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30 December 2005

Record signing Gregg Blundell is expected to be named in the squad for City’s Cheshire derby at Macclesfield Town tomorrow (15:00hrs). The striker who notched six goals in his first seven games for the Blues has missed the last ten League outings through a three month injury injury but is eager to make up for lost time on his return.

Blundell said: “Hopefully I can get back in and start chipping in with a few extra goals. I owe the lads in the team a few. I’ve been out a long time so even if I was just to get five minutes I would be delighted.” Blundell appeared on the pitch with the rest of the squad prior to the Cheltenham game but manager Keith Curle decided against naming him in the starting squad at Whaddon Road.

City will be looking to bounce back from a run of three straight defeats that has seen them slip to eighth in League Two, a point behind Wrexham who currently occupy the last play-off spot in a very tight group at the top end of the table.

Opponents Macclesfied will have been buoyed by a 6-0 thrashing of neighbours Stockport County in their last outing on Boxing Day that lifted them to 20th place. They have a good home record at Moss Rose with five wins and six draws in their 13 matches. Blues manager Keith Curle believes Macclesfield will prove strong opposition tomorrow. He said: “I think Macclesfield are in a false position in the league table and I think their 6-0 win against Stockport County proved that. They are showing good form and it will be a very difficult place to go and get a result.”

However problems off the pitch threaten the future of the east Cheshire side. The Silkmen must find around £300,000 buy the end of January after the club was fined £62,000 by the FA in regard to the spending of funds for their new Estate Road stand under previous owners. They were also ordered to pay back £195,000 to the Football Foundation, and must also pay costs on their hearing. Expect a bucket collection to be staged tomorrow by supporters as the club continue to raise funds to pay the fine.

Goals from Stewart Drummond and a scorcher from Kevin Ellison brought a 2-1 victory in monsoon conditions at Macc on our last visit at the start of the year.

Picture © Evening Leader
The FA Cup game at Cheltenham Town on 7 January is NOT all-ticket however discounted adult tickets can be bought in advance from the Deva. Advance seat prices are £15 (adult), £12 (conc) and £7 (under-16). Tickets can be bought after Monday’s home game against Oxford United and from the ticket office between 10:00-16:00 for the remainder of next week. Note that there is no discount available on the concession and under-16 prices.
28 December 2005

Today’s home game with Wrexham was postponed due to a frozen pitch. An inspection at 09:30 left referee Scott Mathieson with no choice but to postpone the eagerly awaited clash as the overnight frost had penetrated the ground sheets used to protect areas of the pitch. As yet no date has been set for the rescheduled fixture. Existing tickets will be valid for the new date – no refunds are being offered by the club.

27 December 2005

Manager Keith Curle is looking forward to his first Chester-Wrexham derby tomorrow. Saturday’s defeat at Cheltenham Town saw the Blues slip two places in League Two and below their Welsh rivals whose 2-1 win over Rochdale lifted them to sixth place.

Despite having plenty of second-half possession, the Blues failed to really test home keeper Higgs and lost out to a goal four minutes after the break when John Ruddy could only punch a cross from the lively Odejayi straight to Brian Wilson, who drilled the ball home from 12 yards. The Blues will be hoping for better in a little under two weeks time when they revisit Whaddon Road for their third round FA Cup tie.

Ahead of the Wrexham match Curle told the Evening Leader: “The derby match was mentioned after our defeat at Cheltenham – we’re going to go out against Wrexham with our heads held high. The Wrexham match provides us with a great opportunity to bounce back in front of a full house. The players will need a positive mental attitude. I want my players to go out thinking and believing they are going to score the winning goal and do their best. I know we’ve been beaten in our last three games – but that all goes out of the window when we go out for a derby game. I’m relishing tomorrow’s match because it will be the first time I will see a full house at Chester and I want to be part of it.”

Picture © Evening Leader
Supporters are urged to arrive in plenty of time for tomorrow’s derby match against Wrexham at Deva Stadium. Turnstiles will open at 10:00, two hours ahead of the noon kick-off and with traffic restrictions in place on Sealand Road and Bumpers Lane fans are advised to park-up early and walk to the ground. Once the car park at the ground is full, parking near the stadium will be very restricted and with the nearby Greyhound Shopping Park expected to be busy traffic chaos looks likely.

