City’s long wait for
a League win finally came at end at the 10th attempt
here at York Street. On-loan striker Derek Asamoah
rightly took the headlines after notching a hat-trick,
but credit should also go to an all-round team performance
that will boost confidence as City embark on their
end of season run-in.
Lowe and Michael Branch both missed the game,
it’s since been reported the pair had a
disagreement with manager Mark Wright at Sunday’s
game and as a result were dropped.
Their absence enabled a recall
for Asamoah who played alongside Jake Edwards
up front. There was also a welcome return of goalkeeper
Chris MacKenzine after a thumb injury had kept
him out of the previous 18 matches.
There was a slow start to the
proceedings, MacKenzie comfortably saved a Jamie
Clarke header and Ben Davies saw a 20-yarder fizz
wide in the opening ten minutes.
Defender David Artell found
himself in the referee’s notebook before
bringing out a fine save from Michel Kuipers as
his headed looked goalbound just a minute later.
Four minutes before the break
Asamoah tried along range effort that flew just
wide, two minutes later though he had the ball
in the net. A blunder between Lee Canoville and
his keeper in the box set up Asamoah who took
advantage of the loose ball and tuned it into
the unguarded net to give City a well deserved
Two minutes after the break
Luke Dimech replaced Carl Regan and no sooner
had he done so than City extended their lead.
Artell headed back Davies’ far post corner
and Asamoah reacted quickest, turning and shooting
City were on top with Asamoah’s
pace giving the Pilgrims defence all sorts of
trouble. Kuipers did well again to turn an effort
from Drummond round the post before Asamoah completed
his hat-trick on the hour racing through on to
a well placed through ball before slipping the
ball past Kuipers.
Paul Rutherford was introduced
as Asamoah left the pitch to generous applause
from both City’s small band of fans and
Just before the end Simon
Rusk scored a consolation goal for the home side
who suddenly found some urgency but City held
firm for three valuable points to lift them clear
of the relegation zone.
26 March Wrexham 2 Chester City
Attendance: 7,240 Half Time 2-0
Booked: Branch, Albrighton, Lowe.
Ingham, Pejic, Danny Williams, Lawrence, Bennett,
Crowell, Ferguson, Mark Jones, Holt, Derbyshire,
Sam Williams. Subs not used: Michael Jones, Walters,
Spender, Done, Mike Williams. Chester
Harrison, Albrighton, Artell, Ellender, McNiven,
Drummond, Davies, El Kholti (Rutherford 75), Regan
(Lowe 62), Branch, Edwards. Subs not used: MacKenzie,
Hessey, Tait. Referee:
first visit to the Racecourse for over a decade
ended in defeat but only after a spirited late
fight back that almost brought a point in a dramatic
On-loan striker Jake Edwards
returned to his old stamping ground to debut for
the Blues alongside Michael Branch. Ryan Lowe
started on the bench while Gregg Blundell missed
out altogether through injury.
Edwards was in the action from
the start and only a timely tackle prevented a
shot at goal in the opening minutes, however,
backed by a noisy following of just over 1300
fans City soon found themselves a goal down.
Referee Leake awarded Wrexham
a corner, despite the ball coming off a home player
last, Crowell’s flag-kick was whipped in
to the near post where Danny Williams headed home
into the bottom corner unmarked past Harrison
who appeared to move late to attempt a save.
Things went from bad to worse
two minutes later. An almighty melee in the penalty
area saw players from both sides on the ground
struggling to clear the ball. However Leake pointed
to the penalty spot after adjudging a foul by
David Artell on Williams.
Crowell stepped up to take the
spot-kick but saw his effort saved by Harrison
down to his right, first pushing the ball away
then pouncing on the rebound.
