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Saturday 23 January
Mansfield Town 4 Chester City 0
Football Conference
Attendance: 2,882 (55 Chester) Half Time 3-0
Booked: Meynell.

Mansfield Town: Marriott, Armstrong, L Jones, Foster, Silk, Williams, Somner, Hotchkiss (Challinor 85), Briscoe (Perry 74), Duffy (Sturrock 75), Speight. Subs not used: Sandercombe, Brough.
Chester City: Danby, Meynell, Roberts, Kelly, Lea, Wilkinson, Coulter, Rule, Davidson, Jones, Ellams. Subs not used: Murphy, Walker, Freeman, Maxwell.
Referee: Billy Khatib (Tyne & Wear).

It’s now 657 minutes since City last scored a goal as they once again failed to find the net in this latest defeat at Mansfield Town. The Blues sent out an inexperienced young side with an average age of 20 and, despite a battling performance, they were completely outclassed by the Stags outfit.

But for some fine saves from John Danby in goal the scoreline could have been a whole lot worse as the home side managed 14 shots on target during the 90 minutes.

With Tim Ryan picking up his tenth booking of the season against Salisbury the City skipper began a two match ban which left the door open for midfielder Sam Coulter to make his full debut. The Blues could only name four substitutes on the bench.

As expected, Mansfield’s experienced showed up in the opening exchanges. Both Louis Briscoe and Ollie Hotchkiss saw chances fly just wide of the City goal.

A slip from Shaun Kelly seemed to set up Rob Duffy but a last-ditch block from Glenn Rule prevented the Mansfield striker from opening the scoring. Duffy had another chance moments later but Rule once again thwarted the player with a goalline clearance despite unsuccessful appeals from the home crowd for a handball by the City defender.

Danby made a great save to tip a Hotchkiss shot over the bar before the deadlock was finally broken on 24 minutes as Luke Jones headed home unchallenged from a Ryan Williams corner for his first goal in Mansfield colours. Less than ten minutes later he notched his second as he once again headed home from a Williams flag-kick.

On 36 minutes the home side added a third. The build up was familiar, Jones heading a Williams corner goalbound but this time Danby saved but the ball fell to Jake Speight whose shot was deflected into his own goal by the unfortunate Ben Jones. Danby produced another fine save to deny Duffy and Rule once again cleared off the line, this time to deny Jones his hat-trick, as the Stags took a comfortable three goal advantage into the interval.

Michael Lea and Ben Wilkinson combined to clear a Louis Briscoe effort as the Stags continued to pile the pressure on after the break. Despite seeing little of the ball City’s youngsters held firm though. Williams and Duffy continued to pepper the City goal and ten minutes from time City conceded a fourth. Substitute Blair Sturrock saw a shot deflect into the path of Speight who made no mistake from just inside the box to wrap up the scoring.

Picture © Evening Leader

Conference table

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Tuesday 19 January
Chester City 0 Salisbury City 1
Football Conference
Attendance: 425 (18 Salisbury) Half Time 0-0
Booked: Kelly, Ryan, Lea, Roberts.

Chester City: Danby, Roberts, Ryan, Kelly, Rule, Wilkinson, Davidson, Lea, Meynell, Jones, Ellams. Subs not used: Murphy, Freeman, Coulter, Maxwell, Chadwick.
Salisbury City: Bittner, Clohessy, Turley, Webb, Ruddick, Gray, Clarke, Anderson, Adelsbury, Flood, Tubbs. Subs: Monhon, Cox, Osman, Widdrington.
Referee: Lee Metcalfe (Lancashire).

A crowd of only just over 400 were at Deva Stadium to witness the eighth home defeat of the season at the hands of Salisbury City. The fans certainly voted with their feet. Following the appointment of controversial Director of Football Morrell Maison and the subsequent departure of the popular Jim Harvey, combined with yet another winding-up order in the high court next week have proved the last straw for the long-suffering support.

Those who did venture out made their feelings of the running of the club by the Vaughan family and departure of Harvey known through their chanting in the opening stages of the game.

Maison took charge of first team affairs, a touchline ban until the end of the season saw him forced to observe from the sparsely populated main stand.

The Blues were in action for the first time since a defeat at Kidderminster Harriers on Boxing Day and Maison made two changes to that side. Ryan Davidson and Rhys Meynell replaced James Owen, who’s since left the club and Jack Rea.

The busiest man early on was referee Lee Metcalf who booked both Shaun Kelly and Tim Ryan for late challenges. The visitors had the first real opportunity of the game as Jamie Turley headed over following after meeting a Sean Clohessy cross. Referee Metcalf waived away penalty appeals as Ben Wilkinson went down following a Daniel Webb challenge.

Youngster Ben Jones was presented with a great chance but he couldn’t connect with a Kevin Roberts knock-down and the ball drifted harmlessly wide.

The visitors were still creating though and top scorer Matt Tubbs headed wide with just John Danby to beat midway through the opening period.

Just before the interval Bradley Gray saw an effort blocked by City skipper Tim Ryan to preserve the status quo at the interval.

The quality of the game left a lot to be desired with passes going astray but City were presented with a golden opportunity just after the hour mark as a pin-point Lloyd Ellams cross found Jones in the box who blasted over from just six yards.

At the other end Tubbs found too much space again to break through but shoot tamely straight at Danby. The visitors looked more and more likely to break the deadlock as the game reached the final stages. James Bittner in the visitors goal, was however called on to make a double save to deny Roberts and Ellams from close range.

Four minutes from time the deadlock was broken. Roberts was adjudged to have handled Gray’s and Tubbs duly dispatched the spot-kick past Danby for his 17th goal of the season and condemn City to defeat.

Conference table

Picture © Evening Leader

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