Saturday 30 March 2003
Farnborough Town 1 Chester City
Attendance: 1,050 Half Time 1-1
Farnborough Town: Pennock,
C.Piper, Annon, Rodwell, Taggart, Patterson (Green
72), L.Piper, Butterworth, Vansittart, Baptiste (Charlery
81), Lee. Subs not used: Osborn, Potter, Harkness.
Chester City: W.Brown, Davies, Guyett, Carden, Bolland, McIntyre,
Ruffer (Carey 84), Collins, Kelly, Beesley (Twiss 89), Quayle (Cameron
78). Subs not used: Hatswell, Joy.
Referee: M.McCoy (Herne Bay).
started as it carried on for many Chester fans. On
the stroke of 11.30am we were anticipating being
let into the Prince of Wales pub for some much-needed
pre-match refreshment following dawn wake-up calls.
But the door was shut and no one thought to try to
open it until 11.40am. Shazam! It had been open all
along, but a ten minute wait is a long time when
you've been on the road for hours and the match is
due to kick off at 1pm.
Just three hours later, the same
patient Chester fans were waiting again – this
time for a winning goal to seal victory and a vital
three points against their spirited Farnborough Town
opponents. The goal, a clinically-taken penalty from
substitute Dave Cameron, finally came in the second
minute of injury time. This second late arrival was
worth waiting for all the more – as it leaves
the Blues sitting pretty in the play-off positions.
However, it was a jittery Chester
performance in the early stages of the opening half.
The Blues, missing injured Daryl Clare, dominated
the opening exchanges. But the 120 or so away fans
were rightly edgy on the ninth minute when Farnborough
were awarded a corner after Wayne Brown parried a
shot around the post.
The resultant corner fell to Boro
No 9, Joff Vansittart (a man with calves like thighs).
His six-yard strike somehow crossed the line, despite
a goalmouth scramble and desperate attempts by City
defenders to keep it out.
It was now down to Chester and
the striking partnership of Marks (Beesley and Quayle)
to spring an equaliser on Boro. Beesley demonstrated
an amazing work-rate as he endeavoured to prove his
worth to the team in the absence of Clare. But Quayle
seemed a little lightweight against solid Boro defenders
Jim Rodwell and Darren Annon.
Once again, there were a number
of Chester balls thumped almost aimlessly into the
air from defence towards attack. But, half-way through
the first period, it was Ben Davies who grabbed the
equaliser. A Boro clearance came out towards Davies,
through a scramble of players, and he was simply
the quickest to react.
The much-needed equaliser had come,
but Chester couldn’t afford to sit back. Boro
continued to battle on – with Danny Collins
putting in another almost faultless performance to
tame the threatening Vansittart. Wayne Brown was
also called into action to save a 30-yard strike
from Rocky Baptiste, who had scored against Arsenal
in the FA Cup just two months ago.
The half-time interval passed quickly
as we were entertained by a full 11-a-side boys’ game – reds
v yellows. The Chester contingent cheered on the
yellows to an easy victory (was it four goals?).
If only it could be that easy for our fully-grown
The second half continued the same
pattern. Chester were sometimes creative – with
the midfield ‘spiced-up’ by Carl Ruffer.
But other times it was back to the long-ball tactics.
Before long the Chester fans were calling for Mark
Wright to make a change – be it the introduction
of Michael Twiss or Cameron. It was Big Dave who
eventually came on as Chester’s first sub,
when he replaced Quayle in the 78th minute.
When Farnborough responded by bringing
on Ken Charlery a few minutes later, my heart sank.
Charley has track record of finding the net against
us. But the Chester defenders continued to be undaunted.
Paul Carden had another brave run from defence into
attack and Collins continued to be in the right place
at the right time. At one stage he made a sublime
turn on the ball – one of the best moves you'll
see a Conference defender make all season.
Ruffer was replaced by Sean Carey
on the 84th minute. But still the goal wouldn’t
come, despite Beesley tirelessly demonstrating how
to win the ball and make chances. When he went off
on the 89th minute, to be replaced by Twiss, he ran
off to a well-deserved round of applause.
However, the game wasn’t
over. Chester weren’t settling for a draw,
and won a free kick on the edge of the area. Ben
Davis’ hearty strike zoomed towards the top
of the Boro wall. A hand came out and hit the ball.
The referee blew, and awarded the penalty.
There was no doubt about
who was taking it. Big Dave grabbed hold of the
ball and firmly placed it on the spot. His penalty
strike matched his confident air and the ball was
slotted home to keeper Tony Pennock’s left-hand
side. The much-awaited winner had finally arrived!
