30 March 2004
Telford United 0 Chester City
Attendance: 3,503 Half Time 0-0
Telford United: Taylor, Clarke, Ricketts (Rushbury
86), Howarth, Whitehead, Uddin (Rowe 83), Stanley, Blackwood, Lavery, Moore
(Green 71), Grant. Subs not used: Mackenzie, Mills.
Chester City: Woods, Smith (Twiss 46), Heard, Bolland,
Guyett, McIntyre, Collins, Carey, Clare, Stamp (Davies 90), Carden. Subs
not used: Rapley, Lane, Elam.
Referee: N.Swarbrick (Preston).
was never going to be a night for those with a nervous
disposition as Chester aimed to retain top spot in
the Conference by getting at least a point against
crisis-hit Telford United.
And the Blues players and supporters
certainly proved to have nerves of steel waiting
a tense 76 minutes for the first goal, before Chester
scored another to grind out a 2-0 victory against their
spirited Shropshire opponents.
The teams had already waited an extra
seven minutes for the game to start, delayed by crowd
congestion as 1,400+ Chester fans crammed into the
away end, helping swell the attendance to 3,503 the
Bucks highest league figure so far this season.
The Chester line-up featured goalkeeper
Andy Woods, a recent signing from bottom-of-the-table
Northwich Victoria, making his first appearance. He
was called into action to make a good save almost from
the off, with his confident start putting some nervy
minds at rest.
Jamie Heard then had his brightest
moment of the first half when his long-range effort
was tipped onto the crossbar by Telford keeper
Martin Taylor. Heard had an otherwise disappointing
first half needing to be bailed out by his colleagues
on several occasions when Telford were at their most
But Chester, cheered on by one of
the most passionate followings Ive witnessed
during their spell in the Conference, still had most
of the ball in the first 45 minutes. Daryl Clare was
a little anonymous until the 23rd minute when he put
the ball in the net, only for it to be declared offside.
The Telford fans responded by taunting
Deadly Daryl. Will away supporters ever learn? The
Chester faithful know it only spurs him into action,
making him more determined to prove them wrong even
if he had to wait a while to do it.
The Chester players and supporters
were wound up even further when Telfords Matthew
Clarke clattered heavily into Kevin McIntyre on the
touchline. Clarke was lucky to get away with a yellow
While Heard did not have one of his
better first halves, Phil Bolland was crucial in making
sure the Blues defence was never breached. He
made a vital, stretching, tackle towards the end of
the half looking liked hed tweaked his
hamstring in the process.
But when Chester ran out onto the
patchy Telford pitch for the second half, Bolland was
still in place. Instead, manager Mark Wright had swapped
Alex Smith for Michael Twiss.
Wrights decision was spot-on,
as the Telford defenders continually backed off as
Twiss repeatedly ran at them. Within a few minutes
of the re-start, hed made his presence felt with
a powerful run and a shot into the side netting.
Chesters other midfielders
were soon following his example, with Shaun Carey and
Paul Carden making challenging runs forward. Even Bolland
found himself well placed for a one-on-one with the keeper
- just needing a simple-looking pass from Clare. Bolland
missed his moment of glory when the pass didn't quite
During one of Careys forays
forward, he was jostled in the box by Telfords
Craig Stanley. The referee had no hesitation in blowing
for a penalty and Clare held his nerve, slotting the
ball home in front of the overjoyed away end.
Clarke was one of several Bucks players
who surrounded the ref to complain about his decision.
The result was a red card for Clarke for a second bookable
offence and within the space of a few seconds, poor
Telford were a goal down and reduced to 10 men.
But the Bucks, who are facing an
off-the-field battle for survival, did not just lay
down and die. They had a couple more attempts on goal,
but Woods made some more confident clearances.
Chester then caught them on the break
when the ball fell to Heard. He ran the length of half
the field, riding a Telford challenge, before making
a perfect cross to unmarked Clare on the far post.
It was all so simple for him to head the ball home
and Chester were 2-0 up with 90 minutes gone.
The final whistle came soon after and
there was yet another opportunity for the Chester crowd
to go wild. With so many reasons for Blues fans
to jump-up-and-down for joy there had to be a handful
of casualties. Someone standing near me lost their
mobile phone and did I really hear the Telford announcer
say ten sets of keys had been found in the Chester
So, Chester are sitting pretty at
the top of the league and it feels great! But spare
a thought and some cash for the Bucks plight it's
not so long since we were in the same position. Their
fans have raised more than £17,000 in less than
a week, but their battle will probably be continuing
while were enjoying our summer break.
20 March 2004
Barnet 0 Chester City 0
Attendance: 2,455 Half Time 0-0
Booked: Smith, Bolland, McIntyre.
Barnet: Bankole, Hendon, Redmile, King, Maddix, Yakabu
(Williams 82), Gamble, Strevens, Clist, Grazioli, Hatch. Subs not
used: Plummer, Taggart, Gore, Pearson.
