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Sunday 28 December
Macclesfield Town 3 Chester City 1
League Two
Attendance: 2,219 Half Time 1-0
Booked: -.

Macclesfield Town: Brain, Reid, Walker, Morgan, Hessey, Bell (Deen 87), Brown, Dunfield, Jennings (Thomas 73), Evans, Yeo (Gritton 62). Subs not used, Tolley, Rooney.
Chester City: Danby, Linwood, Roberts, Kelly, J.Vaughan, Harris (Partridge 81), Barry, Hughes, Wilson, Lowe, Ellison (Johnson 69). Subs not used: Rule, Rutherford, Williams.
Referee: Andy D’Urso (Essex).

City took their three match undefeated run across the county to Macclesfield Town looking to extend their recent upturn in form into the new year.

Blues manager Mark Wright was missing the services of midfielder Damien Mozika who served a one match suspension, Jay Harris coming into the side who beat Accrington Stanley 48 hours earlier. Also back in the starting X1 was Shaun Kelly, who, having recovered from a hamstring injury, replaced Richie Partridge.

The home side, who had shipped four goals in their previous two matches, fielded two ex-Blues players in their starting line-up, Sean Hessey and Simon Yeo.

The game was only six minutes old before Macc opened the scoring. A quick move down the left saw Terry Dunfield slip the ball through to James Jennings who continued his run before crossing to the far post where Nat Brown, on loan from rivals Wrexham, headed past John Danby who had no chance in the City goal.

City enjoyed plenty of possession during the opening period but were unable to convert that into chances. It was the home side in fact who almost doubled their lead as Gareth Evans saw a long range effort just clear Danby’s bar. At the other end Kevin Ellison did get a run at goal but Jon Brain saw the danger coming and saved with ease.

Yeo saw a smart effort saved by Danby and Brown wasted a great opportunity shooting high and wide when well placed after the City defence had failed to clear and Evans cross. In their last real effort of the half Ryan Lowe aw a shot deflected wide for a corner, but, as happened many times against against Stanley, City once again failed to take advantage of the set piece.

The Blues began the second period brightly and drew level through Lowe on 55 minutes. Ellison’s attempted through ball bounced of Jennings into the path of Lowe who curled a great effort past Brain from the edge of the box.

City began to pressure for a second and Hessey was on hand to clear from the line after Brain had fumbled a cross. Wright was forced onto a change on 69 minutes as Ellison hobbled off with what appeared to be a hamstring injury, Eddie Johnson took his place up front. Macc also made changes in attack bringing on Martin Gritton and Danny Thomas.

The change seemed to spur the home side and Danby was on hand to save from Gritton when it looked like the striker was about to restore the home advantage.

The second goal came minutes later though as referee Andy D’Urso pointed to the spot after Kelly was controversially adjudged to have handled the ball in the area. It was more a case of the ball hitting Kelly from close range after Hessey had pulled a ball back into the box. Evans made no mistake with the spot-kick.

Brain made a good save to deny Lowe a second equaliser minutes later as City looked for a quick reply, but it was the home side who scored six minutes from time to end any thoughts of a City fight back. A quick passing move involving three Macc players set up Gritton who steered the ball past Danby from 12 yards out.

Picture © Evening Leader

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Friday 26 December
Chester City 2 Accrington Stanley 0
League Two
Attendance: 2,223 (201 Accrington) Half Time 1-0
Booked: Wilson.

Chester City: Danby, J.Vaughan, Linwood, Roberts, Wilson, Barry, Mozika, Hughes, Ellison, Lowe (Johnson 88), Partridge (Kelly 75). Subs not used: Rule, Harris, Rutherford.
Accrington Stanley: Dunbavin, Richardson (Cavanagh 46), Edwards, Charnock, King, Ryan, J.Mullin (Grant 57), Procter, Miles, P.Mullin, Clarke. Subs not used: Speare, Murdock, Mahon.
Referee: Steve Bratt (West Midlands).

Two goals from Ryan Lowe and another clean sheet bring three points against Accrington Stanley.
The Blues’ run of two wins and a draw in their last three matches has given them a welcome boost ahead of the busy holiday period that sees games against Macclesfield Town and Luton Town coming up.

City were forced into a change, defender Shaun Kelly had a slight hamstring strain and, with two games in four days wasn't risked. He took a place on the bench with Richie Partridge taking his place in the starting line-up.

Stanley will probably think themselves unlucky not to come away with a point from this encounter, they squandered several chances, and were denied on three occasions by last ditch tackles from man-of-the-match Kevin Roberts before the Blues opened the scoring on 34 minutes through Lowe.

Partridge slipped a pass through to Kevin Ellison on the left, it looked as though the ball was going out before Ellison shrug off a challenge, cut along the goal line and pulled the ball back for Lowe to score past Ian Dunbavin from six yards.

