were expected to be re-united with their home kit on
Saturday which had been lost in transit when they visited
Cammell Lairds recently and found in someone’s
garden. The away kit they wore at Chester made them
resemble the England rugby team and, like the six nations
match player later this was a tough encounter with rather
too much “up and under” in the early stages.
Chester made a sleepy start and Durham, kicking into
a biting wind, took the lead after nine minutes. Ruffer
was penalised for a trip on the edge of the area and
English took advantage of a poorly organised wall by
clipping a left footed shot into the opposite corner
of the goal.
The Blues struggled to get the ball down and keep possession
against another game and hard-working visiting team.
But as the half wore on they began to make inroads.
At last, just before the break they equalised. Stones
fed the ball to Booth on the edge of the area, his wind-assisted
shot was parried by Winter, only for Simm to pounce
and flick it into the roof of the net before anyone
else had a chance to react.
Minutes after the interval the Blues were ahead. Stones
free kick – awarded for a handball in the inside
right area – found St Juste on the far post. His
low cross was volleyed first-time by Ruffer and a cruel
deflection off a defender took it past the keeper. Whether
buoyed by the confidence of a couple of goals or the
easier task of kicking into the wind, Chester upped
their work rate and dominated the rest of the game.
Any nagging doubts of succumbing to a Durham equaliser
were allayed when Wilson’s cross shot found the
inside of the net. He had been played in by the ever
industrious Stones, who was deemed Man of the Match
by the sponsors.
Ashley Williams might have capped another tigerish display
with a goal when a delightful back heel from Beck put
him in the clear. This time Winter tipped it over the
Despite a sluggish beginning – may be due to exertions
at Chorley and Lancaster in the week – Chester
had too much firepower for Durham and maintained their
nine point lead at the top. The nearest challenger now
is Skelmersdale who, intriguingly, City visit next weekend.
22 February Lancaster
City 2 Chester 1 (After extra time)
President’s Cup Round 4 (S/F)
Attendance: 324, Half Time 1-0, 90 mins 1-1
Booked: Simm, A.Williams. Sent-off: Taylor.
City: Fearon, Henry, Kenyon, Duggan, Marshall,
Wynn, Hattersley (Johnson 93), Rothwell, Swarbrick,
Hall (R.Wilson 72), McKenna. Subs not used: Nightingale,
Rushton, S.Wilson. Chester: Judge, Taylor, Stones, Horan,
Ruffer, Booth (Wilde 52), Barnes, A.Williams, Simm,
Beck, Wilson (S.Jones 21, (C.Williams 90)). Subs not
used: Field, St Juste. Referee:
will be concentrating all their efforts on promotion
now after they narrowly missed out on the chance of
a league and cup double. The Blues, buoyed by their
important win at Chorley over the weekend started slowly
as the home side had must the better of the opening
period of the game.
Max Rothwell fired a 25-yarder
wide early on and the Dolly Blues took advantage of
the sluggish start from their opponents. Chester's first
opening came on 15 minutes when Saturday's goal hero
Robbie Booth saw a shot saved at the second attempt
by Martin Fearon.
Moments later the game turned as Chester fell behind.
Michael Taylor was adjudged to have fouled Dave Swarbrick
when through on goal and a penalty and straight red
card followed. Swarbrick picked himself up to send Judge
the wrong way from the penalty spot to give Lancaster
With the Blues a defender short, manager Neil Young
was forced into a tactical substitution bringing on
Stuart Jones for Kyle Wilson. Chances were few and far
between, Bradley Barnes’ effort from long range
missed the target as Chester slowly made their way back
into the game.
Judge saved well from the advancing
Swarbrick after a mistake in the Chester defence had
set up the opportunity and Judge was called into action
twice again to deal with dangerous crosses into the
box from Michael Hall.
On the stroke of half time Chester almost bagged the
equaliser and Booth and Chris Simm combined well before
the latter pulled his shot wide from the edge of the
Shortly after the break Young
introduced Michael Wilde at the expense of Booth and
moments later Chester were level. Simm did well to fire
in a shot from an acute angle on the right, the effort
was blocked by a defender but Steven Beck pounced to
turn home the loose ball from six yards.
