28 March 2005
City 2 Bury 1
Attendance: 3,107 Half Time 0-1
Chester City: MacKenzie, Regan (Edmondson 45),
Bolland, Hope, Nicholas, Drummond, Carden, Davies, Lowe
(Sestanovich 85), Foy, Branch. Subs not used: M.Brown,
Bury: Garner, Scott, Challinor, Barry-Murphy,
Shakes (Boshell 65), Flitcroft, Whaley, Mattis, Kennedy,
Porter, Kazim Richards. Subs not used: Collinge, Buchanan,
Referee: M.Messias (York).
was very thoughtful of Blues hero Graham Barrow to present
us with an Easter
gift of three much-needed points on his return to Chester.
New signing Ryan Lowe actually sealed
the points by scoring a brace of goals – but
even the most blinkered
Blues fan had to admit it was not a well-deserved victory.
City started with virtually the same team which earned
a draw at Mansfield, with the one exception of Carl
Regan replacing Darren Edmondson.
Once we’d got the formalities
over with in the shape of a rousing welcome for Barrow,
now the Bury manager,
as well as his sidekick Joe Hinningan, now Shakers’ physio, it was a decidedly
slow start to the match.
There was no real action until
the ninth minute when Bury won a free kick on the
edge of the area. As ex-City
midfielder David Flitcroft shaped up to take it, I
heard people mutter – “Don't
worry he never scored a free kick for us”. And
in a slick training ground move (or as a result of
defending), rather than
aiming for goal, the ball was passed to an unmarked
Bury player. He crossed the
ball, but the resultant shot went wide.
A minute or so later, the orange-booted
Colin Kazim-Richards found himself in space and took
a shot at goal. Chris
MacKenzie tipped the ball around the post and Bury
won a corner. Thankfully
this was wasted when the ball went over everyone’s
head and straight
out of play for a goal kick.
Just as the Chester fans were breathing
a sigh of relief, MacKenzie’s goal kick landed
right on the feet
of Mr Day-Glo boots and he skilfully volleyed the ball
straight back. The City
‘keeper was still off his line and the ball went
in the net in front
of the aghast home fans. MacKenzie’s blunder
must rank as one of the all-time goal-keeping
clangers I’ve seen at Deva Stadium.
Kazim-Richards was actually a thorn
in Chester’s side for the rest of the first half
and he was clearly running
Regan ragged. Chester simply didn’t threaten on goal
at all in the
first 45 minutes, apart from a couple of offsides,
and looked disjointed in
every area. They were rightly booed off the park by
a significant section
of the home crowd.
Regan was unsurprisingly replaced by Edmondson for
the second half, but the action had barely started
when play was halted for an accidental clash of heads
and Brian Barry-Murphy. Branch looked like he came
off the worst, but staggered
off the pitch and after close inspection by two doctors
was allowed to
continue. We later discovered that Barry-Murphy was
the one who really suffered,
as he lost part of his ear when the two collided.
Chester made a much brighter start
to the second half and their industry was rewarded
when Ryan Lowe, who
hadn’t contributed too much at that stage, beat
his marker and shot along
the ground from about 25 yards out. Bury ‘keeper Glyn
seemed to have
misjudged it, and the Blues went wild at Lowe’s
Soon after Barrow took off Bury’s
influential, and aptly-named, Ricky Shakes, replacing
him with Oldham
loanee Danny Boshell. But before long, Bury were punished
by Lowe again.
His 70th minute strike must have been one of the easiest
goals he’ll ever
score – a six yard tap-in when he was unmarked.
There followed a very edgy end to the game, as we
knew there would be a long stoppage time (in the end
it was five minutes) because of the Branch and Barry-Murphy
Ian Rush took Lowe off on the 84th minute, to a standing
ovation from the main stand. Soon afterwards he was
rightly named as man-of-the-match.
Lowe was replaced by Ashley Sestanovich,
but he didn’t really make any impact in the closing
were a couple of bookings as the game drew to a close
– one for either
side. Premiership referee Matt Messias was actually
one of the better
officials I’ve seen at the Deva – I hope he visits
When Mr Messias blew the final whistle
there was a real sense of relief from the Chester fans
as we moved
closer to ensuring League Two survival. Thanks for
the three points, Graham – I
always said you were a generous man!
Mansfield Town 0 Chester
Attendance: 3,437 Half Time 0-0
Booked: Lowe, Hope, Edmondson, Drummond.
Mansfield Town: Pilkington, McNiven, Baptiste, Buxton, Neil,
Rundle (Dimech 82), McLachlan, Coke, Lloyd, Brown, Barker. Subs: White, McIntosh,
Chester City: MacKenzie, Edmondson (Regan 54), Bolland,
Hope, Nicholas, Drummond, Carden, Davies, Lowe, Branch, Foy. Subs: Hessey,
Referee: D.Drysdale (Lincolnshire).
