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Saturday 28 December 2002
Chester City 4 Telford United 1

Nationwide Conference
Attendance: 2,594 Half Time 1-0
Booked: Carden.

Chester City:
W.Brown, Hatswell, Guyett (M.Brown 46), Bolland, Hatswell, McIntyre, Carden, Beesley, Carey (Ruffer 45), Davies, Clare, Twiss. Subs not used: Brady, Woodyatt, Lancaster.
Telford United: Edwards (Jones 23), Woolliscroft, Hanmer, Davies, Foran, Smith, Moore, King, D.Brown, Jobling, Sayer. Sub not used: Lormor. [only two substituts named].
Referee: G.Sutton (Lincoln).

ProgrammeAs we head into 2003, it’s worth reminding ourselves what a refreshing change it is for Chester fans to be arguing amongst themselves after the game about burning issues like who was the man of the match (Ben Davies or Michael Twiss?) and who made that sublime pass for Daryl Clare to score the second goal (Mark Beesley or Twiss?).

This time last year we were struggling towards the bottom of the Conference, with a caretaker management team in charge. Even the most optimistic of Chester supporters couldn’t deny that we were staring relegation in the face and the fans were still feuding with each other. But 12 months later, and with Terry Smith well and truly forgotten, there’s a totally different air at Deva Stadium.

Following the disappointing derby draw on Boxing Day, there were some pre-match nerves jangling around the ground. But when the team was announced, it was clear Mark Wright was approaching this game with complete confidence. He’d opted for Beesley to partner Clare up front, supported by fellow goal poacher Twiss.

Poor Telford, suffering from injuries and suspensions, could only find two players to sit on the bench. The Bucks’ management team must have been jealous of the substitutes Wright had available (Lee Woodyatt, Mickey Brown, Carl Ruffer, Martyn Lancaster and Jon Brady). It’s so reassuring to know that the Blues finally have some strength in depth.

After the traditional Harry McNally-style kick-off (does that ever get us anywhere?), the Blues dominated the opening exchanges. Phil Bolland missed an early header from a Davies’ free kick, and Kevin McIntyre soon tested Telford ‘keeper Paul Edwards.

But Michael Twiss, who had a hand in three of City’s four goals and was a deserved man of the match, grabbed his first opportunity. He beat three Telford players before crossing the ball for Davies to head smartly home. There were only 21 minutes gone and the Bucks already looked well-beaten.

They looked in further trouble when Clare accidentally collided with Edwards as they both jumped for the ball. The game was stopped for a good five minutes while Edwards was treated, and he was eventually taken to hospital with a suspected broken leg. Luckily for Telford, one of their two substitutes – Craig Jones – was a keeper.

The Bucks then tried to muscle their way back into the game. Their solid captain, Mark Foran, clashed into Scott Guyett on the edge of the area. Cue another ambulance – this time for Guyett. He was taken to hospital at half-time suffering from suspected concussion, and will probably miss the next two weeks.

After those two injuries, the referee added an extra seven minutes to the first half. He finally blew up at 3.55pm, with Chester fans doubting if they’d get back to their cars to hear the 5pm results on the radio.

Mickey Brown came on to replace Guyett in the second half, meaning Telford had to face yet another attack-minded player. But it was Twiss who, yet again, tore the opponents’ defence apart. He powered towards goal, looking like nothing was going to stop him, then made an excellent pass across the box to Clare. He fooled the Telford defenders by feigning to shoot, then struck a sweet shot straight past the hapless Jones.

The Deva nerves returned slightly when Telford were awarded a penalty after Paul Carden brought down former Chester player David Brown. He took the spot-kick, only for his namesake Wayne Brown to parry it straight out. But David Brown made no mistake with the rebound and it was 2-1.

This seemed to restore Chester’s determination and a few minutes later Twiss struck a thunderous ball from 25 yards out. It rattled the crossbar like no shot I’d ever seen. I’m sure there’d have been a risk of it ripping the net if it had gone in.

Soon after Beesley’s obvious determination to earn his right to a first-team place paid off when a Wayne Hatswell cross found him close to the Telford goal-line. Beesley had no problem heading it home through the arms of the substitute ‘keeper.

Chester still looked like scoring another goal – and the inevitable came when Brown crossed to Twiss as the Blues pressed forward again. Twiss ran across the edge of the box as Telford defender Jordan King approached. King had no choice but to lunge for the ball. However Twiss was far too fast for him, and King caught the man instead of the ball. It then looked for a moment like Clare and Beesley were ‘having words’ over who should take the resultant penalty. But Clare held onto the ball and had no problem sending Jones the wrong way.