As in the first period chances were at a premium. Judge’s
hands were stung by a 25-yarder from Liam Wynn as time
was running out and Wilde sent in a looping header just
wide with three minutes remaining.
Neither side could find the
winner in regulation time so an extra 30 minutes was
needed, and it was the home side that finally edged
in front in the opening minute of the second period.
Mike Rushton raced through on goal and as Judge came
to meet and tackle him the ball broke clear for Alex
Johnson to steer the ball into the empty unguarded net
to win the tie.
A goal five minutes after the break from Robbie Booth
gave Chester a well deserved win in this top of the table
clash at Victory Park, that leaves the Blues nine points
clear of their nearest rivals at the top of the league.
Congestion at the turnstile(s) saw the kick-off for this
eagerly anticipated clash delayed by 15 minutes as stewards,
and late arriving police reinforcement’s struggled
to contain two groups of ‘fans’ intent on
pulling down a segregation fence installed to keep them
apart on the grass banking down one side of the ground.
With the crowd distracted by events off the pitch it was
Adam Judge in the thick of the action after just two minutes
saving a header from John Cunliffe as Chorley attacked
from the off. It didn’t take Chester long to get
into the game though and top striker Michael Wilde saw
an effort saved on ten minutes by Lloyd Rigby in the home
goal after taking a deflection off a defender.
With Ashley Williams having a fine game Chester began
to carve out more chances. Skipper George Horan sent a
header over the bar following a pinpoint cross from Carl
Ruffer. Ruffer himself sent a head wide following good
work from Ian Howard.
Simm, returning to the ground where he had a loan spell
earlier in the season, almost opened the scoring as
the half came to an end cutting inside from the left
and unleashing a shot that Rigby palmed to safety.
Despite dominating the opening period the Blues had
to be content with a share of the spoils at the break
but not long after the restart their opened the scoring.
With Simm chasing a long through ball Rigby rushed out
to block the striker, the ball fell invitingly to Wilde
who squared for an unmarked Booth to slot the ball home
from eight yards out.
Horan went close when he saw a header loop off the bar,
before Wilde had a better chance to double the lead
racing through on a one-on-one but he could only shoot
straight at the advancing Rigby.
With five minutes remaining the Blues wee almost left
to rue those missed chanced when the defence failed
to clear from a corner, a cross was whipped in from
the left and substitute Jordan Stepien stabbed the ball
over the bar with an outstretched leg from six yards
Five nervous minutes of added time came and went before
referee Kavanagh blowed for full time to the relief
of the Chester fans packed inside Victory Park.
12 February Chester
5 Clitheroe 0
Evo-Stik Division One North
Attendance: 2,513 Half Time 0-0
Chester: Judge, Taylor, Horan, Ruffer,
Stones, Barnes (St Juste 69), A.Williams, Howard (Beck
74), Wilson (Simm 46), Wilde, Booth. Subs not used: Aspin,
Field. Clitheroe: Hibbert, Smalley, Hodgkiss,
Higgins, O’Brien (Doherty 66), Brees (T.Williams
64), Jones, Parillon, D.Williams, Lee-Ellison, Green (Eastwood
78). Subs not used: Roberts. Referee: Mark Astley (Denton).
A competent and well-organised Clitheroe team went into
the half time break content with the first forty-five
minutes. If anything they would consider themselves unfortunate
not to have been a goal ahead. Their best chance came
when Taylor’s pass put Horan under pressure and
he slipped to let their lone forward through. With only
Judge to beat he shot narrowly wide.
Chances were few in this competitive midfield struggle
but Chester’s best one came just before half-time
as the visitor’s defence were too busy watching
Wilde and allowed Booth to steal through. A despairing
tackle from a defender knocked the ball goalwards only
for it to come back to Booth. He steadied himself and
shot from a narrow angle only to see the ball rebound
from the far post and back to safety.
So talk amongst the crowd at half-time was of hoping that
City could edge a 1-0 win if they were lucky in the second
half. Simm replaced Wilson after the break and the Blues,
kicking away from the Harry McNally Terrace, began to
build up a head of steam. Simm’s pace and ability
to hold the ball began to make their attacking play gel.