Pubs, bars and supermarkets have been asked not to start selling alcohol until 12:00 tomorrow in an effort to cut down the potential for crowd disorder away from the ground that has marred the fixture on recent occasions. There will be a large police presence in the city tomorrow as officers from across the Cheshire Constabulary’s Western Division, the Area Support Group, and the North Wales Police Specialist Support Unit will be in attendance.

Inspector Geoff Williams of the Chester police said: “We have long-standing true fans who have a right to enjoy the match without the worry of fights breaking out, and we’ll do everything in our power to make sure the safety of others is not put at risk.”
24 December 2005

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our contributors and readers...


23 December 2005

Goalkeeper John Ruddy has had his loan period from Everton extended by a further seven days. The club wrote to the Football League earlier in the week and hadn’t forseen any problems after having independent medical confirmation that both Chris MacKenzie and Ryan Brookfield are unfit to play.

City will welcome back four players for the Boxing day match at ninth placed Cheltenham Town. Ryan Lowe, Scott McNiven, Carl Regan and David Artell are all available again after serving one match bans last Saturday. There’s good news on the injury front with Gregg Blundell, Michael Branch and Justin Walker all returning to light training this week after injury.

City’s Youth Alliance Cup third round home match against Burnley that was postponed recently has been rearranged for Wednesday 25 January 2006.
20 December 2005

Chester’s ticket allocation for the forthcoming derby game against Wrexham on 28 December has now completely sold out. With the visitors also set to dispose of their allocation a capacity crowd will be expected for the match that will kick-off at noon.

With two end blocks of seats in the main stand being used for segregation the crowd will be in the region of 5,400 for the first home League encounter with Wrexham since 30 October 1994. On that occasion a Gary Hackett goal brought the Blues a 1-1 draw in front of 4,974.

City have written to the Football League for permission to extend the seven day loan spell of Everton goalkeeper John Ruddy. With Chris MacKenzie out for several weeks, and Ryan Brookfield sidelined with a hamstring injury, the club will be looking for a loan spell that covers the Christmas and New Year piriod of four games.
19 December 2005
The Blues sipped to sixth after Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat by Rushden & Diamonds. Despite missing ten first teamers through suspension and injury City will probably count themselves unlucky not to come away from the match with a point.

The Blues fell behind to a penalty after Phil Bolland brought down Drewe Broughton in the box, the striker picking himself up to score from the spot-kick. City drew level, also with a penalty after Marcus Richardson had been impeded. Ben Davies took on the responsibility and sent Young in the visitors goal the wrong way. Diamonds winning goal came nine minutes after the break as Phil Bolland hooked the ball over debut ‘keeper John Ruddy into his own net, while attempting to hold off Chris O’Grady.

Manager Keith Curle was full of praise for the side he put out under difficult circumstances: “It was an easy selection this week – if they were available they were put in the side. I thought the lads that came in did extremely well. This sort of situation always gives players an opportunity to shine, and one or two of them did just that. Fortunately we will have our four suspended players back for the Boxing Day game at Cheltenham, and hopefully Justin Walker who was injured today may also be available.”

Picture © Evening Leader
The youth team fought back from being 2-1 down to defeat Rochdale 5-2 at home on Saturday. City’s goals came from James Wilson, Mark Cadwallader, Adam Wade and a brace from Chris Holroyd.

Youth fixtures | Youth stats
| Youth table
16 December 2005

Chester have signed Everton goalkeeper John Ruddy on an emergency loan in time for tomorrow’s home League Two game against Rushden & Diamonds. Regular goalkeeper Chris MacKenzie broke a thumb last Saturday and second choice Ryan Brookfield is struggling with a hamstring injury.

Ironically 19-year-old Ruddy was recalled by the Toffees last week from his loan spell with tomorrow’s opponents, where he made four appearances. The former Cambridge United shot-stopper has also had a five game loan spell at Walsall since his £250,000 transfer to Everton in May.

On City’s efforts to draft in a keeper manager Keith Curle told TeamTalk: “It was touch and go but Tony Allan pulled out all the stops. When he went to Walsall earlier this season we were one phone call away from bringing him in then so he is someone we’ve known about and monitored.”

For tomorrow’s game City may well have up to ten players missing. As well as MacKenzie and Brookfield, David Artell, Ryan Lowe, Scott McNiven and Carl Regan are all serving one-match bans after recently receiving their fifth yellow cards of the season. Gregg Blundell is still suffering with a haematoma, while Michael Branch and Sean Hessey both have a knee injuries. Justin Walker is another absentee with a hamstring injury while Phil Bolland and Tom Curtis have been struggling with flu.