Clare seemed keen to earn another hat-trick in the game’s dying minutes, but the ebullient Chester midfield spent the closing moments ‘showboating’ the ball around. Beaten Telford could only look on as the Blues sprayed the ball across the park. With the final whistle came the news that Yeovil had only managed a draw against Barnet, while Doncaster had secured another victory. But we’ll have no problem facing either of their challenges if we continue to play with the same style in 2003.

Sue Choularton
Saturday 28 December 2002
Northwich Victoria Reserves 1 Chester City Reserves 2
Lancashire League Division One

Chester City:
Jon Worsnop, Adam Hunter (Tony McLaughlin), Ian Lathom, John Keegan, John Davies, Paul Connolly, John Moore, Michael Simpson, Danny Ventre (David Pennell), Matty Cook, Lee Reece.

Goals from Matty Cook and Michael Simpson gave the reserves, a team consisting of mostly Youth Team players, a 2-1 victory at Northwich Victoria today.

Thursday 26 December 2002
Northwich Victoria 1 Chester City 1

Nationwide Conference
Attendance: 2,305 Half Time 1-0
Booked: Twiss, Guyett. Sent Off: Bolland.

Northwich Victoria: Parry, Royle, Rioch, Ingram, Sedgemore, Norris (Garvey 77), Owen, Devlin, Griggs (Taylor 77), Allan (Quinn 81), Blundell. Subs not used: Connett, Came.
Chester City:
W.Brown, Hatswell, Guyett, Bolland, Brady (M.Brown 69), Carden, Carey (Kelly 60), Davies, McIntyre, Clare, Twiss (Ruffer 71). Subs not used: Beesley, Woodyatt.
Referee: D.Richardson (Halifax).

ProgrammeAnyone expecting our Cheshire cousins to give us a gift-wrapped three points for Christmas was left choking on their turkeys when they left Wincham Park.

This derby game was as flat and predictable as the festive TV offering, and the Blues were lucky to earn a point for their efforts – and luckier that league rivals Yeovil went down 2-1 at Forest Green.

One of the most entertaining parts of the afternoon came when a streaker wearing nothing but a Santa hat ran onto the pitch from the Vics’ end. But even he did not generate much enthusiasm – it seemed an age before the stewards could be bothered to find a coat to cover him up. The police didn't do anything about him either, as they were too busy videoing all the Chester fans instead.

In truth, the game was not helped by referee Mr D Richardson, who seemed intent on blowing up for every small misdemeanor. The Northwich players did not help the game flow either – they seemed ready to collapse on the pitch for a rest at any opportunity.

Chester made the best of most of the first half, with the familiar game plan of getting the ball to Jon Brady, for him to cross it into the box. But Vics’ goalkeeper Matthew Parry got the better of him every time.

City’s best chances of the first half came with alternative attempts to find the target. Daryl Clare was heading for goal when he was fouled by a Northwich defender, resulting in the first yellow card of the game.

Soon after, Kevin McIntyre had a golden opportunity to shoot right in front of goal, but he somehow slipped on the ball and Chester’s best chance of the first half went begging.

Until then Northwich had seen a couple of shots saved by Wayne Brown, and the ball was kicked off the Chester line in a goalmouth scramble. But when the home side’s goal came in the 44th minute, it was against the run of play. Vics’ frontman Gregg Blundell was gifted the ball by Kevin McIntyre. Blundell neatly passed to strike partner Mark Devlin, who had no trouble slotting the ball past Brown.

Chester came out with more determination in the second half. They must have heard that Yeovil were 2-0 down at Forest Green Rovers and seemed more intent on making the most of every opportunity.

Within two minutes Scott Guyett missed a great chance to knock a header home from a McIntyre cross, when Parry made another excellent save. We’d barely recovered from that miss, when the resultant Macca corner found the head of Michael Twiss. He had no trouble finding the target and it was our turn to laugh at the large and loud Vics’ fan who was well outnumbered in the stand.

Daryl Clare, who was playing despite not being 100% fit, continued to be Chester’s most threatening player. He skipped past two defenders only to be stopped by a well-timed tackle by Northwich defender Greg Rioch.

Fussy Mr Richardson then made his strangest decision of all. Phil Bolland appeared to catch the heels of Northwich’s Jon Allen, who fell straight to the ground. To everyone’s amazement, Bolland was red-carded.

Mark Wright immediately took Twiss off and put Carl Ruffer in Bolland’s place in the back line. His arrival bought a grin from Blundell as he met up with the player he scythed down in the same fixture last season.

