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Saturday 26 November
Chester City 3 Peterborough United 1
League Two
Attendance: 2,701 Half Time 1-0
Booked: Artell, El Kholti, MacKenzie.

Chester City:
MacKenzie, McNiven, Artell, Dimech, Regan, Lowe, Drummond, Walker, Davies, Branch (Rutherford 73), Richardson (El Kholti 58). Subs not used: Vaughan, Curle, Dove.
Peterborough United:
Tyler, Plummer, St. Ledger, Arber, Newton, Carden, Gain, Hand (Semple 56), Holden, Benjamin, Crow (Willock 56). Subs not used: Huke, Quinn, Day.
Referee: R.Booth (Nottinghamshire).

City completed their first double of the season with this well deserved victory over Peterborough United at Deva Stadium. This was City’s first league win in five matches and proved a perfect tonic ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup clash with Nottingham Forest.

With Both Phil Bolland and Tom Curtis suspended manager Keith Curle brought in Luke Dimech and Justin Walker and gave a place on the bench to youngster Paul Rutherford whose only previous appearance was at Cambridge United in the LDV Vans Trophy.

The first real chance of the game fell to Trevor Benjamin on 15 minutes. A knock-back by Adam Newton gave the striker a great chance to score but he shot straight at Chris MacKenzie from close range, the ball rebounded past Benjamin but he was allowed to turn on the six yard line and unleash another shot which, fortunately for City, flew high over the bar in front of the travelling fans.

Ryan Lowe cut through on the right and shot across goal and a foot wide of the far post, perhaps a ball square to the unmarked Branch would have been more rewarding though it would have been difficult to keep the cross down.

The Blues, with Stewart Drummond instrumental in midfield, pushed forward and Ben Davies had the ball in the net after a smart move down the right involving Lowe, only to see his effort ruled out for offside.

Despite dominating proceedings it took a superb save by MacKenzie, who had been struck down with illness during the week, to keep out a powerful free-kick to prevent City going behind.

City kept up the tempo and ten minutes from the break took a deserved lead. Marcus Richardson and former City player Paul Carden clashed in midfield, the ball broke for Michael Branch to run through on goal, he pushed the ball past the onrushing Mark Tyler only to be upended by the ‘keeper’s sliding tackle. Tyler picked up a yellow card, and the ball out of the net, as Branch converted the spot-kick inside the left-hand post.

The Blues came out for the second half strong and Ben Davies almost added a second shooting wide from just inside the box in the opening seconds. Seven later though City doubled their lead. The ball was played forward to Branch down the right, shadowed to two markers he beat the both and sent in a teasing cross, Richardson knocked the ball back for Stewart Drummond to score from close range.

MacKenzie preserved the two goal lead minutes later when he made another outstanding save to keep out a shot from Peter Gain when a goal looked certain.

On 66 minutes City put the contest beyond doubt with a spectacular third goal. With the Posh defence caught square Lowe found himself all alone on the right edge of the box, he allowed the ball to bounce, turned, and fired an unstoppable 25-yard volley past Tyler into the far of the net.

Manager Keith Curle replaced Branch who appeared to injure himself going for a tackle, with Rutherford. The youngster showed some good touches on his full league debut.

Fifteen minutes from time Ryan Semple pulled a goal back for Posh as he calmly chipped over Mackenzie from the right side of the box. The goal proved only a consolation though and City will be well satisfied with their afternoon’s work as they played the game out for three well earned points.

Paul Rutherford (right) Penalty
Bleasdale and Wright

Saturday 19 November
Rochdale 2 Chester City 2
League Two
Attendance: 3,618 Half Time 0-1
Booked: Curtis, Bolland.

