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MATCH REPORTS 2001/02
Pre-Season | August | September | October | November | December | January | February | March | April
FEBRUARY 2002
Solihull Borough FAT4 (H) | Margate (A) | Solihull Borough FAT4R (A) | Nuneaton Borough (A) | Hereford United FAT5 (H)
Saturday 23 February 2002
Chester City 2 Hereford United 1
FA Umbro Trophy Round 5
Attendance: 1,747 Half Time: 1-0
Booked: Bolland.

Chester City: W.Brown, Woodyatt, Carden, Lancaster, Bolland, Brabin, McGorry, Blackburn, Spink, Beesley, Whittaker (Haarhoff 78). Subs not used: S.Rose, M.O'Brien, C.O'Brien, Collins.
Hereford United: Baker, Clarke, Shurley, Quiggin (Elmes 58), Wright, James, Rodgerson, Snape, Parry, Williams, Goodwin. Subs not used: Evans, Davidson, Hill.
Referee: S.Castle (Birmingham).

[Match Programme]Chester's fine run of form continued with an injury time strike by Jimmy Haarhoff to see City through to the last eight of the FA Trophy. Played on a bitterly February afternoon this was a game for brave hearts as both sides battled out a combative and entertaining cup tie which in the final analysis neither side deserved to lose.

Both sides opened brightly with Whittaker and in form Woodyatt making good bursts creating space and putting Hereford under early pressure. In return Hereford made some sharp counter attacks and on eleven minutes, Bolland had to work hard to make a last ditch tackle to stop the visitors bursting through to take an early lead. It was Woodyatt again who twenty minutes sent Beesley away on the right who directed an early ball onto the diving head of Spink who at the near post directed the ball over the bar. Hereford replied with strong and purposeful runs and testing Brabin and Bolland far more than we have seen in recent games.

On the half hour a corner from Whittaker found Spink in space running in who should have done better than direct his header straight at the feet of the Hereford goalkeeper. Two minutes later a second chance went begging as Spink stretched boot failed to connect on a cross from the left as City piled on the pressure. It seem to matter little when on thirty-seven minutes, Bolland headed firmly down from a well-struck Whittaker corner passed a tightly packed Hereford defence. It was a deserved lead to take in at half time after sustained attacking play.

City opened brightly in the second period. Woodyatt hit over after good work from Beesley, and Bolland with a strong header, and then Blackburn, whose contribution to this point had been anonymous, hit a powerful shot that brought the very best out of their goalkeeper Matthew Baker. But just when it looked like Hereford might fall further behind, they regained their composure and, once settled, put together some good football with some strong running reminding us why they had knocked four past Boston the week before. It was no surprise therefore, when with just fifteen minutes remaining, their equaliser came. A quick throw on the right was knocked high into the box where Rob Elmes rose high above Lancaster to direct a ball passed Brown which was parried but could not hold.

Chances in the final moments of the game were limited, as both sides seemed resigned to a replay. But with the game deep in injury time, Jimmy Haarhoff who had looked lively since replacing Whittaker ten minutes previously, was presented with rare space, struck a angled shot low inside the post to silence the visiting supporters. This was true cup-tie stuff and it was hard to think of a more popular player on the pitch score what may turn out to be a money-spinner for the club.

So once more this was another very encouraging team performance to add to the fine victory at Nuneaton in midweek. We can only speculate where we would have been in the league if we had begun this season with the squad of players now turning out at the Deva.

Hereford contributed to a good game both with some fine running of their own but this was Chester's day and it been some time since the home supporters have had cause for celebration.

Tim Savidge

“Everyone wants to be playing first team football. Iíve just got to work hard and when I do get my chance Iíve got to take it. Scoring the winner on Saturday pleased me but I was more pleased for the team and that we won the game. I also got a great reaction from the crowd and Iím still quite surprised how much they get behind me. Iíve never known anything like it and I really do appreciate their support.” – City match winner Jimmy Haarhoff.

Tuesday 19 February 2002
Chesterfield Youth 3 Chester City Youth 4

Football League Youth Alliance

Chester City: Louie Mackin, Tom Coulson (Scott Bagnall), Paul Connolley (Adam Hunter), Trialist, James Dean, Kevin Towey, Carl Rodgers, Chris Tammy, John Davies, Lee Reece, Chris Hopwood.

The youth team turned in a good performance in a rearranged game on Tuesday. They came from behind twice to beat Chesterfield in a physical encounter. Goals came from Kevin Towey 2 [1 pen], Lee Reece and Chris Hopwood.

