29 January 2005
Swansea City 3 Chester City
Attendance: 8,989 Half Time 1-0
Booked: Walsh, Davies, Hessey.
Swansea City: Gueret, Ricketts, Austin, Iriekpen, Monk, Forbes, Britton,
Gurney, Robinson, Connor, Trundle. Subs not used: Murphy, Tate, Maylett, Anderson,
Chester City: MacKenzie, Davies, Bolland, Bayliss,
Elokobi, Vaughan, Harris, M.Brown (Hessey 59), Hillier (O’Neill
68), Walsh (Lynch 88), Branch. Subs not used: Hope, W.Brown.
Referee: I.Williamson (Berkshire).
we bade our farewells to the Vetch Field after a comprehensive
3-0 defeat at the hands of an organised
Swansea City, I wondered if we’d get to seem them take
on the Blues at their
splendid new ground next season.
actually have a feeling we won’t be at White Rock
Stadium in 2005/6 – but because Swansea seemed
destined for promotion, while Chester left me feeling
nervy about their
prospects of League Two security.
The first 40 minutes of the game
were relatively encouraging, if not exactly exciting,
for the 102 brave Blues fans
spread out in their half of the West Terrace. Chester
were able to
hold their own against a well-marshalled Swansea side
cheered on by a near
8,900-strong ‘Jack Army’.
Ian Rush started Michael Branch as
the lone striker
– either because he had no other option or he
wanted to go for a defensive formation. Either way,
never going to be easy
for Chester with midfielder Stuart Drummond and suspended
captain Stewart Drummond
sitting in the stand watching the match.
Swansea had a chance in the first minute or so, but
goalkeeper Chris MacKenzie was easily able to hold
the shot – the first of many saves he had to make during
He sprang into action not long after, making an excellent
reflex save from
Chester managed to keep the
Jacks quiet for much of the rest of the second half.
George Elokobi (“Big
George” as he was dubbed), made a confident start
to the game. It can’t
have been easy for a teenager making his debut in Saturday’s
hostile atmosphere, but he didn’t
put a foot wrong in the first
Swansea became more threatening as the half drew to
a close, with Stephen Vaughan being called on to clear
the ball off the line from an Adrian Forbes header.
The tone of the match changed with
just three minutes of the first half remaining when
the referee blew for
an infringement on the edge of the box. It wasn’t
clear why he’d
given the free kick and initially it looked like he’d
play on. But when Lee Trundle
lined the ball up, his strike was only going one way.
a perfect kick which went over the Chester wall, past
the diving MacKenzie, and
into the top right-hand corner.
There was no way the Blues, who were
actually playing in yellow, could come back before
half-time and it
was a shame the Chester team weren’t watching the half-time
penalty shoot out.
They might have taken some inspiration from the enthusiastic
little kid who
ran the full length of the pitch, then all the way
back again, to thwack
his penalty past the Cyril the Swan mascot. It resulted
in just about the
only cheer of the day given by the away fans!
Both sides ran out for the second
half without making any changes, and Michael Branch
set up Andy Harris
in the first few minutes. But Harris’s shot sailed
high of the
Swansea also had their early chances, with Trundle
laying on Andy Robinson. His shot was parried for a
corner by the busy MacKenzie. Chester failed to clear
the corner and Trundle look-a-like
Paul Connor had no trouble finding the net from close
Just when it looked like it couldn’t
get any worse for Chester, Michael Brown seemed to
get trapped in
Chester’s box between a sandwich of players. He obviously
received a bad
injury as play was stopped for five minutes before
Brown was replaced by Sean Hessey,
but Chester were now well on the back foot and showed
no sign of doing
anything other than conceding a goal. They had simply
run out of ideas
and with the number of loan and youth team players
park it was no wonder
they didn’t really play as a team.
So it was no surprise when goal three came. Trundle
struck from about 20 yards out and MacKenzie appeared
to think it was going wide. But the ball flew into
the net and it was definitely
However, soon after MacKenzie made
some amends. First pushing the ball away from one side
of the goal, then
diving across to the other to save yet another good
attempt. He may have
let in three goals, but he was undoubtedly Chester’s
The faithful Chester fans had one
hope of a consolation goal when the Blues won a corner
in the dying minutes.
