Never has the chant…“All we are saying is
give us a shot”…ever been so apt at a Chester
game, as City somehow managed to play 90 minutes of football
at Brentford without one attempt on target.
The match started with City’s only fleeting threat
of the game when Chris Holroyd shot wide of the post in front of the travelling
support of around 300 Blues fans.
But within moments the action was at the other end of Griffin
Park when Brentford striker Alan Connell lobbed City ‘keeper John Danby
to make it 1-0 to the Bees inside four minutes.
It never got any better than that as City played like a team
who’d only just met for the first time at the M4 service station down
To be fair, they were missing key figures including John
Murphy, Tony Grant, Nathan Lowndes, Laurence Wilson and Tony Dinning. But those
standing in for them didn’t play like wanted to make a stake for a first-team
The rest of the first half was not a pretty spectacle for
any neutral, with what must have been about the worst all-round display of
League Two football I’ve seen since Chester returned from the Conference.
Danby had to make a couple of easy saves, but that was about as exciting as
The second half was an improvement – but not for City
fans. Brentford started playing some football and in the early stages of the
second half Connell had another couple of good chances. Danby also did well
to hold onto a Glenn Poole strike from 25 yards.
The closest Chester came to making a similar impression was
when Paul Rutherford, who replaced Simon Yeo on the 56th minute, aimed a long-range
lob at the Brentford goal. But it fell well wide of the target.
The Chester fans did their best to cheer on their side, with
a long-running chant of “Big Bob’s Barmy Army”, but it was
to no avail and on the 75th minute a well-aimed Brentford cross found the
head of unmarked Ross Montague, who knocked the ball home.
Kevin Ellison, probably City’s liveliest performer
on the day, took a good pass from Rutherford not long after the re-start, but
he couldn’t find the target and that seemed like Chester’s last
advance in the final quarter of the field.
Brentford were on the scoresheet again on the 78th minute
when Craig Pead beat Simon Marples and passed to Poole, who had an easy job
to slot the ball in from ten yards.
So 2007 ended in bitterly disappointing fashion for Chester,
with the travelling supporters feeling like they were entitled to a refund
after seeing just one off-shot target in return for their £19 ticket
Come on lads, it’s just the time for a New Year
resolution for an improved performance at home against Grimsby. After that
showing, the fans deserve it.
City’s performance (no star option not available!)
completed the double over Chester thanks in main to three goals in a six minute
first half spell. With forward Nathan Lowndes ruled out through injury, manager
Bobby Williamson gave a full debut to Glenn Rule, the rest of the team was
unchanged from the side that started against Bury on Saturday.
City backed by over 500
fans started the game brightly forcing a corner
in the opening minute that was cleared. Five minutes
later though City drew first blood. Richie Partridge
was fouled 25 yards out and Kevin Ellison duly
converted into the top corner giving Lewis in
the home goal absolutely no chance. The home side
responded and Paul Butler cleared up after Carl
Baker had found space in the box.
On 18 minutes the Shrimps
drew level as Jim Bentley headed home from a narrow
angle. Two minutes later Garry Thompson headed
home a Twiss flag kick from two yards out to give
the home side the lead. on 20 minutes Baker forced
another corner. This time Danby managed to block
the first header from former Chester defender
Dave Artell, but Blinkhorn was first to react
to head the rebound into the empty net, 3-1.
City almost conceded again but
had Paul Linwood to thank for racing back to clear
from Blinkhorn who had chipped over the advancing
Danby following a Baker through ball.
Williamson was forced into replacing
the injured John Murphy with Simon Yeo. Danby again
saved from Blinkhorn before the home side added
a fourth goal in first half stoppage time. Bentley
again in the action headed another Twiss corner
against the post and in the resulting melee Baker
turned the ball home.
Ten minutes after the break
Williamson made another switch with Chris Holroyd
replacing Rule as City looked to get back into the game. The Blues created
two great chances to add a second, first Ellison latched onto a Partridge
pass only for Lewis to block his effort six yards out, then Holroyd shot
across goal when well placed. Lewis saved further efforts from both Holroyd
and Ellison before Bentley made it 5-1 with a header 20 minutes remaining.
