Wayne Brown made his first return to City since leaving
in June 2005 and his last minute save at the feet of
Holroyd denied a first league goal for the youngster
and all three points for Chester.
had to be content then with just a point that lifts
them one place in League Two, on a night when a blustery
wind at Deva Stadium made playing difficult.
The Blues, looking to put behind the
Saturday’s disappointing defeat at Swindon, got
off to a flying start forcing two corners in the opening
90 seconds, though both of Kevin Sandwith’s flag-kick’s
were cleared to safety by the Bulls rearguard. John
Dandy, who single handedly kept Saturday’s score
line respectable, was soon in the action tipping over
a 25 yarder from Simon Travis for a corner that was
dealt with by the City defence.
Chester were being restricted to long
range efforts and Sean Hessey kept Brown on his toes
from all of 30 yards in City’s next real threat.
Five minutes later a long-range Sandwith effort flew
high and wide and didn't trouble Brown.
Danby was forced into making another
telling save from Alan Connell in the only other real
effort in an opening 45 minutes to forget.
As is too often the norm these days
City showed more purpose after the interval though it
was the visitors who pressed more. Andrew Williams and
Ben Smith both saw shots saved, and Smith saw one effort
cannon back off the bar, before City manager Mark Wright
introduced Laurence Wilson at the expense of Alex Meechan.
Moments later Connell was again denied by Danby who
pushed his curling free-kick round the post. Steve Guinan
also show wide when well placed before City made a second
change with lee Steele being replaced by Holroyd.
Moments later on 71 minutes City took
the lead. Everton loan player Alan Kearney picked up
the ball in midfield, shrugged off a challenge before
sending an inch perfect though ball for Simon Yeo to
run on to, he shook off Tamika Mkandawire, and shot
past Brown in City’s only real effort on target
The Bulls equaliser came with
seven minutes remaining and followed their eleventh
corner of the night. Danny Thomas crossed and with the
City defence failing to clear the danger it fell to
Dean Beckwith who headed the ball back from the bye-line
to Connell who was waiting to turn the loose ball into
the net for a deserved equaliser.
It says a lot for the Chester performance that this was
another game when there was as much post-match talk about
off-the-field incidents than there was about the actual
To concentrate on the game first, City lost 1-0 after
a ninth minute penalty following a Dave Artell handball
and showed little chance of coming back until they pressed
forward, without result, in the closing spell.
The Blues (bizarrely re-nicknamed in the programme as
either The Bordermen or The Elevator Crew) were playing
their first match since the departure of Spanish talisman
Roberto Martinez, who took up the Swansea manager’s
post the day before. He was replaced as captain by defender
Phil Bolland and in his midfield role by Jamie Hand.
City ‘keeper John Danby was called into action soon
after Swindon kicked off, when they were awarded a free
kick inside the first two minutes. The hardy contingent
of travelling Blues fans – tucked in the corner
of the Arkells stand, a ‘twin’ of the old
Sealand Road main stand – were relieved when Danby
held Christian Roberts’ strike.
But relief turned to despair moments later when Artell
put his arm up to a header from 17-year-old Lucas Jutkiewicz
and referee Ray Lee blew for a penalty. Swindon’s
Jack Smith sent Danby the wrong way from the spot and
it was 1-0 to The Robins.
The rest of the half was very much all Swindon and the
Chester fans, many of whom were already disgruntled by
the £20 cost of tickets bought on the day, were
easily distracted by the officious Swindon stewards demanding
City fans sit down, while home fans were clearly able
to stand. Two Chester fans were eventually ejected for
refusing to take their seats.
Back on the field, Chester were kept in the game by Danby,
who made a point-blank save from Blair Sturrock, son of
Town manager, Paul Sturrock.
Chester’s only real first half chance fell to Alex
Meechan, a former Swindon trainee, from a Kevin Sandwidth
cross. But he failed to make the most of the opportunity
and half-time came soon after.
Swindon started the second half much as the first and
a header from a 47th minute Robins’ corner had to
be cleared off the line. Soon after, Danby made another
good save from teenager Jutkiewicz (who, despite his name,
is an English-born product of the Swindon Centre of Excellence).
Sean Hessey came on for Simon Marples in the 50th minute,
but the half continued to go all Swindon’s way.