Despite the home side being
on top for long periods, City were presented with
a great chance to equalise midway through the
half. Branch intercepted a cross-field pass just
over the half-way and raced through on goal one-on-one,
he took the ball wide however and a Williams tackle
prevented the striker from testing Ingham in the
Minutes later the Blues were
paying for that miss as the home side added a
decisive second before the break. Carl Regan was
dispossessed by the lively Matt Derbyshire down
the right, he fed the ball to Mark Jones who skipped
another tackle before launching an unstoppable
20-yarder past Harrison who had no chance.
Whatever was said at half-time
on the Chester dressing room certainly hit home
and the Blues, out early for the second half,
upped their tempo as they kicked towards their
Ryan Lowe replaced Regan and
City suddenly had an urgency about them missing
in the first half.
City forced a number of corners
and both Branch and Drummond both saw headers
go wide. Lowe also forced a good save from Ingham
and saw a great teasing cross evade everyone in
the box before being cleared.
Derbyshire, sent through one-on-one,
had a chance to put the game beyond doubt but
Harrison came rushing out and saved at the feet
of the striker when a third goal looked likely.
With 15 minutes remaining Paul
Rutherford joined the fray at the expense of Abdel
El Kholti and immediately despatched a curling
long range effort that Ingham comfortably held.
Minutes later the young winger made a run across
goal into the box, just before Ingram tackled
him he managed to flick the ball back but it fell
agonisingly just behind the onrushing Drummond.
Two minutes from time City got
the breakthrough their pressure deserved. Edwards
picked the ball up outside the box, stormed through
two tackles before lashing home an unstoppable
As the Blues fans behind the
goal roared on their team, the fourth official
indicated a minimum of four minutes of added time
was to be played. Edwards saw a shot saved and
Drummond saw an effort scrambled clear as City
pushed for the equaliser.
In the third minute of added
time Paul Ellender found himself with the ball
six yards out at the back post after another goalmouth
spot of pinball, he turned to shoot, and, as a
goal looked certain a last ditch save from Shaun
Pejic’s leg on the line deflected the ball
clear with almost the last kick of the match.
As Leake blew the final whistle,
the City fans remained behind to applaud off their
team for a valiant effort. The spirit and fight
shown in the second half must now be taken into
the remaining nine fixtures though if the Blues
are to avoid a quick return to the Nationwide
22 March Bury Reserves 3 Chester
City Reserves 3
Pontins Holiday Deague Division One west
Half Time 2-1
Booked: Lowe, McNiven. Sent-off: Hessey.
a sombre mood hanging over the club in recent
weeks, it was a delight to be in attendance at
Radcliffe Borough, where I witnessed players wearing
the shirt of the club with immense pride.
The game started at an electrifying
pace and rarely relented throughout, with the
play switching from end to end with slick passing
and fast counter attacks. With Chester playing
a 3-4-3 formation, one felt that Hessey, Artell
and Dimech might struggle at the back, but credit
where credit is due they coped well, up against
the youthful legs of Speight and Tipton.
With the pace so frantic it
wasn’t long before gaps where being found
and the first chance fell to Bury, in the shape
of Adams, who put through by Tipton, found himself
1-on-1 with Lake. In blocking his shot, Lake lay
prostrate as the ball rebounded back into the
path of Adams; only for Dimech to save the day
with a well timed last ditch challenge. From the
resulting clearance, Rutherford started a fast
counter attack, carrying the ball some 30 yards
and releasing El Kholti on the left. Unfortunately
play broke down when Richardson under-hit his
cross and it was easily cleared. Nonetheless,
Chester went close two minutes later when Artell
headed the ball narrowly over from Rutherford’s
With the pace still frantic,
it was not unusual that the first goal came from
an error, and unfortunately for Chester, Richardson’s
loose touch on the halfway line led to Bury’s
goal, with Adams going on a mazy run and winning
a corner. From the resulting set piece the ball
was headed back across the box, where it fell
to Tipton, who from 12 yards out slammed the ball
into Lake’s bottom right-hand corner. Despite
this setback, Chester dug in and responded well
with good phases of play involving El Kholti,
Rutherford and Stephen Vaughan. Hence, it was
no real surprise when Chester pulled level in
the 25th minute!
