goal difference, but they are on equal points with Manchester United and Middlesbrough who are third and fourth respectively – not bad for our first season though!

Many thanks again goes to all the supporters who made the journey. They told me they have already reserved their seats in the stand at County Officers Club for the FA Cup third round tie this coming Sunday and I hope many more will make the effort to support the girls as they attempt to progress in to the fourth round of the FA Cup for a second season.

League Table
P
Pts
 
Blackpool Wren Rovers
9
25
 
Scunthorpe United
9
22
 
Middlesbrough
9
18
 
Manchester United
10
18
 
Chester City
10
18
 
Newcastle
11
16
 
Stockport County
9
13
 
Blackburn Rovers
8
13
 
Chester-le-Street
10
8
 
Huddersfield Town
8
6
 
Bradford City
11
5
 
Leeds City Vixens
10
3
 
 
Table as at 3/12/01 
Saturday 1 December 2001
Woking 2 Chester City 1
Nationwide Conference
Attendance: 1,793 Half Time: 2-0
Booked: Brown, Carden.


Woking: Tucker, Piper, Pitman, Saunders, Smith, Moore, Perkins, Fowler (Reeks 84), Kadi (Haughton 53), West, Sharpling. Subs not used: Hibburt, Steele, Baverstock.
Chester City: Brown, Ruscoe, M.Rose, Porter, Lancaster, Halford, S.Rose, Blackburn, Carden (Williams 78), Malkin (M.O'Brien 78), Beesley. Subs not used: Kerr, Woodyatt, Wright.
Referee: L.Probert (Bridgwater).

[Match Programme] Chester arrived at Kingfield with a weakened side and some worries about getting stuck near the bottom of the Conference. Steve Rose was drafted in by Mungall to fill Chris O’Brien's holding role in defence. Ruffer was out injured but Mike O’Brien was on the bench. The veteran Malkin was preferred to on-loan youngster Gary Williams up front. Paul Carden returned to City colours after his exile at Doncaster.

Both teams came into the game trying to recover some form and both began lacking in confidence. City also seemed to lack organisation. They began with three at the back – Steve Rose in between Lancaster and Halford. It was an unfamliar role for Rose and he was soon struggling. His slip let in Perkins but Lancaster managed to clear the danger.

On twelve minutes a poor kick by Brown put pressure on City’s defence. The ball was knocked back to Woking’s right. Halford seemed to cover the danger but – in trying to play the ball out lost it to Sharpling who crossed for Cardinals' captain Steve West to head in easily. A slipshod goal to give away.

City tried to reply positively but their play was disjointed and lacked pattern. Beesley had a shot on target which Tucker saved at full stretch and Blackburn's header was comfortably saved a couple of minutes later.

On twenty-five minutes City went further behind. Steve Rose knocked the ball out for a corner on Woking’s right and once again West rose to head firmly home through a crowd of players.

On thirty-two minutes Brown was booked for recklessly racing out of his goal and bringing down Fowler. City were coming apart at the seams.

A few minutes before the interval, however, Chester changed tactics – moving Steve Rose out to right back and Ruscoe into midfield as they played with a flat back four. Almost immediately they began to string some passes together and apply a bit of pressure on the hosts goal. Beesley and Blackburn both had half chances as the ball ran loose in Woking’s area but Beesley dragged his shot across goal and wide.

The second half – viewed from high up in Kingfield’s magnificent stand – saw Chester play much better. The midfield of Blackburn, Carden, Porter and Ruscoe played like a well oiled machine and the Rose brothers found plenty of space on either wing to overlap and cross the ball dangerously.

On fifty minutes Blackburn burst into the box but shot into the side netting. On 54 minutes Mike Rose’s blistering free kick was finger tipped on to the bar by Woking keeper, Tucker. Chester were a bit more exposed on the breakaway now as they chased the game but Lancaster made a fine saving tackle as Woking threatened.

A Chester goal was on the cards though, and Blackburn duly got it when his looping header from Malkin’s knock-back sailed over Tucker and into the back of the net. City continued to overwhelm the jittery Cardinals and looked as if they would equalise a minute after the goal. Blackburn's rasping shot was parried by Tucker. Malkin seemed certain to score from the rebound but Tucker managed to get his body in the way and knock it behind for a corner.

Steve Rose, looking much more comfortable in the wing back role, crossed for Blackburn who didn’t quite get enough purchase on his header and it glanced wide. Then it was Mike Rose’s turn to have another long range shot which nearly squirmed through Tucker on the line.

An equaliser looked inevitable but didn’t arrive. Beesley might have hit the ball first time when it fell at his feet in the box from Blackburn’s assist – but his touch let him down. Mungall threw Mike O’Brien and Williams on for Carden and Malkin respectively but the game went off the boil as Woking played for time.

Beesley broke well down the right and his cross found Mike Rose in space on the edge of the box but, when he had more time than he realised, the left back’s first time shot was high, wide and (not very) handsome.

If Chester had played from the start as they did the second half, they would surely have travelled back with at least a point. Unfortunately the damage had been done already as City struggled to come to terms with their starting formation.

I believe City have the ability not to go down, despite these two recent defeats at Dover and now Woking, but they have increased the pressure on themselves and there is bound to be plenty of anxiety around when they next take the field at the Deva against Morecambe. As Corporal Jones might say – “Don't panic everyone”.

Colin Mansley
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