Saturday 31 March 2001
Canvey Island 2 Chester City
FA Umbro Trophy Semi-Final
Attendance: 1,221 Half-time 1-0
Canvey Island: Harrison,
Kennedy, Duffy, Chenery, Bodley, Ward, Tilson, Stimson
(Tanner 84), Gregory, Jones (Vaughan 71), Parmenter.
Subs not used: Clark, Miller, Thompson.
Chester City: Brown, Fisher, Doughty, Lancaster, Ruffer (Gaunt 24),
P.Beesley, Carden, Porter, Woods, M.Beesley (Whitehall 55), Ruscoe (Moss
45). Subs not used: Priestly, Haarhoff.
have left themselves with a mountain to climb if
they are to reach the final of the Tophy next month.
They turned in their worst performance of the season
here as they were outplayed from the start by their
Ryman Premier League opponents. Man of the match
Wayne Brown helped keep the tie alive (just) with
a series of fine saves and, in all honesty, we could
have had no complaints had the score been doubled.
Playing in black and white stripes
and on a heavily sanded pitch, City started with
striker Steve Whitehall on the bench and Matt Woods
in the No.9 shirt and Carl Ruffer returned to the
centre of defence following injury.
The game was only a couple of minutes
old when their were large appealy dfor a home penalty
after Neil Fisher seemed to wrestle Dufy to the ground
when clean through on goal.
City's first and only effort of
the half came minutes later when Martyn Lancaster's
header was tipped over the bar following a Neil Fisher
It was clear that Ruffer was feeling
his injury and was replaced by Craig Gaunt on 24
minutes. Why Woods didn't drop back then allowing
the introduction of Whitehall or Haarhoff remains
The opening goal came on 28 minutes.
A left wing free kick was easily cleared by Lancaster
but straight to Dufy. His lobbed through pass fell
invitingly for Tilson, in acres of space, who smashed
the ball home giving Brown no chance in goal.
We looked to Chester to step things
up but they simply weren't able to. It was Canvey
who created the better openings as both sides were
reduced to playing the ball long in the breezy conditions.
Harrison dived smartly at the feet
of Ruscoe in a rare Chester raid but it was the home
side who almost doubled the score just before half
time when Gregory broke through on the right and
shot just past the far post.
Darren Moss came on for Ruscoe
at the break and Whitehall replaced Mark Beesley
soon after but the striker soon found himself helping
out in defence as Canvey pushed forward.
With 20 minutes remaining Canvey
scored their deserved second. Wayne Vaughan had only
been on the pitch a couple of minutes before picking
up a loose ball and firing home low past Wayne Brown
from 20 yards.
somehow or other City are still in the tie! but it's
going to take a monumental improvement in almost
every department to have any chance next Saturday.
And before that, on Tuesday, City face another long
trip down to Dover for a Conference match.
ďIt could have been more than
two, it was embarrassing but we have a chance to put
it right on Saturday. I donít know the explanation
why we played like we did and Iíve got to do some soul-searching.Ē said
Graham Barrow after the match.
27 March 2001
Telford United 3 Chester City 0
Attendance: 1,363 Half-time 1-2
Telford United: Price, Bentley,
Fowler, Moore, Jobling, Sandwith, McGorry, Fitzpatrick,
Palmer, Murphy (Huckerby 83), Malkin. Subs not used:
Preece, Davies, Edwards, J, Martindale.
Chester City: Brown, Moss, Woodyatt (Gaunt 30), Woods, Lancaster,
P.Beesley, Carden (Haarhoff 65), Fisher, Wright, Whitehall, Ruscoe. Subs
not used: Doughty, Priestly, Berry.
Referee: G Salisbury (Preston).
there is of the New Bucks Head looks fine and is
well appointed (But admission was £9 and not
seven as advertised in the previous Chester programme).