The breakthrough came when Howard received the ball in
a crowded area and made no mistake with his low shot just
inside the post. After this the floodgates opened and
Clitheroe did not know what hit them in the next quarter
of an hour. The visitors were buried under a blizzard
of goals as City seemed to step up several gears at once.
Wilde quickly added a second goal, volleying on the turn
from Simm’s headed pass. Then before Clitheroe had
time to draw breath, Simm turned his marker and cut the
ball across goal to create another chance – this
time Wilde’s shot was parried by a defender’s
hand leading to the award of a penalty which Wilde thumped
in off the post.
New on-loan signing Jason St Juste had been limbering
up down the touchline and was about to be brought on just
before City’s first goal. Now he made his bow and
looked promising as he won a corner on the left. Clitheroe’s
‘keeper punched the kick away but only back out
to Booth and this time his cross fell nicely for Simm
to bag a goal of his own. Minutes later Wilde added the
fifth glancing home another cross from the left by Booth.
All five goals had been scored in a devastating fifteen
minute spell. As soon as the first went in City completely
dominated when, in the first half they had been stifled
by the visitor's close marking and energetic play.
The catalyst for all this was Chris Simm. His play transformed
the team and the game. Why did he not start the game I
wonder? Did Neil Young want to lull the opposition into
a false sense of security? Simm's freshness galvanised
City and was arguably more effective against tired opposition.
By the time the final whistle went the ground had emptied
considerably as people began to queue for tickets for
the Chorley match next Saturday. Those who remained applauded
City to the rafters as they came off the pitch. If they
can play like they did in the second half more consistently
they will take some beating.
8 February AFC Fylde
0 Chester 3
President’s Cup Round 3 (Q/F)
Attendance: 281 (Chester 150 est) Half Time 0-2
AFC Fylde: Stevenson, Mahoney, Doughty,
Lawlor (Stringfellow 56), Hills (Elderton 78), Kay, Booth,
Nolan, Walwyn, Cahill, Bell (Barnes 46). Subs not used:
Edge, Penswick. Chester:Judge,
Taylor, Horan (C.Williams 86), Ruffer, Stones, Field (Beck
63), A.Williams, Howard, Wilson, Simm, Booth. Subs not
used: Wilde, McCarthy, Barnes. Referee:
John Hunt (Sunderland).
push for a league and cup double continued with this hard
fought third round win at AFC Fylde which send’s
them into the semi-final’s of the President’s
Cup and an away tie at either Lancaster City or Curzon
Ashton towards the end of the month.
sides rested players for the clash with Blues manager
Neil Young opting to leave top scorer Michael Wilde
and midfielder Bradley Barnes on the bench. Kyle Wilson
and Tom Field stepped into replace the duo.
It was the home side that certainly
had the better of the opening period of play. Matt Walwyn
show wide from 12 yards when well placed and Blues ‘keeper
Adam Judge was well placed to save from Tom Cahill and
At the other end Chris Simm had a
goal disallowed before against the general run of play
Chester opened the scoring on 30 minutes as in-form
winger Iain Howard slipped a through ball to Kyle Wilson
who supplied a smart finish to slip the ball under Dave
Stevenson. Howard was again in the action as he found
Greg Stones whose shot was well saved by Stevenson.
The home side carved another opening
that saw Mike Nolan's well struck effort tipped round
the post by Judge just before Chester doubled their
lead as Howard fired home from the edge of the area
following a perfect set up from Wilson.
Fylde manager Kelham O’Hanlon’s
made some changes at the break bringing on winger Mike
Barnes, who had a great game at Chester earlier in the
season. Barnes once again showed his pace as the home
side looked to get back into the game but a third goal
on the hour mark sealed victory for Chester as a mistake
in the home defence allowed a Field cross to reach Robbie
Booth who had time to spare as he scored his second
goal of the campaign.