But it was a weak effort and was easily headed away
by the unruffled
It was far from a happy ‘cheerio’ to
the Vetch and I don’t
think we'll be saying ‘croeso’ to
the White Rock next season. Swansea and Yeovil are
best League Two sides I’ve
seen this season and I’m
sure they’ll do
well in League One. Now Chester have to concentrate
on League Two survival.
• Latest table.
22 January 2005
Chester City 0 Rochdale 0
Attendance: 2,985 Half Time 0-0
Booked: Drummond, Branch. Sent-off: Carden, Belle.
Chester City: MacKenzie, Davies, Bolland, Bayliss, Hope,
Vaughan (Hessey 76), Drummond, Carden, M.Brown, Branch, Rapley (Belle 46).
Subs not used: W.Brown, Harris, Walsh.
Rochdale: Gilks, Evans, Heald, Griffiths, Goodall,
Jones, Warner, Cooksey (Clarke 82), Bertos, Tait, Atieno (McGivern
87). Subs not used: Woodhall, Burgess, Gallimore.
Referee: K.Wright (Cambridgeshire).
City will be pleased to gain a point, and another clean
sheet, after playing out the latter stages of the game
with just nine men. Both Paul Carden and Cortez Belle
saw red in a fiery match
at Deva Stadium that saw few chances.
With the flu bug a distant
problem City made two changes form the side that
started at Cambridge last week.
Phil Bolland returned to the heart of the defence
while Kevin Rapley
It was Dale who started brightest
with Chris MacKenzie deflecting a Tai Atieno shot
into the side netting within the first minute,
MacKenzie was on hand moments later to field the
ball after a header from the same striker, playing his
last game on loan before a return to Walsall.
The Blues were being pinned
back for the opening period and it was ten minutes
before Stephen Vaughan
had their first effort, trying his luck with a
30-yard shot that drifted
wide. Minutes later it was Stewart Drummond’s
turn to see a long range effort comfortably saved
Matthew Gilks in the Dale goal.
Efforts at both ends were
being restricted to long range with Dale’s
Gary Jones next to try his luck to no avail.
minutes before the break Bolland was
well placed to head over from a Stephen Vaughan
but it was Atieno at the other end who looked likely
to open the scoring when put through on goal, however
a great block tackle, six yards out, by Ben Davies
saved the day. MacKenzie was called into action
as he made another great save to deny the lively
Leo Bertos after the striker had shaken off Drummond
to force a save from fifteen yards.
Ian Rush made a change at
half-time bringing on Cortez Belle for the ineffective
Rapley up front. Michael Branch shot wide shortly
after the restart before Dale picked up where they’d
left off, ex-Bristol Rovers striker Paul Tait testing
MacKenzie who parried the ball clear. MacKenzie saved
from Greg Heald before City were reduced to ten men as
skipper Carden was given his marching orders after words
exchanged with a linesman following a late challenge
on the City midfielder.
On a rare foray up front Gilks was
well placed to save from Davies, and Belle should have
when set-up by Branch.
The Blues were reduced to nine men
on 83 minutes as Belle was given his third red card
of the season after being adjudged to have used his
elbow in a challenge with Gareth Griffiths.
Branch found time to shoot high and
wide from 18 yards when he raced through on goal with
City’s last chance and Bertos did likewise for Dale
before referee Wright brought an end to the game.
dropped to 20th position following this point. With
just one victory from
the last 13 league games they can thank continued
poor form from both Kidderminster Harriers and
Cambridge United that
gives them breathing space above the drop zone.
• Latest table.
15 January 2005
Cambridge United 0
Chester City 0
Attendance: 3,185 Half Time 0-0
Cambridge United: Ruddy, Gleeson, Duncan, Rea, Bimson,Tudor (Easter
72), Walker, Quinton, Wardley (Tann 59), Webb (Chillingworth 64), Turner. Subs
not used: Goodhind, Konte.
Chester City: MacKenzie, Davies, Bayliss,
Hope, Hessey (Walsh 56), Drummond, Carden, Vaughan,
M.Brown, Booth (Belle 45), Branch. Subs not used: W.Brown,
Referee: P.Melin (Surrey).
Given the circumstances leading up to the match,
manager Ian Rush will no doubt be delighted to come
from the Abbey Stadium with a point and a first
league clean-sheet for 12 games.
