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Saturday 29 March
Chester City 0 Stockport County 0
League Two
Attendance: 3,783 (1,997 Stockport) Half Time 0-0
Booked: -

Chester City:
Danby, J.Vaughan, Butler, Linwood, Wilson, Partridge, Roberts, Hughes, Rutherford, Murphy, McManus. Subs not used: Palethorpe, Kelly, Sandwith, Rule, Mitchell.
Stockport County: Ruddy, Smith, Raynes, Owen, Rose, Blizzard, Taylor, Dicker, Pilkington, Dickinson, Rowe. Subs not used: Smith, Tunnicliffe, Gleeson, Logan, Lowe.
Referee: Iain Williamson (Berkshire).

Match abandoned after 59 minutes due to adverse weather conditions.

Pictures © Evening Leader

Monday 24 March
Peterborough United 1 Chester City 0
League Two
Attendance: 6,457 (144 Chester) Half Time 0-0
Booked: Dinning, Rule. Sent off: Dinning.

Peterborough United:
Lewis, Gnakpa, Westwood, Morgan, Day, Whelpdale, Lee, Keates, Boyd, Mclean, Rendell. Subs not used: McKeown, Low, Newton, Hyde, Williams.
Chester City: Danby, Roberts, Kelly, Linwood, Wilson, Partridge (Mitchell 90), Hughes, Rule (Sandwith 78), Dinning, Rutherford (McManus 70), Murphy. Subs not used: Palethorpe, J.Vaughan.
Referee: Dean Whitestone (Northamptonshire).

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.

Manager 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 hand post.

Posh were certainly having plenty of early possession and dangerman McLean was through again moments later but saw his effort blocked by Laurence Wilson.

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 closing minutes.

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.

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Saturday 22 March
Chester City 2 Darlington 1
League Two
Attendance: 1,759 Half Time 2-0
Booked: Rutherford.

Chester City:
Danby (Palethorpe 69), Roberts, Butler, Linwood, Wilson, Partridge (Sandwith 65), Dinning, Hughes, Rutherford, Murphy, Holroyd (McManus 45). Subs not used: Rule, Kelly.
Darlington: Stockdale, Austin (Valentine 80), White, Foster, Parker, Kennedy, Cummins (Foran 45), Purdie, Joachim, Wright, Abbott (Blundell 68). Subs not used: Liversidge, Miller.
Referee: Darren Deadman (Cambridgeshire).

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.

The 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 McManus.

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.

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Saturday 15 March
Barnet 3 Chester City 1
League Two
Attendance: 1,663 Half Time 0-0
Booked: Hughes.

Harrison, Parkes, Yakubu, Devera, Gillet (Carew 85), Adomah (St Aimie 84), Bishop, Wright (Leary 87), Nicolau, Thomas, Akurang. Subs not used: Grazioli, Porter.
Chester City: Danby, J.Vaughan (Sandwith 10), Linwood, Dinning, Wilson, Rutherford (Grant 55), Roberts, Hughes, Ellison, Murphy, McManus (Mitchell 75). Subs not used: Palethorpe, Kelly.
Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire).

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.

Chester 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, Lee Harrison.

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 save.

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 consolation goal.

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 them.

Almost every aspect of the day reminded me of our Conference years. Unless we improve pretty swiftly, we’ll be repeating that experience every week.

Sue Choularton

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Wednesday 12 March
Chester City 0 Bradford City 1
League Two
Attendance: 1,566 (244 Bradford City) Half Time 0-0
Booked: Ellison.

Chester City:
Danby, Vaughan, Roberts, Linwood, Wilson, Rutherford, Dinning, Hughes, Ellison, Murphy, McManus. Subs not used: Palethorpe, Sandwith, Kelly, Rule, Mitchell.
Bradford City: Loach, Williams, Wetherall, Moncur, Heckingbottom, Colbeck, Johnson, Evans, Nix (Rhodes 77), Thorne, Conlon. Subs not used: Ricketts, Bower, Penford, Topp.
Referee: Grant Hegley (Herefordshire).

For 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 the net.

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 for offside.

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 corner routine.

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.

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Sunday 9 March
Chester City 0 Wrexham 2
League Two
Attendance: 3,849 (1,367 Wrexham) Half Time 0-1
Booked: Linwood, Hughes.

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.

All 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 another season.

Sue Choularton

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Tuesday 4 March
Darlington 1 Chester City 0
League Two
Attendance: 3,294 Half Time 1-0
Booked: Linwood, Roberts.

Stockdale, Valentine, Foster, Miller, Parker, Joachim, Kennedy, Cummins (Austin 85), Gall (Wainwright 63), Ndumbu-Nsungu (Wright 64), Abbott. Subs not used: Kazimierczak, Blundell.
Chester City: Danby, J.Vaughan, Roberts, Linwood, Wilson, Rutherford (Mitchell 77), Dinning, Ellison, Sandwith, Holroyd, Murphy. Subs not used: Palethorpe, Rule, Kelly, McManus.
Referee: Rob Shoebridge (Derbyshire).

Simon 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 looking for 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 by Stockdale

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 yards.

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.

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Saturday 1 March
Milton Keynes Dons 1 Chester City 0
League Two
Attendance: 8,172 Half Time 0-0
Booked: -.

Milton Keynes Dons:
Gueret, Regan, Swailes, O’Hanlon, Stirling, Dyer, Navarro, Hadfield (Livermore 76), Miles, Cameron (Baldock 88), Johnson. Subs not used: Bastians, Edds, Abbey.
Chester City: Danby, J.Vaughan, Butler, Linwood, Wilson, Roberts, Dinning, Grant (Rutherford 83), Ellison, Murphy, Holroyd. Subs not used: Palethorpe, Sandwith, Kelly, Marples.
Referee: Jon Moss (W Yorkshire).

In 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 John Danby.

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 MK wall.

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 with ease.

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 goal.

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 game.

City were beating stretched in the closing period and Dyer set up a great chance for Cameron who saw his shot sail wide of goal. Danby again thwarted Johnson late on after the striker had cut through on goal past Butler and Linwood.

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