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27 February 2009
The Blues will be out to avenge an opening day thrashing at Dagenham & Redbridge when the promotion chasing Daggers visit Deva Stadium tomorrow.

City were thumped 6-0 the last time the sides met with Simon Davies’ side beaten in every department. Just six months earlier the Blues were beaten 6-2 at the same venue!

Chester stopped the rot when they picked up their first point in seven matches last Saturday, although they will regard the draw with Exeter City as two points lost after a couple of great chances went begging during the 0-0 stalemate. The draw saw City slip to 21st in League Two just five points above the drop zone, having played a game more that their nearest relegation rivals Grimsby Town and Bournemouth.

Paul Linwood is available following suspension and manager Mark Wright is hoping that midfielder Damien Mozika will be able to return following a hamstring injury picked up at Lincoln City at the end of January, seven games ago.

The Daggers are enjoying a successful season as they chase promotion to League One for the first time. They are currently ninth, just three points from a play-off place, but were surprisingly beaten 1-0 at home by Bournemouth in midweek. They have a good away record winning two and drawing five of their last seven league matches on the road.

With the Blues still appearing to be under a transfer embargo Wright must make do with the current squad as he awaits the all-clear to bring in loan signings. He criticised the footballing auhorities saying: “They’re stopping us from keeping our status in this league and I think that’s very, very unfair of the governing body.”

“There’s people who will do us favours and let us have loans for no money at all, but it’s still a no. That’s killing a club that wants to stay in this league and wants to keep trying.”

“We need two strikers and that hasn’t changed since I got here. The people we had in mind have gone to other places. There’s one big one left who could go any day and if we miss out on him I don’t know if I can find any more. So we’ve got to be very, very quick about doing something.”

21 February 2009
It’s reported that assistant manager Steve Bleasdale has been sacked by the club following a meeting between owner Steve Vaughan and manager Mark Wright this morning.

Wright told the Chester Chronicle: “Steve Bleasdale has left the football club. I’m not happy with certain things and both the chairman and myself have asked him to stay away.”

“There are a few things we’re not happy about and we’ll just have to get on with it. There are some things behind the scenes which I feel very, very let down about and which I’m not prepared to elaborate on at this time.”

Picture © Evening Leader

The Blues secured their first point in seven matches at the weekend but will be wondering how they didn’t record their first win of 2009 after Richie Partridge and Ryan Lowe (left), who took the captain’s armband in place of the suspended Paul Linwood, both missed guilt-edged chances against high-flying Exeter City. Chester’s young side with 16-year-old Ben Jones starting up front more that matched their opponents. Wright was full of praise for John Danby, Shaun Kelly, Kevin Roberts and Laurence Wilson all of whom played with injuries.

Manager Mark Wright was more than happy about his team's performance. He said: “To turn out a performance like Saturday’s against Exeter was fantastic. I feel a point for the team is long overdue because we should have had our just rewards way before now.”

“Kevin Roberts went down in the first half with a swollen ankle, but he played on. John Danby and Laurence Wilson both played with groin injuries, and Shaun Kelly played with a knee injury.”

“We created two great chances against Exeter. Richie Partridge was in and only had to lift the ball over their keeper, but it came back out to Ryan Lowe who could have taken another touch rather than hit it early and see it go past the post.”

“Then, at the death, he decided to poke the ball early with his left foot because he thought the keeper was coming, but if he had taken an extra touch it would have been a goal.”

“For all the effort the players have been putting in and for all the things that have been going on behind the scenes it would have been great to have got a victory.”

League table

Picture © Evening Leader

The youth team have dropped down to 13th in the Puma Youth Alliance table following a 4-0 defeat at Oldham Athletic on Saturday.

Youth fixtures | Table

20 February 2009
Manager Mark Wright is hoping that injured duo Damien Mozika and Ryan Lowe will be fit to face promotion contenders Exeter City at Deva Stadium tomorrow.