Friday Chester had asked the Football League for a
all but three of the first team were struck
down with a flu bug last week, this wasn’t
sanctioned and City were forced to field a half-fit
trained for days. Michael Branch returned from suspension,
Robbie Booth came in for the departed Kevin Ellison.
Richard Hope also returned to the starting line-up.
Precisely 260 City fans made the
journey and were housed in the smart new south stand
a great view
over the proceedings.
The home side, with just three league
wins to their name all season, started well and
the first of the early exchanges. Hope was on hand to
clear a second minute corner before the action turned
to the other end with Branch first seeing a shot saved
by John Ruddy in the Cambridge goal, and then shooting
wide when well placed in the box.
Chris MacKenzie was called in to
make the first of a series of good saves as he caught
Stuart Wardley’s shot from the edge of the box
following a swiftly taken corner. The home side continued
to pile on the pressure, Webb and Tudor went close
but the best chance fell to Walker who ghosted through
a static City defence to meet an inch perfect cross
but he could only shoot straight at MacKenzie from
six yards as the chance went begging.
The shot-stopper was in the right
place again to save from Gleeson.
City were very much on the back foot
during this period, on a rare breakaway Stewart Drummond
saw a shot blocked and Stephen Vaughan sent in a couple
of corners with no effect as the half ended goalless.
Rush rang the changes at half time
bringing on Cortez Belle at the expense of Robbie Booth
to partner Branch up front as the rain fell.
Belle was soon in the action heading
down to set up Branch who shot tamely wide from 18
yards. At the other end United forced a flurry of corners
and Tudor saw a snap-shot
saved by MacKenzie and Wardley shot high and wide as
the home side looked to continue their good approach
Ben Davies was well placed on the line to clear a sliced
clearance from Hessey following another corner. Ten
minutes into the second period Mike Walsh replaced
looked far from fit.
City began to get more into the game
as it wore on. Michael Brown saw an effort cleared
off the line by Bimson and later found himself in a
great position on the corner of the box,
and move in on goal but elected to chip with Ruddy
catching the ball under the bar. Minutes later Ben
Davies, again playing at right back, volleyed wide
as Chester enjoyed their best spell of the game.
Carden and Brown again tested Ruddy
with shots, and in their best move of the half Branch
cut in the box form the right, beat two defenders to
take the ball to the bye line but his pull-back eluded
two onrushing City players and was cleared.
As the fourth official indicated
four minutes of added time Brown cut into the box on
the left and appeared to be nudged over by Duncan
but the referee inexplicably awarded a free-kick to
the U’s and to add insult to injury booked Brown
8 January 2005
AFC Bournemouth 2 Chester City
F.A. Cup Round Three
Attendance: 7,653 Half Time 1-0
AFC Bournemouth: Moss, Young, Cummings (Purches 56), Broadhurst,
Maher, O’Connor (Holmes 90), Browning, Spicer, Elliott, Connell (Hayter
68), Fletcher. Subs not used: Stewart, Rodrigues.
Chester City: MacKenzie, Vaughan (Booth
85), Bolland, Bayliss, Hessey (Walsh 77), Drummond, Carden,
M.Brown, Davies, Ellison, Rapley (Belle 66). Subs not
used: W.Brown, Hope.
Referee: A.Hall (West Midlands).
City will count themselves unlucky to come away from Dean
Court with nothing to show for this valiant cup effort
against League One opposition. Chester took the game to
their opponents from the off, dominated for long periods
throughout and, with more composure in front of goal,
would have been in the fourth round draw.
and suspensions forced manager Ian Rush to shuffle the
team. Ben Davies played at right back and Stephen Vaughan
looked more comfortable in his midfield role. Up front
Kevin Rapley replaced the suspended Michael Branch while
on the bench there was a first appearance for youth
player Mike Walsh.
Michael Brown found himself with an
opening in the first minute only to see his effort charged
down by Karl Broadhurst for a corner. Vaughan’s
resulting flag kick was comfortable dealt with by Neil
Moss in the home goal. Minutes later Kevin Ellison was
put through on the left but he elected to shoot early
and launched his effort high and wide from 30 yards.
shot wide of goal, and Steve Fletcher headed over from
six yards for the Cherries but it was City who were
carving out the chances during a lively opening 30 minutes.
Paul Carden shot over when very well placed, Stewart
Drummond headed wide and Kevin Rapley wasted a great
chance to open the scoring blasting his shot and wide
after being sent through by Hessey.