Chester City: Turner, Bolland, Guyett, Smith (Twiss
61), Heard (Lane 24), Williams, McIntyre, Collins, Clare (Rapley 89), Carden,
Stamp. Subs not used: Davies, Woods.
Referee: J. Singh (Hounslow).
was only going to be one winner at Underhill – the
storm-force winds, which killed this game as a spectacle
and left both teams virtually unable to create any
real chances all afternoon.
Neither Chester’s Daryl Clare
nor Barnet’s Giuliano Grazioli, rivals for the
Conference’s annual Golden Boot award, could
work any magic to shift the game away from a 0-0 scoreline.
Both strikers simply didn't have a decent shot on target
all afternoon. The nearest the Blues came to claiming
the three points was just before the end of the first
half when Darryn Stamp neatly collected a high ball
and thwacked it home past Barnet’s on-loan ‘keeper,
There was a second or two before
the linesman’s flag was raised – when Stamp
was declared offside and the goal disallowed. Until
then, the biggest drama of the game had been when Jamie
Heard was left with a badly bleeding and swollen knee
after a ‘studs-up’ challenge by the Bees’ Ismail
Yakabu. Somehow referee Jarmail Singh, who booked three
Chester players during the course of the game, missed
Heard battled on for a few minutes,
but had to be substituted on the 24th minute by Chris
Lane, on-loan from Leigh RMI. He proved to be a confident
replacement, with the only real first half threat on
the Chester goal coming on the 40th minute when a Yakabu
shot when just past the post – closely watched
by ‘keeper Iain Turner. The second half was much
the same story.
Chester seemed particularly guilty
of over-hitting the ball when it was obvious that the
merest of touches would send it into orbit, with captain
Paul Carden failing to show the others how to pass
the ball in the appalling conditions. Managerless Barnet’s
best chance of the game came when the Blues’ defence
failed to close down on Liam Hatch, but his shot was
well held by Turner.
The nearest Grazioli came to scoring
all afternoon was a few minutes beforehand when his
attempt went wide of the post. Mark Wright tried to
turn the game by substituting Alex Smith, much to his
annoyance, for Michael Twiss on the 61st minute. Twiss
showed his quality on a couple of occasions when he
took on, and beat, a number of Bees’ defenders.
But like everyone else’s shots, his goal attempts
never seriously looked like threatening the target.
Towards the end of the game, the
500+ travelling Chester fans were hoping for the last-minute
winner that the Blues have become so fond of in recent
games. There was much encouragement for a Kevin McIntyre
corner on the 80th minute, but it came to nothing.
There was some muted Barnet pressure in the last five
minutes, but when the fourth official’s board
showed three minutes of stoppage time I can’t
have been the only one thinking no one would have scored
even if there’d been thirty three extra minutes.
At least when the referee’s
whistle did come, there was some relief that the Blues
had notched up one more point in their bid for the
Conference championship. But it was not a point to
13 March 2004
Chester City 2 Morecambe 1
Attendance: 3,512 Half Time 0-0
Chester City: Turner, Bolland, Guyett, Smith, Heard,
Carden, Williams (Davies 79), McIntyre, Collins, Clare, Stamp. Subs not
used: Rapley, Carey, Lane, Twiss.
Morecambe: Dunbavin, Murphy, Bentley, McKearney,
Drummond, Howell (Hunter 62), Blackburn, Perkins, Walmsley, Carlton (Rogan
79), Sugden (Curtis79). Subs not used: Garnett, Swan.
Referee: D.Drysdale (Lincoln).
continued their push for a return to the Football League with this
win over Morecambe that completed the double over the Lancashire
side. Second half goals from Alex Smith and Daryl Clare ensured that
City’s five point lead over Hereford United was maintained
as The Bulls defeated Accrington Stanley 1-0 at Edgar Street to keep
up the chase.
The game started brightly with the
visitors testing City ‘keeper Iain Turner as
early as the third minute as Danny Carlton tested shot
from 18 yards out. Minutes later and City were down
the other end with Scott Guyett forcing a save from
Dunbavin in the Shrimps’ goal following a Danny
Williams free-kick. Clare tried his luck with a snap
shot on ten minutes and Guyett and Bolland were also
forced into long range efforts as most of City’s
crosses were being dealt with by visiting defender
Darryn Stamp was inches away from
giving City the lead on 25 minutes and he just couldn’t
stretch enough to meet Clare’s cross. Five minutes
Clare himself appeared to have opened the scoring only
to have his close range effort ruled out buy the linesman’s
flag for offside.
The Blues weren’t having it
all their own way though, and Turner was again called
into action saving well from Bentley for a corner.
From the resulting kick ex-Blue Sugden headed over
from a knock-back when well placed to open the scoring.
The last chance of the half fell to Scott Guyett who
headed wide from a Jamie Heard cross.
