Saturday 23 February 2002
Chester City 2 Hereford United
FA Umbro Trophy Round 5
Attendance: 1,747 Half Time: 1-0
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).
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
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
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
Everyone wants to be playing
first team football. I�ve just got to work hard and
when I do get my chance I�ve 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 I�m still quite surprised
how much they get behind me. I�ve 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
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.
19 February 2002
Nuneaton Borough 1 Chester City 3
Attendance: 760 Half Time: 0-2
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.
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
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
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
Sunday 17 February 2002
Chester City Ladies 1 Stockport Celtic Ladies
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 hadnt 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 wasnt until 15 minutes or so from time that the
New signing and ex Doncaster Belles midfielder
Cath Davies replaced Sarah Tyson, who hadnt 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
Teasdales 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.
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).
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
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.
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,
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.
Table as at 10/02/02
9 February 2002
Margate 0 Chester City 0
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).
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 Margates 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
I had my hopes that Chester, playing in their Turner
prize yellow and black away strip, would come out with some
fighting spirit. But Im afraid the immediate impression was
that the 11 selected players were the ones who were suffering the
least from their overnight stay. I cant 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 Cardens
cross and Beesleys 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 Margates 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.
Bleasdales 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 were 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 Wrights
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 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 Chesters sails and well add to our
unbeaten run of six matches breezing up the Conference table
in the process.
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).
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.
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.