Wright’s first game back in charge at Chester saw a narrow defeat at Blundell
Park that leaves City still in 19th spot, three points above a relegation place.
New loan signings Mark Albrighton and Paul Ellender
took to the field on a cold Grimsby afternoon as City’s new-look central
defence alongside Scott McNiven who played in a sweeper role. Wright opted
for Ryan Lowe Michael Branch and Gregg Blundell up front, with tall strikers
Tait starting on the bench alongside another loan player, goalkeeper Paul
The Blues started well forcing a corner in the opening minute,
Stewart Drummond got on the end of Lowe’s
delivery but steered his header wide of the target. Lowe tried an attempt himself
from all of 30 yards after 13 minutes but his shot also went wide as City were
forced into long-range efforts with clear-cut chances at a premium.
At the other end gary Cohen shot wide when well placed and
Ben Futcher went close with a header across goal following a free kick that
just failed to meet an incoming Town player.
For the Blues, Drummond saw a header caught by Steve
Mildenhall as the ball touched the bar and Blundell shot wide as City again
failed to find the target.
Three minutes before the break the Mariners took the
lead as Gary Jones rose unmarked to head home, across goal, Curtis Woodhouse’s
right wing cross. The home side almost added a second just before the whistle
but shot stopper Stéphane Gillet pulled off a fine save to deny Futcher.
At the start of the second period City had a good chance
to draw level but Lowe shot into the side netting, in front of the small
away contingent, after a quick break down the right.
Jones went close to adding a second only his shot was
caught by Gillet as the Town striker tried to repeat his goalscoring effort
following a Woodhouse free-kick. City forced successive corners, Lowe’s
first was cleared, the second caught at the near post by Mildenhall in the
Midway through the second period Ellender had to leave
the field for treatment after a clash with Cohen and despite returning for
a brief five minute spell was eventually replaced by David Artell.
Lowe sent a rasping free-kick just over with 20 minutes remaining
before Wright brought on Richardson at the expense of Branch as City looked
for an equaliser. Five minutes later though it was the home side who had the
chance to double their advantage.
Woodhouse was fouled form behind in the box by Drummond and
referee Hall, officiating in only his fifth League match, pointed to the spot.
Woodhouse took the spot-kick himself but sent the ball sailing over both Gillet
and the crossbar.
Four minutes of time were added on during which the Blues
forced two corners but saw both efforts cleared after goalmouth scrambles.
This was a better defensive display from the Blues,
especially considering the two new players only signed 24 hours before, but
the lack of goalscoring still causes concern with Saturday’s must win
home match against Torquay United next up.
18 February Chester City 0 Leyton
Attendance: 2,210 Half Time 0-1
Booked: Gillet, Davies, Dimech.
sixth successive home defeat at the hands of Leyton Orient proved to be manager
Keith Curle’s swan song as he was sacked following this reverse that sees
City sit uncomfortably four points above a relegation place back to the Nationwide
Curle has paid the ultimate price for a disappointing
run that has seen City slip from play-off hopefuls in early December to relegation
candidates in just eleven weeks. The Blues’ early
season form that saw them scoring goals for fun in an entertaining fashion
is now a distant, happy, memory and the harsh reality of a relegation dogfight
looms on the horizon.
City were dealt a pre-match blow with the news that
top scorer Ryan Lowe failed in his fitness battle to recover from a calf
injury. Central defender Luke Dimech was recalled to the side and there was
a place in the starting X1 for midfielder Tom Curtis following his two match
suspension. Record signing Gregg Blundell again began the match on the bench.
Tom Curtis nearly opened the scoring in the third minute – for
the visitors! his headed clearance slipped inches over his own bar for a
corner. Paul Connor shot wide soon after and Michael Branch saw a long-range
comfortably held by Glyn Garner in the visitors goal as chances were few
and far between in the opening period.
On 34 minutes it was the visitors that scored the all-important
opener. Matt Lockwood pumped through a high ball for Connor to chase down
the left, with Stéphane Gillet coming out to meet the striker he rounded
the keeper only to have his ankles tripped by the Luxembourg international
who was fortunate to receive a yellow and not a red card. Lockwood despatched
the penalty with all the confidence of a player who’s netted his previous
City responded quicky and Ben Davies saw a shot well
saved by Garner, but blotted his copy book minutes later receiving his fifth
yellow card of the season that will rule him out for Saturday’s trip
to Grimsby Town. Striker Paul Tait was also denied by Garner from long range.
Chester kept the O’s waiting for the start of
the season half and when they emerged they took the game to the visitors
and totally dominated for a 20 minute period.
The Blues were guilty of missing three good chances all from within six yards.
Stewart Drummond sent a measured shot wide and Tait was guilty of putting
two wide, one a rebound from a Davies shot that had come back from the post.
