Buoyed by their victory over Darlington two days earlier
City arrived at Peterborough United courtesy of the supporters
coach after the team transport had broken down a few miles
from London Road.
Simon Davies was forced to replace both Paul Butler
and Chris Holroyd who picked up knocks on Saturday,
Shaun Kelly and Glenn Rule deputised, the latter making
his league debut.
City survived a scare in the opening
minutes, clever interplay between Jamie Day and George
Boyd on the City right set up Aaron McLean but his close
range shot fizzed just wide of John Danby’s right
Posh were certainly having plenty
of early possession and dangerman McLean was through
again moments later but saw his effort blocked by Laurence
On a rare break forward Rule almost
got onto the end of a Wilson cross
Danby saved another Charlie Lee long-range
effort with little trouble before City were caught again
by a quick break only brought to a halt after Tony Dinning
had tripped Jamie Day just outside the box.
Despite the home pressure, and plying
into a freezing wind, the determined City defence were
coping well. Danby was in just the right sop to save
from a McLean overhead kick following a long throw into
the City box, and in the final action of the opening
period, played almost exclusively in the Chester half,
McLean headed wide.
A half-time snow blizzard sent many
of the 144 traveling supporters to the back of the terrace
to seek shelter.
Danby was forced into another fine save five minutes
after the restart, once again McLean delivered the shot.
Moments later Lee steered an effort wide following a
quick Keates corner.
The home side continue to press. Rendell
should have found the target as he headed wide from
a Whelpdale cross. The ex-Cambridge striker then saw
an effort come down from the underside of the bar from
close range after Whelpdate knocked the ball down and
moments later Rendell had the ball in the net only to
be denied by an offside flag.
With 12 minutes remaining the City
defence was finally breached. Rendell headed up a Mclean
cross for Keates to out jump the Blues defence and head
past the onrushing Danby.
City made two changes as they looked
to get back into the game. On came Kevin Sandwith and
Paul McManus at the expense of Rule and Paul Rutherford.
It was City’s turn now to apply
the pressure and they created some good chances in the
John Murphy was sent through only
to see his shot deflected agonisingly inches wide after
a timely last ditch tackle from Morgan. The resulting
corner was whipped in and the ball fell to Richie Partridge
in the middle of goal just six yards out. He elected
to place his shot and put it wide on the post when it
seemed easier to score.
In the dying minutes the Blues were
reduced to ten men after Dinning picked up a second
yellow card apparently for dissent.
Andy Mitchell replaced Partridge
as the game entered stoppage time and the youngster,
another to come through the youth team ranks, combined
well with Murphy to set up Paul Linwood who saw his
20-yarder fly across goal and just wide of the far post.
A first senior goal from Paul Rutherford and a Richie
Partridge curler gave City the shock result of the day
in league Two as they bear promotion chasing Darlington
2-1 at a chilly Deva Stadium.
three unexpected but most welcome points eased slightly
any relegation fears and leave the Blues ten points
above the relegation zone.
City welcomed back Paul Butler to the defence at the
expense of the injured James Vaughan but there was no
place for Kevin Ellison. City’s top scorer was
sidelined with a foot injury allowing Rutherford a start.
Chester got off to a flier with Laurence
Wilson almost setting up Chris Holroyd with the youngster
being denied by a timely tackle. City continued to press
and Partridge saw a shot deflected into the arms of
David Stockdale in the Darlo goal.
City’s early effort paid off
with the opening goal on six minutes as Rutherford converted
from close range after John Murphy had knocked down
a Kevin Roberts cross for the midfielder to strike.
Goalkeeper John Danby was called into
action saving a header from Pawel Abbott. Abbott had
scored the only goal of the game when the two sides
met earlier in the month.
Ten minutes before the break City
doubled their lead. Holroyd slipped a ball through to
Partridge on the left edge of the box. He cut inside
onto his right foot and curled a great shot into the
far corner, reminiscent of the two goals he scored at
Stockport County back in October.
The Blues comfortably held on until
the break receiving a good reception for their efforts.
Holroyd picked up an injury in the
opening period and was replaced at the restart by Paul
City carried on where they’d
left off with Partridge again n the action shooting
over when well placed.
On 70 minutes City were forced into
another change as Danby fell heavily and after receiving
treatment from the physio was replaced by Phil Palethorpe
for his League debut.