It was time to renew acquintances with yet another old
friend and remind ourselves that we’d far rather
be playing Mansfield Town than Farnborough Town next season.
And this was yet another old friend who seemed to
have moved house since we last visited. The Field Mill
of 2005 is almost unrecognisable from the ground Chester
last played at back in 1999.
The original main stand bought, rather
bizarrely, from the former Hurst Park racecourse in
no more. It’s been replaced with an impressive new
two-tier stand, flanked by two
big all-seater stands behind each goal. All that reminded
us of our last
visit was the small wooden stand in front of the dugouts,
but these days this
only seemed to be occupied by the press.
one-off kit, all-maroon, with sky blue trim – specially
made because our first
and second kits
were deemed to clash with the Stags’ yellow
shirts and royal
– added to the general feeling of unfamiliarity. Ryan
his debut for City, also gave the 314 travelling Blues
fans another new
thing to think about.
Lowe, wearing number 10, actually
made a promising first appearance. But he wasn’t the
only City player
to give a reasonable account of themselves, earning
the Blues a much-needed away
The first half wasn’t the most entertaining
of duels. Mansfield shaded the possession and Scott
an excellent save off Chris MacKenzie, who had to dive
to the right-hand
corner of his goal to prevent the home team going ahead.
The Stags also won several free kicks,
but squandered all of them without really threatening
Mansfield did make a couple of good runs down the left-hand
Adam Rundle proving a handful. But the Blues’ defence
could just about contain
the on-rushing Stags’ midfielders.
The closest we got to a goal in the first half came
when a close-rangeMansfield strike seemed to be heading
straight for goal, only for Phil Bolland to clear it
off the line.
Chester had couple of shots on target
as lively Robbie Foy and Ryan Lowe both stepped up
a gear towards the
end of the first half. But Stags’ goalkeeper Kevin
Pilkington had the
measure of a good shot by Foy a few minutes from the
interval. Lowe also
had a stab just before the break, but his shot when
wide of the goal.
During the second half break I pondered
about correcting the handful of Chester fans who’d
been shouting anti-Yorkshire
chants at the Mansfield fans. But it wasn’t the worst
the Stags fans heard that night, so I decided against
The ‘maroons’ seemed
to delay running out for the second half for a good
few minutes – was
this a ‘mind
game’ tactic by
Ian Rush? Or were the players enjoying their Yorkshire,
tea too much?
But it was Mansfield who made the first impression
in the second half when Alex Neil, another tricky player,
rode a couple of challenges and ran towards the box.
But his shot was
a weak one and MacKenzie had no trouble dealing with
Soon after the Stags were running
rampant again – this time from the middle of the park.
But Chester captain Paul Carden, who had
a solid display on his return from suspension, put
in a telling tackle just at the right time.
Darren Edmondson, who’d had a so-so
performance and was one of four bookings made by the
was replaced by Carl Regan on the 54th minute. Soon
after came the fourth
booking for Chester, when Stuart Drummond was deemed
guilty of dissent and
the ball was moved forward 10 yards ready for the Stags
to have yet another
wasted free kick.
Chester started looking brighter
and soon had the best scoring chance of the night when
Lowe found himself
in a one-on-one with Pilkington. His shot span under
the ‘keeper and was
trickling agonisingly towards the line in front of
the away fans, when Pilkington
scrambled back and grabbed it before it could cross
It was a much more entertaining second half, and Chester
had another crack at goal when Michael Branch, who
looked lively all evening, laid on a well-timed pass
shot went wide.
By now the Stags also had two bookings to their name,
and they were beginning to look tired. Carlton Palmer
replaced Rundle with long-haired, Maltese-born, Luke
Dimech on the
82nd minute. Mansfield were looking happy for a point
Chester won a corner near the end,
which found Drummond’s head, but Pilkington had no trouble
making a save.
Mansfield also had a corner at the death, but MacKenzie
had no problem dealing with it.
The City nerves were jangling during the couple of
minutes of added time, but both sides settled for a
draw. It was good to see so many Chester players give
the travelling fans a
long round of applause after the final whistle. If
continue to play
with the same spirit, we should see a few more rounds
League Two Table
19 March 2005
Chester City 3
Notts County 2
Attendance: 2,324 Half Time 1-1
Chester City: MacKenzie, Edmondson, Hope, Bolland, Nicholas,
Davies, Drummond, Sestanovich (Booth 88), M.Brown, Foy (O’Neil 88),
Branch. Subs: W.Brown, Regan, Hessey.