Seats are at a bit of a premium, however, apart from
the two benches there are only about twenty under
a flimsy canvas on the halfway line. At the back
of the temporary stand even the local media journalists
had to stand. When work is completed on the main
stand and hotel complex then it should look quite
impressive. Work is expected to begin in the near
For the present the Board Room
is a portacabin and the players had to get changed
in an adjacent one before making their way over the
path and down through the terracing on to the pitch.
The playing surface was thoroughly saturated. In
contrast to Nuneaton's gluepot on Friday there was
plenty of grass on the pitch but water was never
far away and several times the ball either held up
in a puddle or skimmed off the greasy top.
After a bright opening from Chester
it was Telford who adapted to the difficult conditions
better. From a second corner in succession they took
the lead when Malkin rose unopposed to head into
the net from the six yard line. It could have been
two soon afterwards but Brown blocked Murphy's shot
when he was clean through. Although City tried to
play some neat stuff in the middle, Telford were
more adept at getting the ball forward quickly and
their strikers at making runs into space.
Carden was rightly booked for taking
retribution on a Telford midfielder who had previously
up-ended Moss without punishment. Woodyatt, making
what I believe was his senior debut unfortunately
had to limp off after half an hour and was replaced
by Gaunt. Woods was then thrown up front and Wright
retreated into the gap behind the forwards. Woods
found a bit of room on the right and crossed dangerously.
Whitehall had a couple of stabs at getting a shot
in but Telford defended well.
Six minutes before half time came
the blow from which City never recovered. Brown came
out to claim a ball at the feet of an onrushing forward
but only suceeded in knocking it out to the right
from where McGorry crossed for Palmer to sidefoot
the ball into an empty net. An unfortunately sloppy
goal conceded at a bad time.
After the break City commendably
brought the game to their hosts and were unlucky
not to get at least a goal back. Ruscoe curled a
shot against the inside of the post and Telford were
fortunate to clear. Price, the keeper, made a hash
of trying to clear and Whitehall picked the ball
up at a narrow angle and fired a shot which was deflected
for a corner. Beesley won a near post header and
Whitehall's follow up was tipped over the bar by
The referee booked Bentley for
persistent fouling and Fowler for persistent dissent.
But he waved away appeals for a penalty when Woods
was climbed all over in the box and, from the subsequent
break away, Murphy got through one on one and lifted
the ball over Brown for another goal.
City played gamely on, Haarhoff
came on for the hard-working Carden but it was never
going to be the kind of pitch on which he would perform
to his best. Cestrians should not be too down hearted
at this display in what will turn out to be a fairly
meaningless match. And one in particular a
certain Mr Beckett had the edge taken off
the defeat by claiming the half time draw prize.
23 March 2001
Nuneaton Borough 1 Chester City
Attendance: 1,363 Half-time
Nuneaton Borough: Mackenzie,
Thackeray, Angus, Simpson, Weaver, Love (J.Williams
61), B.Williams (King 76), Peake, Crowley, Charles,
Wray (Sykes 76). Subs not used: Young, Bacon.
Chester City: Brown, Fisher, Doughty, (Woodyatt 68), Lancaster, Ruffer,
P.Beesley, Carden, Fisher, Ruscoe, M.Beesley (Woods 58), Whitehall (Haarhoff
74). Subs not used: Wright, Priestly.
Referee: K.Reynolds (East Barnet).
rumours to the contrary, all three of City's semi-pro
internationals turned out at a dank Manor Park as
City became the first side to record the double over
Nuneaton Borough this season they did it the
hard way though.
For the first time on our travels
this season there was no segregation, and City fans
were free to walk round the ground during the game
to choose their favoured spec after entering through
the bizarre spectacle of a candlelit turnstile (sic),
whose flames flickered dangerously close to piles
of fivers and tenners.
Heavy rain in the early evening
had turned the sloping pitch into a mud bath in certain
areas, with the top surface slippery.
City, playing in all white, started
well and could have taken the lead in the second
minute. Scott Ruscoe was sent away down the left
and perhaps should have done better with his shot
which was clawed away from under the crossbar by
Mackenzie in the Borough goal.
