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30 January 2005

Chester came away from their last visit to the Vetch Field with nothing as a goal either side of half-time killed off the contest and any hope City had of trying to hang on for a point against one of the promotion favourites. City went to frustrate Swansea, and for forty or so minutes the game plan seemed to be working as the Blues, without creating any clear-cut openings themselves, restricted the home side to a couple of efforts wide of the target.

However, Lee Trundle’s free-kick over the wall just before the break and a Paul Connor effort just after killed off the game as a contest with City creating nothing of note in the second 45 minutes. Paul Carden, sitting this one out in the stands thanks to his red card last week, was badly missed today. The Swans added a third later and City were thankful to a series of Chris MacKenzie saves that kept the scoreline down in the end.

Midfielder Michael Brown had to be stretchered off the field after lengthy treatment after appearing to fall on his neck as he and new signing George Elokobi both cleared an attack. Brown swallowed his tongue and suffered concussion in the incident that was quickly attended to by physio Clive Goodyear. Brown probably not be allowed to play for two weeks.

Swansea manager Kenny Jackett said following the game: “Chester made it very difficult for us and were hard to break down because there was very little space for our front men but once we were ahead there was only ever going to be one winner. They can have few complaints about the scoreline and our defence fully deserved the clean sheet.”

His Counterpart Rush said: “For 40 minutes we did very well but the goals either side of half-time were killers. The system we used was working well until the first crucial goal and although Swansea played good football my players battled away and came back into the game very well.”

City have failed to score in their last four league matches, and have won only one out of their last 14 league games now. They will be desperate to put that right as they begin a month of crucial matches on Tuesday night with the visit from Cheltenham Town. This is followed by back-to-back games against fellow strugglers Rushden & Diamonds (H) and Kidderminster Harriers (A). Table toppers Yeovil Town then make the trip to Deva Stadium and City finish the month with two more important away trips to Grimsby Town and Shrewsbury Town.
28 January 2005

Good luck to striker Darryn Stamp who has signed for Nationwide Conference side Stevenage Borough on a permanent basis.

Signed for City in August 2003 from Northampton Town for an undisclosed fee Stamp proved his worth with an impressive goal return of 20 in 38+3 matches last season including the decisive winning goal to clinch the championship against Scarborough.

Stamp formed a formidable partnership with fellow striker Daryl Clare as the pair netted 50 goals in City’s title clinching season. However a pre-season injury hampered a return to the side for the start of the season and his appearances were limited to just 2+2 in the first team and 5 in the reserves, he also spent a month on loan at Kidderminster Harriers earlier in the season as he strived to regain his fitness.

Postscript: Darryn scored twice on his debut for Stevenage against Farnborough Town on Saturday.
City have a tough task tomorrow as they look for only their second league win in 14 games to help lift them clear from the relegation zone. The Blues make their last ever visit the the Vetch Field to play in-form Swansea City. Chester and Swansea have met in the league on 33 occasions with the Blues just edging it by 14 wins to 12.

The Swans currently lie in third place and have won nine of their 15 home matches this season. Back in early October the teams drew 1-1 at Deva Stadium. Kevin Rapley opened the scoring for the Blues only for Lee Trundle to equalise for the visitors from the penalty spot after the break. The game saw the highest attendance at the Deva this season of 3,803. A crowd of around 10,000 is expected for tomorrow’s return.

Chester’s match against Shrewsbury Town at Gay Meadow on Saturday 26 February has been made all-ticket for City fans. Prices are: Terrace: Adult £12.00, concession £7.00. Seats: Adult £14.00, concession £9.00.
Preston North End striker Joe O’Neill has joined City on a one month loan from Preston North End and goes straight into the squad for tomorrow’s match against Swansea City. O’Neill has been at Deepdale since 2001 and has previously had loan spells at Bury where he made 11+16 appearances scoring 3 goals, and Mansfield Town 5+12 appearances, 0 goals.
27 January 2005

City have signed Colchester United defender George Elokobi on a one month loan. The Cameroon defender, 19 next week, signed for the U’s in the summer from Dulwich Hamlet and has been a regular in the reserve side this season playing at either left back or central defence, as well as making the first team bench on several occasions.