Now there was just a minute of injury time to wait
before the referee blew again – this time
for full-time. With three points secure, surely
the next waiting game to be played by Chester is
to see which side we’ll face in the play-off’s.
Wednesday 27th March 2003
Chester City Reserves 3 Chorley
Lancashire League Division
Chester City: Jon Worsnop, Tom Coulson, Ian Lathom, Chris Blackburn,
John Davies, Michael Simpson, Adam Kelly (Adam Hunter), Ryan Sugden, Dean
Buckley, Danny Byrne, Lee Reece.
City’s goals scored by Ryan Sugden, Dean Buckley and Danny Byrne.
22 March 2003
Chester City 2 Southport 0
Attendance: 2,292 Half Time 0-0
Chester City: W.Brown, Guyett,
Ruffer, Collins, McIntyre, Kelly Carden, Davies, Twiss (Carey 45),
Beesley (Quayle 45), Clare. Subs not used: Woodyatt, Hatswell,
late goals of contrasting qualities saw City battle to take three
precious points in a disappointing match that test the patience of
the home fans.
Southport: Dickinson, Davies, B.Jones, Moore, Lane, Mulvaney,
S.Jones, McGuire, Howell, Ashcroft, Pell (Soley 62), Subs not used: Welsby,
Clark, Scott, Charnock.
Referee: Alan Green (Leicester)
Boosted by their victory against Doncaster earlier
in the week, it would have been realistic to expect more from the
home side against a team who have been in free fall for much of
The early signs were however promising. For first
half hour Chester took the game to Southport with Carden and Twiss
in midfield given plenty of space to feed Clare and Beesley who
made a welcome start for this game. A flurry of early Chester corners
followed hit in from both flanks and this alone was enough to believe
that a bag full of goals would follow.
On the quarter hour, Twiss’ richoted shot
from the edge of the area cannoned off the foot of the post. The
ball landed kindly in the path of Beesley but, with what proved
to be the best chance of the half, his shot was driven wide.
At the other end of the pitch, there was little
cause for concern. Southport playing with just two up front were
little match for City’s defence. On rare attacks, Guyett
or Ruffer dealt with what was offered without fuss or bother. Collins
likewise was looking equally comfortable showing a self-assuredness
and time on the ball that suggests he has an important future ahead
with the club.
Had an early goal come it would have no doubt
calmed Blue’s nerves but worryingly but it never came. Chester,
frustrated by their inability to penetrate, lost possession too
readily with sloppy passing and aimless high balls. Clare was working
hard but with little service where it mattered, and Beesley, who
had seemed to lose heart from his earlier miss, disappointed and
must regret not taking his starting chance.
As the game entered the last fifteen minutes Southport gathered confidence
looked the more likely to score. Guyett coaxed into believing it was
becoming too easy was left for dead with a quick turn of space allowing
a decent chance which Brown did well to hold to his left. Moments later
a second opportunity went begging when a ball cut in from the left fell
to the wrong foot of a Southport attacker and his ungainly pirouette
sliced the ball high over the bar.
It was surely going to get better in the second
half and for a moment it was. Beesley and Twiss were replaced by
Quayle and Carey as Chester began purposefully attacking the home
end. Quayle had an early half chance when McIntyre’s cross
landed at his feet but was crowded out before he could control
properly and Kelly narrowed failed to connect with his head as
Davis whipped the bar in from the right.
But as was pattern for the first half, the second
soon degenerated into similar. Southport remained content to pack
the back with their own players who refused to lie down and Chester
had neither the imagination or will to break down what to be fair
was an ordinary side.
As in the Doncaster game there was not the one
player who could produce something really special. Too often we
saw Chester break forward but lose the initiative choosing to take
the easier alternative passing the ball sideways or back until
Southport had re-grouped and the threat was gone.
But as the game began to drift towards a goalless
conclusion a rare moment of good fortune arrived. Southport conceded
a free kick thirty yards out after Davis was shoulder charged unfairly.
McIntyre’s shot cum cross took a wicked deflection off the
head of Lane, and flew at speed past the hapless keeper Dickinson
who was given no chance. Huge relief around the stadium – the
flags went up and there was visible relief all around as Chester
were on their way to an undeserved victory.
But the best was yet to follow. With five minutes
left, and as legs tired and spaces appeared, Carden who saves his
best for Southport, took the ball from inside the ‘D’ skipped
past three defenders with a splendid ran unchecked into the box
planted a firm strike for our second. It will probably be the best
goal he’ll ever score and one deserving of a far better game
At 2-0 the game was over. Southport can count
themselves unlucky to concede a soft first, but for City, this
was an important victory and as other Conference results went largely
in our favour, it looks likely that come early May, we’ll
be in the play offs.