Garner was well placed to tip a Tait effort over the
bar but after weathering the City pressure Orient scored a second decisive
goal on 72 minutes. The lively sent in a teasing cross that eluded Gillet
and the City defence, the ball was picked up by Alexander who pulled back
a cross for Connor to finish what he’d started as he swept the ball
home from 15 yards in front of a delighted east London following.
Curle made three late substitutions but City failed
to test Garner as the curtain came down on Keith Curle’s reign at Chester.
18 February Chester City Under
18 1 Shrewsbury Town 18 1
Youth Alliance North and Midlands West Conference
Half Time 1-0
Chester City: Brookfield, Cadwallader,
Kelly, Roberts, Marsh-Evans, Scales, Carroll (Owen 11) Wade, Rutherford, Holroyd,
Newton (Feliciello 60). Subs not used: Humphreys, Armstrong, Morgan.
Shrewsbury Town: Jones, Momey, Dean, Sutton (Ellison 49), Cain Draper,
Williams (Sharrad 69) Keating (Wright 62), Adaggio, Morris, Wallis. Subs not
used: N/A. Referee: B. Robinson.
Airbus playing on Friday night the first choice pitch was out of bounds and
the game was played on the training pitch. Although an hour before kick off
the pitch was frozen in parts the game went ahead and it soon cut up pretty
bad and became boggy in parts.
However, it was Chester who adapted better, and within the
first 15 minutes they had a couple of half chances through Holroyd and Kelly,
both producing fingertip saves from 15 year old Jones in the Shrewsbury goal.
With Owen replacing the injured Carroll after eleven minutes
Scales had to shoulder the responsibility in midfield, and at times he coped
admirably, linking up well with his full backs Cadwallader and Kelly, with
Rutherford also dropping of deep to assist. Nevertheless, despite having majority
of the possession it took Chester until the 32nd minute to unlock the Shrewsbury
defence, and when they did it was with a magnificent piece of play from Rutherford.
Brookfield kicked the ball long and high up field, and with
his back to goal it seemed that his best option was to head the ball on, but
having seen Holroyd’s run, Rutherford somehow played the ball first time
on the volley with the outside of his right foot and delivered a lovely weighted
ball straight into the path of Holroyd. With the keeper bearing down on him
Holroyd knocked the ball around him and despite being caught by the keeper
he managed to get back on his feet and shrug of the challenge from Momey to
slot the ball home.
Despite continuing to hold Shrewsbury at arms length for
the remainder of the half, the boys failed to increase their lead and went
in at half time only one goal to their good.
Nine minutes into this period Chester should have put this
game to bed, when Adam Wade spurned a golden opportunity from only three yards
out. The chance came, when out of nothing Rutherford guided the deftest of
header’s into the feet of Holroyd. Already in the penalty area Holroyd
drew the keeper over to his near post and cut the ball back across the six-yard
box to Wade who was unmarked with an open goal at his mercy. With everyone
expecting him to just tuck the easiest of chances away, he blasted the ball
not only over the bar, but also over the protective netting behind the goal
and into someone’s back garden.
Although Chester again dominated in terms of possession,
they failed to increase their lead and on the hour mark coach Jim Hackett changed
the formation to 4-5-1 with Rutherford and Holroyd now playing out wide, and
Cadwallader up front as the lone striker. Despite having five in midfield Chester
soon lost the upper hand and Shrewsbury started to see more of the ball, albeit
not to much effect. However, from the seventieth onwards, one always had a
gut feeling that Shrewsbury would get themselves back into this game and when
it happened it came as no real surprise.
With three minutes of normal time remaining Chester found
themselves defending two corners in quick succession, culminating in Dean hitting
the ball first time on the volley from outside the penalty area. With the ball
coming through a crowd of players, Brookfield spilled the ball into the path
of Adaggio who slammed the ball into the net from eight yards out. With only
a couple of minutes left Chester came close with efforts from Scales, just
over, and Rutherford inches wide.
Overall, this was a scrappy affair and although Chester
probably edged it on possession they failed to stamp their authority on this
game and missed numerous half chances along with one clear-cut opportunity. Although
the pitch wasn’t the best, this was a far cry compared to the team that
destroyed Macclesfield last week. Fact remains that Shrewsbury where there for
the taking, and for that reason alone Chester should look at this as two points
11 February Chester City 1 Stockport
Attendance: 3,446 Half Time 0-0
Keith Curle was forced to play a not fully-fit Sean Hessey after defender Luke
Dimech was taken ill with tonsillitis prior to the kick-off. There was a debut
for striker Paul Tait who signed in the week as the Blues started with Ryan
Lowe and Michael Branch on the bench.
It was the visitors, backed by a large following who created
the early chances. Goalkeeper Stephane Gillet came out smartly to catch a Matthew
Hamshaw free-kick, and Tes Bramble was in the thick of the action shooting
wide after intercepting a weak header back from Hessey, and having a ‘goal’ disallowed
on 16 minutes by referee Foy for handball.