Elokobi is expected to go straight into the squad for Saturday’s match at Swansea. Manager Ian Rush is also trying to tempt Preston North End striker Joe O’Neill to come on loan but that move is not confirmed yet. Meanwhile Tranmere midfielder Gary Jones has turned down a move to Chester.

26 January 2005
Striker Kevin Rapley (left) has joined Nationwide Conference side Forest Green Rovers on a one month loan. Rovers are managed by former Chester coach Alan Lewer. Fellow striker Darryn Stamp looks set for a loan move soon as well with Stevenage Borough the likely destination.

Meanwhile the club are waiting to hear if Tranmere Rovers midfielder Gary Jones is coming to the Deva. Jones was given a deadline of 14:00hrs this afternoon to give a decision over a move to Chester after the two clubs agreed terms.

Chairman Steve Vaughan said: “We basically need a decision from Gary quickly so we can move on, if he signed by two o’clock on Wednesday then fine, we would be very pleased, if he doesn’t then so be it. We have other options that we will investigate. I will not allow the matter to drag on.”
Congratulations to former favourite Danny Collins whose career took another step-up today when he was named in John Toshack’s first Welsh senior squad for their forthcoming friendly with Hungary on 9 February in Cardiff.

There’s an interesting interview with Danny in The Journal which you can read here.

City’s reserves were beaten 4-0 at Oldham Athletic this afternoon. All the goals, at Hyde United’s Ewen Fields ground, came in the first half. The Blues were expected to give a trial game to 22-year-old Preston North End striker Joe O’Neill. O’Neill has played 5+12 games on loan at Mansfield Town this season, without scoring, and played against City in the league match at Deva Stadium back in August. The Reserves drop to ninth following this defeat.

25 January 2005
Swansea are expecting a possible capacity crowd for Saturday’s game against the Blues. Due to the large amount of pre-booked tickets (in order to qualify for a ticket at the last game of the season) the club have made the game all-ticket for home fans.

Chester supporters have been allocated half of the West Terrace behind the goal (the other half is for home fans) and are able to pay on the gate. Adult: £11, concession: £6.00. This will be our last ever visit to the Vetch Field before the home side move in to their brand new 20,000 all-seater stadium on the outskirts of the city in the summer.

24 January 2005
Ian Rush’s small squad will be stretched further with two more red cards yesterday during the 0-0 home draw against Rochdale. Striker Cortez Belle (left) has been suspended for five games after receiving a straight red card for violent conduct. The automatic three match ban from that, is added to by a further match from each of his previous red cards this season. Midfielder and club captain Paul Carden was also dismissed, and has been given a two match ban. Both players will miss Saturday’s match against high-flyers Swansea City at the Vetch Field.

On the two incidents yesterday, manager Ian Rush said: “I think Paul Carden was frustrated and as for Cortez Belle, Ive looked at the video and it didnt look a sending off”. The Blues currently top the cards charts with 67 yellow and 5 red to their name.

Given the numerical disadvantage late in the game, Rush will no doubt be happy with a point and another clean sheet.
23 January 2005
City’s youth team drew 0-0 at home to Chesterfield on Saturday morning. The youngsters have one match left in the Youth Alliance North Central Conference this season, away at bottom club Notts County. A win there may see City finish runners-up to Port Vale. The young Blues then embark on their Merit League fixtures on 12 February.
21 January 2005
City’s players have finally shaken of last weeks flu bug as they prepare for the visit of Rochdale to Deva Stadium tomorrow, kick-off 15:00 hrs. However, Darren Edmondson and Darryn Stamp, who both featured for the reserves in midweek, are still unfit and will play no part tomorrow.

Manager Ian Rush was hoping to have Gary Jones on his teamsheet for the visit of Dale. The Chester-born Tranmere Rovers midfielder has had talks with City this week and an undisclosed fee has been agreed between the clubs, it would appear the decision to move rests with the player.