But there were no sparks flying by that stage and the game ebbed away to its inevitable conclusion. Chester pressed forward in the last ten minutes, but with no serious attempts on goal. Both sides seemed happy to settle for a draw as the heavy pitch began to take its toll.

Wincham Park is not the best football venue in the world – although one of the day’s highlights was the glorious sunset over the Cheshire plain. Perhaps that says it all about the entertainment on show. Let’s hope Chester put in a brighter performance when they face Telford at home on Saturday.

Sue Choularton

Twiss Booked City Raid  

Saturday 21 December 2002
Bamber Bridge Reserves 1 Chester City Reserves 1
Lancashire League Division One

Chester City:
Jon Worsnop, Lee Woodyatt, Phil Hadland, Martyn Lancaster, Carl Ruffer, John Keegan, Blake Norton, Jimmy Kelly, Michael Brown, Peter Dogun (Michael Simpson), Michael Twiss.

A goal from Carl Ruffer gives the Blues a draw and keeps them eigth place in the division with 19 points from 10 games.

Friday 20 December 2002
Chester City 0 Hereford United 1

Nationwide Conference
Attendance: 2,507 Half Time 0-0
Booked: McIntyre, Clare.

Chester City: W.Brown, Guyett, Bolland, Hatswell, McIntyre, Davies, Carey, Carden, Brady (M.Brown 64), Clare, Sugden (Cameron 64). Subs not used: Kelly, Ruffer, Twiss.
Hereford United: Baker, Clarke, Rose, Tretton, James, Pitman, Williams, Smith (Purdey 72), Parry (Wright 89), Grant, Guinan. Subs not used: Griffiths, Teesdale, Sawyers.
Referee: M.Matadar (Lancashire).

City were hit by the classic sucker punch with just four minutes left on the clock as they were edged out of a highly competetive game by a prodigously hard-working Hereford.

Perhaps Chester were unlucky to lose, on the balance of play they held the upper hand, forcing ten corners in the first half alone. But they didn’t quite do enough to win it on a night when the ball wouldnt drop for the forwards. Hereford’s tigerish midfield meant that Chester couldn’t impose themselves on the game and chances were few and far between.

Despite a flurry of corners Chester couldn’t direct their headers goalwards – too often they flashed over the bar. McIntyre was booked for diving on the edge of the penalty area – after he had received lengthy treatment where he fell. Brady cut in excitingly from the right but his tame shot was well wide.

At least Brady was more awake than Kieron Dyer in the Nou Camp when he cleared a goal bound header from the far post following a corner. Grant, signed from Crewe in the close season was a handfull up front for the Bulls – all arms and legs but running and closing down tirelessly. He carved out a good opening for himself on the edge of the box but scuffed his shot straight at Brown.

City made a good start to the second half and had the visitors on the back foot again. But they defended well. Clare and Sugden worked hard but City’s midfield were cautiously distant behind them and – though improved in the second period – were still harried off the ball by the energetic Bulls.

Clare had a curling shot saved comfortably by Baker but then just failed to get a touch on a cross which narrowly missed the post. A few minutes later McIntyre’s menacing cross from the left just eluded Clare’s desperate lunge. Hot-shot Clare went close again when his direct free kick from the edge of the area took a slight deflection and skimmed past the upright for a corner.

Brown and Cameron replaced Brady and Sugden and the fresh legs nearly brought immediate reward. Cameron broke free down the right and pulled the ball back for Clare who only got it tangled in his feet and the chance escaped. Micky Brown burst behind the defence only to see brought back for a free kick after he had shaken off the defender. The referee missed the chance to play advantage.

A Brown corner eluded everyone and bounced off the foot of the far post and a towering Guyett header went wide of the gaping goal.

As City pressed for a winner they were caught on the break. The ball was worked down the left to Guignan in acres of space down the middle. He shot from outside the area past a backpedalling Bolland and the ball struck the foot of the post and spun into the back of the net. Clare was booked in the aftermath for something he said.

Brown pulled off a superb save a couple of minutes later to stop the score being doubly cruel. It was always going to be a tough game and Hereford were rewarded for their disciplined performance.

With the Bulls wearing red and a referee named Matadar I felt there must be a joke in there somewhere but it was Hereford who had the last laugh. It will be a real test to see how City react to this defeat over the next few games.

Colin Mansley

Wednesday 18 December 2002
Wrexham Youth 0 Chester City Youth 2
Youth Alliance North Central Conference

Chester City:
Louis Macken, Adam Hunter (Danny Ventre), Ian Lathom, Matty Cook, Paul Connolly, John Davies, Adam Kelly, Michael Simpson, John Moore, Dean Buckley, Lee Reece.