Chester City:
MacKenzie, McNiven, Bolland, Artell, Regan, Davies, Curtis, Drummond, Richardson, Branch (Vaughan 65), Lowe. Subs not used: Walker, Curle, Dove, Dimech.
Gilks, Brown, McArdle, Gallimore, Jaszczun, Cartwright (Lambert 79), Jones, Clarke, Goodall, Sturroc, Holt. Subs not used: Tait, Brisco, Warner, Boardman
Referee: N.Miller (County Durham).

For the second time in a month Rochdale fought back to deny City three points as the Blues had their two-goal advantage wiped out during the last quarter at Spotland. Last month City led 2-1 at the Deva only to be pipped by two late goals, and here at Spotland there was a repeat performance.

Manager Keith Curle opted to reintroduce Phil Bolland to the heart of the defence at the expense of Luke Dimech who took his place on the bench. It was Bolland who gave City the lead on 19 minutes, taking advantage of a fumble by Dale ‘keeper Gilks, who let slip Ben Davies’ right-wing cross, to slot the ball home from six yards out.

The pitch has passed an earlier inspection but there still seemed to be icy patches on the playing surface though both sides seemed to adapt to the conditions to produce what turned out to be, like the encounter at the Deva, an entertaining game.

Prior to the opener, City, backed by nearly 800 fans, made a good start. Marcus Richardson had a shot blocked and Stewart Drummond, put through by Richardson, saw a goal-bound effort cleared for a corner as City pressed. The Blues weren’t having it all their own way. Minutes later MacKenzie saved well at the far post from Goodall and later made a save from Sturrock who had been played through on goal as the home side came more into the game.

On 64 minutes City doubled their advantage. The ball played in from the left was gives some head tennis by Richardson and Ryan Lowe to set up Davies at the far post to volley home. The Blues then made a tactical change with Michael Branch being replaced by Stephen Vaughan.

No sooner had City reshuffled, then Dale were back in the game. Lee Cartwright skipped down the right wing and delivered a perfect cross for Blair Sturrock to chest the ball home unmarked and in acres of space in front of goal.

With eight minutes remaining the home side scored the equaliser their pressure had warranted. Substitute Ricky Lambert who had only been on for a minute or two, lined-up a free-kick on the edge of the City box and drilled the ball under Citys wall into the bottom corner to give MacKenzie no chance.

In the dying seconds Dale almost grabbed the winner but MacKenzie was on hand to save from the lively Goodall to preserve a point that keeps City in the promotion pack in sixth place.
Saturday 12 November
Chester City 0 Northampton Town 0
League Two
Attendance: 3,295 Half Time 0-0
Booked: none.

Chester City:
MacKenzie, Regan, Dimech, Artell, McNiven, Lowe, Drummond, Curtis, Davies, Richardson (El Kholti 78), Branch. Subs not used: Walker, Vaughan, Dove, Bolland.
Northampton Town:
Harper, Bojic, Chambers, Doig, Crowe, Low, Taylor, Jess (Hunt 59), Smith, McGleish, Mendes (Kirk 60). Subs not used: Rowson, Galbraith, Poke.
Referee: P.Joslin (Nottinghamshire).

In the end it was the defences who ruled the day as City and Northampton fought out a goalless stalemate at Deva Stadium. The point each keeps both sides in touch with the play-off positions at the top of League Two.

It only took four minutes for Ryan Lowe to get in the action shooting wide of the left hand post from 18 yards as City looked for an early goal to take the initiative. Ten minutes later Lowe tried his luck again, this time shooting wide of the right hand post after being set up by Marcus Richardson’s strong run at the Cobblers defence.

At the other Chris MacKenzie was called on to make his first contribution of the day when he parried away Martin Smith’s low shot from just inside the box at the second attempt.

Richardson tested Harper in the visitors goal as he broke down the left wing and drilled in a powerful near-post shot that the ‘keeper held.

Dangerman Lowe saw a shot blocked by Luke Chambers though the resulting Ben Davies corner was cleared by Smith. On the stroke of half-time City almost got the goal their first-half pressure had deserved.