Chester by this time will need to have hit far
better form, but with six points earned inside the week there must
be a huge feeling of satisfaction and relief from everyone attached
to the club.
Saturday 22 March 2003
Ossett Town Reserves 1 Chester City
Lancashire League Division One
Chester City: Jon Worsnop, Adam Hunter, Ian Lathom, Tom Coulson, Matt
Cook, Chris Blackburn, Adam Kelly, Michael Simpson, Dean Buckley (Tom Leonard),
Danny Ventre, Lee Reece (Tony McLaughlin).
An away win for City thanks to goals from Chris Blackburn and
Monday 17 March 2003
Chester City Youth 2 Doncaster Rovers Youth
Youth Merit League Division Two North
Chester City: Louie Macken, Tom Coulson (Adam Hunter), John Davies,
Paul Connolly, Adam Kelly (Tom Leonard), Danny Ventre (Danny L Ventre),
Mike Simpson, Matt Cook, Ian Lathom, Dean Buckley, Lee Reece.
The youth team won 2-0 at home to Doncaster Rovers on Monday afternoon
with a goal in each half from Dean Buckley.
17 March 2003
Chester City 1 Doncaster Rovers 0
Attendance: 2,928 Half Time 0-0
Booked: McIntyre, Clare, Kelly.
Chester City: W.Brown, Guyett,
Ruffer, Collins, McIntyre, Carden, Kelly (Carey 86), Davies, Woodyatt
(Twiss 50), Clare, Quayle (Cameron 59). Subs not used: Hatswell,
Doncaster Rovers: Warrington, Morley, Albrighton, Foster, Beech,
Blunt, Green, Ravenhill, Tierney (Owen 57), Barnes, Gill (Marples 49).
Subs not used: Nelson, Whitman, Goodman.
Referee: Jarnail Singh (Hounslow).
suppose this was never going to be a classic, fifth versus second
with a play-off place to contend with had all the hallmarking’s
of a cagey defensive encounter, and that’s what we got. Substitute
Michael Twiss’ second half strike was just enough to beat
off nine man Doncaster Rovers and secure City’s first ever
win in a live televised game, and with it those three vital points
in their quest for a play-off place.
Manager Mark Wright opted with Daryl Clare and
Mark Quayle up front, Dave Cameron who returned from a loan spell
at Telford in the week began the game on the bench. Ben Davies
made a welcome return from injury but there was no place in the
squad for Ryan Sugden.
The game was a niggly encounter from the start
with tackles flying in from all quarters, three of City’s
players, Kevin McIntyre, Paul Carden and Jimmy Kelly are ex-Donny
and they were in the thick of the action all night.
It was the visitors though, backed by a large
following, who made the brighter start, closing down on City players
quickly and Danny Collins had to be quick to break down a dangerous
move involving Paul Barnes and Tierney after just five minutes.
Minutes later Tierney was through again chasing Scott Guyett’s
under-hit backpass but Wayne Brown read the situation well and
raced out to clear just in time.
Kevin McIntyre found himself in the referee’s
notebook after a late tackle on Jason Blunt as both sides fought
for control. It was fully 25 minutes before the Blues threatened
the Rovers goal. Mark Albrighton was adjudged to have pushed Clare
and the striker saw his shot deflected for a corner from the resulting
free-kick. Minutes later City’s only other effort on target
in the half again fell to Clare who failed to connect properly
with a header from a McIntyre corner.
Minutes later at the other end Collins was in
just the right place to clear from the six yard line after Wayne
Brown had failed to gather a left wing cross from dangerman Tierney.
David Morley found himself in the book on 35
minutes and ten minutes later he was dismissed after a mistimed
tackle on Kevin McIntyre gave referee Singh no real choice but
to deliver a second yellow as half-time beckoned.
Soon after the break the visitors were reduced
to nine men when Jason Blunt received his second yellow card following
a challenge on Clare. Ben Davies took the resulting free-kick short
to Clare who saw his shot saved by Warrington in the visitors goal.
Mark Wright decided to change things bringing on Michael Twiss
at the expense of Lee Woodyatt and soon after Dave Cameron joined
the fray replacing Mark Quayle.
On 61 minutes the two substitutes combined well
to create the games only goal. Danny Collins, having another solid
defensive display, won the ball in the middle and played it forward
to Cameron. The big striker, back to goal, shielded the ball from
a defender behind him before laying it off perfectly for the on-running
Twiss to sweep it home left footed under the advancing keeper.