City were made to pay for their missed
opportunities as Bournemouth took the lead just after
the half hour. O’Conner
broke down the right and crossed, despite the close
attentions of four defenders the ball broke invitingly
to Shaun Maher on the back post who scored with ease.
Brown saw a long range effort caught
under the bar by Moss before City trooped off to a great
reception from their noisy band of travelling fans.
Two minutes after the restart City
faced an uphill struggle as a mistake gifted Bournemouth
their second. A harmless looking left-wing cross was
met with no challenge by Chris MacKenzie, the ball slipped
right through the keepers hands and dropped for Wade
Elliott to slot home the easiest of chances.
Cortez Belle came on for Rapley as
Chester refused to lie down and continued their push
for a goal. They got their reward with 20 minutes remaining
as Kevin Ellison, in yards of space, coolly converted
Belle’s pass from
Drummond headed wide before City introduced
two more subs. Youngster Walsh replaced Hessey and Booth
came on for Vaughan as time ran out. City’s
nearest chance came as ‘keeper Moss made a hash
of a Walsh 20-yarder, the ball slipping through his
hands, under his body and agonisingly a foot wide of
3 January 2005
City 0 Lincoln City 1
Attendance: 2,839 Half Time 0-0
Chester City: MacKenzie, Hillier (Harris 82),
Bayliss, Bolland, Hessey (Vaughan 76), Drummond, M.Brown,
Carden, Ellison, Branch (Whalley 89), Belle. Subs not
used: Davies, Booth.
Lincoln City: Marriott, McCombe, Morgan,
Futcher, Bloomer, Butcher, Toner, Sandwith, Westcarr (Yeo
62), Taylor-Fletcher, Green. Subs not used: Carruthers,
Hanlon, Blackwood, Richardson.
Referee: T. Parkes (W Midlands).
It was a case of after the Lord Mayor’s Show for
City, who, after encouraging battling displays against
Scunthorpe United, Rochdale and Macclesfield Town over
the festive period, were brought back down to earth with
this injury-time defeat.
will feel hard done by at losing all three points but
they scarcely did enough to warrant a maximum return
themselves. The game proved to be a dour affair with
both sides canceling each other out.
Once again manager Ian Rush picked
an unchanged side from the one victorious at Moss Rose
two days earlier.
Kicking towards the home end in the
first half it was City who had the early chances, Cortez
Belle only half hitting a snap-shot that trickled through
to Alan Marriott in the Imps goal.
The visitors responded and Gary Taylor-Fletcher
twice tried his luck from long range, shooting first
high and then wide of Chris MacKenzie’s
Belle was put through on goal again
but, instead of shooting from ten yards, elected to
square the ball to Michael Branch on the right whose
cross back was cleared. Branch was on hand again minutes
later only to see his shot charged down by Paul Morgan
following an outswinging Kevin Ellison corner.
The game was stop start through the
first period, not helped by a whistle-happy referee
Parkes. City’s best
chances tended to come from corners with midfielder
Michael Brown just failing to connect properly from
one as the ball fell to him 18 yards out.
Minutes before the break Stewart Drummond
almost broke the deadlock. Ben Futcher cleared a Sean
Hessey cross for a corner. Drummond met Ellison’s
flag-kick at the back post but steered his header over
the bar from six yards.
The game continued much in the same
vein after the break. Taylor-Fletcher saw a fine shot
well saved by MacKenzie who managed to push the ball
out for a corner and save well under pressure from the
resulting kick. At the other end Belle tried his luck
rom 25 yards but Marriott saved comfortable.
Kevin Ellison proved the dangerman
for City as the game wore on. The midfielder, who had
an 11 game loan spell at Sincil Bank last season, seemed
determined to add to his ten goal tally. Twice he tested
Marriott from long range and on two occasions put in
dangerous crosses for the towering Futcher to clear.
Rush was forced into a change with
Stephen Vaughan replacing Hessey who had received treatment
for several minutes off the pitch and, minutes later,
Ian Hillier who had another good game at the back, was
replaced by Andy Harris.
Francis Green saw a shot well saved
by Mackenzie, the keeper relieved to see the follow-up
blaster over the bar. Substitute Simon Yeo was looking
dangerous for the visitors, he saw two shots just miss
the goal. As the game entered the last minute Vaughan
cleared well at the back post as Lincoln pressed for
Two minutes into overtime it came.
