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Saturday 28 February 2004
Woking 1 Chester City 2
Nationwide Conference
Attendance: 2,554 Half Time 1-0
Booked: Smith, Carden.

Bayes, Boardman, Townsend (Haule 89), MacDonald, Murray, Canham, Cockerill, Smith, Ferguson, Foyewa, Giles. Subs not used: Johnson, Sharp, Northmore, Oliver.
Chester City: Turner, Smith (Twiss 67), Heard, Bolland, Guyett, McIntyre, Collins, Williams, Clare, Stamp, Carden. Subs not used: Davies, Rapley, Lane, Carey.
Referee: K.Stroud (Bournemouth). 

CLICK for larger pictureA wonderful late winner from super-sub Michael Twiss gives City their first win at Kingfield and puts the Blues eight points clear at the top. The shock scoreline the night before that saw Hereford United put nine goals without reply past Dagenham & Redbridge had seen the Blues close the gap on City to five points and Blues fans knew a positive response in front of the SKY cameras was needed.

There was just one change from the week before with Paul Carden returning from suspension to replace Shaun Carey who took his seat on the bench. He, like most of the crowd, was still probably settling in when the Blues fell a goal behind on 55 seconds as Amos Foyewa (who ran City ragged at the Deva last season) got goal-side of a statuesque Phil Bolland to set up Steve Ferguson to score from close range to the delight of the home fans behind the goal. Minutes later Foyewea was at it again before City’s defence cleared their lines.

City weathered some more early Cards pressure before settling in and creating some chances of their own forcing a corner and free-kick in quick succession though McIntyre’s near post efforts were easily dealt with. The Blues were having a lot of possession without really testing Ashley Bayes in the home goal as the game was fought out in midfield with Alex Smith and Danny Williams having their work cut-out by their opposite numbers Canham and Murray, both set up Darryn Stamp however with chances that were missed.

On the stroke of half-time Stamp missed a glorious chance as he shot over the bar from close-range after a surging run down the right wing from Williams.

The Blues started the second half brightly and Bayes came to the rescue again superbly pushing a Clare snap-shot over the bar on 49 minutes, the resulting corner being cleared. Ferguson had two quick shots in succession shooting wide of Turner’s post on both occasions as the game move from end to end.

Midway through the half manager Mark Wright made a surprise change bringing on Michael Twiss for midfielder Alex Smith and seconds later he almost got his name on the score sheet as, leaning back, he headed over McIntyre’s inswinging corner for point-blank range.

Steve Ferguson was causing all sorts of trouble for the City defence breaking away time and time again though the backline of Collins, Guyett and Bolland did well to force the striker to long range efforts.

On 78 minutes City got the equaliser their second-half display deserved as Danny Collins rose unmarked at the far post to head home another McIntyre corner. No sooner had City's celebrations died down when Collins was in action again at the other end blocking a shot from dangerman Foyewea.

Twiss forced another save from Bayes as his strength and pace was causing all sorts of problems and with four minutes remaining scored the wining. City broke quickly from the back with Clare picking the ball up on half-way. He slipped a pass forward to Twiss who beat two defenders before unleashing an unstoppable left-foot thunderbolt past Bayes who had no chance in the home goal.

A tense final few minutes followed as the home side threw everything into an equaliser. There was the mother of all scrambles in the City six-yard box that saw Danny Collins clear for a corner from Ferguson, and substitute Davis Haule shot wide from two yards when he seemed certain to score. Turner saved a curling shot from Ferguson and Williams cleared his lines as City’s defence held firm. It was on-loan Turner in the City goal who had the last say in the result saving from a Gary MacDonald header deep into injury time.


Saturday 21 February 2004
Chester City 2 Dagenham & Redbridge 1
Nationwide Conference
Attendance: 2,990 Half Time 1-0
Booked: Clare, Stamp.

Chester City
: Turner, Collins, Bolland, Guyett, McIntyre, Carey (Davies 73), Williams, Smith (Twiss 73), Heard, Stamp, Clare. Subs not used: Rapley, Harris, Lane.
Dagenham & Redbridge: Roberts, Mustafa, Cole, Vickers, Bruce, Janney, Hill (L.Piper 75), Shipp, J.Jackson (Braithwaite 68), Moore (Kimble 79), K.Jackson. Subs not used: Baruwa, Rees, Lenny.
Referee: M.Matadar (Blackburn). 

CLICK for larger pictureFor the second match in succession City left it very late to secure all three points. Last time against Farnborough Town it took an 88th minute strike from Daryl Clare, this time it was deep into injury time when Darryn Stamp’s goal almost took the roof off the home end. Manager Mark Wright gave a debut to loan signing Danny Williams – replacing Ben Davies from the side that started the last game.

It was the visitors who had the first real chance of the game as a mistake from Jamie Heard let in Jimmy Jackson but Iain Turner spread himself in goal and made a confidence-boosting save with his legs to deflect the ball out for a corner that was dealt with by Phil Bolland (who had an excellent game all afternoon).

Minutes later Heard was in action at the other end this time crossing for Clare to half-volley a shot straight at Roberts. It wasn’t long though before Clare had another chance to beat the ex-QPR ‘keeper. Alex Smith was brought down by Roberts in the box (no card given) and referee Matadar immediately pointed to the spot. Despite a couple of spot-kick misses recently, Clare grabbed the ball and dispatched it into the bottom left corner, sending Roberts the wrong way.