5 February Durham
City 0 Chester 3
Evo-Stik Division One North
Attendance: 507 Half Time 0-1
goals from Michael Wilde saw Chester on the way to another
three points as the Blues put the disappointment of the
midweek draw at Leigh behind them.
hat-trick, his fourth of the season, capped a fine team
performance that sees the Blues extend their lead at
the top of the division to six points after Chorley
were held at home by Witton Albion.
Manager Neil Young made two changes
bringing in goalkeeper Alan Judge for a full debut and
defender Carl Ruffer to replace Michael Taylor who took
a spot on the bench.
Playing on an artificial surface,
and in front of a following numbering 400+, Chester
had the better of the opening period and thought they’d
taken the lead after just two minutes only to see a
Chris Simm effort ruled out for offside.
Home goalkeeper James Winter was forced
into a good save to deny Robbie Booth early on before
Judge was called into his first action saving from David
A breakaway saw Chester open the scoring
on 13 minutes as a quick break saw Greg Stones send
a ball into the area, Winter cleared but only as far
as in-form Iain Howard whose cross was met by Wilde
who shook off a defender to convert from close range.
Bradley Barnes saw a long-range effort
flash just wide as Chester continued to press. Amar
Purewal was well placed to block a Wilde effort when
the Chester striker looked set to score a second. However
the hosts almost leveled when on a rare breakaway Purewal
broke through but shot just wide with only Judge to
Simm missed a great chance to double
the lead when he failed to control a Howard cross from
six yards out. Howard, Ruffer and Wilde all tested Winter
as the Blues ended the half on top.
Five minutes after the interval the
all-important second goal arrived. Simm had already
headed wide before Purewal was penalised for handling
a Booth cross and Wilde sent Winter the wrong way from
the resulting spot-kick.
Booth saw a 25-yarder just pass the
post before Wilde completed his hat-trick and wrapped
up the scoring ten minutes from time with a well taken
header following a cross from substitute Kyle Wilson.
In the closing minutes Judge,
who was rarely tested by a youthful home side, produced
a fine tip-over save to deny Jack Pounder a consolation
Neil Young pulled no punches after the match when he described
this as the worst performance of the season. The Blues
had Chris Simm to thank for rescuing a point with a well
taken goal five minutes from time, as Chester looked to
be heading for their first away league defeat of the season
against the side who prop up the table.
made one change from the side that beat Ossett Albion
on Saturday, bringing in Greg Stones in place of Chris
Williams who has been rested.
A minutes applause by players, official and supporters
for former board member Richard Wightman who passed
away at the weekend was observed prior to the kick-off.
Backed once again by a large away
following, Chester found themselves kicking up the dimly-lit
Crilly Park slope in the opening period and they had
far the better of the opening half hour.
Bradley Barnes and Chris Simm both
went close, the latter heading just wide following a
one-two with Neil Aspin. Despite their early dominance
the Blues found home ‘keeper Phil Priestly in
fine form and he gathered everything lofted into the
Simm had another great chance to break the deadlock
but shot wide following good build up play between Aspin
and Michael Wilde.
As the half wore on the home side began to get back
into it. Craig Carney saw a long range effort scream
just wide of Richard Whiteside’s right hand post.
Leigh forced a succession of corners,
Whiteside saved low down to deny Nathan McDonald and
watched as a free-kick from Andy Heald from outside
the box flew out of the ground!
Six minutes before the break Robbie
Booth crossed for Iain Howard but he headed wide from
close range. Priestley produced a save at full stretch
to deny Stones before the last action of the half saw
Howard shoot just over the bar.
Five minutes after the break Wilde
saw a shot deflected just wide after hitting Craig Carney
on the way towards goal. Young made a couple of changes
introducing Kyle Wilson then Tom Field as the Blues
pressed for a winner. Priestly saved a curling shot
from Simm before the home side opened the scoring as
Whiteside saved a Carnet shot only for the ball to break
to Sam Fairhurst who forced the rebound home.
Carney almost doubled Leigh’s
advantage when he saw a low shot slip just wide after
being put through on goal with just Whiteside to beat.
With time running out Simm stepped forward to a Wilson
through ball and rifled a shot home that gave Priestly