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MATCH REPORTS 2001/02
Pre-Season | August | September | October | November | December | January | February | March | April
JANUARY 2002
Northwich Victoria (H) | Stourport Swifts FAT (H) | Stourport Swifts FATr (A) | Barnet (H) | Telford United (A)
Saturday 26 January 2002
Rotherham United Youth 3 Chester City Youth 0
Football League Youth Alliance

Chester City:
Louie Mackin, Trialist (Scott Bagnall), Paul Connolley, James Dean, Tom Coulson (Matt Cooke), Carl Rodgers, Trialist (Adam Hunter), Kevin Towey, Adam Kelley, Lee Reece, Chris Hopwood.

The youth team went down 3-0 on a very wet Saturday morning to a powerful Rotherham team. They trailed 2-0 at half time and conceded the third late on in the second half, but had several chances at crucial times in the game which they failed to take.


Tuesday 22 January 2002
Telford United 0 Chester City 3
Nationwide Conference
Attendance: 1,047 Half Time: 0-1
Booked: None

Telford United:
Edwards, Woollscroft (Smith 63), Hanmer, Moore, Bentley, Albrighton, Fitzpatrick, Jobling, Palmer, Quayle (Martindale 79), Edwards (Moore 72). Subs not used: King, Davies.
Chester City:
W.Brown, Woodyatt (Jenkins 82), Bolland, Lancaster, Carden, Brabin, Porter, McGorry, Whittaker (Blackburn 82), Beesley, D.Brown. Subs not used: Spink, M.Rose, Malkin.
Referee:
G.Chapman (Stroud).

[Match Programme]The New Bucks Head was the venue for the latest chapter in the revival of the New Improved Chester City. Brian McGorry, signed form Southport earlier in the day made his debut for City here. He went straight into last Saturday’s line up in place of Blackburn, otherwise the side was the same as the one which defeated Barnet.

Telford promised to be a tough nut to crack. Their squad has been up for sale and Stephen Vaughan has put in bids for several of them – all rejected apart from Neil Moore who's agent couldn’t agree terms with Vaughan. The home fans chanted their low opinion of our chairman but no doubt are more anxious about their own as his perhaps over ambitious plans for stadium redevelopment seem to have ground to a halt. No work seems to have taken place since the clubs last met here in Spring of last year. The board room and dressing rooms are still portacabins, the players having to clamber over the terracing to get to the pitch, the only way in to the site is through the one entrance and involves a tortuous walk round the outside of the ground to get to the away end.

The game was closely fought to begin with. Best chance came to new signing Mark Quayle who hit his shot from just outside the six yard area straight at Brown.

Brabin ferreted the ball out to Whittaker who cut in from the left to cross to the far post. There was Woodyatt to send his header looping over Edwards and into the back of the net.

City came under pressure from the home side before the interval as Telford forced a number of corners. But there is a more solid look about City’s defence these days. Brabin is no-nonsense; Bolland is immense and lets nothing past and Lancaster and Brown are visibly growing in confidence along side them.

Grateful to have our noses in front but expecting Telford to throw the kitchen sink at us after the break, it only took two minutes for City to double their lead. Brown held the ball up well and knocked it back for Woodyatt who made the most sublime of forwards passes to curl round the last defender and fall sweetly into Beesley's path. Bees finished clinically and the Blues behind the goal were in raptures.

Chester were now rampant and Brown could easily have added a third soon after his point blank header from Brabin’s knock back was scrambled away by Edwards. Telford hit back and Brown did well to parry Neil Moore’s stinging volley.

Beesley finished the contest on the night when he latched on to Brown’s pull pack to crisply stroke the ball home for City’s third.

City fans applauded a great and much needed win. Mark Wright (Now with blue socks instead of the old yellow and black Southport ones) made sure the players acknowledged the crowd and then got on with the job of warming the players down. Very much the feeling that, superb though this result was, there is still work to do it City are to be sure of staying up.

Colin Mansley

Lee Woodyatt, after scoring his first senior goal for Chester said following the game: “Playing at the back means I don’t score that many goals – I’ve only scored two goals for the youth team in three years, so I'm just happy to get my first, and hopefully I can get a few more. “I just remember getting my head to a cross and seeing the ball fly over the keeper and into the net, it was a great feeling. There were a few gibes in the dressing room about my celebration, but I didn’t know what to do, so I just ran off!”