Clare was booked for dissent midway through the half before the visitors created a couple of chances for themselves and missed a guilt-edged chance when two attackers got in each others two yards out way after a far post cross had eluded Turner.

Darryn Stamp missed two chances himself as the half drew to a close, he should have done better than fail to force Roberts into a save, firing high and wide on each occasion.

Mark Janney has the first shot for Dagenham after the break after being set up by Chris Moore, while minutes later at the other end Roberts saved from Stamp’s close range effort. The striker saw two more efforts saved by Roberts who also denied a debut goal for Williams turning the midfielders effort round the post.

On 67 minutes Daggers manager Gary Hill brought on Leon Braithwaite with immediate effect. The pacy ex-Margate striker had only been on the field three minutes before he headed home unmarked at the far post from a Chris Moore cross after he’d intercepted Shaun Carey’s wayward crossfield pass.

Carey and Smith were immediately replaced with Ben Davies and Michael Twiss as City looked to breakdown a well organised defence. Twiss saw plenty of the ball and was causing all sorts of problems with his surging runs down the City left. Stamp had another shot charged down while Roberts did well to clear a dangerous inswinging McIntyre corner.

As the game entered the final minutes City pressed for the winner. Daryl Clare saw a point-blank snap-shot saved by Roberts in a goalmouth frenzy, another effort just evaded Clare at the post and was cleared off the line, and Ashley Vickers was relieved to see an attempted clearance from a Twiss cross rebound away off the crossbar.

City had a headed goal disallowed before the killer blow was dealt in the 93rd minute. Kevin McIntyre chased a through ball down the left before being challenged, the loose ball was picked up by Twiss who raced down the wing, he beat two defenders then lost the ball in a challenge before winning it back, he cut-into the edge of the box and drew Roberts out before smartly pulling the ball back for Stamp to score into an unguarded net from eight yards out right in front of the delirious home fans.
Saturday 7 February 2004
Chester City 3 Farnborough Town 2
Nationwide Conference
Attendance: 2,665 Half Time 2-0
Booked: McIntyre.

Chester City
: Turner, Bolland, Guyett, Smith (Twiss 70), Heard, Davies, McIntyre, Collins, Carey, Clare, Stamp. Subs not used: Rapley, Harris, Foster, Ruffer.
Farnborough Town: Osborn, Martin (Christou 89), Opinel, Thompson (Manuella 59), Burton, Hayes, Hodgson, Toms (Sombili 80), Forinton, Chaaban, Doudou. Subs not used: Charlery, Ashwood.
Referee: A.Green (Leicester).

CLICK for larger pictureIt took a wonder strike from Daryl Clare to win the points for City who made hard work for themselves after dominating the opening period.

The Blues completed their fourth double of the season but not before it looked as though two points were slipping away after another second-half lapse in concentration.

The Blues welcomed debutant Iain Turner in goal and there was a recall in midfield, with Paul Carden suspended, for Ben Davies, starting his first game for City since the home defeat to Stevenage Borough in mid-December.

A heavy downpour before the match and strong wind greeted the start of the game which got off to a dream start with a City goal inside 45 seconds. Hesitancy on the Farnborough left let in Daryl Clare whose inch perfect cross was met by strike partner Darryn Stamp in the middle to slot home past Osborn. Minutes later Turner was called into action for the first time as he rushed out to save low down at the feet of Doudou.

City continued to press and could have doubled their lead when Stamp headed over the bar from a Jamie Heard cross from 18 yards. The second goal duly came ten minutes later as Stamp returned the earlier favour from Clare knocking on a Scott Guyett cross to set up Daryl for his 18th goal of the season.

It was all one-way traffic at this point. Stamp again headed over when well placed and Kevin McIntyre and Davies saw efforts blocked by the over-worked Osborn. Just before the break it was Stamp again with a headed chance this time seeing his effort hit the crossbar from another Heard cross.

Clare was in the action again at the start of the second half shooting straight at Osborn from 18 yards before the visitors pulled a goal back out of the blue. Turner had to be alert to save from Forrington before Alex Smith was adjudged to have fouled Sacha Opinel. The resulting free-kick was hoisted into the box by Richard Hodgson from the right. City’s defence were slow to react as Nick Burton nipped in to reduce the arrears.

Not for the first time in recent weeks, as soon as City concede a goal the whole defence looks shaky and appear to panic. Against Gravesend, Leigh and Forest Green Rovers in recent weeks when one goal went in another soon followed, and this was the same again on Saturday.

City forced a succession of corners but the action was switching to the other end as Burton missed a glorious chance, shooting wide from six yards, before the equaliser came on 67 minutes as Hodgson stole in to score from six yards with City’s defence watching. Manager Mark Wright made an immediate substitution bringing on Michael Twiss for Alex Smith to add some urgency to the attack.

Twiss has an immediate impact and his run and cross saw Heard bring out a fine save from Osborn. McIntyre saw a shot saved as it began to look like City would have to make do with just one point. However, with two minutes remaining, Daryl Clare turned on a sixpence on the edge of the box and unleashed a wonderful shot (wind assisted!) to win the game and save City’s blushes.
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