Rushden currently lie 22nd in league Two with just one away victory to their name, a 1-0 victory at Mansfield Town on 9 August. The sides last met a week later with Ryan Lowe opening the scoring, then being sent-off, in a 1-1 draw at Nene Park.

Sadly the club are mourning the loss of their club secretary Dave Joyce who died today. He’d been with the club since its formation in 1992 with the merger of Rushden Town and Irthlingborough Diamonds.

The club officially announced last night that tickets for the forthcoming home game with Wrexham on 28 December will go on sale today at Deva Stadium between 12:00 and 19:00, and after the game against Rushden & Diamonds tomorrow. Season Ticket holders need not apply and will be admitted as usual. Those applying for tickets must take with then a recent utility bill in case a proof of residence is required. The all-ticket match will kick-off at 12:00.
13 December 2005

The youth team lost 2-0 at home to their Youth Alliance League rivals Wigan Athletic in the third round of the FA Youth Cup in front of a crowd of 240 at Deva Stadium tonight.

The visitors took advantage of a mistake from the ‘keeper to open the scoring just before the break and doubled their advantage from the penalty spot ten minutes into the second period.

Chester City: Lake, Potter, Wilson (Newton 63), Roberts, Kelly, Scales (M.Humphreys 70), Carroll (N.Humphreys 67), Morgan, Cadwallader, Linford, Wade. Subs not used: Rowlands, Armstrong.

Catching the eye – players who progressed from the youth to first team.

City will play League Two rivals Cheltenham Town in the third round of the FA Cup after The Robins won their second round replay 2-1 at Oxford United tonight. The game will take place at Whaddon Road on Saturday 7 January. As well as a place in the fourth round, the winners of the tie will receive £40,000 in prize money. Before then of course the two sides meet in the League on Boxing Day.
12 December 2005
Both acting-skipper Scott McNiven (left) and Carl Regan picked up their fifth bookings of the season at Lincoln City and the FA website confirms that both will be banned from Saturday’s home League Two match against Rushden & Diamonds. They will join the already suspended Ryan Lowe and David Artell in the stands for their one match suspension. With Gregg Blundell, Sean Hessey and Michael Branch injured City’s small squad will be fully utilised on Saturday.

Also missing will be goalkeeper Chris MacKenzie who broke a thumb when saving at the feet of Derek Asamoah and had to retire. He’s expected to be out for up to six weeks. MacKenzie was replaced at Sincil Bank by reserve ‘keeper Ryan Brookfield for the last 43 minutes. Brookfield also picked up an injury to a hamstring.

Manager Keith Curle will be busy trying to arrange a replacement for Mackenzie before Saturday’s game at the start of a busy festive period that sees four games in eight days against Cheltehnam Town (A), Wrexham (H), Macclesfield Town (A) and Oxford United (H).

Manager Keith Curle called on the fans to lift the team on Saturday: “I’ve got nine players out through injuries and suspensions, so I need the people of Chester to turn out and get behind their team. It’s true that we’re on the ropes at the moment and we’re down to the bare bones, so we need our extra man – we need to know that we have the people of the city behind us. We’ve definitely got our backs against the wall, but there is a determination within the football club and we’ll be giving it everything when we face Rushden on Saturday.”

Picture © Evening Leader
The Youth Team were beaten 3-2 at Wigan Athletic on Saturday, Chris Holroyd and Robert Marsh-Evans had given City a two goal lead.

Youth fixtures | Youth stats
| Youth table
The reserve match scheduled at Blackpool on Wednesday has been postponed due to an unfit pitch.
Doncaster Rovers’ Dave Mulligan has booked his place at The FA Cup final after winning the ‘Player of the Round’ award for the Second Round of the competition.

After a week of voting Dave scooped the award, receiving 33 per cent of the 53,000 votes cast on The Closely chasing Mulligan for most of the week was Chester’s Ryan Lowe who ended with 22 per cent of the vote.

Mansfield Town’s Richie Barker with 21 per cent, Tamworth’s Matt Redmile with 15 per cent and Stevenage Borough’s Alan Julian with 9 per cent were also in the running for the award.
9 December 2005
City take their six-match unbeaten run to Lincoln City tomorrow. The Imps lie in 18th with 22 points (11 behind City) and have gone six matches without a win.

