|Saturday 27 February
Chester City 2 Carlisle United
Chester City: Cutler,
Davidson, Cross, Richardson, Crosby (Lancaster 56),
Alsford, Flitcroft, Woods, Murphy, Beckett (Jones
90), A.Shelton (Moss 73).
Carlisle United: Caig, Barr, Searle, Whitehead,
Clark, Prokas (Hopper 84), Dobie, Boertien, Finney (McAlindon
69), Stevens, Brightwell.
Referee: P.Dowd (Stoke-on-Trent).
Two superbly crafted goals rescued
this match for City. A scrappy game seemed to be
heading for nil-nil until Ian Stevens broke the deadlock
just after half time. He turned Crosby, held off
his challenge and drove in a low shot. Cutler managed
to turn it on to the post but Stevens crisply slipped
the rebound in.
It was hard to see where a reply
for City was going to come from. Chester were depleted
with Reid suspended, Priest and Smith injured and
Aiston departed for Sunderland. Woods filled in midfield
and Cross made a welcome return at left back.
On the hour Flitcroft surged forward
in the inside left position, reached the edge of
the box, shimmied, prevaricated but rolled the ball
inside for Richardson who clipped a delightful shot
just under the bar. Every inch as good as Dennis
Bergkamp's effort last week. Then with a quarter
of an hour to go Beckett dummied to allow Woods through
to the by-line. His low cross was met by a gleeful
Murphy to take his goal tally into double figures.
There was still the customary
narrow escape in the City goal mouth in injury time.
Cutler dived early but saved a scuffed shot when Carlisle
should have equalised.
Tuesday 23 February 1999
Plymouth Argyle 2 Chester City 0
Plymouth Argyle: Sheffield,
Ashton, Gibbs, Sweeney, Heathcote, Collins, Barlow, Hargreaves
(Beswetherick 90), Marshall (Phillips 88), Bastow, Jean. Sub
not used: Crowe.
Chester City: Cutler, Davidson, Smith, Richardson,
Crosby, Alsford, Flitcroft, Priest (Woods 68), Murphy, Beckett
(Cross 73), Aiston (A.Shelton 88).
Referee: M.Fletcher (Warley).
City ended their mini tour of the west country
with a defeat at Home Park. In wet and windy conditions it was
Luke Beckett who had the first chance of the game shooting wide
after just three minutes. However it was City's keeper Neil Cutler
who was the busier of the two in the opening stages and he produced
a number of impressive saves from Marshall and Bastow.
Argyle took the lead on thirteen minutes when
recalled striker Earl Jean set up Terry Sweeney for this first
league gaol for the Pilgrims, his shot taking a deflection past
Cutler on its way to the net. The second goal came just before
the break. Sweeney found Jean and he drew Julian Alsford and
Andy Crosby before putting Dwight Marshall away. His pace took
him in on goal and after initially missing the pass, he recovered
to fire past Cutler from just inside the box.
Cutler made some great saves to keep Argyle's
active strike force at bay in the first half but Chester also
had their chances and Smith, in particular showed some class
in breaks down the left flank in the first half.
He also managed to make it over the half way
line in the second half and cross for John Murphy to head just
over in the 51st minute.
City also had penalty appeals turned down
in the 84th minute as substitute Jon Cross broke into the box,
Plymouth skipper Mick Heathcote looked to have brought him down
as he prepared to let fly. Manager Kevin Ratcliffe was amazed that
referee Mick Fletcher did not point to the spot and Cross made
his feelings known as well
Saturday 20 February 1999
Torquay United 0 Chester City 3
Torquay United: Southall,
Thomas, Robinson, Aggrey (Donaldson 22), Tully, McGorry (Hapgood
76), Healy, Hill, Leadbitter, Bedeau, MacFarlane. Sub not used,
Chester City: Cutler, Davidson, Crosby, Alsford,
Smith, Flitcroft, Richardson, Priest (Woods 89), Aiston (A.Shelton
90), Murphy, Beckett (Cross 85).
Referee: B.Knight (Orpington).
This terrific win at Plainmoor gives City their
first double of the season, indeed, if it hadn't been for the
heroics of Gulls goalkeeper Neville Southall the final scoreline
might have been more emphatic.
The first chance of the game went to the Gulls'
Andy MacFarlane but he screwed his shot wide from close range
after beating Crosby and Alsford in the heart of the City defence.
With Like Beckett, John Murphy and Sam Aiston
leading the line, The Blues created numerous chances in the first
half and should have had the game sewn up at the break. City
took the lead on 12 minutes with a classic header from Beckett.
Priest fed the ball wide for Ross Davidson whose pin point right
wing cross was headed home by the unmarked striker to give Southall
Such was Chester's dominance in the opening
staged that Torquay took off centre half Jimmy Aggrey after just
21 minutes. Both Flitcroft (twice) and Murphy saw efforts saved
by Southall, but the best chance to extend the lead fell to Beckett
who ballooned his shot over after clever control work in the
After the break Torquay came back into the
game much more and Julian Alsford had to be alert to clear off
the line from McGorry after Neil Cutler had dropped a cross under
City's second goal on 69 minutes killed the
game off. Beckett was again denied by a Southall save, and from
the resulting corner a Dave Flitcroft cross from the left found
Julian Alsford all alone and he couldn't miss with a diving header
from 12 yards.