Two minutes later and the ball
was in the net, but at the other end. A long punt
forward over the City defence left Martyn Lancaster
appealing vainly for offside. Shaun Wray was having
none of it and beat Brown from 12 yards.
Minutes later and the busy Paul
Carden was almost through on goal but his first touch
let him down and the ball ran through to the keeper.
Another superb through ball by
Carden sent Whitehall through on the left, his shot
was only parried by Mackenzie and Mark Beesley was
perfectly placed six yards out to flick the ball
home through the mud.
The play was end-to-end as both
teams contributed to a good game considering the
conditions. Both Carden and Ruscoe were playing some
nice one touch football and several half-chances
were created from both Mark Beesley and Whitehall.
Darren Moss, who had a good game
throughout, set up Whitehall again but he failed
to convert the chance. Minutes later though the experienced
striker gave City the lead following a fine flowing
move. Ruscoe played the final ball through to Whitehall
who chipped a shot over Mackenzie from 10 yards out,
2-1 to City.
Just minutes before half time Nuneaton
had a glorious chance to equalise. A right wing corner
was swung over by Jason Peake and Paul Beesley inexplicable
thrust out an arm to handle the ball. Beesley complained
he was pushed and picked up his now customary booking.
Peake, the former Plymouth player,
took the spot kick but Wayne Brown dived brilliantly
to save the kick and preserve City's lead. Seconds
later and it was Carl Ruffer's turn to clear off
the line in a more unorthodox manor with his
As is often the case it was a different
City after the break. They defended deeply, sitting
on their lead, and invited Nuneaton to attack, and
attack they did.
Wayne Brown was called into
action on numerous occasions but the City defence did
restrict the home side to mainly long-range efforts.
Once again City cleared off the line during one moment
of danger, but Wayne Brown again showed why he's been
chosen as England's No.1 keeper with a fine full length
save to keep out Alex Sykesí superb overhead kick in
the last minute.
17 March 2001
Chester City 0 Hednesford Town
Attendance: 1,451 Half-time
Chester City: Brown, Fisher,
Doughty, Ruffer, P.Beesley, Lancaster, Carden,
Porter (Wright 79), Ruscoe (Haarhoff 50), Whitehall
(Woods 75), M.Beesley. Subs not used: Moss, Woodyatt.
Hednesford Town: Gayle, Evans, Colkin, Bradley, Lake, Haran, Robinson,
Sedgemore, Norbury, Leadbeater (Davis 90), Bagshaw. Subs not used: Goodwin,
Craven, Airdrie, Brown.
Referee: G. Chapman (Stroud).
doesn't get much poorer than this. After last Saturday's
splendid FA Trophy victory, City came down to earth
with a bump with an inept and inexcusably poor performance
against the bottom side that had not won since mid
With Paul Beesley, Steve Whitehall
and Andy Porter all starting, it was a game that
on paper we should have strolled. But on a cold and
featureless grey day in March, matches such as these
do not often go with form and so it was today.
Despite a scrappy start, there
was enough to suggest early goals for City. In the
second minute Whitehall sent Mark Beesley through
a static Hednesford defence. He took the ball down
well but his barely connected powder- puff shot sent
groans of derision throughout the sparsely pockets
of huddles supporters.
Chester had the better of the first
half dominating possession and it was encouraging
to see both Porter and Carden made good use of the
freedom that the visitor's rather disorganised midfield
allowed. Ruscoe looked as though he would be have
his best game for quite some time making many interceptions
and making some purposeful moves. Matt Doughty fed
by Paul Beesley made his customary bursts down the
left and Ruffer and Lancaster seemed to have the
game well in control.
On eighteen minutes a cross from
the left saw Whitehall rose and deliver a header
which drifted inches past the post. Hednesford looked
vulnerable for long periods as Chester retained possession
for long periods. But as the half went on, the chances
grew fewer and Hednesford managed to hang on for
the last fifteen minutes with few real problems.