Moments later Palethorpe was picking
the ball out of the net but would have been happy to
see the linesman’s flag ruling out Foran’s
effort for offside.
Darlington pulled a goal back through
Steve Foster six minutes from time his shot from 18
yards appeared to go in off the post.
There followed a nervy last period
though it was City who came nearest to adding to their
lead as McManus saw a shot hit the bar before referee
Deadman brought an end to the proceedings.
So here we are again, it’s March and it’s
a relegation six-pointer. This time against Barnet at
their partially revamped Underhill Stadium.
started with the same team that lost to Bradford City
at home on Wednesday night, but within ten minutes an
injured James Vaughan was replaced by Kevin Sandwidth.
Barnet were without their leading
scorer, midfielder Jason Puncheon, but it was the Bees’
Cliff Akurang who had the first serious attempt on goal
not long after the substitution. However he hesitated
for what seemed an age in front of the target, and somehow
put it wide.
His strike partner, Albert Adomah,
squandered another Barnet chance on the 30th minute,
by which time Chester had barely got into their stride
The last 15 minutes of the first half
bought some cheer to the travelling fans, some sitting
in a tiny new, temporary, away stand in the corner,
as first City won two corners then Paul Rutherford had
a good chance to score. However, his powerful 20-yard
shot was well tipped around the post by Barnet ‘keeper,
When referee Kevin Friend blew for
half-time it was still 0-0 and a fair score at that
stage as neither side had played particularly attractive
football, and both were looking like League Two strugglers.
But within five minutes of the second
half re-starting, Adamoh took advantage of apparent
confusion between City ‘keeper John Danby, and
Tony Dinning. Adamoh was able to take the ball around
Danby and slot it home to make it 1-0 to Barnet.
City seemed to lack the determination
to respond, and Adamoh and Akurang both looked likely
to get a second for Barnet. And on the 72nd minute,
that’s just what happened. Akurang was running
away from goal, when he was adjudged to have been bought
down by Danby close to the touchline and in the area.
Akurang’s powerful spot-kick (were you watching,
Paul Butler?) left Danby with no chance of making a
There now seemed no way of Chester
getting back into the game, and less than ten minutes
later Akurang’s head was on the end of a quality
cross and when the ball went straight into the top corner,
it was game over. Many disgruntled City fans promptly
made their way to the exit, but they missed a 90th minute
Kevin Ellison, who was struggling
after going down heavily in the middle of the second
half, laid on a good cross for Mark Hughes and he headed
the ball home to mark Simon Davies’s first goal
since being appointed manager.
There was little City could do in
the five minutes of injury time and not long after the
final whistle was blown, Davies came over and apologised
to the away fans – shaking hands with some of
Almost every aspect of the day reminded
me of our Conference years. Unless we improve pretty
swiftly, we’ll be repeating that experience every
the third time this season Bradford got the better of
Chester by a single following League and FA Cup victories
at Valley Parade back in November. The only goal of this
windy encounter at Deva Stadium came through Barry Conlon
after the break in front of the lowest home crowd of the
season, just 1,566.
With Chris Holroyd ruled
out through injury manager Simon Davies drafted in another
youngster Paul McManus, while Paul Rutherford took a
place in the starting X1 at the expense of Kevin Sandwith.
With the windy conditions making it
difficult for both sides it was Peter Thorne who carved
the first chance of the game forcing a save from John
Danby following a flick-on from the games opening corner.
In a scrappy opening Danby was penalised
for picking up a Tony Dinning back pass presenting the
visitors with a great chance to open the scoring but
the ‘keeper atoned for his mistake by making a
fine save to deny Paul Evans.
It wasn’t all one way traffic
as Mark Hughes sent an effort just wide at the other
end. John Murphy was denied by a blocking challenge
from David Wetherall when well positioned and Tony Dinning
saw a powerful free-kick well saved by Scott Loach.
Just before the break the bantams
almost grabbed the lead as John Danby slipped while
coming to gatherer a Darren Williams cross but Evans
was unable to take advantage and headed wide.
After the break the visitors forced
a corner in the opening minute but the wind got the
better of Evans’ kick and dropped it on top of
James Vaughan was forced into a goal
line clearance after Kyle Nix had beaten the onrushing
Danby to a header on the edge of the area.