The sides met on Boxing Day at Spotland when a superb goal from Michael Branch earned City a point in an entertaining game that finished 2-2. Dale currently lie 12th in League Two and have a good record on their travels this season having won on five occasions at: Wycombe Wanderers (3-0), Grimsby Town (1-0), Oxford United (1-0), Shrewsbury Town (2-0) and Darlington (3-0). Rochdale will be without top scorer Grant Holt who starts a two match ban tomorrow.
20 January 2005
A second half goal from Darryn Stamp gave Chester a 1-0 victory at rivals Wrexham in the Pontins Holiday Cup last night.

City fielded a mixed side including Darren Edmondson who is recovering from a recent injury. Stamp’s headed goal ensured that City finished second in Group 6 behind Shrewsbury Town. The Blues’ only chance of progressing through to the knock-out stages though will be if they finish as one of the best placed runners-up.

Chester City: Wayne Brown, Darren Edmondson (Ian Lathom 46), Danny Ventre, Luke Foster, Sean Hessey, Andy Harris, Shaun Whalley, Mark Cadwallader, Kevin Rapley (Gavin Lynch 46), Darryn Stamp (Darren Jones 88), Cortez Belle. Subs not used: Ryan Brookfield, Kieran Deane.

19 January 2005
City’s reserves are in Pontins Holiday Cup (group six) action tonight when they travel to the NEWI Cefn Druids’ Plaskynaston ground to play neighbours Wrexham, kick-off 19:00hrs. Admission is £3.00 (adult) £1.00 (concession).

The Blues were beaten 2-1 by Shrewsbury at the Deva in their first group match, The Shrews have also defeated Wrexham 1-0 to complete their fixtures.

With most of the first team still finding their way back from last week’s flu outbreak several fringe players are expected to be given a chance to show what they can do.

18 January 2005
Chairman Steve Vaughan has announced that the club are looking to bring in two players this week. One is 19-year-old Fulham left-sided midfielder Sean Doherty, who began his career as a youngster with Everton. He is yet to make a first-team start for the west London side and would be invited to come initially on loan terms if he impressed for Fulham reserves in their 2-2 draw at Leicester last night. The other player, unnamed, is believed to be a north-west League One striker.
16 January 2005
City fielded a near full strength side at Cambridge United on Saturday, although several players appeared to still be suffering from the flu bug that hit the squad last week. Only Phil Bolland appeared not to have made the trip, though youngsters Robbie Booth and Mike Walsh were added to the side. City came away with a point following the goalless draw to remain in their now customary 19th place in League Two.

City had goalkeeper Chris MacKenzie to thank for the point with the shot-stopper making some fine saves, particularly in the first half, to deny United. City had strong claims for a penalty turned down in the dying minutes as Michael Brown was upended in the box but referee Melin chose to book Brown for diving instead!
Manager Ian Rush was full of praise for the City side who turned out despite not being able to train for most of last week. “Overall I thought the lads were first class. They ran their hearts out and again we were denied a stone-wall penalty at the end.” he told the Daily Post.
14 January 2005
Chester may have a depleted side when they visit bottom club Cambridge United tomorrow. The BBC reports that only seven first team players are available after a flu bug hit the squad yesterday. City had their request to postpone the game refused by the Football League today. Some reserve and youth team players are expected to travel with the squad in case any players fail fitness tests ahead of the game at the Abbey Stadium.

Although bottom with just three wins to their name all season, Cambridge have picked up two useful away draws in the last week at Mansfield Town (0-0) and Bristol Rovers (1-1). Our record against United is poor. In the 24 previous league meetings we have won only twice, on the first occasion the teams met at Sealand Road in 1970 (2-1) and at the Abbey Stadium by the same scoreline in 1998. Bizarrely we have beaten Cambridge on one other occasion away in 1992/93 when a goal from John Kelly gave City a victory in the Cambridgeshire Professional Cup.

Meanwhile Luton Town defenders Ian Hillier and David Bayliss have extended their loan spells at City for another month.

13 January 2005
Kevin Ellison has signed a two and a half year contract at League One leaders Hull City. The £100,000 transfer was completed today. The official Hull City website states that two players who were due to come to Chester on loan will not now be making the trip. City will receive a straight transfer fee instead.