The Blues had John Danby to thank for maintaining the lead at the interval as he pulled off a great save to tip a free kick from James Ryan over the angle.

With the game in the balance on the hour mark City doubled their lead. Ellison sent a through ball for Anthony Barry on the right, he beat his man and took the ball towards the near post before being tripped from behind. Referee Steve Bratt pointed straight to the spot and Lowe sent Dunbavin the wrong way to score City’s second.

Danby made a great full length save to push a John Miles shot onto the foot of the post and out for a corner as the City defence backed off.

City had two chances in the closing minutes to grab a third. Substitute Eddie Johnson almost connected with a right wing cross but Dunbavin saved at his feet after initially dropping the centre and moments later Kevin Ellison turned on the edge of the box and sent a dipping shot over the Stanley ‘keeper on to the crossbar and out.

Picture © Evening Leader

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Saturday 20 December
Bradford City 0 Chester City 0
League Two
Attendance: 12,092 Half Time 0-0
Booked: Mozika.

Bradford City: Evans, Arnison, Clarke, Lee, O’Brien, Jones, Law, McLaren, Daley, Conlon, Boulding. Subs not used: Bower, Thorne, McLaughlan, Ainge, Nix.
Chester City: Danby, Linwood, Kelly, Roberts, J.Vaughan, Hughes, Barry, Mozika, Wilson, Ellison, Lowe (Johnson 90). Subs not used: Rule, Harris, Partridge, Rutherford.
Referee: Andy Haines (Tyne & Wear).

Christmas started early for the 200-plus Chester fans who cheered on their side to a well-earned point against League Two high-fliers, Bradford City.

In truth, Chester rode their luck and could have crossed the Pennines home with nothing to show for their efforts. But a quality performance from goalkeeper John Danby made sure the Blues secured their second clean sheet in a row.

Bradford had most of the game’s attacking play, with Steve Jones and Omar Daley flying down both wings. But Chester packed the box when each cross came in, and most were efficiently dealt with.

In midfield, Chester harried the Bradford players enough so they made several enforced errors and the Bantams started getting quite frustrated with one another. Damien Mozika was actually the best midfield player on the park – aiming to get past a player each time he had the ball, and succeeding more times than not, unless he was fouled in the process.

The nearest Bradford came to scoring in the first half was when a good Jones cross was cleared from close to the line by Kevin Roberts. Towards the end of the half, Danby was called on to make a good save from a Jones shot.

Kevin Ellison made a ‘Goal of the Season’ attempt with a shot from near the halfway line when he noticed Bradford ‘keeper Rhys Evans was off his line. But it didn’t really come close and nor did a later long-range effort from Ellison.

Bradford were quick off the blocks in the second half, with Barry Conlon having a shot that just went over the bar in the opening spell. This was followed by a Michael Boulding header that went close, and then a top drawer save by Danby from another Jones shot.

The action turned to the other end, and Ellison had another shot that was off range. He had a better opportunity soon after, but his strike hit Ryan Lowe on the back and re-bounded out. Chester’s only other serious attempt came with an overhead kick from Kevin Roberts, but that went over the bar.

Danby kept Chester in the game when the ball bobbled around the box in one of those exchanges that, more often than not, ends with it finishing in the back of the net. As Danby dived for the ball, his legs kept it out of the goal.

Bradford carried on pressing right until the end, but it was that man Danby who saved a shot from Graeme Lee in the 4th minute of injury time to make sure Chester got their hard-fought point.

As the City players went over to salute the travelling fans, it felt like one of those draws that was nearly as good as a win. Mozika certainly enjoyed the limelight – hugging and kissing those who came down to congratulate him. On the strength of that performance, it was as well the Chester fans made the most of it, as they might not be seeing much more of him.

Sue Choularton

Picture © Evening Leader

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Saturday 13 December
Chester City 2 Notts County 0
League Two
Attendance: 1,767 (239 Notts County) Half Time 1-0
Booked: Roberts.

Chester City: Danby, Kelly, Linwood, Roberts, J.Vaughan, Harris (Mozika 71), Hughes, Barry, Wilson, Lowe (Partridge 90), Ellison. Subs not used: Rule, Rutherford, McManus.
Notts County: Hoult, Hanson (Edwards 78), Johnson, Thompson, Clapham, Hamshaw, Smith, Strachan, Weston, Facey, Canham (Forrester 59). Subs not used: Pilkington, Weir-Daley, Nowland.
Referee: Graham Scott (Oxfordshire).

Goals either side of the break from Ryan Lowe and Kevin Roberts gave City both their second win in three matches and their second clean sheet of the season.

Manager Mark Wright had both Kevin Ellison and Jay Harris available following suspension and both made the starting X1 while midfielder Damien Mozika, having recovered from injury started the game on the bench.

It was the Magpies though that had the better of the early exchanges and saw a shot from Myles Weston deflect wide in the opening minutes.