Shortly after Danby was finally beaten
as the visitors opened the scoring. On a counter-attack
Evans sent through Conlon who controlled the ball before
shooting past Danby with the Blues defence appealing
With 15 minutes remaining Leach pulled
off a save to deny Kevin Ellison a headed equaliser
that the striker should have converted following a short
The Blues had a narrow escape as Conlon
rattled the City bar with a fine volley and Thorne had
the ball in the net but referee Hegley had already blown
for an infringement.
With time running out City forced
one last free-kick but it was man of the moment Conlon
who was in the right place to head the ball clear and
inflict City’s eighth successive home defeat.
Chester City: Danby, J.Vaughan, Roberts, Linwood,
Wilson (Rutherford 62), Holroyd (McManus 77), Dinning,
Hughes, Sandwith, Murphy, Ellison. Subs not used: Palethorpe,
Kelly, Rule. Wrexham: Ward, Bolland, Hope, Williams, Spender, Whitley, Hall
(Nicholson 72), Llewellyn, Tremarco, Broughton (Duffy 80), Proctor (Aiston 85).
Subs not used: Williams, Spann. Referee: Andy D’Urso (Essex).
For once a derby match between Chester and Wrexham had every prospect of victory
for the Blues – with Wrexham lying at the bottom of the Football League
and without an away win in more than three months. But wait, this is Chester
City we’re talking about, and hardened supporters knew what to expect.
those pessimistic (or is that realistic?) Chester fans got just what they
anticipated – a 2-0
win for Wrexham and yet another lost chance to get
one over on their cross-border rivals.
It was actually Chester who had the first chance
to claim the three points when Chris Holroyd, one
of the liveliest City players on the day, had a good
strike which ex-City stopper Gavin Ward palmed around
the post with one hand.
Chester then won their first of 16
corners – but, just like all the others which
followed, it came to nothing when it was cleared for
another corner. The next corner resulted in referee
Andy D’Urso blowing for a Wrexham free-kick and
the ball was hoofed up the field.
The game settled back down, with no side making
any real threat until Chris Llewellyn won a free-kick
at close range. Michael Proctor stepped up to take
it, and John Danby held his shot well.
The crowd, including 1,367
Wrexham fans, were livening up by now and on the
20th minute, the blue half of
the Deva Stadium thought Chester had finally put
the ball in the net from a corner. But Mr D’Urso
blew up for a foul and play switched to the other
end of the field.
It was as though the City players were distracted,
as the ball quickly found its way back to Proctor,
who passed to Paul Hall. He made a simple job of
scoring in front of the despairing home end.
Chester’s best chance
of the first half fell to Kevin Ellison on the
28th minute, but his shot
was well saved by Ward. First half opportunities
were few and far between after that, and both sides
went into the dressing rooms at half-time with all
still to play for.
The second half started much
as the first had ended, with neither side making
any serious threat on goal.
A section of the Chester fans were booing almost
every touch made by all ex-City players wearing red – so
it wasn’t a welcome return to the Deva for
Phil Bolland, Richard Hope or Drewe Broughton.
But it was another ex-City
player, Gavin Ward, who was surely Wrexham’s man-of-the-match when
he stopped a point blank shot at close range from
Ellison, soon after another block from a Holroyd
strike. On other occasions, you’d have put
your mortgage on Ellison scoring against Ward from
that distance – but it wasn’t to be.
The Blues fans and team were now buzzing, and Holroyd
looked to have got the deserved equaliser when he
tapped the ball in the net. But the goal was disallowed
for offside, and City heads dropped again.
In almost a carbon copy of
the first half, the ball almost immediately went
to the other end as City
seemed to ponder the ‘goal that never was’.
The ball fell to Proctor and he made an excellent
strike over his shoulder, straight into the top corner.
There were still 30 minutes
to go, including stoppage time. Chester caretaker manager
Simon Davies made two second half substitutions when
he bought on Paul Rutherford and Paul McManus in place
of Laurence Wilson and Holroyd. They both made an impression,
but City didn’t seriously threaten the goal again
and Wrexham held onto their bragging rights for at least
Davies saw his second stint as caretaker manager
start with a narrow defeat at Darlington thanks to
a goal many thought should not have counted after
what looked like a foul by Ryan Valentine on Kevin
Ellison in the build-up.