Blues chairman Steve Vaughan said: “Ian Rush and I didn’t want to sell Kevin Ellison to Hull, but we couldn’t compete with the wage that Hull were prepared to offer, and our supporters must realise that we can’t possibly stand in the way of a player wanting to play one division higher than us.”

Manager Ian Rush sent the players home today after a flu virus hit the club. Only four senior players, Stephen Vaughan, Paul Carden, Stewart Drummond, and Cortez Belle are unaffected so far.
11 January 2005
Leading striker Kevin Ellison has today handed in a transfer request and is free now to talk terms with Hull City over a possible transfer to the League One side.

Speaking on Radio Merseyside tonight, City reporter Neil Turner believed that should the deal go through in the next 24/48 hours then the two players coming over to the Deva would be 24-year-old ex-Tranmere Rovers defender Richard Hinds and 21-year-old striker Jonathan Walters who has also played at Bolton Wanderers, Crewe Alexandra and Barnsley.

Chairman Steve Vaughan (left) has stated that League One side Hull City have improved their offer for Kevin Ellison to a six figure sum, in the region of £100,000, plus two players. Ellison, the top scorer this season, arrived in the summer on a free transfer from Stockport County.

Vaughan said: “The revised bid from Hull has been received. The financial offer has been increased to a six figure sum, and the two players that have been offered. Basically, if Kevin Ellison says he wants to move to a club at a higher level, then we couldn’t stand in his way. However, if he wishes to stay with us, then that is fine. It’s always flattering when other clubs show interest in our players, but as I always say at these times, we are building a quality squad here at Chester not dismantling it.”

Ellison is no stranger to Tigers manager Peter Taylor, he took him from non-league Altrincham to Leicester City back in 2001. Taylor told the Hull Daily Mail newspaper that he wants to sign the 25-year-old left-winger in time to face Peterborough on Saturday.

“I’ve thought about it and he would be a very important player to help us push on, so that’s why I’ve gone back in. They want a couple of players on loan and it’s about £100,000 for Ellison. What happens after that with loans is separate. I’d like to get him in the squad for Saturday. He’s a strong boy and if I can get him I’d be absolutely delighted. I think we’re getting much closer.” said Taylor.

Of the two Luton Town players currently on loan, Ian Hillier and David Bayliss, it looks like City will be offering them permanent deals. Vaughan told Sky Sports: “Were 90 percent sure that well be offering them terms and once weve got Saturday out of the way, well see if they want to join us permanently. One of the two may even sign before then. Weve spoken to Luton and theyre happy to come to a settlement with us.”

Meanwhile, one of Ian Rush’s targets, Bury striker David Nugent has signed for Championship side Preston North End for an undisclosed six figure fee.
9 January 2005

City’s FA Cup run is over after the Blues were beaten 2-1 in the third round at Bournemouth on Saturday. Chester gave a great account of themselves, playing their best football of the season and dominating large periods of the game against League One opposition, and will look to two mistakes that eventually cost them the tie. Manager Ian Rush was forced to shuffle the squad which saw Ben Davies play at right back and Stephen Vaughan in midfield – both seemed to adapt to their new roles well.

The opening goal, against the run of play, came as City failed to clear a corner while the second was presented to the Cherries after goalkeeper Chris MacKenzine failed to hold on to a cross. Kevin Ellison pulled a goal back for City with 20 minutes remaining but try as they might City were unable to force a draw.
Manager Rush said: “I felt we played very well and were unlucky not to get a draw. It was probably the best football we have played this season. We knew they were a very good football team but we made them look very ordinary. We had the chances to win the game but we made two mistakes which they scored from. I cannot do nothing but praise the lads – it was just the luck of the cup.”
7 January 2005

The team travelled down yesterday to prepare for Saturday’s FA Cup third round match with AFC Bournemouth. The club will utilising Southampton’s training facilities today as they attempt to reach the fourth round for the first time since 1986/87.

Both Michael Branch and Andy Harris miss the game, each serves a one match suspension, while there are doubts over on-loan full back Ian Hillier who hobbled off on Monday, his chances of playing are rated as 50/50. The winners of the third round tie will pocket prize money of £40,000.