Francis Green played Yeo in on the right who outsmarted
Harris and shot high over MacKenzie from a narrow angle
to wrap up the points.
1 January 2005
Town 1 Chester City 2
Attendance: 3,076 Half Time 1-0
Macclesfield Town: Wilson, Carragher (Briscoe
90), Welch, Navarro, Harsley, Potter, Whitaker, Strong,
Parkin, Tipton, Sheron (Miles 79). Subs not used: Fettis,
Chester City: MacKenzie, Hillier, Bolland,
Bayliss, Hessey, Drummond, M.Brown (Davies 70), Carden,
Ellison, Belle, Branch. Subs not used: Vaughan, Rapley,
Referee: U.Rennie (South Yorkshire).
You’ll have to go a long way to see two better strikes
to win a game for City than those from Stewart Drummond
and Kevin Ellison. Two long-range efforts in four second
half minutes transformed the game that Chester had dominated
for long periods after the break and sent the 1,000 saturated
City fans home with a Cheshire double.
Ian Rush kept faith with the side that fought back for
a point a Spotland on Tuesday as his side took to the
field, as on our last appearance at Moss Rose, in torrential
Unsurprisingly, given the conditions,
the game got off to a scrappy start, on-loan Michael
Brown clearing a second minute corner as the home side,
attacking with a swirling wind behind them, pressed
for an early advantage.
first effort came courtesy of a Drummond shot that flew
high and wide before The Silkmen took the lead on 18
right wing corner found its way to the edge of the box,
a Macc player attempted a shot that skewed wide only
to be picked up by Mike Sheron (who had a summer trial
with Chester). Back to goal Sheron turned his marker
Hillier and shot low past MacKenzie from close range.
City responded quickly, Cortez Belle
saw a shot blocked by ex-on-loan player Alan Navarro
who did we to deflect it for a corner. Paul Carden’s
flag kick was easily dealt with by Wilson in front of
the large travelling support. City forced another corner
minutes later and this time striker Jonathan Parkin
was on hand to clear the Macc lines.
City were playing well in patches
and Ellison was set through clear on goal following
one superb move involving a Branch flick-on, but defender
Paul Harsley was on hand to make a superb last ditch
Sheron had the chance to double the
lead but headed wide from a well-worked Tipton cross.
And Tipton himself went close as he chipped the stranded
Mackenzie only to see his lob drift inches wide
Hillier tried his luck from long range
and the Blues forced three more corners in succession
before Premiership referee Uriah Rennie brought the
half to a close and with it the chance to nip round
the back of the Silkman terrace away from the driving
MacKenzie was called into action not
long after the restart, caught off his line, the ‘keeper
managed to get back in time to tip over dangerman Parkin’s
shot after he had once again been spotted too far off
his line. The resulting corner was cleared.
Drummond headed over from six yards
following a Carden corner before the home side thought
they’d doubled their
lead soon after but Whittaker was adjudged offside as
he turned in the rebound after MacKenzie had parried
a shot from Tipton.
Brown missed a glorious chance to
equalise soon after as he headed over at the back post
after a teasing Ellison cross had eluded Belle in the
middle. Brown, who had a busy game in midfield, was
replaced by Ben Davies moments later.
City continued to press, they had
plenty of the possession and forced several corners
but never really tested Wilson with any shots of note.
However, with thirteen minutes remaining
City got the equaliser their second half play deserved.
Belle, pushing forward down the right played the ball
into Drummond who, with defenders backing off, took
it goalwards before unleashing a shot right across the
face of goal and into the net leaving Wilson stranded.
Graham Potter almost restored the
home lead as he slammed a curling free-kick against
the City bar with the ball rebounding to safety.
With just nine minutes remaining an
outswinging corner on the right from Carden was drifting
out of the penalty area, Ellison chased the ball out,
turned, and unleashed a trademark 25-yarder that flew
through the area into the opposite corner. A great goal
to win any game.
The home side responded well and it
took a wonderful save from MacKenzie to preserve the
lead. City conceded a free-kick on the left edge of
their penalty area. The ball was floated over the wall
to two unmarked home players, it flicked the head of
one and MacKenzie tipped the ball onto the underside
of the bar and out to safety.
After securing their first League
Two victory in ten matches City remain in 19th place.