Tuesday 19 February 2002
Nuneaton Borough 1 Chester City 3
Nationwide Conference
Attendance: 760 Half Time: 0-2
Booked: None.

Nuneaton Borough:
McKenzie, Thackeray, Love, Angus, Howey, Lavery, Harkin (Dunkley 57), Peake (Peyton 65), Crowley, Charles, Burgess (Harris 46). Subs not used: Hodgson, Turner.
Chester City: W.Brown, Woodyatt, M.Rose, Lancaster, Bolland, Williams, Carey, McGorry (Blackburn 82), McElhatton, Spink (Carden 75), Beesley (Collins 82). Subs not used: Whittaker, Haarhoff.
Referee: M.Atkinson.

[Match Programme]City manager Mark Wright gave debuts to three players at Manor Park as his new-look City side coasted to a 3-1 victory, lifting them out of the bottom three in the process. Those pulling on a City shirt for the first time were defender Mark Williams, and midfielders Shaun Carey and on-loan signing Michael McElhatton.

Persistent rain for the previous 24 hours had left the Manor Park drenched and the pitch was only passed fit by the referee one hour before kicK-off, by the time the teams ran out surface water was beginning to settle .

The hundred or so City fans who braved the elements to make the trip gathered on the Canal Side and had barely shaken themselves dry when the Yellows had taken the lead.

A quick build up saw Dean Spink and Lee Woodyatt exchange passes inside the box before the youngster fired the ball home from eight yards.

With nearly half an hour gone City doubled their lead in spectacular fashion as Michael Rose thumped home a free kick from 20 yards to leave McKenzie in the Borough goal grasping thin air. Minutes later the keeper was in action again tipping round superbly a snap-shot from Spink that was destined for the top corner.

City were well on top ant this stage and playing some neat football on the glue-pot of a pitch and Spink and debutant Carey both went close to extending City's lead before half-time but saw efforts missed.

No doubt fresh from a half-time rollicking, Nuneaton started the second half in determined fashion and twice went close to pulling a goal back. Both Woodyatt and Spink cleared goalbound efforts off the line before City put the game beyond reach on 57 minutes.

Awarded a free kick fully 30 yards out on the right, Michael Rose once again lined up his shot and sent a swerving kick past the wall and in the the far corner off the underside of the bar to send the Blues fans into raptures.

Manager Mark Wright made three substitutions before the home side scored a consolation goal four minutes from time. Keeper Wayne Brown was adjudged to have picked the ball up outside the area (difficult to see with the line almost obliterated in mud) and Warren Peyton fired home through the City wall leaving Brown standing.

[Ground] [Goal!] [Goal] [City Fans]

Sunday 17 February 2002
Chester City Ladies 1 Stockport Celtic Ladies 0
Cheshire County Cup Semi Final

The girls returned to playing after a long abscence this Sunday. It was a pleasant distraction from Northern Combination League action as they attempted to get into the Cheshire County Cup Final.

They played against a well drilled, battling Stockport Celtic team from the North West Womens Division 1. It was soon apparent the girls hadn’t played for many weeks and they were struggling. From the off the game was scrappy with Stockport finding it easy to break down any build up play by the Chester Ladies. It wasn’t until 15 minutes or so from time that the breakthrough came.

New signing and ex Doncaster Belles midfielder Cath Davies replaced Sarah Tyson, who hadn’t been able to shake off her marker all afternoon, and after determined work to beat two players, she 'stayed alive' to latch onto a deflected clearance to slot the ball into the corner of the Stockport net across the diving, unsighted keeper.

Any report could not without mentioning Gemma Teasdale’s match winning save. She was forced to jump high to her right to tip a 25 yard lobbed shot over the top. It brought the 30 or so fans to their feet, everyone thought it was a goal. The save was just minutes before Cath got our winner, so it was a real match winner.

Untidy and ill disciplined this performance – a poor one by the Chester Ladies Standard but a semi final win just the same (many would say, the sign of a Championship side – playing poor and still winning!). The County Cup Final will be played Sunday 27th April, opponents and venue to be decidced.

Tuesday 12 February 2002
Solihull Borough 2 Chester City 4
FA Umbro Trophy Round 4 Replay
Attendance: 721 Half Time: 1-1
Booked: Whittaker, Brabin.