Chester did have some hope when Sandwidth ran into the
box, but he seemed to aim for goal at a tight angle instead
of passing the ball.
Laurence Wilson then came on for Dean Bennett and he did
jink his way past two or three Swindon players before
seeming to run out of steam as he approached goal and
failing to find Simon Yeo with his pass. The final City
substitution came on the 79th minute, when Chris Holroyd
City did show a final attacking spark in the closing minutes.
Holroyd had a penetrating run towards the Swindon box
and would have been clear on goal were it not for a quality
challenge by Jerel Ifil.
Swindon fans did their best to help their team cling onto
the three points needed to edge them nearer towards automatic
promotion by holding onto the ball to waste time when
it went into the Town End behind the goal.
But in all honesty, it looked like Chester wouldn’t have
scored with another 90 minutes of football, and when full-time
blew it must have ended the play-off hopes of all but
the most optimistic of Blues’ fans.
last minute penalty on his home debut by Simon Yeo
brought the double over the Shakers to lift City to
11th in League Two. Without a home win since 9 December
the three points will have come as a welcome relief
to the 1600 or so City fans that turned out. With Jamie
Hand once again missing through suspension City gave
a debut to on-loan Everton midfielder Alan Kearney.
The Blues deserved their victory, but only following
a spirited second half effort after failing to show
for the first 45.
That opening period will be long
forgotten as both sides struggled to create chances.
Roberto Martinez, a target for Swansea this week, almost
set Dean Bennett through but Andy Warrington the Shakers
goal spotted the danger and cleared just in time from
the onrushing player.
Richard Baker and Nicky Wroe, with
a volley, both tested John Danby from long range but
that was about all the City shot stopper had to deal
with in the opening period. Yeo worked himself an opening
on the right of the box but shot high and wide when
he should have done better.
With no doubt a stern half-time team
talk behind then City started the second period far
brighter with Bennett testing Warrington from 12 yards
in the opening minute. The Blues forced a corner two
minutes after the break and David Artell rose to meet
Kevin Sandwith’s flag-kick only to see his goal
bound header cleared off the line by Warrington. Phil
Bolland saw a shot saved and Yeo flashed another shot
over as City pressed for the opening.
Warrington saved again as Martinez
met a corner from Simon Marples.
Against the run of play the visitors
had a great chance to open the scoring but John Fitzgerald
headed just over at the back post from Baker's corner.
Again Martinez was in the thick of
the action forcing David Buchanan to clear another
header off the line. With 12 minutes remaining manager
Mark Wright replaced Lee Steele with Alex Meechan.
The overworked Warrington then punched another Yeo
With three minutes remaining there
was a let off for City as Bury substitute Glyn Hurst
completely missed his kick in front of goal.
Just as the game heading for a draw,
and the fans for the exits, there was a final twist
as Yeo jinking his way into the box was tugged back
by Dave Challinor leaving referee Friend no option
but the point to the spot. Yeo picked himself up to
blast the spot-kick home and secure the points for
was honours even at the Racecourse in a derby game which
failed to live up to its billing and saw both sides settle
for a 0-0 bore draw.
most exciting part of this game was probably the anticipation
– stoked up by the heavy police presence, a near-capacity
top tier away stand, an amazing volley of fireworks
just before kick-off and a one-minute silence which
almost lasted the duration.
But once kick-off came, there wasn’t
too much happening on the field for the 1,775 Chester
fans to cheer about. The first half was dominated by
Wrexham, who had several attempts on goal in the first
Thankfully City ‘keeper John
Danby, a prime contender for Chester man-of-the-match,
was a confident presence in the box all afternoon and
had the measure of every Wrexham attempt.
outfield players sprung into a bit more life as the
first half progressed, winning a couple of free-kicks
in dangerous areas. But they didn’t look like
threatening from anything other than set-pieces and
those early free-kicks came to nothing.
As the game was warming up, Chester
captain Roberto Martinez was the first of six City names
in the referee’s notebook when he fouled Wrexham’s
Rob Garrett after the tricky teenager had him well-beaten.
The resultant free-kick found Chris
Llewellyn free on the edge of the area and he hit a
powerful header which thudded against the crossbar,
rebounded dangerously in the box and was eventually
cleared. Danby was furious with the City defence –
not for the first time of the afternoon – and
made his feelings clear to Phil Bolland.