Davies was fouled by Chris Doig and the midfielder picked himself up to deliver a perfect free-kick to David Artell but the Blues defender headed over from just six yards out.

The visitors started the second half well and MacKenzie did well to hold a dangerous cross from Scott McGleish.

On the hour mark Tom Curtis shot wide from outside the box after good work from Davies but both sides were now finding chances at a premium as both defences got on top.

MacKenzie saved again from McGleish, and Stewart Drummond cleared an inswinging Smith corner during a spell of Northampton pressure.

Manager Curle brought on Abdel El Kholti for Richardson and minutes later Michael Branch was almost set clear before being pulled back by Luke Chambers that earned a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.

With two minutes remaining Doig had a chance to take all three points back to Northampton but he shot over from 12 yards to the relief of the City fans.

Saturday 12 November
Chester City Under 18 2 Macclesfield Town Under 18 2
Youth Alliance North and Midlands West Conference
Half Time 1-1

Chester City:
Lake, Hitchin, Marsh-Evans, Roberts, Cadwallader, Scales (Linford 54) Potter (Carroll 70) Morgan (Wilson) Wade, Holroyd, Rutherford. Subs not used: Armstrong, Kelly.
Macclesfield Town:
Cooper, Walker (Aldridge 61) Jennings, Johnson (Edwards 72) Byrne, Flynn, Reid, Hadfield, Bunting (Hanchcliffe 72) Whyte, Martranga. Subs not used: Jeffries.
Referee: M.Power.

Chester certainly started the brighter and more confident of the two, having a couple of half chances within the first three minutes. The early pressure paying dividends in the fifth minute when Macclesfield failed to clear their lines, with Holroyd’s shot blocked the ball fell to Wade who smashed the ball into the net from 15 yards out.

A minute later, and Macclesfield had their keeper to thank, Rutherford took a quick throw-in on the right flank, which put Potter clean through on goal. Unfortunately the angle wasn’t the best and Cooper thwarted the danger at his near post.

On the 13-minute mark, Macclesfield got themselves back into the game, when Cadwallader was harshly adjudged to have fouled his opponent when jumping for the ball. The resulting free kick was floated into the six yard box, and looked destined for the hands of Lake. However, with Flynn jumping into him, Lake spilled the ball and it fell to Whyte who didn’t need asking twice from four yards.

Nevertheless, Chester remained firmly in the driving seat with Paul Rutherford playing an influential role in reeking havoc amongst the Macclesfield defence. On the half hour mark his turn to outwit the defender was sublime and he raced onto the Marsh-Evans through-ball. Cooper in the Macclesfield goal was quick off his line and was able to send Rutherford wide, giving his team enough time to get players back in time to clear the cross. With Chester well on top Macclesfield rode their luck ten minutes from the interval when Holroyd made a run into a crowded penalty area and hit the deck. The resulting penalty appeals where turned down by referee Power, who in all fairness was well placed to have judged that the defender had got a foot on the ball.

Chester started the second half in similar fashion to the first half, taking the game to Macclesfield. Despite some good half chances they found themselves 2-1 down in the 55th minute, when Lake was unfortunate to have been done by a divot. Reid cut inside and went down as if shot by a sniper, and when the ball ran onto Hadfield he took full advantage of not being closed down. His 25 yard effort cruelly hitting a divot just in front of the full stretched Lake, resulting in the ball skipping up and over his body.

From this moment on Macclesfield became content to spoil a game of football and played with nine defenders, in the hope that they would undeservedly take all three points. But they failed to take into account the tenacity of this Chester team, and in particular, the tenacity of Rutherford who continually drove his team on. Although they dominated for much of the half and created a few half chances, Chester’s first real chance came in the 80th minute when Carroll went for placement instead of power resulting in an easy save for Cooper. A minute later and with Rutherford clean through, Holroyd squandered the opportunity when he chose instead to shoot into a crowd of players.