Solihull Borough:
Murphy, Pereira, Hier (Sutton 84), Smith, Knight, Cooper, Hollis, C.Smith (Arshad 77), Hall, Amos, Dutton (Lovelock 77). Subs not used: King, Ford.
Chester City: W.Brown, Lancaster, M.Rose, Carden (Woodyatt 80), Bolland, Brabin, McGorry, Blackburn, Whittaker (Porter 80), Beesley (D.Brown 80), Spink. Subs not used: Collins, Haarhoff.
Referee: J.Tatton (Liverpool).

[Match Programme]The rain had relented for most of the day but looking at the Damson Park pitch you could see why this tie had been postponed once already. The water lying on the surface glistened in the floodlights and the area around the dugouts looked like the icing on a chocolate fudge cake. Both sets of players went through vigorous warm up routines in opposite corners of the pitch. The bright lights of aircraft coming in to land and taking off from Birmingham International Airport close by formed the back drop to this new out-of-town home for Solihull Borough.

Chester began by attacking towards the covered home end. Visiting fans were just taking up their positions behind the goal when Whittaker sent in a deliciously inviting free kick only for Gary Brabin to head narrowly wide. Brabin went close again with a header – this time it was parried by Murphy in the home goal and, after sticking in the mud, was hacked away.

Borough looked lively up front as they had done at the Deva but there seemed to be no danger when the referee pointed to the spot for a penalty. It took a couple of minutes for it to dawn on everyone that the decision had been made. No-one, apart from Alan – who said it was a clear handball – knew why it had been given. Up stepped Hall, his left-footed shot was straight at Brown who parried it into the mud only for Hall to follow up the rebound into the net.

Stung by the embarrassing scoreline Chester pushed forward, moving the ball out to the wings where Beesley and Whittaker began to find space. From Beesley's low right wing cross the ball landed at Blackburn's feet. After he had dug it out of the mud, it seemed he had all the time in the world to pick his spot. Unfortunately the spot he picked was a foot to the right of the right hand post and a golden opportunity to equalise had gone begging.

Even this was not quite as gilt-edged as the penalty which Mr Tatton awarded to Chester. Spink was impeded as he tried to control the ball in the box and went down. It seemed a harsh decision but we were happy to accept it. Beesley placed the ball on the spot but, no doubt trying to make sure he didn't scuff the ball into the mud, overcompensated and sent it sailing over the crossbar – only for it to hit the top of the stand and come crashing back on top of the net.

Oh dear. It began to look as though it was going to be one of those nights only too familiar to long-suffering City fans. When Blackburn put another shot wide from an almost identical position to the one he had missed earlier, frustration began to set in amongst the travelling faithful. But give City their due, they kept coming forward and even playing some good football – especially when Whittaker got hold of the ball. In first half stoppage time he carried the ball down the right and crossed to the far post where Beesley nodded the ball back across goal. It seemed to hang in the air for an age until Dean Spink raced in and volleyed it into the net.

A timely equaliser. Now, we all hoped City would be able to grind out a win from this position. But Borough came at them after the break and forced a corner. Chester didn't clear their lines convincingly and the ball was held up in the penalty area before being passed to the unmarked Smith, (C), who side-footed home to restore the home side's advantage. The mud helped him to skid ten yards on his knees in celebration.

Some weak hearted Cestrians then contemplated going for that early train at Birmingham International and ending the misery of enduring another humiliation. But wait, Whittaker's cross from the right hung in the air and there was Phil Bolland, head and shoulders above everyone else, nodding the ball towards the gaping goal. Even the mud – slightly less of it at this end – couldn't prevent it rolling into the net.

Still City pressed forward. In sweeping move over to the right, Beesley cut in and fired a shot towards goal. Murphy could only parry it and Dean Spink trundled it in to give Chester the lead for the first time. Borough came back and forced a couple of shots on goal. Hollis got free and fired narrowly wide. Both teams through all their subs on virtually at once.

The result was put beyond doubt when Spink completed his hat trick in strange circumstances. Brown was given offside by the linesman's flag but the referee waved play on as Borough had the ball. But the Borough right back assumed a free kick had been given and rolled the ball gently across towards the centre half. Spink intercepted, saying thank you very much and began to bear down on goal. The home defence was caught flat-footed and watched in horror as Deano drew Murphy and scored with ease. The goal stood and the final whistle went and City are now at home (again) in the Trophy to our old rivals Hereford United.