Having played a short corner
to SVJ, Rutherford assisted by running back out
along the touchline, and on receiving the ball
back from Vaughan then whipped in a magnificent
ball to the far post, which was met by the head
of Artell. However, some seven minutes later,
Rutherford found himself putting the ball into
the wrong net!
With Dimech conceding a free
kick out on the left flank, the ball was whipped
in, where it dropped inside the six-yard box and
Lake produced a magnificent save low to his right,
unfortunately it rebounded back out into a melee
of Chester players. With no one looking to clear
the danger, Rutherford ran back and in an attempt
to clear, then steered the ball into his own net.
Not to be outdone Chester continued to ask questions
of the Bury defence and in the 40th minute they
came close to equalising. Rutherford’s corner
was headed down into a crowded penalty area, where
it eventually came out to Hessey, whose thunderous
shot was cleared off the line.
Little did we know that the
turning point of the game was to come, with Hessey
being dismissed three minutes later! Having been
on the receiving end of a reckless and late challenge
on the edge of his own area a couple of minutes
earlier, it was apparent that Hessey spoke out
of line to referee Short, resulting in him being
sent off for foul and abusive language. Hence,
resulting in at least a three-match ban. With
Chester now down to ten men it would be interesting
to see how they responded in the second half?
Chester started the second half
in vibrant mood, and took the game by the scruff
of the neck. Early doors saw some good link up
play between El Kholti, Rutherford, Asamoah and
SVJ, with Holroyd and Richardson continuing to
show willing up front. Surely it would only be
a matter of time before Chester got on equal terms,
but they so nearly went another goal behind eleven
minutes into the half. Thankfully, Lake was up
to the challenge and pulled of a magnificent save
from Speight’s snapshot into the bottom
Despite this little glitch Chester
continued to probe the Bury defence and in the
57th minute squandered a golden opportunity, when
Holroyd shot wide with Rutherford the better option,
totally unmarked to his left inside the penalty
area. However, two minutes later they got themselves
level, when SVJ split the Bury defence wide open,
playing a delightful ball into the path of Richardson.
Richardson evaded the challenge of the covering
defender and rounded the keeper to stroke the
ball into the back of an empty net.
Having got themselves level,
Chester failed to take the lead in the 61st minute
when Richardson latched onto SVJ’s through
ball and whipped the ball across the face of the
goal, where Asamoah sliced his shot. With the
left back then shielding the ball out of play,
for a throw-in Rutherford nipped the ball of his
foot, and on leaving him for dead crossed the
ball in to Asamoah who narrowly headed wide. With
Chester in such buoyant mood you’d have
thought they had twelve men on the pitch, such
was their dominance, with El Kholti continually
causing problems on the left, Richardson and Holroyd
up front participating in shooting practice. Backed
up by two sturdy centre backs, who won everything
in the air, and two centre midfielders who worked
their socks off.
Having dominated for a good
20 minute spell, they where so unlucky not to
take the lead again, when Rutherford produced
a sublime piece of play in the centre of the field
where he broke free from two challenging players,
brushing aside their desperate challenges, he
drove forward finding Richardson. Richardson’s
resulting shot rebounded back of the keeper and
into the path of Rutherford whose lob from 25
yards just fell short and was headed clear.
Nevertheless, despite this exciting
period of play it was Bury who took the lead,
much against the run of play in the 73rd minute.