A couple of minutes later and Rutherford just failed to make contact with a cross that bounced awkwardly at the penultimate second. Having thrown everything at Macclesfield, Chester looked destined to be on the receiving end of a harsh defeat, when in the 85th minute they got a free kick for offside. With everyone pushed into the opposite half Lake made amends for his earlier error by delivering the ball with pinpoint accuracy into the path of Rutherford who had ghosted in behind the left back. In then complimenting Lake’s delivery Rutherford then lashed the ball left footed into the roof of the Macclesfield net from eight yards out, earning Chester a thoroughly deserved point.

The team are next in action on Friday night when they entertain Burnley in the third round of the Alliance Cup. Burnley currently top the League and are unbeaten this season, so the team would certainly appreciate some City support on the night. The match takes place at the Airbus UK ground with a 19:00hrs kick-off.

Saturday 5 November
Chester City 2 Folkestone Invicta 1
FA Cup Round 1
Attendance: 2,503 Half Time 0-1
Booked: Curtis, Branch.

Chester City:
MacKenzie, McNiven, Artell, Dimech, Regan, Branch, Drummond, Curtis, Davies (Vaughan 87), Lowe, Richardson (El Kholti 66). Subs not used: Brookfield, Hessey, Bolland.
Folkestone Invicta:
Kessell, J.Everitt (Sly 89), Flanagan, Guest, Norman, Lamb (Neilson 76), M.Everitt, Chandler (Lindsey 80), Myall, Jones, Dryden. Subs not used: Bower, Mann.
Referee: S.Dorr (Worcester).

City moved into the second round of the FA Cup after overcoming a spirited showing from Ryman Premier League side Folkestone Invicta. As expected there was a return from suspension for Stewart Drummond, and from injury for Carl Regan, though striker Gregg Blundell once again missed out.

Cheered on by around 250 supporters, and local MP and Conservative Party leader Michael Howard, the Kent side started well and had the first effort on goal after four minutes with Martin Chandler shooting straight at Chris MacKenzie from outside the box. The Blues began kicking in to a swirling wind that made life difficult at times with too many passes going astray as the visitors adapted to the conditions better.

On ten minutes a potential Cup shock looked on the cards as Invicta took the lead. Tom Curis gave away a free kick with a foul on Adam Flanagan. Paul Lamb took the kick out on the right, the ball headed straight for MacKenzie who, crouching down, appeared to spill a simple catch, the ball slipping out and appearing to go into the net off striker Adam Flanagan with David Artell in close proximity.

As the half wore on, the Blues were reduced to long range efforts, one from Ryan Lowe was in more danger of hitting the corner flag than the goal. ‘Keeper Tony Kessell did well to parry one long-range effort from Lowe as City attempted to get on level terms. It was Invicta though who had the better of the chances, with both Paul Jones and Martin Chandler shooting wide when well placed to extend their lead.

Kessell was called into action to make one good save as he pushed a back header from Richardson over the bar and was again on hand to save easily from a Ben Davies free-kick on the stroke of half-time.

No doubt with a talking to from Keith Curle still ringing in their ears City came out for the second period looking to take advantage of the wind at their backs. Ten minutes after the break Ben Davies was brought down by a clumsy challenge from James Everitt after he’d jinked into the box following a short corner from Michael Branch. Referee Dorr had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and Branch duly sent Kessell the wrong way with the spot-kick to the delight of the City fans behind the goal.

On 77 minutes the Blues took the lead. Kessell’s clearance was headed straight back up field unchallenged by Artell, Lowe burst through to his an unstoppable half-volley past the keeper from the edge of the box.

As Folkestone began to tire, Branch had a great chance to put the game beyond doubt nine minutes from time, but his shot from twelve yards was well saved by Kessell. A minute later Davies also missed a glorious chance shooting wide when well placed, but with the lead secure the Blues finished the stronger to hold out for a second round visit from either Nottingham Forest or Weymouth.

Pictures: Sue Choularton

















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