With nothing now to play
for but pride Chester managed to pull two goals
back to make the scoreline a little more respectable.
Ellison blasted home a 20-yarder that again gave Lewis no hope on 73 minutes.
Three minutes later Holroyd scored from 20 yards after a poor clearance from
substitute Curtis following a Yeo effort, but try as they might City could
not break through again in a half in which they had responded well but simply
could not make up for the poor defending that had set them back in the opening
fans went into the festive period in good mood as
Chester came from behind to take all three points
off the Shakers. In truth Chester did not play particularly
well for long parts of the match but their persistence
paid off as Bury – resplendent in dark chocolate
with sky blue trim – melted at the end.
A low winter sun dazzled the linesman as well as the spectators in the Vaughan
stand. He was criticised for not raising his flag when Bishop skipped through
for a first attempt on Chester’s goal. It was the same player who opened
the scoring when he held off Butler’s challenge just outside the six yard
area and managed to get a shot in which took a slight deflection to go just inside
Bury were playing the better football for much of the first half. Buchanan was
the pick of a lively midfield which gave City little chance to settle into any
rhythm. James Vaughan was brought into left back to cover for the inured Wilson
and although he did a fair job defensively, City missed a natural left footer
to get things going down the flank. Partridge, returning from injury on the other
wing, was starved of service and struggled to make an impact.
Just before half time Adams got the better of Butler down the right and cut in
from the touchline. Instead of pulling it back for Bishop, the winger went for
goal and struck the side netting. It was a let off for Chester and proved to
be a turning point as they snatched an equaliser deep into stoppage time. Bury
failed to clear a corner from the right and Hughes rifled a shot in through a
crowded penalty area. The visitors could not believe their bad luck. Scott demanded
to look at the referee’s watch to check that there was still time to kick off
again and the official duly obliged.
Bury continued to press after the break but as Chester came forward, Bishop was
penalised and booked for a challenge on Hughes. A few minutes later the same
player caught Marples late and was given his marching orders.
Gradually City began to play the ball about to make use of their one man advantage
but chances were few. Hughes had a long range shot which Provett saved at full
stretch. Lowndes was replaced by Yeo. A cross from a free kick on the right fell
fortunately for the Bury ‘keeper after ricocheting off a defender’s
Then with eleven minutes to go, a moment of inspiration. Roberts picked up Murphy’s
flicked header and sped for the touchline. He managed to hang the ball perfectly
up to the far post and Ellison rose to beat his marker and nod it in off the
upright. The big man patted his bald pate with jubilation as he celebrated so
energetically he could hardly get his breath back for the next five minutes.
Yeo might have sealed it with a third but wanted too long on the ball on the
edge of the box. Colin Woodthorpe – the only ex-Cestrian who played at
Sealand Road still playing in the League – was booked for tugging Holroyd’s
shirt to blot an otherwise impeccable performance.
Chester maintained their place in the play off positions with this win even if
their form was not thoroughly convincing.
8 December Chester City 1 Peterborough
Attendance: 2,291 (331 Peterborough) Half Time 1-0
Chester City: Danby, Marples, Butler, Linwood, Wilson (Sandwith 30),
Rutherford (McManus 82), Hughes, Roberts, Ellison, Murphy, Lowndes (Yeo 83).
Subs not used: Ward, Vaughan. Peterborough United: Tyler, Gnakpa, Morgan, Westwood (Hughes
69), Day, Whelpdale (Low 63), Hyde, Lee (Keates 63), Boyd, Mclean, Mackail-Smith.
Subs not used: Jalal, Howe. Referee: Roger East (Wiltshire).
v Peterborough games have never been tepid affairs in
recent years, and this rain-soaked Deva Stadium match
was no exception.
Posh, with manager Darren Ferguson
pacing the touchline ‘Terry Smith-style’
in just a jacket and trousers despite the wintery conditions,
made the brighter start with his side pressing forward
in the opening minutes.
Chester featured Paul Rutherford as
a replacement for winger Richie Partridge, injured in
the midweek Barnet game, and he had City’s first
shot on goal as the game approached the 10th minute.