Having broken up the left wing, the ball was played
across the face of the penalty area where it eventually
fell to Pugh and he didn’t need a second
Despite running on empty the
ten men of Chester continued to press, and with
the introduction of fresh legs they got their
just rewards in time added on, when El Kholti
went on a mazy run, culminating in a one, two
with Marsh-Evans, El Kholti drilling the ball
into the back of the net, thus clinching a hard
Overall, a heroic performance
from a team who bounced back three times, showing
no fear whatsoever, with good individual performances
all round. But special mentions must go to Artell
and Dimech at the back. SVJ for some splendid passes
that dissected the Bury defence, Paul Rutherford
for his tenacity, subbed in the 88th minute having
run his legs off. El Kholti for his menacing runs
up the left wing, Richardson who showed just what
he is capable of, given the right ball, and Chris
Holroyd who showed no fear in front of goal, not
afraid to shoot and take responsibility. The last
and final mention goes to Jim Hackett, who remains
unbeaten as Reserve Team Manager!Saturday
18 March Chester City 0 Cheltenham
Attendance: 2,281 Half Time 0-1
Booked: Lowe, McNiven.
enjoying plenty of possession throughout the
90 minutes City once again failed to get on
the scoresheet and suffering another 1-0 defeat
to leave them propping up the Football League.
Michael Branch returned for
City at the expense of Shaun Hessey who dropped
to the bench while there was no place at all
in the squad for striker Paul Tait.
The Blues started brightly.
Tom Curtis tried a long range effort on just
30 seconds that we held by Shane Higgs in the
visitors goal, seconds later Stewart Drummond
sent Gregg Blundell through, he elected to
pull the ball back for Branch but defender
Craig Armstrong stuck in a leg at the vital
moment, the same defender blocked an effort
from Ryan Lowe as City looked for a confidence
boosting early goal.
City however were caught
with a sucker punch just a minute later as
Grant McCann’s long ball sent Brian Wilson
away and the Robins midfielder swept the ball
past Paul Harrison to open the scoring.
The Blues enjoyed plenty
of possession for the rest pf the half but
found it difficult to break down a determined
Cheltenham defence. Ben Davies sent in some
teasing crosses, Blundell was just unable to
get on the end of one midway through the half.
At the other end Wilson saw a deflected shot
saved by Harrison after McCann’s free-kick
had been charged down by the City wall.
Five minutes before the
break Drummond saw a volley well saved by Higgs
after good work on the right from Carl Regan.
Manager Mark right made
a change at the break bringing of Abdel El
Kholti at the expense of Curtis. As with the
first, City started the second period well
forcing an early corner that Davies wasted.
Lowe tested Higgs with a close range effort
before the Blues forced a succession of corners
though, as before, they were unable to test
Higgs with any of them.
Stephen Vaughan replaced
Regan and Marcus Richardson was introduced
at the expense of Blundell as City looked to
for that elusive equaliser. Richardson knocked
down a great ball for Drummond who shot wide
and Higgs saved low down from Davies in City’s
last real chance of the game.
Harrison remained a virtual
spectator in the City goal for the second period
such was City’s dominance. However this
dominance must be turned into goals if City
are to pull clear of the relegation zone in
their final ten matches.
Manager Mark Wright said
after this latest defeat: Wright said: ”We’ve
more or less dominated after naive defending
gifted them a goal. When you look at our forwards
you think there are enough goals there, but
perhaps I need to look at bringing someone
in. It’s not often that I’m lost
for words, but I don’t know how we didn’t
score three or four.”
18 3 Burnley
Under 18 1
Youth Alliance North and Midlands West Conference
Half Time 1-1
Chester City: Lake, Potter, Feliciello,
Roberts, Marsh-Evans, Scales, Rutherford, Wade, Cadwallader (Owen 73),
Holroyd, Newton (Carrol 65). Subs not used: Armstrong, Morgan, Jones.
Burnley: Matthews, Stott, Casey, Smith (McDonald 70), Overson, Hoskin,
Underwood, Kay, Turner (Thomas 70), Rodriguez, Akbar. Subs not used: Young.
well as giving Feliciello a full debut at left back, Chester welcomed
back Sean Lake in goal. Lake, who impressed during Keith Curle’s
reign, is now being given a second chance to impress.
