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Cambridge United (A) | Luton Town (H) | Fleetwood Town (H) – FAT1 | Kidderminster Harriers (A)
Saturday 26 December
Kidderminster Harriers 2 Chester City 0
Football Conference
Attendance: 1,755 (94 Chester) Half Time 1-0
Booked: -.

Kidderminster Harriers: Coleman, Courtney, Caines, Riley, Andrew, McPhee, Bennett (Hayward 68), Smikle, Knights, Farrell (Spencer 73), Matthews. Subs not used: Singh, Baker, Dolman.
Chester City: Danby, Roberts, Ryan, Kelly, Rule, Rea (Coulter 89), Owen, Lea, Wilkinson, Ellams, Jones (Davidson 64). Subs not used: Murphy, Rawlinson, Freeman.
Referee: I.Smedley (Derbyshire).

This match’s final scoreline was not a true reflection on the game as City's young team put on a creditable performance which belied their inexperience and their lack of wages.

But it was another defeat for Jim Harvey’s struggling side and although the whole team showed a trememdous work-rate, there was never really a serious threat that they’d do any more than get a point out of the game.

It was actually City who had the first shot with a Lloyd Ellams strike from some distance which Kidderminster goalkeeper Dean Coleman had to put behind for a corner. James Owen took the corner, but it was cleared by the home side.

Kidderminster then came into the match, with John Danby having to tip one shot over the bar. The resultant corner then saw Harriers get another scoring opportunity, but this time the crossbar stopped a good header from finding the net.

Danby was soon back in action again, making a save from Robbie Matthews after an excellent pass from tricky Brian Smikle.

Kidderminster then won a corner and a near-post melee led to the ball finding the net. It almost looked like an own goal by City defender, Sean Kelly, but Kidderminster’s Gavin Caines claimed it.

City didn’t give up though and Ellams had a fantastic long-range shot which saw Coleman have to go to full-stretch to tip over the bar.

The rest of the half was a bit of a non-entity, leaving the 94 Chester fans wondering if they’d already seen their side’s best chance to leave freezing Aggborough with a point to show for their trouble.

The second half almost immediately confirmed that view as Kidderminster’s Darryl Knights had a good shot saved by Danby within six minutes of the re-start.

It was all Kidderminster for the first 20 minutes of the second half, with City’s young defence doing well to keep the home side at bay. Danby certainly didn’t have to worry about the cold, as he was kept busy by making several saves.

Chester and their supporters didn’t really get buzzing until the pressure switched with about 15 minutes to go. City won two free-kicks on the edge of the box as they pushed forward. But both glimmers of hope fell to nothing and the action switched back to the other end.

On the 88th minute, a neat Kidderminster move saw sub Damien Spencer run into space with the ball. He passed to Duane Courtney and he shot the ball home.

It was a harsh scoreline for Chester, but despite three minutes of extra time there was nothing they could do about it. Following the full-time whistle, the away side got a decent show of recognition from the travelling fans. But the victory at Grays on 7 November now seems light years ago, and it seems hard to imagine when City will next get three points on the road.

Report and pictures Sue Choularton

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Friday 11 December
Chester City 0 Fleetwood Town 1
FA Trophy Round 1
Attendance: 518 (110 Fleetwood) Half Time 0-0
Booked: Ryan, Chadwick.

Chester City: Danby, Freeman, Kelly, Ryan, Rule, Rea (Lea 52), Barry, Owen, Ellams, Wilkinson (Jones 65), Chadwick. Subs not used: Murphy, Rawlinson, Coulter.
Fleetwood Town: Dootson, Beeley, Pond, McNulty, Wright, Mullan (Torpey 76), McGuire, Mulligan, Clancy, Rogan (Seddon 71), Warlow (Connors 86). Subs not used: Cahill, Hills.
Referee: Colin Harwood (Manchester).

Just over 400 Blues fans see City reach a new low as they’re dumped out of the FA Trophy by Blue Square North side Fleetwood Town. The visitors could indeed have won by a greater margin, as the young Blues side could only muster one real chance of note in the entire 90 minutes.

Manager Jim Harvey welcomed back Tim Ryan who replaced the suspended Kevin Roberts, while Michael Lea took a place in the bench after recovering from injury. But once again it was youthful team, with six players under the age of 21, lacking in experience that took the field for the tie.

In a game of few chances it was Nick Chadwick who went close early on after bring put through by Ben Willkinson the striker could only shoot straight at Craig Dootson when he should really have done better with the chance.

As the half wore on it was the visitors who had the upper hand with plenty of possession but couldn’t find a way through the City back-line. When they did break though Sean Clancy crossed for Jamie McGuire who sent a header just wide before John Danby produced a smart save to deny Jamie Mullan.

Town continued to hold the upper hand after the break and eventually broke the deadlock ten minutes in.

Jamie Milligan sent a free box into the box from the left, Danby came but failed to hold the dipping cross and Adam Warlow was left to tap-in the loose ball for a simple goal to the delight of the 110 visiting supporters.

Ben Jones replaced Wilkinson in the City attack on 65 minutes but it was Town who wee creating the scoring chances as both Mullan and McGuire went close. Danby turned a McGuire shot round the post and Steve Torpey brought another save from the Blues ‘keeper, before Warlow netted the ball from the rebound only to see his effort ruled offside.

The visitors from the Blue Square North comfortably saw out the final minutes to book their place in round two and a home tie with Dover Athletic.

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Saturday 5 December
Chester City 0 Luton Town 0
Football Conference
Attendance: 1,352 (523 Luton) Half Time 0-0
Booked: Freeman, Wilkinson, Kelly. Sent-off: Roberts.