City didn’t have to wait long
after the break for the opening to come, less than
20 seconds in fact as Alex Smith drilled the ball home
following a fine move involving Heard, Clare and Stamp
in the build-up.
Ten minutes later Clare had another
goal disallowed. The striker appeared to be fouled
by Bentley but recovered to shoot past Dunbavin. The
referee signaled a goal but once again the linesman’s
flag intervened to rule out the goal, apparently for
Turner came to City’s rescue
mid-way through the half saving a one-on-one as Sugden
bared down on goal. The young keeper repeated the feat
later before Clare netted the second and decisive goal
ten minutes from time, Smith providing the through
ball this time for the striker to score his 23rd goal
of the season with a clinical finish.
A minute from time Stewart Drummond,
a player who Mark Wright has his eye on, scored a freak
goal for the Shrimps as his high cross into the wind
caught Turner off his line and sailed into the net.
Wednesday 10 March 2004
Chester City Reserves 1 Vauxhall
Motors Reserves 1
Lancashire League Division One
Chester City: Ryan
Brookfield, Chris Lane, Ian Lathom, John Davis, Lewis
Hamlin, Andy Harris, Ben Davies, Justin Jackson (Tommy
Leonard), Kevin Rapley, Michael Twiss (Matty Cook),
A diving header from Chris Lane
gave City a share of the points in this local derby played
at Flint Town United.
6 March 2004
Chester City 3 Burton Albion
Attendance: 3,318 Half Time 2-1
Chester City: Turner, Bolland, Guyett, Smith, Heard,
Carden, Williams (Carey 46), McIntyre, Collins, Clare, Stamp. Subs not
used: Rapley, Davies, Lane, Twiss.
Burton Albion: Duke, Wassall, Wright (Hoyle 75),
Shilton, McMahon, Webster, Ducros (Henshaw 71), Anderson (Corbett 61),
Howard, Dudley, Talbot. Subs not used: Robinson, Clough.
Referee: S.Bratt (Walsall).
Wright should be sharing his Manager of the Month champagne with
at least two others following an entertaining victory against Burton
Albion – namely man-of-the match Kevin McIntyre and two-goal
hero Daryl Clare.
They helped ensure the monthly award
didn’t turn into the traditional banana skin
and consolidated Chester’s lead at the top of
the Nationwide Conference.
But it was nearly a different story
seven minutes into the game when a backpass blunder
involving defender Phil Bolland and goalkeeper Iain
Turner allowed the Brewers’ Robbie Talbot to
cooly lob the ball into the back of the net.
Until then the action had all been
in the other half, with Darryn Stamp missing the first
of a couple of good heading opportunities in the opening
minutes. His first chance went over the bar from a
few yards out, and his second, following an excellent
McIntyre cross, struck the crossbar.
Following Burton’s goal, McIntyre
than had a chance to score himself, with a strong shot
from the edge of the area, forcing a good save from
Burton ‘keeper Matt Duke. The Blues continued
to pile on the pressure and Macca was at the heart
of it again when his telling cross gave Clare the opportunity
to do what he does best – score with deadly accuracy
from a few yards out. As if we needed reminding how
he earned his nickname!
Midfielder Alex Smith was also having
one of his better games and it was soon his turn to
be goal provider, when his cross found Scott Guyett,
still in the box following a corner. He neatly headed
the ball home to put Chester into a deserved lead on
The pace slowed down during the first
half’s final ten minutes. Danny Williams looked
to have suffered an injury towards the end of the half,
and when the teams ran out after the interval he’d
been replaced by Shaun Carey. The other obvious change
was that goalkeeper Turner had swapped his yellow shirt,
which had almost matched Burton’s strip, with
a green (ex-Ian McCaldon) shirt.
Burton had the first real chance
to score in the second half when they won a free kick
on the edge of the area. But Aaron Webster’s
shot, closely watched by Turner, sailed just over the
Turner did make a bit of a nervy
start to the game, but he grew in confidence – winning
a couple of vital crosses and making a good save not
long after Webster’s strike. However, his clearances
still need to be much more assured before Chester take
on more intimidating opposition.
Substitute Carey looked determined
to prove a point in both midfield and attack. He had
one thunderous shot which would have matched Michael
Twiss’s wonder strike at Woking last week – but
the ball went just over.
Smith also had a lively second half.
He found himself in two excellent goal scoring positions
- just waiting for well-timed passes from Clare. But
they never came and Clare squandered the chances himself.
The 250 travelling Burton fans then
started taunting Clare for apparently carrying a little
more weight than his strike partner. But he soon had
his own back on them when he collected the ball on
the edge of the box and slotted it home. It was another
trademark goal and a chance to show the Brewers’ faithful
how trim his figure really is!
Not even Chester could lose a
two-goal lead at this stage and Albion produced no fightback,
accepting defeat against a more accomplished team. As
the Brewers’ fans left the Deva Stadium, they must
have wondered if it was their final Conference visit
to Chester...I’m beginning to wonder it myself