City's third was added by Substitute Jon
Cross who shot low into the corner of the net in the last minute
after being released with a perfect through ball from Sam Aiston.
Saturday 13 February 1999
Chester City 1 Peterborough United 0
Chester City: Cutler, Davidson,
Crosby, Alsford, Smith, Richardson, Priest, Reid, Aiston (Jones
83), Murphy, Beckett (A.Shelton 63). Sub not used: Lancaster.
Peterborough United: Griemink, Drury, Rennie,
Edwards, Hooper, Davies, Gill, Castle, Etherington (Farrell
58), Andrews, Butler (Grazioli 70).
Referee: S.Mathieson (Stockport).
Chester fans with smiles on their faces once
again! This was top entertainment more than compensating
for last week's drab draw with Exeter.
The match began at a fast and furious pace.
Cutler spectacularly tipped over a rasping volley by Butler.
At our end Beckett, starting a match for the first time since
November, looked certain to score after being put through by
a wonderful Murphy header. But the ball bobbled and his shot
shaved the wrong side of the post.
Andrews, on loan from Watford he scored
four against Barnet last week was causing problems for
Chester with his pace with his pace. He robbed Smith of the ball
and sent in a dangerous driven cross which cannoned away to safety.
But Chester were matching them with some of the best football
they have played this season. Down the right especially they
looked fluent. It was a move on the right which brought the goal.
Richardson and Davidson combined to set up Big John. He took
one touch and drove the ball low into the net. A cool and precise
Soon it was all going wrong again for City
however as Reid got tangled up in a tussle with Hooper who seemed
to grab hold of him as he challenged. Reid lashed out at him,
and I thought Hooper threw a punch too. But while Hooper was
booked and Reid gave him a friendly pat on the shoulder as if
they were making up, the referee reached for his other pocket
and showed red to Reidy. He was gobsmacked but I don't think
City fans were surprised if honest. They proceeded to boo Hooper
for the rest of the game (Thinking that he should have gone too).
Three minutes from the end Hooper lunged desperately at Smith
and there was little doubt that he too would soon be dispatched
to the dressing room. At least he seemed to take his punishment
philosophically Reidy, apparently was having a go at him
in the tunnel at half time.
We all expected Posh to make mincemeat of us
after Reid's dismissal but they faded badly in the second half
and did not put Cutler under much pressure. City defended well
and made it difficult for them. At times Posh seemed to be reduced
to passing the ball across the back four as they looked for an
opening. So often this has happened to Chester at the Deva. Now
the boot was on the other foot.
Not that it was easy, though. Priest and Richardson
were both outstanding in the amount of ground they covered and
the times they broke up Peterborough possession. There were a
couple of scares towards the end. Defender Rennie crashed a screaming
thirty yard shot against the post with Cutler no-where near it.
Grazioli first put a header over the bar from a couple of yards
out and then when he did find the net turned away to see the
linesman's yellow flag held aloft.
A huge cheer greeted the final whistle as
the Cestrians' weekend was set up. Just the tonic we needed.
Saturday 6 February 1999
Chester City 0 Exeter City 0
Chester City: Cutler, Davidson,
Crosby, Alsford, Woods, Flitcroft, Reid, Richardson, Smith, Murphy,
Conroy. Subs: Beckett, Shelton, Jones.
Exeter City: Bayes, Richardson Baddeley,
Gittens, Gale, Fry, Rees, Holloway, Gardner, Quailey, Flack.
Subs: Curran, Wilkinson, Rowbotham.
Referee: Gurnam Singh (Wolverhampton).
Not even the presence of well-known psychic
Uri Geller could prevent a mind-numbing contest which left Chester
still searching for their first win of 1999. A swirling wind
and two well-marshalled defences produced an instantly forgettable
contest to match the bleak, wintry conditions.
It would have been worse for the home side had Exeters Jason Rees
both wasted a guilt-edge chance or a Jon Richardson effort been ruled
out for offside.
City manager Kevin Ratcliffe felt the poor weather had ruined the match,
as the Blues had to settle for another home draw to leave them well off
a play-off place.
He admitted: I thought both teams coped pretty well with the conditions,
which were awful, and the players cancelled each other out really. The
weather didnt make it good for spectators to come and watch. It
hampered the way the style of the match was going to be played.
On a brighter note, Julian Alsford produced a composed display at the
back and rarely looked in trouble alongside Andy Crosby for his first
game since returning from Dundee United. Ratcliffe who is now on International
duty a coach of the Wales B squad, added: I am more than pleased
with the clean sheet. The defenders and the keeper can be proud of that.
Alsford probably came closest to breaking the deadlock for Chester, but
his 50th minute header from a Dave Flitcroft corner was headed off the
At the other end, Rees was left to rue a golden opportunity which should
have earned the visitors a 13th minute lead. Danger man Steve Flack charged
down a Neil Cutler clearance and squared to rees, who scuffed his shot
wide from an unguarded goal.
Chester had a other let-off four minutes before the break when Jon Richardson
prodded the ball home from close range after Flack had flung himself
at a Chris Fry cross. But fortunately his effort was correctly ruled
out for offside.
Geller, whose son is an Exeter fan, made the draw for the half time raffle,
but his presence hardly galvanised the forces of fate as the second half
followed much the same disjointed pattern of the first.