Saturday 19 January 2002
Chester City Youth 3 Shrewsbury Town Youth 1
Football League Youth Alliance

Chester City:
Louie Mackin, Tom Coulson, Paul Connolley, James Dean, Adam Hunter (Tony Mclaughlin), Carl Rodgers, Matt Cooke (John Kearney), Kevin Towey, Adam Kelley, Lee Reece, Chris Hopwood.

The youth team turned in a good performance at the weekend in difficult weather conditions and also included four Centre of Excellence Under 16s in the squad. Playing against a strong wind they found themselves a goal behind after 15 minutes but managed to equalise through Lee Reece on 35 minutes. With the wind in their backs they dominated the second half. On 70 minutes Chris Hopwood pressurised the Shrewsbury keeper into an error and Lee Reece crashed home the loose ball. Ten minutes later Chris Hopwood rounded off a good team performance by breaking clear of the Shrewsbury defence and lifting the ball over the advancing keeper.


[Youth Alliance]                  
League Table
P
W
D
L
F
A
GD
Pts
 
Port Vale
12
10
0
2
33
14
19
30
 
Stockport County
13
7
3
3
37
19
18
24
 
Rotherham United
13
7
3
3
27
12
15
24
 
Mansfield Town
11
5
3
3
17
12
5
18
 
Shrewsbury Town
12
5
2
5
23
23
0
17
 
Macclesfield Town
11
1
7
3
10
11
-1
10
 
Chester City
12
2
4
6
13
27
-14
10
 
Lincoln City
12
2
3
7
14
27
-13
9
 
Chesterfield
12
2
1
9
17
46
-29
7
 
Table as at 19/01/02
Saturday 19 January 2002
Chester City 1 Barnet 0
Nationwide Conference
Attendance: 1,421 Half Time: 0-0
Booked: Beesley, Porter.

Chester City:
W.Brown, Lancaster, Brabin, Bolland, Woodyatt, Porter, Carden, Blackburn, Whittaker (Haarhoff 90), Beesley, D.Brown. Subs not used: Spink, Jenkins, Malkin, Jones.
Barnet:
Nesnitt, Gledhill (Midgley 70), Arber, Heald, Flynn, Gower (Darcy 63), Niven, Bell (Toms 67), Berkley, Purser, Strevens. Subs not used: Harrison, Pluck.
Referee:
L.Mason (Bolton).

[Match Programme]As expected, Wright picked a 3-5-2 formation but it was a surprise to see Lancaster on and Jenkins dropped to the bench. Also unexpected was the sight of Gary-Honey Monster-Brabin lining up at left back and wearing the capain's armband for the first time. Brabin's aberration of a throw in in the first minute – back to Wayne Brown but into the teeth of a gusty wind – let in Purser for a chance at goal. Martyn Lancaster threw himself into the tackle to retrieve the situation.

Barnet had the lion's share of the first half possession and forced a number of corners. But City looked to have an extra dimension going forward with Whittaker holding the ball up well down the left and David Brown and Beesley at last beginning to show some understanding. The closest either side came to scoring before the break was when Andy Porter's volley from the edge of the area thudded against the inside of the post but bounced back in to play and was hacked clear.

Referee Mr L Mason made some eccentric decisions and began to irritate the home crowd. After giving two free kicks to Barnet for innocuous challenges he then failed to give one when Beesley was blatantly bundled off the ball and then booked Bees for protesting just to add insult to injury. There could be no argument about his earlier booking of Niven for up-ending David Brown. Porter grabbed the offender by the scruff of the neck and several players joined the shoving around which followed. Nothing much really but it made for a great photograph on the front of the Non-League Newspaper.

At half time we were entertained by a penalty shoot out amongst some schoolboys from Saighton. The penalty area was given a good rolling after this (What has happened to the Deva pitch by the way? It is absolutley ridden with bobble inducing divots lately). Just as well as, fifteen minutes into the second half Andy Porter lined up a crucial spot kick to give Chester the lead. It had been awarded when Beesley went down in the box having rounded the keeper. Most of us thought that the keeper had brought him down but it was No. 3 Flynn who was shown the red card. Porter kept his nerve well as, first, Heald objected to the placement of the ball on the spot and was booked for his pains and then, as Porter started his run, the ball rolled slightly. But Andy made no mistake as he smashed the ball in for the only goal of the game.