Chester City: Danby, Freeman, Kelly, Roberts, Rule, Rea, Barry, Owen, Ellams (Davidson 88), Wilkinson (Rawlinson 70), Chadwick. Subs not used: Murphy, Jones, Coulter.
Luton Town: K.Pilkington, G.Pilkington, White, Blackett, Murray, Newton, Hall, Keane, Emanuel (Cain 54), Barnes-Homer, Craddock (Nwokeji 70). Subs not used: Gore, Jarvis, Howells.
Referee: M.Brown (Hull).

Quite probably the youngest ever first team fielded by Chester, including three 17-year-olds, earned a well deserved point against promotion chasing Luton Town, despite playing the second half with ten men following the sending-off of Kevin Roberts.

Blues Manager Jim Harvey was forced to draft in young replacements as he was without both Tim Ryan through illness and Rhys Meynell through injury. In came Jack Rea and Jordan Freeman both making their full debuts. Four more youth players Sam Coulter, Ben Jones, Connell Rawlinson and Ryan Davidson joined goalkeeper Andrew Murphy on the bench.

With so many players out this was a game that City had to dig their heels in and absorb the inevitable pressure from a far more experienced Luton side in what proved to be a dour contest. Despite that though it was City who had the first glimpse of a goal with Nick Chadwick just failing to latch on to a through ball from Anthony Barry in the opening five minutes as Kevin Pilkington in the visitors goal rushed out to collect the ball.

Alan White prevented another Chadwick opportunity minutes later as the lone striker looked to latch on to a deflection in the box. The first real opportunity for the visitors came on 26 minutes when a quick move down the left saw Murray flash in a low cross right across the City goal but, fortunately for City, there was no-one there to turn home the loose ball.

Matthew Barnes-Homer then saw a shot deflect wide of John Danby’s goal on 38 minutes following a sharp turn on the edge of the box. Minutes later City were reduced to ten men. Kevin Roberts was adjudged to have held back Barnes-Homer as he raced through on goal and received a straight red card. The visitors appealed for a penalty but referee Brown awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box which Lewis Emanual blasted straight into the City wall.

The City rearguard was on hand to clear the ball seven minutes into the second period as Barnes-Homer and Adam Newton combined well. Danby made a smart save to deny Tom Craddock as he turned the ball round the post following a shot from 20 yards. Keith Keane saw a shot deflect to Danby from the resulting inswinging corner that City failed to fully clear.

The Hatters missed a golden opportunity on 69 minutes when good work from Barnes-Homer down the right set up White who headed over from just six yards out.

Youngster Rawlinson replaced Ben Wilkinson as City looked to continue their spirited performance. Newton wasted another opportunity for the visitors as he shot over following a right wing cross from pacy Cain.

Ryan Davidson came on for a debut with three minutes remaining, replacing Lloyd Elllams. With time running out City had shouts for a penalty after James Owen appeared to have been brought down by Newton but referee Brown waved play on.

Moments later the game was over and it was left for the crowd to give the youngsters a standing ovation as they left the pitch.

Picture © Evening Leader

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Tuesday 1 December
Cambridge United 1 Chester City 0
Football Conference
Attendance: 2,239 (43 Chester) Half Time 0-0
Booked: Roberts, Rule, Owen, Barry.

Cambridge United: Potter, McAuley (Ives 39), Coakley, Saah, Coulson, Willmott, Pitt (Phillips 60), Carden, Reason, Holroyd (Marriott 73), Crow. Subs not used: Walker, Parkinson.
Chester City: Danby, Roberts, Ryan, Kelly, Rule, Wilkinson (Rea 46), Barry, Owen, Meynell, Chadwick, Ellams. Subs not used: Murphy, Rawlinson, Freeman, Jones.
Referee: Declan Ford (Leicestershire).

Cambridge heaped the misery on Chester’s woes with a Danny Crow goal scored on the 90th minute to give the home team a lucky three points.

Chester had missed enough chances to secure a much-needed win, with Ben Wilkinson having the match’s first shot on target in the 11th minute.

Soon after, Wilkinson was in the thick of it again when he was fouled after a good pass from Nick Chadwick. Anthony Barry took the free kick, which beat the wall, but was cleared to safety.

The first booking of the game came on the 25th minute when Kevin Roberts was yellow-carded for a wayward tackle on ex-City player, Chris Holroyd.

Another Chadwick pass led to Lee Ellams getting a good chance to score, but he only managed to slide the ball into the arms of United goalkeeper, Danny Potter.

Holroyd had two good chances to put Cambridge ahead, but one missed the target and the other was cleared. Potter had to make another save from Ellams, just before referee Ford blew for half-time.

Cambridge went off the field to a chorus of boo-ing and did come back in the second half with more determination. Holroyd was still crucial to the Cambridge attack and looked to have forced John Danby to pick up a pass-back inside the first two minutes of the re-start. But the referee awarded Danby a free kick.

Glenn Rule was booked for a foul on Holroyd on the 56th minute and just two minutes later, James Owen was also shown a yellow card for a trip on Jai Reason. Holroyd had a 30-yard shot saved by Danby, before he was substituted on the 72nd minute.

Chester were getting rattled and Barry became the fourth City played to be booked when he kicked the ball away in frustration after he was adjudged to have been guilty of handball.

Sean Kelly did well to block a Cambridge shot after they won a corner on the 83rd minute. Soon after, Cambridge won a free kick, but the shot went straight at the City wall.

Cambridge continued to threaten and substitute Adam Marriott had a shot that went just over the bar. He then won a free kick, which led to the Cambridge winner when Danny Crow headed it home.

There was no time left for a late City comeback and it was no doubt a long trip home for the 43 Blues fans who made the cross-country trip.

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