Within minutes of the start Chester began asking questions
of the Burnley defence, with Rutherford impressing down the right wing,
giving the left back Casey a real headache, and Holroyd also looking
to add to his goal tally. After 6 minutes Casey having had enough of
Rutherford gave away a silly free kick in a dangerous area, and was fortunate
to see the resulting header shave the crossbar. With Chester firmly in
the driving seat, they took the lead three minutes later when Scales
put Holroyd clean through with a delightful pass that split the defence
wide open, and with only the keeper to beat Holroyd coolly slotted home.
Immediately from the restart Chester where denied a
stonewall penalty when Holroyd was pulled down by the prostrate Matthews.
With the opening goal having a hint of offside about it, one can only
surmise that this decision was a leveller. Nonetheless, Chester continued
to control the tempo of the game, with Rutherford continually ghosting
past the left back and delivering some delightful balls into the box,
where Holroyd, Wade and Cadwallader came close to increasing the lead.
Despite Chester laying siege on the visitor’s
goal, Burnley continued to ride their luck, and in the 33rd minute the
sucker punch arrived. For the first time in the game Chester failed to
clear their lines when the ball was played long up field, and Turner
set it back to Smith, who thumped the ball past Lake from just outside
the penalty area.
The second half started off with the same familiarity
as the first half, with Chester dominating in every department. Holroyd
was denied early on when Matthews
thwarted his effort with a good 1-on-1 save. Nevertheless, the break through
come just ten minutes after the restart when Scales played the ball over
the top for Marsh-Evans, who made no mistake in finding the back of the
some 12 yards out.
For the remainder of the half, Chester continued to
dominate with Rutherford and Scales putting in excellent displays in
midfield; Burnley now doubling up on Rutherford in an attempt to quell
the onslaught, a tactic that failed dismally. Unfortunately, some of
the home team at times showed naivety, and made the schoolboy error of
wanting to get on the score-sheet when better options where clearly available.
However, unlike the first half, one felt assured that
Burnley wouldn’t be allowed back into this game as Chester remained
encamped in their opponents half, and in the 83rd minute Chester scored
a third. After some delightful passing between Rutherford and Carroll,
the latter found Potter out on the right wing, who in turn crossed the
ball first time, where Scales, unmarked in the penalty area, headed the
In fairness this was a young Burnley team, but in
truth Chester have only ever lost by the single goal on the two previous
occasions that these teams have met. Albeit, Chester squandered numerous
chances and should have come away with a much bigger margin, thus lessons
need to be learnt, that against better opposition you will get punished!
Hence, the need to maintain your discipline, and the importance of making
the right choices by finishing your chances has got to be like second nature,
on a different day against a better team, those misses could have been
11 March Darlington 1 Chester
Attendance: 3,593 Half Time 0-0
Booked: Albrighton, Curtis.
single goal fifteen minutes from time was enough
to sink City who slipped precariously to within
a point of a relegation spot after this latest
defeat at the TFM Darlington Arena. Slack marking
from a corner allowed Shelton Martis to head
home the only goal of the game that had seen
the home side reduced to ten men with half an
hour to go after Clark Keltie was red carded
after lashing out at Ryan Lowe.
In truth the Blues will be
kicking themselves for not coming away from the
cold north-east with a point after missing several
second half chances.
City had to weather some early
pressure as the home side as Robbie Stockdale
and Andy Cooke looked for an opening but goalkeeper
Paul Harrison, making his second appearance for
City was rarely troubled in the opening stages.
As the half wore on through he was called upon
to deny both Cooke and the pacy American Jamel
Johnson who was making his Darlington debut.
For City, their first real
effort on the Quakers goal came just after the
half hour mark, when Gregg Blundell and Ryan
Lowe combined well to set up Ben Davies whose
20 yarder produced a superb save out of Russell
in the home goal who pushed the ball behind for
The game was being evenly contested
with neither side able to take control in a lacklustre
Keltie went close for the home
side soon after the break with a volley that
stung Harrison but minutes later the midfielder
was departing after his straight red card after
aiming an elbow at Lowe right in front of referee
Boyeson’s nose. For the second time in
a week City were up against ten men for the final
The home side could easily
have been reduced to nine men after Valentine,
already on a yellow card, was involved in a mini-brawl
but received only a lecture from referee Boyeson.