How there weren’t more goals is a bit of a mystery. Chester found plenty of room going forward and might have had a hat full. Carden sent a twenty five yard screamer against the bar – it fell to Blackburn who somehow contrived to put it wide – though the keeper was bearing down upon him. Keeper Naisbett had it even easier when Whittaker’s dipping shot canoned off the bar and into his grateful grasp.

Whittaker was named man of the match and came off with a minute to go to well deserved applause. But there were several good performances from members of a Chester team which looked better organised, fitter and more tigerish in the tackle than for a very long time. Brabin, after his first minute error never missed a tackle or a header. Bolland looked always in charge at the back with languid ease. Whittaker’s control and movement added a huge amount to City’s attacking play as did his well-delivered corners.

We all know that Steve Mungall made a good start to his regime too – but let’s hope that this time there is a more lasting revival in City’s fortunes under Mr Wright.

Colin Mansley

Tuesday 15 January 2002
Stourport Swifts 0 Chester City 3
FA Umbro Trophy Round 3 Replay
Attendance: 630 Half Time: 0-1
Booked: M.O'Brien, D.Brown.

Stourport Swifts:
Clarke, Mulders, Ulfig, Southwick, Davies (Dearlove 69), Nicholls, Cowley, Nicholls, Marsh, Langford (Wright 26), Charlton. Subs not used: Laker, Wright, Hipkins
Chester City:
W.Brown, Woodyatt, M.Rose, Lancaster, Jenkins, Spink, Carden, Blackburn, D.Brown, Beesley, M.O'Brien (Porter 80). Subs not used: Collins, Halford, Haarhoff, Jones.
Referee:
M.Williams.

[Match Programme]Tim Langford’s FA Trophy dream ended at Walshes Meadow last night when his Stourport Swifts side were beaten by Nationwide Conference strugglers Chester City.

Langford, forced to sit out two Wembley finals when former club Wycombe Wanderers lifted the silverware in the early 90s, had hoped to steer his team into the next round and a tie with fellow Dr Martens Western Division outfit Solihull Boro. But those hopes began fading as early as the 27th minute when a pulled hamstring forced the player-manager to hobble off.

It has been Langford’s pace, skill and experience that has helped lift Swifts into the top six of the table and see them through to the third round of the Trophy in their first season as a senior club.

Without him they looked short of ideas up front. Strike partner Simon Marsh worked tirelessly and substitute Andy Wright busied himself but a goal seemed some way off.

That said, Stourport should have taken the lead on 44 minutes. Asa Charlton’s free-kick caused chaos in the visitors’ area but the Conference outfit still managed to keep out a Simon Marsh header and a Dave Davies shot in the ensuing melee.

If that wasn’t bad enough, goalkeeper Wayne Brown’s quick kick up field found David Brown hurtling clear of the home defence. He took the ball around the on-rushing Swifts’ keeper Rob Clarke and calmly slotted the ball in the empty net.

It was a cruel blow for Stourport who had the pick of the first half chances when Langford twice missed out, blazing over from in front of goal and then forcing Brown into a fine save at his near post.

The second period may have lacked the chances of the first but it certainly didn’t lack the passion with Stourport’s Jan Mulders and Chester’s David Brown lucky to stay on the pitch as the tackles became more and more X-rated.

Chester sealed the match with two goals from Mark Beesley in the final five minutes. The first saw the former Preston trainee exchange passes with Mike Rose before thundering a shot home and he then bagged an injury time second with a shot deflected past Clarke by Stourport defender Steve Ulfig.

Chester's assistant boss Ted McMinn said the scoreline was not a fair reflection on the match.

He said: “I thought 3-0 flattered us but Wayne Brown didn’t have a save to make in the second half. They had said a lot of things in the papers about how good they were on Saturday and how we would come down here and give us a tonking. They thought they had probably done the job on Saturday by getting us down here. We told the lads what they had said and it lifted them.”

David Lawrence [David wrote this report for a local Stourport paper].