The celebrations by up to 30 Exiles 200 miles away in the ‘Famous
Three Kings’ were all the better for the appearance minutes
before of two free pitchers of Guinness courtesy of the landlord
Clare almost added a second after cutting in
from the right only to see his curling shot well saved, and Twiss
had the ball in the net again soon after but was just adjudged
offside. But, despite a two man advantage City still made hard
weather of trying to break down a resilient Doncaster side, defending
far too deep at times.
The visitors introduced the experienced striker
Don Goodman with ten minutes remaining and his presence lifted
both the team and away crowd. He almost made it a dream debut seconds
later with a classic diving header from a Gary Owen free kick that
Brown saved just under the bar. Five minutes later Goodman was
again in the action flicking on for Chris Beech to steer the ball
just wide of Brown’s left post.
There was more drama in the dying seconds with
Mark Wright being sent to the stands following an altercation with
Beech as the player tried to retrieve the ball in front of the
dugouts, and in injury time Daryl Clare thought he had added a
second after he headed home following a pin-point McIntyre centre
only to have his celebrations cut short by the assistant referee’s
Saturday 15th March 2003
Burnley Youth 0 Chester City Youth 2
Youth Merit League Division Two North
Chester City: Louie Macken, Tom Coulson,
John Davies, Paul Connolly, Adam Kelly, Danny Ventre, Mike Simpson,
Matt Cook, Ian Lathom, Dean Buckley, Lee Reece.
The youth team won 2-0 away at Burnley on
Saturday. They took the lead early in the second half through Dean
Buckley. The win was secured ten minutes from time when Matt Cook
punished Burnley for failing to clear following a corner.
Wednesday 12th March 2003
Chester City Reserves 4 Bamber Bridge Reserves
Lancashire League Division One
Chester City: Jon Worsnop, Tom Coulson, Ian Lathom, Ben Davies, Phil
Bolland, Chris Blackburn, Jon Brady, Andy Corbett, Ryan Sugden (Danny Byrne),
Mark Beesley, Michael Twiss.
Wednesday 12th March 2003
Chester City Youth 2 Carlisle United Youth 1
Youth Merit League Division Two North
Chester City: Louie Macken, Paul Connolly, John Davies, Ian Lathom,
Adam Hunter, Danny Ventre, Mike Simpson, Matt Cook, Adam Kelly, Dean Buckley,
Lee Reece (Danny.L.Ventre).
The youth team won 2-1 at home to Carlisle on Wednesday in a evenly contested
game. They took a tenth minute lead through Mike Simpson with Carlisle
equalising on 80 minutes. Dean Buckley headed home the winner two minutes
from time to give Chester the win.
8 March 2003
Burton Albion 2 Chester City 0
Attendance: 2,183 Half Time 1-0
Burton Albion: Duke, Blount,
Reddington, Hoyle (Petty 80), Webster, Dudley, Stride, Howard,
Sinton, Moore, Ducros (Clough 76), Subs not used: Farrell,
Chester City: W.Brown, Woodyatt (Beesley 72), Ruffer, Bolland,
Collins, McIntyre, Carden, Kelly, Twiss (Brady 71), Clare, Quayle (Sugden
62). Subs not used: Carey, Blackburn.
Referee: D.Birkett (Gainsborough).
many people were expecting this result at the start of the
day. City, with the best away record in the Conference losing
to Burton Albion – a side who had notched just two home
wins to their name all season. But lose they did and to two
quality strikes from The Brewers.
Manager Mark Wright was forced into making
changes with Scott Guyett missing having picked up an ankle
injury against Halifax Town and Wayne Hatswell serving a one
match ban. Carl Ruffer returned to the defence alongside Phil
Bolland and Danny Collins. In midfield, Wright recalled Jimmy
Kelly from suspension to replace Shaun Carey who was demoted
to the bench.
The home side were on the attack from the
off, not allowing City to settle in the windy conditions, and
swept into the lead on seven minutes. Andy Ducros exchanged
a one-two with Christian Moore on the edge of the box before
unleashing an unstoppable shot that left Wayne Brown clutching
thin air in front of a large away following.
Lee Woodyatt came close to putting Daryl
Clare through on goal but his through ball into the wind was
over hit and dealt with by the onrushing Matt Duke in the home
The Blues were struggling to get a grip,
a deflected Kelly free-kick their only threat on goal, whilst
at the other end Wayne Brown had to be alert to deny Jon Howard
from close range. When City did venture upfield they were thwarted
by the wind as Kevin McIntyre frustratingly sent a corner from
each side directly behind for a goal kick.