Whilst the visitors rarely threatened, their was
enough about their tall and lively striker Richard
Leadbeater to sound a warning to City's defence after
he created a half chance for himself following some
neat foot work to get ahead of Paul Beesley.
If we thought Chester were saving
the best for the second half, we were mistaken. Ruscoe
surprisingly made way early for Haarhoff. Although
his openings moments were quiet, there was an air
of expectancy whenever he received the ball. Unfortunately
opportunities to exploit his tricky skills were few.
Too often the ball was delivered straight to his
feet rather than in front and as he slowed down to
collect the ball so the initiative was lost.
Although Chester continued to move
forward, there was a void of creative thought. Mark
Beesley ran well but rarely the right way and too
many times Doughty's final cross fell disappointingly
behind the goal. What few chances were left fell
to Lancaster who must have sensed that if anyone
was going to score it was more likely to be him.
Twice he sent some decent snap shots in from just
inside the box but they were never going to be enough
Graham Barrow sensing problems
sent on Woods for Whitehall and Wright for the tiring
Porter. Wright drove narrowly wide but by this time,
what little confidence there was on the pitch had
visibly drained away. Without Ruscoe and Whitehall,
City's main source of any creative play, our attacking
options were greatly reduced. It was one of those
days that you felt City would never score and to
be truthful we never came that close.
To add some balance to the picture,
Hednesford had their chances. Doughty headed off
the line and Brown made an excellent point blank
save in a rare period of Hednesford pressure as City's
defence showed it could play just as badly as its
attack. Just when you thought it couldn't happen,
of course it did. Hednesford broke up field. Chester
organised themselves effectively and appeared have
the measure of their attack. But as their player
ran across the box, Ruffer, anonymous for much of
the second half stuck out a foot and brought him
down. His protests suggested innocence but given
his colleagues were close in support, it was a chance
he need not have taken.
We all hoped that Wayne might pull
us out of this one but this was not to be. Jake Sedgemore's
penalty was well taken and his sense of delight was
shared with the small band of vocal supporters behind
the bare away end. It was red faces all round to
add to the red noses of the night before.
All in all it was a miserable performance.
Without wishing to sound uncharitable, Hednesford
were a poor side. They looked like a team near the
bottom of the division and it is hard to see them
bouncing back from relegation first time next season
if that is the way their fortune goes.
But Chester were equally poor and
it is equally hard to see them as promotion contenders
next season unless greater attacking instinct is
developed. Far too often Chester relied on tired
unimaginative runs that were badly supported and
finished off with a weak final ball. It is a case
of back to basics for many of the players who were
mostly woeful on the day.
In a week when Sky TV have announced
they are going to screen live a minimum of ten Conference
games next season, let us hope that when they come
to the Deva we will be offered better stuff than
13 March 2001
Southport 1 Chester City 0
Attendance: 1,279 Half-time 1-0
Southport: Dickinson, Clark, Guyett,
Bolland, Lane, Grayston, Marsh, Gouk, Elam (Whittaker 61),
Arnold (Teale 76), Parke. Subs not used: Furlong, O'Brien,
Chester City: Brown, Ruffer, Gaunt (Porter 64), Woods, Lancaster,
Doughty (Moss 64), Carden, Ruscoe, Fisher, M.Beesley, Whitehall (Haarhoff
64). Subs not used: Woodyatt, Priestly.
Referee: G.Simpson (Westhill).
A case of after the Lord Mayor's show for
City, who, three days after knocking Southport out of the
FA Trophy turned in a poor performance in losing at Haig
Avenue as Southport completed the Conference double over
Chester. City played with Matt Woods, Steve Whitehall and
Mark Beesley up front, but, once again left livewire Jimmy
Haarhoff on the bench.
The Sandgrounders had in fact hit the woodwork
twice in the opening stages with both Parke and Gouk going
close to opening the scoring, and City also had Craig Gaunt
to thank for clearing another Bolland effort off the line
with Wayne Brown rooted to the spot.