Just moments later, Bolland himself
was in the referee’s notebook and it was apparent
City were getting frustrated. A booking for Sean Hessey
followed four minutes later when he kicked the ball
way up into the home stand as the ref blew for another
As both sides trooped off for half-time,
the City fans could only hope their team would improve
as they attacked towards the away stand in the second
half. There were hopeful murmers that Wrexham dangerman
Lee McEvilly wouldn’t last the second half as
he came out early, apparently to run off a strain.
Earlier McEvilly had been repeatedly
called a fat ‘so-and-so’ by Chester fans
who didn’t have much room to talk themselves.
I do enjoy the humour of derby games – especially
the kind offer of directions to Tamworth and Forest
Green Rovers to the Wrexham substitutes.
did come out with a little more fire, with Martinez
determined to make an impression. Unfortunately, most
of his normally-deft passes failed to find a blue-and-white
shirt. It was as if he was trying too hard.
Martinez took a couple of City corners
early on in the half, but the first was well held by
Wrexham’s John Ruddy and after the second, the
referee blew for yet another infringement.
Alex Meechan replaced Lee Steele on
the 67th minute and did his best to provide City with
a different kind of attacking option. But all eyes were
soon on fellow recent signing, Simon Yeo. Not long after
winning a free-kick after a Wrexham foul he found himself
running away from goal in the area and made a dive for
a penalty. There could be no denying the resultant yellow
The derby atmosphere warmed up after
this, with both sides threatening the opposition boxes.
Meechan did look dangerous around the area, but couldn’t
get anything near the target. At the other end, Wrexham
had a shot which went right across the face of the goal.
McEvilly was substituted by Wrexham
boss Brian Carey, to the jeers of the City fans. He
responded to his previous tormentors by giving them
‘the finger’ as he walked through the tunnel.
City manager Mark Wright made two
90th minute substitutions, with Alan Kearney and Chris
Holroyd replacing Yeo and Hessey. There was barely any
time for them to make an impression, but for a split
second Holroyd had the chance of a shot and instant
City martyrdom. However, he panicked and made a hash
of the shot.
By now Chester had gone nearly 20
minutes without a booking, so it was no surprise when
the sixth City yellow card of the afternoon went to
Paul Linwood for a foul on Llewellyn. It was full-time
soon after and both sets of fans will have to wait for
another season (or perhaps several?) for a chance to
reclaim the bragging rights.
Chester completed their first double of the season over
Accrington Stanley with a victory that lifts them to tenth
in League Two.
Both new signings
were on show at a foggy Fraser Eagle Stadium as Simon
Yeo partnered Lee Steele up front and Alex Meechan started
on the bench as City. Both Dave Artell and Paul Linwood
returned to the side following suspension.
City began the stronger of the two
sides with Yeo looking lively on his debut. Artell headed
wide of the target twice in the opening stages and Roberto
Martinez arrowed in a 20-yarder just over the bar before
Stanley got into the action as Romauld Boco sent in
two efforts on goal that both went wide and failed to
trouble John Danby in the City goal.
New signing Przemyslaw Kazimierczak
in the home goal was well placed to deny Yeo a debut
goal saving well after he’d followed up a Jamie
The Blues scored what was to prove
to be the winning goal midway through the half. Sandwith
sent over a free kick from the right which Kazimierczak
failed to collect. The ball dropped to Linwood who made
time for himself and took the ball wide before slotting
it home for his first ever League goal, to the delight
of the large City following behind the net.
Boco again responded for the home
side shooting over from close range but it was Chester
who were creating the better chances and Yeo almost
doubled the lead with a volley just over as City finished
the half on top.
The Blues continued where they left
off, great play down the wing by Sandwith set up Dean
Bennett who fluffed his chance in front of goal.
John Danby saved a header from Paul
Mullin and Artell blocked another effort from the striker
who attracted interest from City before last weeks transfer
Sandwith saw a shot cleared off the
line before Manager Mark Wright introduced Meechan into
the action at the expense of Steele. He almost made
an immediate impact as he beat the offside trap to race
through one-on-one with the ‘keeper who got the
better of him to block his shot.
City were almost made to pay
for their missed chanced as Andrew Mangon volleyed over
in the dying minutes but City held on for their fourth
win in their last five league away outings.