The clubs have met in the competition before, back at Moss Rose in January 1991. On that occasion City were beaten by a last minute Efan Ekoku goal presented to him by a mistake from Blues goalkeeper Billy Stewart. With a gale force wind behind him, Andy Jones had given the visitors a 2-0 half time lead, but two goals in as many minutes after the break from Brian Croft dragged City back into the game before the last minute howler.

For those who can’t get to the game tomorrow you can hear live internet commentary via the FA website here.

Meanwhile the club say they have turned down a cash plus two players offer from Hull City for winger Kevin Ellison. Ellison arrived from Stockport County in the summer and is the current City top scorer with ten goals.
The official Forest Green Rovers website confirms that Andy Watson has returned to City following his loan spell at The Lawn. He made 6+3 appearances.
5 January 2005

darryn StampThe club have stated they they are to circulate clubs regarding the availability of striker Darryn Stamp. Stamp, who scored 20 goals last season, has made just 3+2 first team appearances for City this season and played five games on loan at Kidderminster Harriers in November. On his return he was injured playing for the reserves and hasn’t featured since. One of Stamp’s former clubs Scarborough enquired about the players availability recently and could be expected to renew their interest.

Meanwhile chairman Steve Vaughan has hinted that other player may soon also be on their way: “We need to freshen things up in the squad, and it could well be that a couple of other players who are not figuring in the squad at the moment, will also be moving on. We have targeted certain players who we consider will strengthen the squad and hopefully positive news will be forthcoming soon.” he said.

4 January 2005

City will feel hard done by at losing all three points against Lincoln City on Monday but they only have themselves to blame for some slack defending that presented substitute Simon Yeo a 92nd minute winner. A draw would have been a fair result as both sides cancelled themselves out in a dour game that did little to excite the 2,800 bank holiday crowd. The few chances that City did create fell to Cortez Belle early on and increasingly, as the match wore on, to Kevin Ellison.

“I thought we were mugged. It wasn’t a great game, but I thought we done enough to at least get a share of the spoils. We had chances, and it just shows you unfortunately what happens when you don’t take your chances.” said manager Ian Rush after the defeat.

Rush has stated that he’s after two more strikers but has heard nothing from Bury since the club made an improved offer for their 19-year-old striker David Nugent over Christmas. The club had initially tabled a £50,000 bid. With Michael Branch suspended for Saturday’s FA Cup-tie at Bournemouth the Blues’ lack of strike power will once again be exposed.
2 January 2005

Another wonder goal from Kevin Ellison, his tenth of the season, brought City victory at Moss Rose and with it the double over their Cheshire rivals Macclesfield Town. It was the Blues’ first League win for ten matches as, for the third game running, City fought back from going a goal down. City, trailing by a Mike Sheron effort at the break, struck with two goals in four minutes from Stewart Drummond and Ellison late in the game to notch a deserved win in a game played in atrocious conditions. Despite the win City remain 19th in League Two but will be hoping to build on Saturday’s victory when they entertain Lincoln City at Deva Stadium tomorrow, kick-off 15:00hrs.

1 January 2005

City kick-off 2005 with an away trip to Cheshire rivals Macclesfield Town this afternoon. The game was originally billed as all-ticket but this is not now the case and supporters who haven’t pre-bought tickets can pay at the turnstiles. The Silkmen are enjoying a successful season and are currently fifth in League Two with 38 points, 12 more than City. The Blues will be without Wayne Brown, Darren Edmondson and Richard Hope who are sidelined through injury. Kevin McIntyre, who signed for Macclesfield last week, will not be allowed to play against his former club today due to a clause in his contract.

Manager Ian Rush will be hoping for a repeat of the performance that saw the Blues beat Macc 1-0 in his first home game in charge at Deva Stadium back in early September. On that occasion it took a last minute goal from Danny Collins to bring City all three points.

Following today’s game City are in League Two action once again on Monday afternoon when they entertain Lincoln City at Deva Stadium, kick-off 15:00hrs.



















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