Saturday 12 January 2002
Stockport County Youth 3 Chester City Youth 2
Football League Youth Alliance

The youth team produced a disappointing performance at the weekend and conceded three goals in the opening 20 minutes of the first half. They improved in the second half finishing strongly with two strikes from Chris Hopwood in the final 15 minutes.

Saturday 12 January 2002
Chester City 1 Stourport Swifts 1
FA Umbro Trophy Round 3
Attendance: 1,006 Half Time: 0-0
Booked: None.

Chester City:
W.Brown, Woodyatt, Jenkins, Porter, Lancaster, Spink, Blackburn (Wright 82), M.Rose, D.Brown (Haarhoff 60), M.Beesley, M.O'Brien. Subs not used: Halford, Ruscoe, Jones.
Stourport Swifts:
Clarke, Mulders, Ulfig, Southwick, Davies, Nicholls, Cowley (Dearlove 87), Nicholls, Marsh, Langford, Charlton. Subs not used: Laker, Wright, Hiplins, Wright.
Referee:
G.Simpson.

[Match Programme]Even with the reduced admission fee for this game I’m considering reporting this to Trading Standards as I attended it under the impression I was going to be watching a football match. This was anything but, Wayne Brown having a nightmare week which could continue with Tuesday’s replay in the Midlands.

Despite the midweek setback against Northwich even the most pessimistic supporter would have expected City to cruise through to the Fourth Round against a team two divisions lower than them but again it looked as if we were the part-time side with some disgraceful play at times so far removed even from the victory over Hayes at the back end of last year.

The first twenty minutes were dire in the extreme, neither side got going and from Chester's point of view this was criminal as they should have shown so much more class that their opponents. Some more promising signs crept in as the half progressed, a number of corners being won but to no avail. Andy Porter, back in the starting XI, was again at the heart of the defensive work. Spink also returned and showed his usual commitment despite a clear lack of skill and fitness.

A couple of decent shouts for handball were turned down with sight of goal, the referee seemingly happy to let anything that wasn't clear-cut go but realistically neither side could have claimed to have made any decent attempts on goal and the frustrating show on the pitch was mirrored around it with a poor atmosphere.

It was to be more of the same for much of the second 45 and, worryingly, it was the Swifts who again looked the better side at times. City lacked any sort of drive going forward and there seems to be an increasing reliance on Mark Beesley to produce something from nothing. Almost every positive Chester move ended with the ball trying to be worked in the direction of Beesley. There is no doubting his ability but surely we have more to offer than endless short and risky passes around the box in search of him.

In fairness it was Beesley who eventually gave Haarhoff the chance to net a first of the season via goalkeeper Clarke – Mike O'Brien's ball into the area found Beesley whose low shot was spilled by Clarke, substitute Haarhoff having to tap home from an embarrassingly short range – that should have been it, game over.

Not so. Within three minutes, the visitors grabbed their deserved equaliser thanks mainly to Wayne Brown's misplaced and under-powered attempt at a punch from what should have been an easy cross to defend. A few touches around the area from Langford and Nicholls went almost unchallenged and it was inevitable that the ball would end up in the net, Marsh finally applying the finish. Stourport rejoiced as well they might leaving Chester to pick up the pieces of another defensive catastrophe.

With little time to get back into the game, Blackburn was replaced by Darren Wright, back from his loan spell at Droylsden as new boss Mark Wright (who watched on from the executive doorway) seems to rate him. By that stage however the win looked beyond Chester's reach and it was again the Swifts who made the most of the play going close with five minutes to play. The visitors looked content to play out time and managed it to further demonstrate to Mark Wright the size of the task in hand.

Last year's cup competitions saw the Blues reach the semis of this Trophy, knock out two league clubs and limit Blackburn to two goals in the FA Cup and win the Nationwide Trophy. This year we've lost to Barrow and been held by Stourport. Doesn't make good reading does it?

Chris Hughes
Tuesday 8 January 2002
Chester City 1 Northwich Victoria 2
Nationwide Conference
Attendance: 1,660 Half Time: 1-1
Booked: Blackburn, Carden, Woodyatt.

Chester City:
W.Brown, Woodyatt, Lancaster, Jenkins, Ruffer (Spink 45), Ruscoe, Blackburn (Haarhoff 87), Carden, Brabin, D.Brown (Collins 62), Beesley. Subs not used: Porter, Jones.
Northwich Victoria:
Gibson, Walsh, Barnard, Talbot, Ingram, Owen, Garvey, Sedgmore (Burket 57), Devlin, Blundell, Quinn. Subs not used: Mike, Norris, Knowles, Skinner.
Referee:
N.Yates (Blackpool).