Two goals from Michael Simpson, one from the penalty spot gave the youth team victory over their local rivals.

Saturday 14 December 2002
Chester City Youth 1 Doncaster Rovers Youth 2
Youth Alliance North Central Conference

Chester City:
Louis Macken, Adam Hunter, Ian Lathom, Matty Cook, Paul Connolly (John Davies), Peter Dogun (Danny Ventre), Adam Kelly, Michael Simpson (Tony McLaughlin), Dean Buckley, John Moore, Lee Reece.

Saturday 14 December 2002
Leigh RMI 0 Chester City 4

Nationwide Conference
Attendance: 851 Half Time 0-3
Booked: Davies.

Leigh RMI: Coburn, Monk, Robertson (Fisher 62), Durkin, Fitzhenry, Heald (Tolson 45), Kielty, Maden, Salt, Whittaker, Maamria (Courtney 80). Subs not used: Williams, Kendrick.
Chester City: W.Brown, Guyett, Bolland, Hatswell, McIntyre, Carey, Carden, Davies, Brady (Kelly 71), Clare, Sugden (Twiss 82). Subs not used: M.Brown, Ruffer, Cameron.
Referee: M.Williams (Hereford).

[Programme]This game was over as a contest at half-time after City, with Daryl Clare in the starting line-up, cruised to a three goal lead before the break. The Blues kept the same side that lost at Morecambe in the Cup seven days earlier though Dave Cameron was recalled to the bench.

Several hundred City fans made the relatively short trip to Hilton Park and were rewarded with the opening goal after just six minutes. Kevin McIntyre’s inswinging far post corner was headed back across goal by Phil Bolland (or was it Wayne Hatswell?) for Scott Guyett to nod in his second league goal of the season from six yards to give City a dream start.

Four minutes later another corner was scrambled clear as the Blues pressed for a second goal. City’s midfield was getting to grips though Ben Davies, collected his fourth booking of the season for a 15th minute foul on Phillip Salt. Shaun Carey sent in an inviting cross that was cleared for a corner by Neil Durkin though Carden’s flag kick was cleared.

Stuart Whittaker had the home sides first effort shooting wide with a 25-yard free-kick, and that was to prove Leigh’s only real effort of the half.

On 26 minutes though Chester doubled their lead and it was goal machine Clare finding the net. Good running by Ryan Sugden forced the Leigh defence into a mistake. Andy Heald attempted a back pass to Coburn but the alert Clare nipped in to round the keeper and score from a narrow angle. A superb opportunist strike.

The Blues forced a succession of corners to no avail but almost grabbed a third as Coburn had to be alert to punch clear another teasing Carey free-kick. The keeper was also on hand to tip-over a rasping shot from Hatswell.

Five minutes before the break City scored their third and this time Clare was the provider as he outpaced former City player Neil Fitzhenry to cross for Sugden to drill the ball home from 18 yards to kill the game off.

Minutes after the break Clare missed the chance of his second when he shot wide of goal after good approach play from the busy Paul Carden.

Whittaker again produced his sides best chance of the half with a superb shot that Brown pushed wide, and the home side should have pulled one back as Dino Maamria shot over from six yards with Brown, for once, beaten. City bounced back with Coburn saving a Clare shot

Mark Wright introduced Jimmy Kelly for John Brady and former Leigh star Michael Twiss for Sugden and it was Twiss instrumental in City’s fourth goal six minutes from time. Twiss showed great pace surging down the left and his pinpoint cross was met with a powerful header by Clare to round off the scoring.
Saturday 7 December 2002
Chester City Youth 0 Mansfield Town Youth 2
Youth Alliance North Central Conference

Chester City: Louie Macken, Matt Cook, Paul Connolly, Ian Lathom, Danny Ventre (Adam Hunter), Adam Kelly, Trialist, Mike Simpson (Danny L Ventre), Dean Buckley, John Moore, Lee Reece (Tony McGlaughlin).

The youth team went down 2-0 at home to league leaders Mansfield Town on Saturday. They found themselves two goals behind by half time. The second half saw goalkeeper Louie Macken save a penalty to stop Mansfield from increasing their lead.

Saturday 7 December 2002
Morecambe 3 Chester City 2

F.A.Cup Round 2
Attendance: 4,293 Half Time 2-2
Booked: Davies, Ruffer, Guyett, Carden. Sent Off: Sugden.