Colin Mansley
[Advert] [Souvenir Hut] [Warm Up] [City Fans]

Saturday 9th February 2002
Chester City Youth 1 Port Vale Youth 1

Football League Youth Alliance

Chester City: Louie Mackin, Tom Coulson, Paul Connolley (Trialist), Chris Tammy, James Dean, Adam Kelley, Carl Rodgers, John Davies, Matt Cooke (John Kearney), Kevin Towey, Chris Hopwood.

The youth team turned in a good performance at the weekend drawing 1-1 with table toppers Port Vale on a windswept Saturday morning. Playing with a strong wind they took the lead mid way through the first half when Chris Hopwood raced clear to lift the ball over the advancing keeper. They defended well against the wind in the second half but were unlucky to concede an equaliser 20 minutes from time when an attempted clearance from Paul Connolly rebounded, wind assisted from 18 yards, off a Port Vale player directly into the net.

[Youth Alliance]                  
League Table
P
W
D
L
F
A
GD
Pts
 
Port Vale
15
12
1
2
37
15
22
37
 
Rotherham United
15
9
3
3
32
13
19
30
 
Stockport County
15
8
3
4
40
21
19
27
 
Mansfield Town
12
5
3
4
17
13
4
18
 
Shrewsbury Town
12
5
2
5
23
23
0
17
 
Lincoln City
14
3
3
8
15
30
–15
12
 
Chester City
14
2
5
7
14
31
–17
11
 
Macclesfield Town
12
1
7
4
10
12
–2
10
 
Chesterfield
13
2
1
10
18
48
–30
7
 
Table as at 10/02/02 
Saturday 9 February 2002
Margate 0 Chester City 0
Nationwide Conference
Attendance: 984 Half Time: 0-0
Booked: Bolland, Brabin, M.Rose. Sent off: M.Rose.

Margate:
Mitten, Hafner (Saunders 77), Porter, Edwards, O'Connell, Lamb, Roddis, Munday, McFlynn (Graham 85), Collins, Braithwaite. Subs not used: Sodje, Azzopardi, Turner.
Chester City:
W.Brown, Lancaster, M.Rose, Bolland, Blackburn, Brabin, McGorry, Carden, D.Brown (Porter 82), Beesley, Spink. Subs not used: Williams, Woodyatt, Collins, Whittaker.
Referee: M.Russell (St Albans).

[Match Programme]Reality struck me as starkly in the face when I arrived at Margate as the icy wind blowing in from the North Sea. If ever Chester needed a wake-up call this was the day it had to come. The mere sight of Margate’s ramshackle Hartsdown Park – complete with entrance gates that looked to have been bought second-hand from Millwall – must have been enough to make some of the players realise we can't even think of playing at a lower level next season.

I had my hopes that Chester, playing in their ‘Turner prize’ yellow and black away strip, would come out with some fighting spirit. But I’m afraid the immediate impression was that the 11 selected players were the ones who were suffering the least from their overnight stay. I can’t think of any other reason why Michael Rose was back in the starting line-up, with Lee Woodyatt and Stuart Whittaker sitting on the bench.

David Brown, Mark Beesley and Dean Spink acted as a strikeforce trio – but none had a decent shot anywhere near target in the first 40 minutes. Paul Carden ran tirelessly from one end of the park to the other and did his best to feed the threesome. Meanwhile Chris Blackburn seems to have lost his touch and confidence in the centre of midfield. It was Carden’s cross and Beesley’s resultant half-strike towards the end of the second half that was probably the closest Chester came to scoring in the first half. But Margate keeper Charlie Mitten easily gathered the ball.

And soon after it looked inevitable that Margate would be enjoying a 1-0 advantage at half-time. Rose was cautioned for a clumsy challenge as Margate mounted a rare attack. The free kick was floated into the box and a melee of players scrambled for the ball. Somehow the ball was thwacked into the back of the net and as Margate’s players were celebrating we began to wonder if there was any hope of us fighting back. But we were given a reprieve. The referee went to consult with his linesman – hopefully prompted by the furious touchline protest by Blues’ coach Steve Bleasdale – and the goal was eventually disallowed. Bleasdale’s reward for making the useful observation that Wayne Brown had been fouled by a Margate player was for him to be dispatched to the stand by the referee. But his efforts will be more than worthwhile if we’re kept afloat this season by a single point.

Chester came out for the second half with more determination in their souls. Rose, seemingly anxious to earn a place in the side, chopped down Margate striker Phil Collins on the 54th minute. The referee had no hesitation in giving him a second yellow card, and Rose was sent off. Neither the Chester players, nor the fans seemed perturbed by his dismissal. Mark Wright’s response was to substitute striker Brown for Andy Porter.