A Southport goal seemed inevitable and
it came on 28 minutes when Simon Parke headed home from close
ranger after another Mike Marsh corner had rebounded off
the crossbar causing all sorts of trouble.
Mark Beesley had City's only effort on
goal in the opening minutes with Dickinson saving easily
after good play from Whitehall and Woods.
Carl Ruffer had a golden chance to equalise
ten minutes before the break but his volley, following a
Scott Ruscoe free kick, from just six yards out was saved
Dickinson saved superbly again after the
break, Martyn Lancaster's pinpoint cross was met by Matt
Woods looping header that seemed destined for the top corner.
In an effort to shake things up Graham
Barrow made a treble substitution on 64 minutes but it was
the home side who had much the better of the game.
Arnold and Lane were both given too much
space and allowed shots on goal, and, at the other end Mark
Beesley screwed a sot wide after being put through by Paul
City manager Graham Barrow, a former
Southport player, wasn't a happy man after the game: "We didn't
play particularly well on Saturday and we were really struggling
tonight. I thought the players would be up for it but particularly
now that we are in the semi-finals of the F.A. Trophy, but
our overall performance was disappointing."
10 March 2001
Chester City 1 Southport 0
FA Umbro Trophy Quarter Final
Attendance: 3,204 Half-time 0-0
Chester City: Brown, Moss (J.Haarhoff
49 (Porter 88)), Doughty, Woods, Ruffer, Gaunt, Carden, Fisher,
M.Beesley, Whitehall (Wright 90), Ruscoe. Subs not used:
Southport: Dickinson, Lane, O'Brien (Grayston 55), Clark, Guyett,
Bolland, Marsh, Gouk, Arnold, Parke (Maamria 84), Elam (Furlong 84).
Subs not used: Teale, Morgan.
Referee: R.Pollock (Maghull).
are still the only team to have won at the Deva this season
and, just like their League match here, they played well
and frustrated Chester for large parts of the game. With
impeccable timing, however, Matt Woods stole the tie from
the jaws of a replay with one of the more dramatic winners
Chester have enjoyed for a long while.
Gaunt, Ruffer and Woods played in the centre
of the defence with Moss and Doughty in the wing back role.
Haarhoff was, surprisingly, left on the bench by Barrow holding
him in reserve for later. It was clearly going to be a tight
game with little time to dwell on the ball. Ruscoe worked
tirelessly in a packed midfield and even eclipsed the experienced
Mike Marsh. Southport weaved intricate patterns in their
forward play and the busy Arnold threatened danger with his
neat approach play.
Whitehall curved a free kick round the
defensive wall but also comfortably wide of the post. At
the other end Parke went through on the inside left channel.
With a despairing lunge Matty Woods missed the ball and made
slight contact with Parke inside the area. But, though the
big forward went down, the ref saw fit not to award a penalty.
I have seen them given! We were grateful for the benefit
of the doubt.
There was an even bigger let off later
when Moss made a superb last ditch tackle on the six yard
line when Marsh looked certain to score. This was after Parke
had proved a nuisance at the near post and Brown had been
drawn into trouble.
Ruscoe had City's most promising opening
after he carried the ball through himself. Dickinson saved
his shot comfortably.
was rightly booked when, after dribbling the ball out of
danger, he lost it and followed through with a wild tackle.
Soon after he was joined in the book by a flurry of Southport
names. First Bolland was cautioned for clattering into the
back of Whitehall for the third time. Then, in a book-one-get-one-free
deal, Lane and O'Brien were both booked for attempting to
scythe down Matt Doughty. Marsh then joined them after a
scandalously OTT tackle on the same player.
Soon after half time, Barrow unleashed
Jimmy Haarhoff on the visitors. Moss was the unlucky one
to give way. Southport knew all about Jimmy's threat, having
been run ragged by him in the Nationwide Varieties match.
Soon Grayston was brought on to do a man-to-man job on him.