On seven minutes Delroy Facey saw a goalbound header cleared following a County corner.

Chester hadn’t threatened much in the opening period, Lowe being ruled offside when racing onto an Ellison through ball, but on 12 minutes they took the lead.

A quick passing move involving Ellison and Anthony Barry down the right set up Ellison who crossed for Lowe to apply the finishing touch past Russell Hoult in the visitor’s goal from six yards.

City began to get a grip on the game and Ellison saw a long-range effort, following a Lowe pull-back, fizz just wide moments after the goal.

At the other end Roberts did well to clear a dangerous ball in from Mitch Hanson. Facey again saw a header cleared as John Danby did well to claw away his goalbound effort.

Both Ellison and Lowe saw curling free-kick’s tipped over by Hault and as the half drew to an end Mark Hughes saw an effort go wide following a Lowe corner.

Danby was in action soon after the re-start coming to collect a Weston effort before the Blues doubled their lead on 50 minutes.

A right wing corner was played back to Lowe who unleashed a shot on goal from 20 yards; Hault could only parry the effort and Roberts was on hand to steer the loose ball home from close range in front of the delighted City fans.

Just after the hour mark Roberts came close to claiming his second as he saw an effort from 18 yards curl just wide on the diving Hault.

Notts continued to press and Paul Linwood almost sliced into his own net as he cleared a cross from substitute Jamie Forrester.

Mozika replaced Harris with 20 minutes remaining, freeing up Ellison who took advantage of his extra space on the right wing when he cleverly beat Michael Johnson and raced through on goal only to see Hault again save well.

With the game deep into stoppage time the visitors were reduced to ten men as Forrester was shown a straight red card following a late tackle on Mozika.

Picture © Evening Leader

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Saturday 6 December
Bournemouth 1 Chester City 0
League Two
Attendance: 4,154 Half Time 0-0
Booked: J.Vaughan, Wilson. Sent-off: Dinning.

Bournemouth: Jalal, Guyett, Garry, Pearce, Ward (Anderton 56), Cooper, Hollands, Molesley, McQuoid, Tubbs (Pitman 71), Bradbury (Symes 79). Subs not used: Pryce, Cummings.
Chester City: Danby, J.Vaughan, Kelly, Linwood, Roberts, Rule (Dinning 63), Barry, Hughes, Wilson, Lowe, McManus (Partridge 55). Subs not used: Rutherford, Mitchell, Platt.
Referee: James Linington (Isle of Wight).

There was only one way this game could go – not only did we have someone called “The Gloryhunter” following our progress until defeat, we were also facing one Darren Anderton making his final appearance on a football field.

And I’m afraid Chester, possibly one of the least “glorious” teams you could pick to follow, followed the script to the letter with the ex-England international coming on to turn the game and score a sizzling 88th minute winner. It could almost have been an episode from The Dream Team, featuring Harchester United. Whoops, what am I thinking?

It really is hard to think of much to report from the first 20 minutes or so. Ryan Lowe had a strike which was well wide of the target and Bournemouth had a similar effort, but it seemed largely a case of two poor teams battling for scraps.

The match livened up a little after the opening spell and James Vaughan was cautioned on the 21st minute for a strong challenge on Matthew Tubbs. Bournemouth also saw a deflected strike saved by John Danby’s legs as he dived for the ball. But it seemed pretty clear that this game was heading for 0-0 at half-time, with neither team making a serious threat on goal.

As The Gloryhunter did his half-time interviews, it seemed hard not to agree with this analysis: “This is the worst game of football I’ve ever seen”, he said. I told him the second half would be an improvement and it was – for a neutral.

The second half actually started much like the first until Chester bought on Richie Partridge to replace an ineffectual Paul McManus on the 55th minute and a minute later, Anderton came on to replace Josh Ward.

Partridge tried to make an impression and won a good ball on the right which he pulled across to an unmarked Lowe. Unfortunately Lowe took more time than he should over the ball and missed a golden opportunity for a clear shot on target.

Tony Dinning came on to replace Glenn Rule on the 63rd minute, making his first appearance since the home game against Wycombe back on August 16. But his time on the field was limited as a tussle for the ball with Danny Hollands on the 81st minute saw him lash out his arm and get sent off for violent conduct. The resultant Anderton free-kick came close, and was a warning for what was to follow.

Bournemouth pressed on, and on just seven minutes later, a Paul Linwood headed clearance went straight to Anderton. He showed his class in taking no time to control the ball and make an unstoppable strike into the net from 25 yards out. He had stolen the show, and it was well deserved.

Chester came no closer to scoring in the dying minutes than they had done all game, and when referee James Linington blew for time it was ‘hats off to Sicknote’ and ‘farewell’ to The Gloryhunter. Unless there’s going to be a drastic improvement, it’s hard to imagine there will be any Chester glory this season.

Sue Choularton

Picture © Evening Leader

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