As is often the case the dismissal
only served to boost the the remaining ten players
and with a quarter of an hour of the game left
Martis struck to head neil Wainwright’s
corner past Harrison, and a defender on the post,
to keep alive the hosts hopes of securing a play-off
Blundell missed a great opportunity
to draw City level just minutes later as he managed
to head the ball away from goal when an equaliser
seemed certain. Paul Tait, on for Carl Regan,
set up Blundell again but the striker screwed
his shot wide from 18 yards as City pressed.
At the other end Harrison kept
City in the game three minutes from time when
he saved from a Johnson one-one-one after the
striker had been sent clear by Sodje.
With five minutes of added
time to play City went close two more times with
a long range efforts from substitute Abdel El
Kholti and Blundell, but it wasn’t to be
and the Blues were left to contemplate on another
point that has slipped through their hands.
After the game manager Mark
Wright bemoaned City’s lack of width that
is costing them dear: “We’ve not
really got any wingers or width. We know that
and it stood out again. When you’ve got
width it hurts people. We’ve got to try
and look this week to bring a couple of people
in because I think it’s important to what
we want as a football club. Other than that I
don’t see a lot wrong.”
7 March Chester City 1 Torquay
Attendance: 1,806 Half Time 0-1
Albrighton, McNiven, Ellender, Regan (Asamoah
58), Drummond, Davies, Hessey, Blundell, Lowe
(Curtis 90), Tait (Richardson 78). Subs not used:
S.Vaughan, Artell, Curtis.
Torquay United: Marriott, Hockley,
Sharp, Villis, Reed, Phillips (Lloyd 67), Garner,
Hill (Kuffour 59), Thorpe, Bedeau (Robinson 74).
Subs not used: Taylor, Afful. Referee: K.Hill
the greater scheme of things the point gained
tonight could have been a vital one for City.
The result stopped the rot of home defeats and
edged Chester a couple of places up the table.
But in reality it was a nervous and stumbling
performance once again showing an almost total
lack of confidence.
City began with a charge. A couple of efforts
from Blundell and a cross from Lowe which fizzed
across the face of goal showed early promise but
not the early goal which we all craved. Chester
have not scored first in a match since November.
After the initial action it was Torquay who settled
better, moving the ball around neatly. Woods saw
his header from a free kick brilliantly saved
by Harrison at the foot of the post. The visitors
scored when Thorpe ran through on the blind side
of Ellender to whip in a cross which Hill met
on the half volley. Harrison did his best to block
it but the ball crashed into the back of the net.
The setback visibly affected City and they spent
the rest of the half trying to get back into the
game, playing in fits and starts.
The game turned on fifty-one minutes when Thorpe
fouled Davies and then followed up with a head
butt. His lack of discipline cost him a red card
and, arguably, his team a couple of points. Chester
began to move forward more purposefully but often
moves broke down with a stray pass here or there
or a player wanting to dwell on the ball too long.
Lowe’s raking pass from the right found
Hessey and he cut inside to send in an angled
cross to the far post. It was just too high for
Drummond but Blundell slid in to knock the ball
past a wrong-footed Marriott. Blundell was ecstatic
at his first goal for ages and the relief round
the City supporters at seeing a goal was tangible.
Chester had their best spell after this with Marriott
making spectacular saves from first Lowe who shot
after a dribbling run and a deflected effort from
Drummond which was looping in at the opposite
post until the ‘keeper tipped it to safety.
Other chances came and went. Tait’s header
nearly sneaked in at the far post and Davies’
cross invited three City players to turn it into
the net but it eluded them all. Torquay almost
grasped a goal in the dying minutes when City’s
defence was caught napping and a shot flashed
across the goal.
The faithful went home disappointed that City
failed to beat the bottom team with ten men for
most of the second half but confidence has seeped
to such a low ebb among the players that it’s
probably better to take heart from the point gained.