His attempt missed the target, but
was City’s cue to get more into the game as new
assistant manager, Jimmy Bone (wearing, dare I say it,
a ‘Mark Wright-style’ peaked cap), did his
part to urge the Blues forward.
Not long after a Chester corner, Nathan
Lowndes made a threatening pass to Kevin Ellison. After
a strong run, his shot towards goal hit the post.
Ellison, who later won a deserved
man-of-the-match award, was back in the action soon
after. In a neat move, he passed to John Murphy, who
laid it off for Mark Hughes. He hammered the ball home
from 25 yards out to make it 1-0 at half time, as referee
Roger East blew up straight after the re-start.
Both Rutherford and Ellison made bright
starts to the second half, with Ellison having another
shot from 20 yards out after a good Rutherford pass.
Rutherford himself was almost on the
scoresheet when a cross/shot from the right flank hung
agonisingly in the air before hitting the post just
on the wrong side and bouncing out.
John Danby was at his best soon after
when Peterborough’s Craig Mackail-Smith, who scored
four in their last match, was running clear with only
the City shot-stopper to beat. Danby dashed out, spread
his body out well, and made a quality save on the edge
of the area.
But Peterborough started getting the
better of the poor conditions, with City missing Laurence
Wilson, who had been replaced through injury by Kevin
Sandwidth in the first half.
Posh’s Aaron Mclean got his
name on the scoresheet following a left-wing cross by
Jamie Day. Mclean was seemingly unmarked when the ball
came to him in the box, and he had no trouble slotting
Soon after, Rutherford and Lowndes
were replaced by Simon Yeo and Paul McManus. Both Rutherford
and Lowndes got an excellent reception from the home
stand as they came off.
But just a few minutes later, Posh were back in the
Chester box. Jeff Hughes took a theatrical fall over
Kevin Roberts’ trailing leg and Mr East awarded
them a penalty. Mackail-Smith took the spot-kick and
left Danby no chance of saving it.
There was just eight minutes of normal
play and three minutes of injury-time left, and although
City were urged forward by the home support, there was
little they could do in the dying moments.
As the City fans left the ground,
the game was almost forgotten as the match-talk quickly
turned to what was going on behind the scenes and another
chapter in the life of Chester City FC was unfolding…
A brace of spectacular goals from Kevin Ellison and one
from Richie Partridge featured in an emphatic and long
awaited home win for Chester.
The Blues took an early lead when Ellison beat his man
on the touch line and crossed towards Murphy on the far
post. A Barnet defender glanced a header to help the ball
on its way but only as far as Partridge who volleyed home
from an acute angle.
Stung by this reverse, the Bees brought the game to City
and enjoyed more of the ball, passing swiftly. Hatch and
Birchall were a danger up front and the latter looked
certain to score when played though but Danby stuck out
a leg and saved briliantly. For all their possession Barnet
could not fashion any better chances than this one.
City went further ahead following a slick passing move
involving Wilson, Partridge and Lowndes which saw them
sweep the ball from left back to Ellison who was lurking
on the right. He cut inside and looped a sensational shot
from outside the area into the far top corner which left
the veteran Harrison rooted to the spot as he watched
it sail in to the net. One of the finest goals seen at
the Deva in many a season.
After the break Chester came forward looking for the goal
that would finish the game but were almost caught on the
break themselves. Birchall went close with another shot
and Puncheon had an attempt which just whistled past the
The familiar name of Grazioli was introduced into
attack as they tried to reduce the arrears and he forced
another good save from Danby. But it was City who made
the points safe due to another exhilarating finish from
Ellison. Murph just got to Marples’ cross on
the far post but only succeeded in heading the ball
As a Barnet defender dithered, Ellison controlled
the ball well, turned and lashed a shot from a narrow
across goal which thumped into the far post and into
Chester played with great confidence now and the fresh
feet of McManus and Holroyd were introduced to torment
Barnet further. The breezy conditions made the high balls
difficult to predict and as the Bees tired, the ball was
launched over the stands at regular intervals. The band
of away fans never tired of their incessant chanting but
with little reward. Both teams played their part, however,
in a very entertaining game.