[Match Programme]

Re-arrange in haste and repent at leisure. That’s what Chester will be doing after this disastrous result which leaves them even deeper in the mire.

Mark Wright was announced as the new manager today and interviewed on local radio but there was no introduction to the fans tonight. He spoke of the need for new players and improved fitness before the game and can be in no doubt after witnessing this match about the size of his task if Chester are to stay up.

It was a hard fought game – beginning with fireworks as the barrel-chested Brabin clattered into Blundell and Owen within the first three minutes. Both needed extensive treatment but played on. Brabin had been imported (On a non-contract basis) and replaced Porter – rather harsh considering his inspirational game against Hayes. Lancaster was brought in for Spink. Neither O'Brien was on the bench.

Chester had the clearer chances at the start with Brown heading a good chance over the bar from Woodyatt’s cross and Blackburn shooting narrowly wide from just outside the area. Northwich were ever threatening on the break however, the speed and movement of Blundell being the catalyst. Woodyatt got in a timely tackle when Blundell sped through.

A fine sweeping pass from Carden found Woodyatt in space but Ruscoe could not convert his cross into a goal at the far post. Within a minute City fell behind as Vics attacked down the left and the tricky Scott Garvey dummied his way past Jenkins and Ruffer and scooped the ball past Brown. Shortly after this Chester were exposed again down their right and Northwich’s left as Quinn got free. his low shot was saved at full stretch by Brown.

City achieved parity once again after 38 minutes. The referee played good advantage as Ruscoe was impeded on the left. He managed to cross and the ball was cleared to Blackburn who sidestepped a defender and lashed a left footed shot right into the top right hand corner.

Devlin had the ball in City’s net a couple of minutes later but the flag had already gone up for offside. Devlin became entangled with Brown, however, and in the resulting argy bargy Blackburn was booked for shoving Devlin over.

The forty fifth minute of the half lasted for six minutes as five extra were added. Plenty of time for Carden to get booked – rather unluckily for a trip. Owen was then lucky only to receive a yellow card for a disgracefully late tackle on Ruffer which put him out of the game. How Ruffer must enjoy playing against Northwich.

Spink came on to fill the breach and looked quite accomplished at the back, reading the game well and snuffing out danger before it began.

Just after the break Ruscoe had a golden opportunity to give City the lead. He chested down Woodyatt’s cross and it seemed a formality to beat Gibson in the Northwich goal. Inexplicably he put his shot across the goal and wide. City began the second half in determined fashion and put the visitors under pressure. The strain began to show as Barnard and Ingram were booked in quick succession.

Just after the hour Brown was replaced up front with Collins. He had looked quite good against Hayes but tonight could not get up to the pace of this much more competetive match. Chester seemed to lose momentum, the midfield couldn't get up to support the forwards. Northwich, ably led by Jimmy Quinn, seemed to step up a gear or two and began to threaten again. Substitute Burke headed over when he seemed certain to score. Quinn volleyed fiercely but wildly over. At the other end Walsh almost beat his own keeper with a header right in the top corner which Gibson did well to palm away. But City couldn’t sustain the pressure from the corner. Indeed too many crosses on the night went too close to the keeper. Appeals for a penalty were rejected when the ball hit a Northwich arm – it would have been harsh – but we've all seen them given.

Eventually, Northwich – looking much fitter than City by now – got the breakthrough. But it was a calamitous goal to give away. There was no danger when Brown came out to meet a long ball through but he hesitated, hoping it would come into the area so he could pick it up. Too late he realised Blundell was almost upon him and decided to kick it. The ball ricocheted off Blundell and looped up towards goal, only for it to stick on the line. Garvey was the most alive to the situation and beat Brown to the ball to slam it home.

City nearly snatched an equaliser at the death when Haarhoff (On for Blackburn) nodded the ball on and was clean through. His chip beat the keeper and was running in until Ingram got back to clear the line.

So Mr Wright has a mountain to climb in his new appointment. Arguably his task is even harder than Ian Atkins’ two years ago.

Colin Mansley
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