At the other end Carl Regan saw an effort go wide from 20
yards and Derek Asamoah curled an effort just wide as City pressed again. Tait
almost scored a debut goal but saw his header go just wide of Spencer’s
Just after the half hour mark, Hatters defender Ashley Williams
was in the right place to block a Ben Davies effort from six yards for a corner.
Davies took the resulting flag-kick but the ball sailed over to the far post
and was cleared.
City also saw efforts from Stewart Drummond and Gregg Blundell
fail to hit the target when well placed.
Just before the break the Blues had Gillet to thanks for
keeping the scores level as he made a great save to deny Hamshaw’s volley.
City upped the tempo after the break and carried a much greater
threat to their east Cheshire rivals but again they had Gillet to thanks for
a smart save just after the restart.
Around the hour mark Curle made a double substitution, introducing
Lowe for Blundell and Michael Branch for Asamoah. Branch was given an early
opportunity but saw his weak shot saved by Spencer. Minutes later the Blues
were behind as the Blues lost possession from a throw-in, the ball was played
forward to Dickinson who beat Gillet from a narrow angle to put the visitors
The lead lasted only four minutes as Lowe got onto the end
of a good pass from Tait to steer the ball home in front of the City faithful.
Minutes later City thought they’d taken the lead as
Justin Walkers’s effort bounced on the line up to the crossbar and rippled
the netting before bouncing down and out, as referee Foy waved play on.
With just two minutes remaining, and the game heading for
a draw, City lost possession from their own corner kick, Briggs played in Dickinson
who advanced, beat Hessey, and scored past Gillet to the delight of the away
fans behind the goal.
11 February Chester City Under
18 4 Macclesfield Town Under 18 0
Youth Alliance North and Midlands West Conference
Half Time 1-0
Chester City: Craig
Vernon, Kelly, Potter, Cadwallader, Marsh-Evans,
Scales (K. Jones 77), Carroll Wade (Owen 70),
Rutherford, Holroyd, Newton (N. Humphrey).
Subs not used: Morgan, Feliciello Giavanni.
Macclesfield Town: Cooper, Reid, Jennings, Flynn (Brisley 64), Jeffries,
Henchcliffe, Matranga Hadfield, Dennis (Johnson 74), Whyte, Edwards (Hunt 53).
Subs not used: Bunting, Rick. Referee: R.Johnson.
‘FAIL TO PREPARE! PREPARE
the main contingency of Macclesfield players
arriving just 15 minutes prior to kick
off, one wondered what effect this would
have on the game. Due to a later game at
Airbus the referee was unable to deviate
from the stipulated kick off time, and
the Silkmen started without any kind of
warm up, and where made to pay the price
for their poor preparations.
Although Chester looked the
sharper of the two they looked content just
to keep the ball and failed to make any impression
in the first quarter of an hour. However, just
when the game looked to be turning into a mind-numbing
affair Chester took the lead just before the
20-minute mark. With a good spell of possession,
the ball was passed square to Marsh-Evans at
centre half whose long ball found Newton out
on the left wing. Newton got to the dead ball
line and fired in a low cross into the six-yard
box, with good pace on the ball it just required
a side foot into the net and Holroyd duly obliged
from just three yards out. With Macclesfield
still reeling they where fortunate not to go
further behind a couple of minutes later, when
Rutherford delivered a first time cross from
the right flank into the penalty area and the
keeper comfortably saved Holroyd’s header.
Despite having the majority
of possession, Chester failed to capitalise,
and continually lacked with their final ball.
If anything, the possession only succeeded
in frustrating the Silkmen who lost all discipline
and the half soon deteriorated with rash challenges
becoming the norm.
The half time fears that
Chester hadn’t killed off a poor opposition
where soon put to rest within six minutes of
the restart when Chester doubled their lead.
Rutherford who was playing up front, dropped
deep into his own half, turned and ran a good
forty yards skipping past challenges with ease,
where he guided the ball out to Carroll on
the right flank. With no one to beat Carroll
crossed the ball into the box where the unmarked
Holroyd headed the ball back across the keeper
and into the bottom corner.
With the second goal in the
bag the second half just seemed to fly by with
Chester encamped in the Macclesfield half.
Right across the park Chester dominated in
every position, and when they rarely lost possession
they fought tooth and nail to get it back.
Scales, Carroll and Wade worked well together
in midfield and Holroyd was now taking his
chances. However, a special mention must go
to Paul Rutherford who orchestrated everything.
Ten minutes after the restart Rutherford’s shot produced a fine save
from Cooper and from the resulting corner Holroyd should have hit the target
but his technique let him down. With the onslaught Macclesfield just lost the
plot, and at one point it looked like the game would boil over, with Chester
players taking things into their own hands due to inadequacies of all three
officials. With all this possession one just wondered how long it would be
before Chester scored again, and in the 70th minute they went three up.