It continued to be a reassuring performance by the rest of the defence. Wayne Brown pulled off a couple of impressive stops – and captain Gary Brabin was always in the right place at the right time to win any aerial challenges in the box. Margate won a hatful of corners in the second half, so we were thankful for his aerial authority.

The closest Chester came to scoring was when Brian McGorry headed home from a corner, but the goal was promptly disallowed by a Brabin obstruction on Margate keeper Mitten. And just when it looked like both sides had settled for a 0-0 draw, Beesley had the perfect chance to win the game. Chester played a string of clever passes in midfield, until the ball eventually came to Beesley. He tackled a Margate defender and when he had only the goalkeeper to beat, it looked like three precious points were heading our way. But somehow he blasted the ball right over the bar.

The only other excitement was a midfield confrontation between Brabin and Collins, which drew in several other players from both sides. The referee soon put a stop to it, booking Brabin and Collins in the process.

I just hope that the chill Kent weather has finally put the wind in Chester’s sails and we’ll add to our unbeaten run of six matches – breezing up the Conference table in the process.

Sue Choularton

[Ground] [Ground] [Silence] [Ground]

Saturday 2 February 2002
Chester City 0 Solihull Borough 0
FA Umbro Trophy Round 4
Attendance: 1,282 Half Time: 0-0
Booked: Beesley, Porter.

Chester City:
W.Brown, Woodyatt, Carden, Lancaster, Bolland, Brabin, Porter (Blackburn 70), McGorry, Beesley, D.Brown (Haarhoff 70), Whittaker (Spink 70). Subs not used: M.Rose, Jenkins.
Solihull Borough:
Murphy, Pereira, Hier, Smith, Knight, Cooper, Hollis (Sutton 83), C.Smith (Arshad 83), Hall, Amos, Hayde (Dutton 85). Subs not used: Campbell, Ford.
Referee: J.Tatton (Liverpool).

[Match Programme]Conference survival may only be what matters at this stage of the season but a cup game is a cup game – even if it is just the FA Trophy. Neither did it matter that it was Solihull who were the visitors since their league placing above, Stourport Swifts, in the DM League Western Division suggested that this was going to be anything but a push over. But on the back of three straight wins we really must have hoped for more than this.

A game of two halves it may have been but the trouble was that both were awful. City, clueless, lacking conviction or passion, were out-numbered and outfought by an ordinarily Solihull defence. David Brown whose recent form hinted better times loitered aimlessly rarely competing for a ball that for much of the game was some way from his feet. He was not alone. Andy Porter, equally inept, spent much of the game losing possession in a midfield that lacked creatively or passion. Beesley rarely winning a ball in the air or on the ground looked cold and sluggish. Woodyatt, enthusiastic throughout lacked sharpness and was harried into making too many uncharacteristic mistakes. The only credit that can be given was another solid display from Bolland whose command of the central defence and intelligent distribution salvaged a modicum of pride. Cold and featureless as the weather it may have been it is hard to imagine the replay next Tuesday being much better.

It is true that Solihull offered little to threaten City although on balance they created the best chance in the first half allowing Chris Smith to dance through a static defence hitting a shot into the side netting. It was about as good as they got. Haarhoff created some interest as part of a triple substitution mid way through the second half but lack of service limited his chances. Although Brabin forced an injury time save with a powerful header, it would have been rough justice if City has got through on this performance. Solihull on this showing are an ordinarily team and Chester on their day have nothing to fear. But there won't be many in the 1,200 crowd today who imagine Tuesday's night replay will be anything but easy.

The only positive note was the programme which had had a recent overhaul replacing its 'John Bull' print set look with some well designed and informative interviews. At £2, it represented far better value than the £10 entrance fee in the Stand.

Gary Brabin was awarded Man of the Match no doubt for his uncompromising midfield tackling but in truth this was a game best forgot.

Tim Savidge

Manager Mark Wright commented after the draw: “There's no easy game, and Stourport proved that in the last round against us. It's another game without conceding a goal, so in that respect I'm happy, but until Chris Blackburn went on as a substitute it didn't look like we were going to create anything, and yet, how could I change a side that had won 3-0 at Telford? Chris Blackburn showed me exactly what he could do. We don't doubt his ability on the ball, but we thought he wasn't making tackles or putting himself about enough, and yet he came on for 20 minutes and showed exactly what he could do, and that gives me a good problem, because he's one of those players I want in my side.”

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