Both missed the midweek defeat at Shrewsbury Town. With the squad already stretched Wright must make do without both Paul Linwood and Jay Harris through suspension for the visit of the Grecians.

The visitors, promoted from the Blue Square Premier last summer, currently lie in the last play-off spot and are only three points off the top three. They have won six times on their travels so far this season and are currently unbeaten on four games.

The two sides last met in November when the home side, despite a penalty save by John Danby, ran out 2-0 winners at St James Park.

18 February 2009
Jay Harris has received a three match suspension following his red card in the 1-0 defeat at Shrewsbury Town last night.

The midfielder was dismissed in the 79th minute for a tackle on Chris Humphrey. He will now miss the home game against Exeter City on Saturday, and the home clash a week later with Dagenham & Redbridge followed by the midweek trip to Wycombe Wanderers – all three sides are pushing for promotion.

City were already a goal down when Harris saw red, the Shrews scoring the only goal of the game in the 57th minute as Richard Walker scored from close range. The Blues remain in 20th position but have now played two more games than their relegation rivals.

Manager Mark Wright said: “Considering we had a depleted squad I thought we did very well for 45 minutes. In the second half we could have been 2-0 up because Kevin Ellison hit the post and Richie Partridge missed an open goal.”

“After that I think they all started to feel sorry for themselves again. But we had to go for it. We had to push Laurence Wilson up the field and I thought he had a very good game in midfield against their winger, Chris Humphrey.”

Mark Wright’s post match interview

Picture © Evening Leader
The Supporters Trust are holding a Special General Meeting tomorrow night (Thursday) at the Bull & Stirrup pub in Northgate Street. All Trust members are urged to attend, non members can join on the night for just £5.00. The meeting will start at 20:00hrs.

16 February 2009
Two of Chester’s key players goalkeeper John Danby (left) and midfielder Ryan Lowe are rated doubtful for tomorrow night’s clash at promotion chasing Shrewsbury Town. They have joined Damien Mozika, Shaun Kelly, James Vaughan and Tony Dinning in a long list of injuries. Danby has been struggling for weeks whilst Lowe picked up a knock towards the end of Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at Morecambe and looks set to miss the clash against one of his former clubs.

Manager Mark Wright said: “The boys are trying, but everyone knows what we’ve got – just 11 players on the pitch and five kids on the bench. John Danby, James Vaughan, and Ryan Lowe are now all struggling with injuries and it looks like they could be missing for tomorrow’s match at Shrewsbury.”

Just like the previous weekend at Brentford, City shipped three goals in the opening half at Christie Park on Saturday to leave the game all but over. The Blues did fight back in the second period and pulled a consolation goal back through Laurence Wilson but this latest defeat leaves them just seven points from a relegation spot with fellow strugglers Bournemouth, Barnet and Grimsby Town all having a game in hand. City have to play all three before the end of the season.

As if fielding a strong team for tomorrow’s task wasn’t difficult enough their opponents boast the best home record in the division with 12 wins and a draw out of 16 matches.

Picture © Evening Leader

13 February 2009
City are in League Two action tomorrow when they travel to play Morecambe (15:00hrs). Manager Mark Wright’s injury problems have worsened in the last week with both Paul Linwood and Shaun Kelly joining Damien Mozika and Richie Partridge in the treatment room after they both aggravated existing injuries in the 3-0 defeat at Brentford. All must be a doubt for Saturday. Wright does however have Laurence Wilson back in the frame following the defender’s three match ban.

Wright was hoping for help from the loan system before tomorrow’s match at Christie Park but it looks for now he will have to make do with what he’s got.

The manager said in the week: “When I first came to Chester I said I needed five players. I still need two centre halves, two strikers, and a big midfield player.”

“I told people when I arrived that if I could bring players in they would see an improvement. But players have been allowed to leave and now we can’t do anything. Kelly and Linwood won’t be around this weekend, so that’s two more players out. What am I supposed to do, put more kids in?”