Notts County: Elliot, Friars, Wilson,
Ullathorne, Pipe, McFaul (Zadkovich 71), Oakes, Gill,
Bolland (Harrad 66), Stallard, Hurst. Subs: Dryden,
Referee: G.Salisbury (Lancashire).
City eased their relegation fears slightly with this much needed win over
Notts County at Deva Stadium.
Manager Ian Rush made changes from the side that lost at
Wycombe last Saturday. Goalkeeper Chris MacKenzie replaced Wayne Brown who
dropped to the bench.
Ashley Sestanovich came in for the suspended Paul Carden and on-loan defender
Andy Nicholas replaced Sean Hessey.
The Magpies had the better of the opening exchanges. Matthew Gill tested
MacKenzie from outside the box in the first minute, while Stefan Oakes shot
over from a similar position soon after.
It was Sestanovich who registered City’s first effort
on goal but his 25-yarder was caught by youngster Robert Elliot in the visitors
On the quarter hour mark Stewart Drummond connected with a Ben Davies corner
only to see
his header from close range flash wide.
Midway through the half the Magpies opened the scoring
as Glynn Hurst latched onto a flick header from Mark Stannard after the
City defence had failed to clear
a long throw-in.
City needed a quick response and the got it just five minutes
later, Drummond took advantage of poor defending to score from 18 yards after
defence had failed to clear Robbie Foy’s cross. Davies fired over and Drummond
saw a header hit the woodwork before the sides finished level at the break.
Michael Branch showed a taste of what was to come soon after the re-start
after being set-up by the hard working Foy he saw a goalbound shot blocked
by Gill. Branch shot over following another Foy cross before the striker
found the net following a delightful Davies through ball to put City 2-1
Twenty minutes later the duo combined for City’s
third as Branch latched onto Davies’s pass to stroke the ball under
the advancing Elliot.
Just four minutes later, MacKenzine made a superb save
to deny Notts substitute Ruben Zadkovich, pushing the ball round the post for
a corner. But the striker
wasn’t to be denied a goal as he converted from the resultant flag kick.
12 March 2005
Wycombe Wanderers 4 Chester
Attendance: 8,124 Half Time 1-1
Booked: Bolland, Drummond.
Wycombe Wanderers: Talia, Senda, Johnson, Nethercott, Easton,
Uhlenbeek, Ryan (Williamson 74), Burnell (Claridge 65), Bloomfield
(Dixon 77), Tyson, Stonebridge. Subs not used: Williams,
Chester City: W.Brown, Edmondson,
Bolland, Hope, Hessey, Vaughan, Drummond, Davies, M.Brown
61), Foy, Branch. Subs not used: MacKenzie, Walsh, O’Neill,
Referee: M.Warren (West Midlands).
first time Chester visited the Causeway Stadium back
in 1993, it was a carnival atmosphere
as Wycombe celebrated their first home game in
Football League. And come the end of
the season, both teams had something to celebrate when
they won promotion
from the basement division.
There was also a ‘fun
day’ mood as the Chairboys
tickets and pre-match entertainment,
attracting more than 8,000 fans to their impressive
But the odds must now be growing that the clubs
will start next season
in different divisions – possibly even two leagues
Wycombe killed this game off inside eight minutes
with three second half goals against a hapless
Chester side which seemed incapable of an effective
The final agony
for the 430 travelling Blues fans came with the
news that other results had
gone against them – leaving City just six points
the drop zone.
The Chairboys had dominated the
match’s opening exchanges, winning a couple of corners
kick-off. The City defence had no trouble dealing
with them, but Wycombe looked
threatening almost from the off, with a couple
of shots in the first 10
Chester were without suspended
captain Paul Carden, with Stephen Vaughan Junior
a poor substitute for
him. He can’t be criticised for effort – but
spent most of the game running
round and round in circles. When he did get the
ball, he usually
took the easiest option with a six-yard pass back.
Wycombe’s Danny Senda and Nathan
Tyson were both exceptionally fleet-footed and
regularly had the
beating of the likes of Vaughan, Sean Hessey and
Chester’s on-loan Robbie
Foy did niggle at the Wycombe defence, combining
on a couple of occasions in the first half. Foy’s
persistence on the right-hand
side led to Chester taking the lead against the
run of play. He was
snapping at the heels of the Wycombe defence when
the ball fell well for
Branch. He took the ball well, slamming it home
past Wycombe’s well-travelled
‘keeper, Frank Talia.
But there was still a long 65 minutes to go, and
just when it looked like Chester might sneak into
the half-time dressing room with a 1-0 lead, Wycombe
came back with a
Chester ‘keeper Wayne Brown
had just made an excellent close-range reflex save
on the 41st minute after
a game of ‘pinball football’ in the box. But
that strike seem to leave
the Blues’ defence rocking, and within a few seconds
Wycombe dangerman Tyson
had an easy opportunity to equalise from afew yards
out following a throw-in.