The players have been suffereing with a bug this week that threatens to leave several players including Justin Walker, acting captain Scott McNiven, Carl Regan and Abdou El Kholti with late fitness tests.

One player who will be relishing a return to Sincil bank will be Marcus Richardson (left). The big striker, currently playing with a slight hamstring strain, played 45+11 times for the Imps scoring 14 goals in the process between 2003-05.

Manager keith Curle was full of praise for the strikers efforts over recent games. “Marcus could be fitter. He’s done tremendously well. He’s only been able to play at 95 per cent, he’s not been able to fully extend himself. He’s had to play slightly within himself in the last couple of games. But I’ve always given him the option to play and he’s always put his name forward.”

Picture © Evening Leader
Chester’s home game with Wrexham on 28 December will go ahead at Deva Stadium with a 12:00 kick-off as planned. The Football League have turned down the request of the chairman Steve Vaughan to move the fixture to Halton Stadium, Widnes, frustrated at the early kick-off time imposed on the game.

A League spokesman told the Chronicle: “Our view is that we do not believe it is practical and certainly not appropriate from a competition point of view. There were a whole range of issues, including the fact the same police force would have been involved if the match was played at Widnes.”

8 December 2005
Chairman Steve Vaughan is waiting to hear a response from the Football League after he enquired about switching the forthcoming home match against Wrexham nearly 20 miles away to Halton Stadium, home of Widnes Vikings rugby league club. Vaughan recently bought shares and joined the board at Widnes.

Vaughan told the Daily Post: “There is now an irritating wrangle over disputed ground rental, and quite frankly enough is enough. We now have identified a forward-looking council nearby, who do want a Football League club in their community, and we are giving it serious consideration. Whatever happens, groundwise in the next few months, the future of the football club is assured. Everything we are investigating is being done so that our supporters don’t suffer.”

Vaughan went on to tell the Daily Post that an attempt to move the entire club in the future to Widnes was being given “serious consideration”. This will set alarm bells ringing with City supporters, who will no doubt see this as the thin end of the wedge, should the move to switch the game to Widnes be sanctioned.

Picture © Evening Leader

7 December 2005
The Blues moved up to fourth spot in LeagueTwo tonight after a 1-0 victory at fellow promotion chasers Leyton Orient. Stewart Drummond scored the all-important goal on the stroke of half-time as he headed home from following a short corner routine.

The Blues had been under the cosh for most of the opening period and had goalkeeper Chris MacKenzie, and some wayward Orient finishing to thank for keeping the score level until Drummond’s opener. The home side actually mustered 30 attempts on goal during the frantic 90 minutes.

Ryan Lowe missed a glorious chance to double the lead soon after the break, shooting wide from a narrow angle, but it took the woodwork, on more than one occasion, and a dogged defence to preserve the lead through the rest of the half (including six extra minutes!) and extend City’s unbeaten run to six matches.

Keith Curle said after the victory: “I am very proud of the players because we had to dig deep. Not only did they have to move around, but they also had to find an extra half a yard – and they did. There is a lot of mental toughness in our dressing room and I said at the beginning of the season that that was something we needed to build on.”

Picture © Evening Leader
City picked up seven yellow cards last night. and with that will come a probable FA fine. Both Ryan Lowe and David Artell picked up their fifth bookings of the season and will, according to the FA website, miss the home game against Rushden & Diamonds as a result.
6 December 2005
It’s back to League Two action tonight for the Blues who travel to the capitol to play Leyton Orient. The O’s currently lie in third place, four points above City, and have won four, drawn three and lost three at home this season. City will give a late fitness test to striker Marcus Richardson who aggravated a hamstring injury in Saturday’s cup win over Nottingham Forest. Definitely ruled out thorough injury are Michael Branch, Gregg Blundell and Shaun Hessey.

Orient also have selection problems and will be without both Justin Miller and Jon Mackie.

5 December 2005
Ryan Lowe has been nominated as one of five players on the shortlist for the FA Player of the Round following his two goals Saturday’s 3-0 win over League One outfit Nottingham Forest.