“I do understand the position behind the scenes, but as a football man and as a football manager unless we get recruitments in we face an impossible situation. I’ll keep doing the same things and keep trying to motivate the players, but there’s more going on behind the scenes than everyone knows about.”

Club owner Steve Vaughan responded: “Mark Wright needs to just get on with managing the team. He knew the club’s position when he took the job on and that situation hasn’t changed.”

Morecambe currently lie eight points ahead of the Blues in 14th position and will have three ex-City players in their squad tomorrow. Michael Twiss, Stuart Drummond and Dave Artell who will all be out to put one over their former club.

11 February 2009
Despite another goal from James Owen the youth team were beaten at home in the mini-derby by rivals Wrexham yesterday.The visitors scored the winning goal deep into added time. The team remain 13th in the Puma Youth Alliance table while their opponents will have gone top.

Youth fixtures | Table

With the injuries mounting up at Deva Stadium the Blues have called off a deal to send Tony Dinning to Grays Athletic on loan. Chief executive Bob Gray said: “He is an experienced player and is keen to contribute and of course assist in turning the recent run of results around.”

9 February 2009
City’s 3-0 defeat at promotion chasing Brentford on Saturday had an air of predictability about it. Once again the Blues were forced to field five youth team players on the bench as well as play three players who were clearly unfit. John Danby, Shaun Kelly and Paul Linwood all struggled through the match and appeared to aggravate the injuries they already had. Kelly lasted only 45 minutes before having to be replaced by youngster Paul Smith.

A first half hat-trick from Charlie MacDonald was more than enough to see off a City side who have now failed to score in their last four matches.”

“It becomes impossible for any manager and a group of players to go out and keep doing things. We’re starting to bang our heads against a brick wall. It’s majorly difficult and if it continues then I’ll be adamant that changes are made because the 11 players I put out at Brentford were the only players I had.”

“I can get this club out of the position of fighting against relegation if I’m allowed to get players in. If we’re not then the answer is there for everyone to see.”

“Most teams we play against have got four strikers – two playing and two on the bench. Theyve always got someone to come on while weve only got babies to rely on – and that isnt fair on them. Paul Smith and Ben Jones both came on and ran their socks off, but their only kids of 16. What do people want from them?”

“We are really up against it – let’s not hide the fact. We’ve got five kids of 16 years old on the bench, and three players on the pitch who shouldn’t have started because they are injured, but they wanted to fight for the cause, but we have nothing in reserve.”

City are next in action on Saturday when they make the trip to Morecambe.

Picture © Evening Leader

League table

6 February 2009
Following a pitch inspection at 13:00hrs tomorrow’s fixture between Brentford and City is on (despite a local forecast of -3° tonight!). The inspection was made by local referee Jarnail Singh as the match official Graham Horwood was snowbound in Bedfordshire!

City play the first of three away games in a week tomorrow when they visit high-flying Brentford. The Bees, who lie second in League Two four points behind Wycombe Wanderers, have only lost once at Griffin Park this season.

The Blues turned in their best performance of the season last October when they beat Brentford 3-0 at Deva Stadium. Goals that night from Ryan Lowe (2) and Kevin Roberts inflicted the first League defeat of the season for the Londoners.

Blues manager Mark Wright will be without the suspended Laurence Wilson tomorrow and has injury concerns over Damien Mozika and Richie Partridge, both of whom have hamstring injuries, as well as defenders Paul Linwood and Shaun Kelly. Goalkeeper John Danby also has a knee injury. Glenn Rule is available following his two match ban.

Brentford welcome back Nathan Elder from a four match suspension. Their man of the moment is on-loan Ipswich Town striker Jordan Rhodes who scored a hat-trick in last weeks 3-1 win at Shrewsbury Town.

4 February 2009
Two second half goals inflicted on City their second home defeat in four days as Rochdale, like Gillingham on Saturday, completed the double over the Blues. With the squad getting stretched by the day, manager Mark Wright was forced to field five youth team players on the bench last night, they had less that 20 minutes League experience between them.