Jimmy was given little room by his shadow but still caused
problems for the visitors. Beesley found more room on the
flanks and turned in some forceful wing play. A couple of
times his cross into the box let him down. But one beautiful
low centre was just glanced off Whitehall's toe by a defender
and came out to Fisher who ballooned it over the stand.
Whitehall saw his header hit the foot of
the post after a good cross by Fisher. At the other end,
Southport, urged on by their travelling army also had a couple
of near misses. Both fell to Parke who shot wide. When Parke
returned to do some defensive duty he seemed to body check
Gaunt as he came in to meet a cross but the ref waved away
screams for a penalty.
At last Jimmy won a free kick on the right
after some rough treatment. From the resulting corner, Woods
picked up the loose ball in the box and fired it in through
a forest of legs, brushing Whitehall's shin on its way onto
the post and in.
One of the longest and most ecstatic celebrations
I have ever known at the Deva followed. Everyone knew the
goal was decisive.
Barrow came on the pitch to celebrate with
the players and heard the crowd chant his name. He was clearly
delighted. Mark Wright, on the other hand, was beside himself
with fury at the referee for all the bookings. Southport
earned seven which will cost them a fine. But, in truth,
there was very little he could complain about.
Our celebrations were also tinged with
the strong speculation that Terry Smith is on his way out
of the Deva for the last time. His increasingly bizzarre
programme notes contained heavy hints of a valediction and
a parting of the ways. An announcement is expected soon that
the club has been sold to an anonymous Liverpool businessman.
3 March 2001
Hayes 1 Chester City 3
Attendance: 784 Half-time 0-1
Hayes: Gothard, Molesley, Watts
(Coppard 85), Sterling, Goodliffe, (Telemarque 83), Nyamah,
Moore, Mckimm, Preston, Quinn, B.Hodson (M.Hodson 63). Subs
not used: Gallen, Bezhadi.
Chester City: Priestley, Moss, Lancaster, Gaunt, P.Beesley, Doughty,
Carden, Fisher (Woodyatt 90), Ruscoe (Whitehall 81), Woods, M.Beesley
(Haarhoff 75). Subs not used: Berry Wright.
Referee: D.Spicer (Totten).
improved their rather previous unimpressive away record on
Saturday with a convincing away win at lowly Hayes.
At first glance the small Church Road ground
is a shock to the system as the reality of being in the Conference
hits home, add a biting cold wind and threatening snow showers
and you have a true test of the supporters loyalty and eagerness!!
In truth this was a poor game with Chester
not really having to move through the gears to win the game,
as Hayes looked a relegation threatened side. Graham Barrow
rested a couple of players by leaving them on the bench,
choosing to pack the midfield and again using Mattie Woods
as the target man.
Playing with a strong wind Chester dominated
the first half, with Paul Beesley and Scott Ruscoe going
close with headers. The best chance though fell to Mattie
Woods who headed straight at Gothard when clean through.
It came as no surprise when City took the lead on 38 minutes
through Mark Beesley following a cross by the impressive
But Chester being Chester, they sat back
at the start of the second half and let the opposition back
into the game. However it still came as some sort of surprise
when Hayes equalised through the veteran striker Jimmmy Quinn.
and the signs were ominous. However not to worry,as Hayes
committed suicide at the back as keeper Gothard got himself
in a tangle over a simple back pass and wrestled young Mark
Beesley to the ground, as he was about to score. Gothard
was sent off, and Beesley scored from the spot passed the
stand in keeper Hodson.
Incredibly, Hodson then conceded another
penalty by bringing down Woods as he tried to round him.
Hodson was booked (the correct decision) and Woods continued
his fine scoring record (!) as he made it 3-1. Barrow then
threw on Whitehall and Haarhoff, who presumably had been
rested with the Trophy game in mind next week and as the
part timers of Hayes visibly tired playing with 10 men Chester
created a few half chances.
In conclusion, a good confidence boosting
result for City, with the now more relevant cup competitions
in mind. Barrow has rotated the players very well in the
last few games.
PS. We have scored five penalties in the
Conference this season, all from different players. Is this
some sort of record?