In a rare moment, Macclesfield
got a corner and from the headed clearance
Rutherford turned with the ball and played
it to Potter, who in turn found Kelly, whose
shot went agonisingly over. From the resulting
goal kick Wade found Rutherford who got around
the left back and cut the back to Holroyd who
had the easy task of side footing the ball
into the net from close range. Four minutes
later and Chester went four up with the goal
of the game from left back Potter. With the
ball being half cleared out of the Macclesfield
area Potter picked the ball up and took on
his marker. He then played a one-two with Holroyd
who back heeled the ball into Potter’s
path, who then continued his run into the box,
where he rounded the keeper and slotted home.
With a four-goal cushion
Chester took their foot of the gas momentarily
and Macclesfield had their first shot on target
in the 81st minute. However, it was only a
slight lapse and Carroll was unlucky when his
long-range shot cannoned off the upright with
two minutes left of normal time, and it didn’t
stop there. In injury time Rutherford skipped
past two lunging tackles and on stumbling into
the penalty area he managed to pick out Owen,
whose shot was parried straight back out into
a crowded penalty area, where Holroyd reacted
first. Having knocked the ball around him,
the keeper then hauled Holroyd down. However,
for some strange reason the assistant mysteriously
flagged him offside and the referee waved away
any penalty appeals and awarded a free kick
On the whole, this was
a magnificent performance from Jim Hackett’s
team who dominated from the first whistle right
through to the last. Saturday
4 February Carlisle United
5 Chester City 0
Attendance: 6,561 Half Time 2-0
Booked: Davies, Regan.
disappointing run continued with this thrashing
at the hands of Carlisle United who moved
to the top of the League after this comprehensive
victory at Brunton Park. The result proved
too much for chairman Steve Vaughan who dismissed
three of Keith Curle’s backroom staff
48 hours later in an effort to arrest a slump
that has seen City lose 10 from the last
11 league games and drop to 17th in League
With David Artell suspended
and Luke Dimech relegated to the bench, two
of Curle’s midweek loan signings Mark
Roberts and Evan Horwood stepped in. Roberts
was to be replaced at half-time by another
young debutant Chris Robertson.
Playing in a strange combination
of light blue shirts with dark blue shorts
City were given an early warning of what was
to come as Michael Bridges raced clear only
to shoot wide of goal in the opening minute,
a few minutes later Carl Regan blocked another
dangerous looking effort form the former Bristol
Peter Murphy saw a direct
free-kick, conceded by Ryan Lowe, go just wide
of Stéphane Gillet’s
upright as the home side applied the early
best effort in the opening period came after
13 minutes when Ben Davies saw a sharp free-kick
parried by Kieren Westwood in the home goal,
Derek Holmes was first to react and clear the
danger before the other Derek, Asamoah, could
A minute later the Cumbrians
took the lead that all their early pressure
had promised. Adam Murray took advantage of
a flick-on from Holmes to shoot past Gillet,
a last ditch effort from Horwood to clear the
ball from the line seemed to have been successful
but the assistant referee signaled a goal.
The home side kept up the
pressure and Bridges went close on two occasions,
including a long-range lob, before City, at
last, managed to get more into the game. Asamoah
set up Davies who shot high and wide. Westwood
saved from an Asamoah header and the home side
cleared a Davies corner before doubling their
advantage on the stroke of half-time.
Dangerman Bridges picked
the ball up in midfield, brushed of City’s
weak challenges as the Blues defence backed
off, before shooting left-footed past Gillet
giving the ‘keeper no chance.
Curle replaced Roberts with
Robertson at the break as City looked to get
back into the game and just three minutes into
the second period they were given a golden
Davies was adjudged to have
been fouled on the edge of the box by Murphy
and referee Lewis pointed to the spot. Michael
Branch stepped up but sent his spot-kick straight
down the middle to be saved by Westwood’s
legs much to the despair of the City fans on
the open terrace behind the goal.
There were load appeals for
a penalty at the other end soon after following
a challenge by Scott McNiven on Holmes but
the vociferous home protests were waved away.
Minutes later though a foul
by Chris Robertson on Karl Hawley on the edge
of the box resulted in a penalty that was duly
despatched by Chris Lumsden. Curle made a second
change bringing on Marcus Richardson for Asamoah
The home side piled on the
pressure with wave after wave of attack and
seven minutes later added their fourth. Holmes
flicked on a cross from Bridges to leave Hawley
racing through on Gillet before sweeping the
ball inside the far post.
Eight minutes from time substitute
Glenn Murray completed the rout curling the
ball past the exposed Gillet for the fifth
goal after City’s defence had once again