Although City had competed well in the opening period, once again they failed to really test the visitors goalkeeper. The introduction of ‘Dale substitute Lee McEvilly ten minutes after the break changed the complexion of the game. He set up Joe Thompson for the first goal within a minute of coming on and added a decisive second goal ten minutes later.

City manager Mark Wright said: “I get disappointed about the people who sit behind our dug out. They must be silly people if they think for one moment that I’m getting rid of players.”

“They were calling for me to change the game, but who with? A 16 or 17-year-old boy in a game that isnt going well for us and in a game that might dent his confidence? Im not built that way. I dont really want to do that, but I threw on Lloyd Ellams because I wanted to give him a go.”

“But we had no other professional players available. Damien Mozika and Stephen Vaughan are both out with injuries, and both Laurence Wilson and Glenn Rule were serving suspensions. I was really pleased for Paul Rutherford because I thought he played ever so well and showed he was lively.”

City now embark on a run of three successive away games starting on Saturday at second placed Brentford.

2 February 2009
Midfielder Mark Hughes has joined League Two side Barnet, he has signed a contract with the Bees until the end of the season. Hughes joined the Blues in July 2007 after impressing then manager Bobby Williamson in a pre-season trial period. He had previously had a trial at Underhill. Hughes, a former Tottenham Hotspur trainee, has made two full international caps for Northern Ireland as well as appearing on twelve occasions for the country’s U21 side.

Hughes has scored four goals in 43+4 appearances for City.

Picture © Evening Leader

Paul McManus and Andy Mitchell have both joined Welsh Premier League side Bangor City. Neither player was unable to hold down a regular first team spot this season after breaking through from the youth team. McManus scored two goals in 6+3 appearance this season while Mitchell made four appearances as a substitute.

Meanwhile Eddie Johnson has had his contract terminated. He is expected to join Austin Aztecs in America. Chester-born Johnson scored one goal in 8+3 appearances this season.

1 February 2009
Chester suffered their seventh home defeat of the season on Saturday as a second half goal from Andy Barcham gave Gillingham the double over the Blues. City deserved a point from the encounter but a lack of a cutting edge in front of goal was exposed again as chances were created but not taken.

The transfer embargo, enforced by the Football League, has meant that manager Mark Wright must do with the squad he has until the end of the season and injuries and suspension is stretching the small squad to the limit. As a bonus defender Shaun Kelly did return from injury earlier than perhaps expected.

Manager Wright said after the defeat: “We are creating chances but we just haven’t got a predator in the box like an Ian Rush or anyone like a Daryl Clare who played for us when we were in the Conference.”

“Daryl used to wait for any little scraps that came his way inside the box so he could bang any chances into the back of the net. We haven’t got that kind of a player, so it’s hard work for us at the moment.

“People were asking why I didn’t put Paul McManus on, but he wouldn’t have made an impression in that sort of a game. That’s a shame for him, but we need to get him out on loan to play games.”

On the transfer embargo Wright added: “I came back to Chester as manager thinking I could bring players in. I was told that would be the case and that the club would lift the embargo, but obviously things have happened behind the scenes and we can’t do it.”

“I’ve got a lot of time and a lot of respect for the chairman and the football club. We know what we want, but we just can’t get it. It’s disappointing because the players I have identified to come in would have turned things round.”

Saturday’s defeat dropped City to 20th in League Two. They are next in action on Tuesday night (weather permitting) when promotion chasing Rochdale visit Deva Stadium. Dale currently lie sixth following their 4-2 win at Aldershot Town on Saturday.

Former Chester player Tommy Best was at the match at Deva Stadium on Saturday. At the age of 88 Tommy now lives in Hereford where he is still a keen football follower and visited Chester for the first time in 60 years to watch the home game against Gillingham.

Tommy Best


































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