He made no mistake and once again, the Blues had
lost a lead.
Before the half-time whistle went, there was chance
of City going further behind as a Phil Bolland
clearance hit the crossbar. Bolland then got involved
a tangle with Tyson,
which saw a booking for the City centre-half.
Ian Rush made no apparent change of tactics for
the second half and before long the match was over.
Wycombe signalled their intent straight after the
re-start when they hit
the woodwork. And within a few minutes Tyson got
the ball in the net for
the second time.
There was a glimmer of light
for the Blues when referee Mike Warren, a silver-haired
Cup final linesman dubbed ‘Father Ted’ by
one Chester wag, booked Wycombe’s
Ian Stonebridge for diving in the area in a bid
to gain a penalty.
But Stonebridge soon had his
revenge when he had his part in Wycombe’s
third goal – passing to Gus
Uhlenbeek in the box. It was now 3-1 and Chester
still seemed incapable
of changing their game plan. So it was no surprise
when the Chairboys went 4-1
up when the City defence were still napping. Dozens
of City fans responded by
heading for the exit and chants of ‘Rush out’ could
The Chester manager responded
by substituting Michael Brown, who’d had one of
his quieter games,
for Ashley Sestanovich on the 70th minute. He made
his presence felt and
seemed to have a reasonable touch, but there was
of City scoring three goals
in the last 20 minutes.
There was a minor consolation for the City supporters
when Uhlenbeek handballed in the box and the ref
awarded an 86th minute penalty. Foy and Branch
argued over who
should take the spot-kick. Branch won the argument
scored with a confident
But Wycombe nearly made it five
when Steve Claridge, introduced as a 64th minute
sub, found himself
in a one-on-one with Brown. But the City ‘keeper
save to keep the goals tally at a less embarrassing
score and the final whistle
blew a few minutes later.
When Chester came to Wycombe
back in 1993, they bought more than 1,100 fans
with them. If City
continue to play so poorly, I wonder when we’ll
that number at an
away fixture? I know I’m not the only Blues fan
said the highlight of the
day was our visit to the excellent town centre
Bell pub. Unless changes are made,
there’s bound to be more and more City fans
the pub all
afternoon – the alternative is looking grimmer
Chester City 2 Southend United
Attendance: 2,396 Half Time 1-1
Booked: Drummond, Carden, Branch.
Chester City: W.Brown, Edmondson, Bolland, Hope, Hessey,
Drummond, Carden, Davies, Walsh, Foy, Branch. Subs not used: Belle,
Vaughan, O’Neill, Booth, Whalley.
Southend United: Flahavan, Hunt, Prior, Barrett,
Wilson, Pettefer (Bramble 73), Maher, Bentley, Gower (Nicolau 90),
Eastwood, Gray. Subs not used: Jupp, Kightly, Holloway.
Referee: T.Bates (Staffordshire).
a week of turmoil – one of Chester’s
better performances. City played with
great spirit especially in the second half and
their hard work looked as though it might yield
points only for Southend to equalise five minutes
before the end of normal time.
A bitter wind brought with it a torrential shower
at kick off and made playing conditions extremely
The pattern of play was not pretty but Chester,
with the wind at their backs, took the game to
opponents. City gained an early lead when Bolland’s
pass after a stumble led to Branch bursting through
a shot at the keeper. Walsh drove the rebound into
the back of the net.
Southend rarely threatened to reply but a goal arrived
from a direct free kick on the edge of the box after
Hope had been harshly adjudged to have fouled a forward
following some hesitation in the City defence. Gower,
a former opponent of City with Barnet in the Conference,
hit a dipping shot, masked by two Southend players
in front of the City wall. Brown could not reach it
it found the bottom corner of the net.
It was anticipated that the visitors would consolidate
and push for a winner to help their promotion campaign
but it was City, spurred on by the excellent Davies
and Carden who began to gain the upper hand. Foy
added pace to City’s attacks and it was the
latter who cleverly latched on to a through ball
and got behind
the defence to lay the ball on a plate for Davies
to score. Ben was so exuberant in his celebrations
he kicked the corner flag no doubt expecting it
to bounce back upright again. Instead it shattered
pieces and the game was delayed for a few minutes
until a substitute was found.
City had the chances to extend the lead, the most
notable falling to Branch but his shot, hit with
of the boot went wide. Even after Southend’s
fortunate equaliser when a wayward shot took a
to beat Brown, City might have snatched a deserved
winner in the five minutes of added time.
A respectable point against the team who rose to third
in the league after this result could easily have been
three. It was a much improved display and the crowd,
who got behind the team all afternoon, applauded City
off the park.