With Mark Hughes still suspended, and Paul Butler, Richie
Partridge and Tony Grant all injured, manager Davies
recalled midfielder Paul Rutherford and Kevin Sandwith
to the starting X1 and gave
a place on the
bench to youth team winger Andy Mitchell.
The match, postponed twice
already through bad weather, got off with the home
side forcing the pace. Steve Foster tested John Danby
in the eighth minute and Guy Ndumbu Nsungu and
Jason Kennedy both shot wide minutes later for
Darlo who were
a win to keep them in an automatic promotion spot.
As on Saturday, City created chances
of their own and Tony Dinning and Kevin Ellison both
saw efforts drift wide of David Stockdale’s
goal as City matched their opponents for possession.
Nsungu came close to breaking the
deadlock when he saw a shot rebound clear off the
post, but on 27 minutes came the controversial break
through as Julian Joachim sent over a right wing
cross for Pawell Abbott to loop a header which dropped
over Chester keeper John Danby and into the net.
City struck back and Ellison shot
weakly at Stockdale after being sent through by Chris
Holroyd and just before the interval Sandwith shot
wide after Holroyd had helped knock the ball down
and Sandwith again saw an effort saved with ease
The Blues continued to create half-chances
after the break. Ellison again got in a shot on target
after John Murphy and Holroyd had combined well,
and Sandwith sent a free-kick over the bar from 25
Abbott should have added his second
but hit the side netting from six yards when a goal
looked more likely and Danby saved a fierce goalbound
shot from Micky Cummins to keep City in the hunt.
Kevin Roberts met a Dinning cross
with a header that flew inches wide of the target
with 15 minutes remaining, moments later Mitchell
replaced Rutherford for his full debut.
With minutes remaining City created
another great chance after a surging Ellison run saw Holroyd
receive the ball in the box but a timely challenge
by Foster saw his shot loop over the bar.
what was to prove to be manager Bobby Williamson’s
last game in charge, his City side were beaten by a single
second-half goal at League Two leaders MK Dons.
Things could have turned out so different
has the Blues not squandered a penalty chance to take
the lead shortly after the break, but they paid for
their mistake minutes later as Danny Swailes notched
the only goal of the game with a well taken volley.
Buoyed by a 3-1 win at Mansfield Town
in their previous outing, City had to do without both
Mark Hughes through suspension and Richie Partridge
who has picked up a hamstring injury, they were replaced
in the starting line-up by Tony Grant and Chris Holroyd.
This was City’s first visit
to the Dons’ swish new stadium, complete with
self-serve barcode entry turnstiles, padded seats and
a quite deafening PA system.
The early proceedings were dominated
by the home side who conjured up a handful of chances
all of which were sent either high or wide. Jemal Johnson
forced the first save of the game on six minutes from
Despite the home side having the majority
of the possession it was Kevin Ellison who almost opened
the scoring. he was sent through one-on-one with home
‘keeper Willy Gueret. Ellison clipped the ball
over the advancing keeper but also agonisingly just
wide of the left hand post.
Johnson again, and Colin Cameron,
who troubled City all afternoon, saw chances go wide
as the home side continued to pressure despite a well
organised City offside trap.
Ellison had the ball in the net on
20 minutes, he raced onto a through ball, beat Alan
Navarro (who had a loan stint at City) to score only
to be pulled up for an infringement.
Ellison, City’s main dangerman,
curled a shot just wide on 35 minutes as City ended
the half on equal terms.
A couple of minutes after the restart
Holroyd won a free-kick on the edge of the box only
to see Tony Dinning’s effort smothered by the
A minute later though City were given
their golden opportunity. Holroyd picked up a ball on
the edge of the box and cut inside, he tangled with
Hadfield before falling to the ground.
Referee Moss pointed straight to the
spot, skipper Paul Butler grabbed the ball but sent
a weak spot-kick to Gueret’s left and he saved
Eight minutes later came the decisive
goal of the game. Cameron’s outswinging corner
was met on the edge of the box by Swailes who volleyed
it past a crowd of players into the net for a well worked
A timely tackle from Paul Linwood
prevented Johnson from having another opportunity to
run one-on-one with Danby.
Another quick break saw Johnson sweep
past James Vaughan on half-way, he set-up John Miles
who rounded Danby but saw his effort scrambled away
for a corner at the near post by Laurence Wilson.
Williamson brought on Paul Rutherford
for a rare run-out, but with only seven minutes remaining
there was too little time to exert an influence on the