Morecambe: Mawson, McKearney, Colkin, Bentley, Drummond, Rigoglioso, Thompson (Black 74), Swan, Carlton (Curtis 65), Stringfellow, Elam. Subs: Murphy, Talbot, Uberschar.
Chester City: W.Brown, McIntyre, Bolland, Guyett, Hatswell, Carden, Carey (Kelly 52), Davies (M.Brown 65), Brady (Ruffer 52), Sugden, Clare. Subs: Twiss, Beesley.
Referee: A.Marriner (Birmingham).

Programme City crashed out the the FA Cup in controversial circumstances as the Blues saw Red for the second time in a week. Following Daryl Clare’s dismissal last week at Southport, Ryan Sugden was given his marching orders just before the break in an incident that transformed the game.

Manager Mark Wright selected the same side as last week though there was room on the bench for midfielder Jimmy Kelly, making a long-awaited return from his knee injury. Over 1,100 City fans made the trip north and contributed to a great atmosphere at Christie Park.

It was the Blues who started brightly forcing a corner after only two minutes, John Brady’s inswinging effort being cleared. It was eight minutes before Wane Brown was called into the game catching a Lee Elam cross as the home side pressed as John Brady was on hand to clear following a corner from Adriano Rigoglioso.

City’s midfield was working hard and Daryl Clare covered a lot of ground up front. Kevin Mcintyre tried his luck with a drilled shot wide from 20 yards. City continued to press forcing two corners though Brady’s a McIntyre’s efforts drifted away to nothing. Another McIntyre corner minutes later though found the towering Phil Bolland whose header went over the bar from 18 yards.

On 25 minutes though the same combination gave City the lead, as this time, Bolland met McIntyre’s cross superbly to head the Blues ahead at the far post and embarked on a curious goal celebration routine.

The lead only lasted for three minutes though. A Shaun Carey foul led to a Rigoglioso free-kick that was half-cleared by the City defence to Jim Bentley who volleyed home from 18 yards.

Minutes later Bentley was booked for handball and Brown had to be alter in the City goal to save from Stringfellow.

Three minutes before the break the Blues once again took the lead. Kevin McIntyre’s cross, and Brady’s shot, caused panic in the home defence and with the ball bouncing around Clare was on hand to head home past two defenders from six yards out, cue celebration routine number two.

The game was heading into added on time when Sugden and Lee Colkin were involved in an off-the-ball clash. After consulting the linesman referee Marriner gave a straight red card to the striker, who had a word with the official before departing. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse Bentley scored again following another loose clearance from City’s defence to send the sides in level.

Ben Davies was booked soon after the break, Wayne Brown comfortably saving the resulting free-kick from Rigoglioso. Minutes later manager Wright rang the changes bringing on Carl Ruffer and Jimmy Kelly for Shaun Carey and John Brady. It wasn’t long before Ruffer also found himself in Marriner’s notebook following a foul on Elam. McIntyre was on hand to block a shot from David McKearney before the home side took the lead on 57 minutes when Rigoglioso volleyed home from 18 yards.

Scott Guyett was the next City player to find himself in the book before Wright threw on Micky Brown for Ben Davies as ten-man City searched for an equaliser.

Clare tried his luck with an overhead kick following a McIntyre corner and soon later the same defender saw his power-drive free-kick hit the Morecambe wall.

Jimmy Kelly signalled his return with a 30-yarder saved well by Craig Mawson in the home goal but as much as City pushed, and they fought well forcing several corners, the couldn't break down the home defence.
There was a great feel to the ground when we arrived. The chants were non-stop while on the other hand the Morcambe fans were never to be heard. The game started off brightly with Chester doing most of the attacking. A deep corner by Kevin Mcintyre was met well by Phil Bolland, 1-0 to the blues! Morcambe always looking dangerous on the break won a corner and a spectacular volley by Jim Bentley made it 1-1. At last the Morcambe fans started to make some noise.

City’s second was scored by no other than Daryl Clare and which was followed by a great celebration (press-ups with no top on). Near the end of the second half there player went to the ground off the ball and so Ryan Sugden was off. We won a goal kick in the last minute of the first half but the ref gave a corner and they scored off it. The city fans and players went mad and the referee was rightly booed off the pitch.

Morcambe started off the second half the better with an early goal and then was followed by a great save from Wayne Brown. Mickey brown (Truman) came on and we looked more lively upfront. In the last five minutes we dominated and won a lot of corners. Sadly we did not score and they won the game.

With fireworks going off the Chester fans still chanted them off the pitch with a good performance considering we only had ten men. Hopefully we can do better next time.

Matt Kirkham. Age 14
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