Six minutes before the break City missed
a golden chance to equalise. Clare fed Michael Twiss on the
left who shook off a defender and sent in a pin-point cross
to Mark Quayle at the near post who lifted his shot over the
bar from six yards. And as the half was coming to a close Phil
Bolland saw a close range effort cleared from close range following
a scramble from a McIntyre flag kick.
Chester kicked towards their own fans following
the break and went close to equalising on 60 minutes. Duke
failed to hold a right wing cross and the ball fell to Quayle
on the edge of the box He lobbed the keeper bus saw his goalbound
attempt headed off the line from under the bar by Stuart Reddington
for a corner. That was the last of the action for Quayle who
was replaced by Ryan Sugden.
Eight minutes later and City conceded again.
Carl Ruffer was a adjudged to have fouled Ducos 25 yards out.
Up stepped the experienced Andy Sinton to curl the free-kick
ito the top corner, giving Brown, for the second time, no chance
in goal. Manager Wright immediately replaced Twiss and Lee
Woodyatt with Jon Brady and Mark Beesley.
City began to finally show some urgency and
forced a succession of corners, taken by Brady, but Duke was
hardly tested. When City did strike they were restricted to
long-range shots from Paul Carden and Daryl Clare as Albion
held on comfortably for theie first Saturday home win of the
1 March 2003
Chester City 2 Halifax Town 0
Attendance: 2,928 Half Time 1-0
Booked: Bolland, Hatswell, Woodyatt. Sent-off: Bolland.
Chester City: W.Brown, Collins, Guyett,
Bolland, McIntyre, Carey, Carden, Woodyatt, Twiss, Clare, Quayle (Hatswell
82). Subs not used: Blackburn, Beesley, Sugden, Brady.
Halifax Town: Butler, Asher, Quinn, Monington, Grayston, Midgley,
Clarkson (Parke 81), McAuley (Fitzpatrick 54), Senior, Quailey, Farrell.
Subs not used: Morgan, Heinemann, Herbert.
Referee: P.Canadine (Rotherham).
faltering in recent weeks, City got back to winning ways with a win over
in-form Halifax. An incident believed to be a suspect package
at the Royal Mail sorting office across the road led to the kick
off being delayed until 3.15. This was for many a nostalgic time to kick
off. Back in the Sealand Road days Chester were one of the few Football
League teams to kick off quarter of an hour after everyone else. Bury
were another if memory serves me right. Halifax were frequent visitors
in those times too so it was nice to be reacquainted with them after
their brief return to the League.
The incident may have led to nothing but the game exploded
into life when, after being penned back by the visitors, City swept decisively
forward. Quayle charged down an attempted clearance on the left wing,
fed the ball to Twiss who swept a first time pass across the edge of
the area for Clare to run on to and score. Crash. Bang. Wallop. City
Halifax had much of the play for the first half but
never tested Brown. The game was littered with free kicks for petty fouls.
Clare seemed more sinned against than sinning most of the time yet the
decisions went against him as defenders pushed and clambered all over
him. Then when Clare seemed to back into the centre half the free kick
was given in his favour. The referees unpredictability became predictable.
In an absorbing if messy contest Bolland was booked
for scything down Farrell. Roles were reversed shortly afterwards when
Farrell took retribution into his own hands (Or feet) and was yellow
carded for felling Bolland.
After the break the Shaymen pressed forward and their
large following stirred into life. But before they knew it they were
further behind. Again City caught them on the break. Clares shot
had them in trouble and the defence was still reeling when Woodyatts
cross was met by another first time effort from Clare. Butler parried
the shot but the ball sat up nicely for Quayle to open his account which
he did with great glee. (This was his second goal of the season in this
particular net but the first one was a winning goal for Nuneaton).
When City were last in this position (2-0 up at home
with half an hour to play) they had been hit by a Northwich Victoria
whirlwind. This time both sides were drenched by the real thing as the
heavens opened over the Deva. By the end of the game there was a surreal
scene as the sun broke through to dazzle the already drenched supporters
in the main stand. All this against the back drop of a thunderous sky,
the floodlights full on and a double rainbow to boot. Winter and spring
all rolled into the second half.
Halifax threatened to hit back. The closest they came
was when Farrell pounced on an uncharacteristic slip by Guyett only to
see his shot canon off a post across the face of the goal and out for
a goal kick. At the other end Twiss might have finished it off but Butler
Nothing it seemed would prevent City winning today not
even the dismissal of Bolland for tugging Parkes shirt. Chester
may have cause to regret his absence through suspension in the future
but today their supporters enjoyed basking in the afterglow of a rousing
home victory the first one of the year.