The other four players nominated are: Tamworth defender Matt Redmile, Stevenage Borough ‘keeper Alan Julian, Doncaster Rovers’ Dave Mulligan and Torquay United’s on-loan defender, Adam Lockwood. The player with the most votes will become the FA Cup ‘Player of the Round’ and will win £1000 worth of UMBRO football kit for a local school, club or organisation. He will also receive an engraved silver salver.

The winning player will automatically join The FA’s Team of The FA Cup, guaranteeing VIP attendance at the 125th FA Cup final at the new Wembley stadium, on May 13 2006.

Picture © Evening Leader
4 December 2005
The Blues will face League Two opposition in the third round of the FA Cup after they were drawn away to either Cheltehham Town or Oxford United. The two sides drew 1-1 at Whaddon Road at the weekend and will replay at Oxford on 13 December. The third round tie will take place on the weekend of 6/7/8 January 2006. Prize money for the tie is £40,000.
3 December 2005
Two goals from Ryan Lowe and a third from Marcus Richardson (left) brought City a deserved FA Cup second round victory over League One side Nottingham Forest.

The game, played in front of nearly 5,000, hinged on a 12 minute period either side of the interval as City took the lead through a Lowe penalty following a red card to Gary Ho
lt on 38 minutes, and doubled their lead through the same striker five minutes after the break. Richardson added a third on 55 minutes to put the game beyond their illustrious opponents who rarely troubled Chris MacKenzie all afternoon.

The draw for the third round will take place today at 15:00 live on BBC1 following the live televised game, City will be ball number 64. Manager Keith Curle said he would “be happy with anyone at home”.

Picture © Evening Leader
The youth team suffered a heavy defeat on Saturday morning when the went down 7-2 at Oldham Athletic. Goalscorers for the Blues were Chris Holroyd and Mark Cadwallader. The team are next in action on Saturday when they travel to Wigan Athletic for a Youth Alliance League game. The following Tuesday, 13 December, they entertain Wigan at Deva Stadium in the third round of the FA Youth Cup. (19:00hrs).

2 December 2005
The will be a near-capacity crowd at the Deva tomorrow as Nottingham Forest make their first trip to Deva Stadium in the second round of the FA Cup. There are a few tickets left which are on sale today at the club.

Manager Keith Curle will be forced into at least one change from the side that beat Peterborough United last weekend as striker Michael Branch is ruled out with a knee injury and Marcus Richardson is struggling with a hamstring injury. However, both Phil Bolland and Tom Curtis are available after missing the weekend’s 3-1 success through suspension.

Forest, who’ve won the competition on two previous occasions, will be without skipper Ian Breckin and Jack Lester who were both sent of in last weekends 2-1 defeat at Huddersfield Town, while new signing from Wycombe Wanderers Nathan Tyson is cup-tied.

The last time the sides met was back in 1988/89 when Forest thrashed the Blues 6-0 and 4-0 over two legs in the League Cup, a competition they went on to win in that season.

The two side have also met once before in the FA Cup back in 1935 at the third round stage, when Forest ran out 4-0 winners at Sealand Road in front of 13,127 spectators.

The prize money on offer to the winner tomorrow is £24,000.

Click for larger picture.
1 December 2005
It’s reported in this morning’s Daily Post that City chairman Steve Vaughan is to hold talks with Keith Curle following yesterday’s speculation linking him to a possible role at Portsmouth. Vaughan will be desperate to hold on to his young manager who has steered City to a play-off position in his first few months at the club, though he has reiterated that he won’t stand in the way of Curle should he want to join a Premier League club.

“When Keith was appointed to this job last spring, we agreed to renegotiate his contract in December. He has done an excellent job during his period here which has impressed the people whose opinions I trust within the club.

The week started disappointingly with the news linking Keith with Portsmouth; without creating any false hopes, I can now see a chink of light and I hope I can persuade him that his future lies here at Chester City.”

It has been confirmed today that after speaking to the Portsmouth chairman, Neil Warnock has decided to stay at Sheffield United. Curle’s possible move would have involved him teaming up with Warnock if he became manager at Fratton Park.

Curle, who spoke to Warnock yesterday told the Evening Leader: “I had a conversation with Neil Warnock this morning who told me the move wasn’t right for him. It was never a foregone conclusion that I was going to go. He did ask me if I would be prepared to go with him to Portsmouth and I was flattered to be asked and I did tell him I would be interested to go with him but that’s as far as it went.”

Picture © Evening Leader

















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