run in this year’s competition came to an end
at Saltergate but not before the Blues battled back
bravely against their League One opponents to force
the tie into penalties.
Both Ashley Westwood and
Roberto Martinez returned from suspension as manager
Mark Wright rested some players ahead of Saturday’s
FA Cup second round tie at Bury. Ryan Semple made
his full debut for the Blues.
crowd had hardly found their seats before City got
off to the worst possible start, conceding a goal
in the opening minute through Paul Shaw who shot
home from the edge of the area following a though
pass from Paul Hall. A minute later Ashley Westwood
was well placed to charge down a long-range shot
from Alex Bailey as the home side’s
whirlwind start continued.
The Blues defence held out until
the 14th minute until it was breached again. John
Danby did well to push a Kevan Hurst round the post
for the first of a series of corners. City however
failed to clear the third of these Caleb Folan headed
home Alan O’Hare’s
cross to double the home advantage.
City were struggling to settle
but struck back on 21 minutes as they reduced the
lead to 2-1 with Paul Linwood heading home from a
Martinez inswinging corner. Six minutes later City
were level as another header, this time from Laurence
Wilson, found the back of the Chesterfield net from
The home side almost snatched the
lead on the stroke of halt-time as Dandy was called
upon again to push a header round the post, this
time from Paul Shaw. The resulting corner was cleared
by Stephen Vaughan for the last action of an entertaining
Just three minutes after the break
City went ahead. Semple again found Wilson’s
head with his cross, this time the ball hit the crossbar
but Gregg Blundell was close at hand to convert the
rebound for his third goal in four matches.
delight at turning the tie round was short lived
however. It took the Spireites just three minutes
to hit back. Once again City failed to clear from
a corner and Aaron Downes was on hand to convert
Chances were at a premium now until
twenty minutes from time the home side restored their
lead. Once again it came from a corner as Hurst set
up Downes for his second goal of the night.
With time slipping by Wright made
three substitutions bringing on Chris Holroyd and
Paul Rutherford for Semple and Wilson and replacing
Stephen Vaughan with his younger brother James for
his Chester debut.
Westwood shot over the bar with
15 minutes remaining before Mark Allott missed a
chance two wrap things up for the home side volleying
high and wide from a Hurst corner.
With just four minutes remaining
Phil Bolland headed home a cross from Rutherford
to the delight of the small band of away fans to
send the game into penalties. City went behind to
the first spot-kick but failed with their first two
through Hessey and Martinez, and were unable to capitalise
as Shaw missed for the Spireites. Blundell did reduce
score to 2-1 before goalkeeper Roche converted his
kick. It was left to youngster Holroyd to try and
keep City in the match but he sent his spot-kick
several City players leaving for Gay Meadow in the
summer, this was
always going to be a tense affair and that’s
it turned out to be. The match, played on a boggy
waterlogged pitch, will no doubt be remembered
for the brawl that greeted the full-time whistle
end-to-end 90 minutes that preceded it that saw
City lose out to a controversial last minute penalty.
Early morning work
on the pitch by the Shrewsbury staff enabled
the match to pass a 9am inspection, though
it cut up heavily in places any further
afternoon rain would surely have seen the game
City boss Mark Wright elected
to start with Gregg Blundell and Jon Walters
in the starting
front line, leaving ex-Shrew Lee Steele to occupy
a space on the bench. Midfielder Dean Bennett replaced
the suspended Roberto Martinez and
returned to defence.
The boggy surface almost
led to an opening goal in the first two minutes
as home ‘keeper Scott Shearer did well to tip
over a Blundell shot for a corner. At the other
end, minutes later, a misjudged City backpass
Asamoah, he took the ball wide of the advancing
John Danby only for Phil Bolland to slide in
and make a timely tackle to prevent the ex-City
player opening the scoring.
It wasn’t long
before the deadlock was broken though. On eight
Blundell received a long clearance, chested
the ball down before taking it wide past the
despairing dive of Shearer. He turned
and slotting the ball home just inside the
far post to the delight of the 800+ City fans.
This was a confident finish that we were all
used to seeing from the striker at the start
Shearer was once again
called into action to save a long range effort
from Kevin Sandwith as City appeared to cope
with the difficult conditions better that their
Bennett was on hand to
block a shot from Dean Herd and Dave Edwards
saw a snap shot just clear the bar with Danby
beaten. Heard was again in the action down
the right wing and he sent in a teasing cross
that miraculously evaded everyone scrambling
in the City goalmouth just four yards out and
Blundell had a great
opportunity to extend City's advantage as he
was set through one-on-one with Shearer but
he appeared to try and round the keeper and
home skipper Sagi Burton was able to clear
the danger when a second goal looked imminent.
On the stroke of half
time the Shrews missed a golden opportunity
to equalise. Once again it was a teasing cross,
this time from Asamoah, that Edwards met just
two yards out but somehow contrived to scoop
the ball over the bar into the City faithful,
it seemed harder to miss that score.
City left the pitch to
a good reception from the traveling fans, but the mood
was soon to change. Just four minutes after
the restart Shrewsbury were level. Asamoah
cut in from the left and worked his way along
the byline without challenge before cutting
the ball back to the unmarked Ben Davies just
to turn the ball home.
Minutes later it seemed the game had been turned
on its head as the ball found its way into the
City net again only for the flag to deny Asamoah.
The home side piled on the pressure and the City
defence was rocking. Laurence Wilson replaced
Sandwith as manager Wright attempted to change
things. The pressure continued though as Edwards
hit a post and several crosses skidded across
the City six-yard box as the Blues rode their
The home side appealed for
a penalty after Davies went over in the box,
scuffles broke out and as a result the ex-City
midfielder was booked, presumable for diving.
With just four minutes remaining a
rare City excursion into the Shrews half saw
a right wing cross clearly appeared to be handled
by Heard but referee Procter waved away City's
To compound matters, as the
game ventured into added time a shot on the right
edge of the box from Asamoah hit defender Paul
Linwood on the arm from close range and referee
Procter deemed the offence deliberate and awarded
a spot-kick. Davies was prevented from taking
it and it was left to Michael Symes to just steer
the ball past Danby’s dive.
Right on the final whistle Sean Hessey
clattered into Asamoah and a melee broke out in front
of the main stand. Seconds later, with players pushing
and shoving each other Burton was shown a straight red
card. Other brawls broke out around the dug-out’s
and there was a charge by several players down the tunnel.
Whatever the reasons there are bound to be severe repercussion
for both sides once the referee’s report has been
submitted to the FA.
17 November Chester City 1 Stockport County
1 League Two
Attendance: 3,624 (1,285 Stockport County) Half Time
Chester City: Danby,
Marples, Artell, Bolland, Sandwith, S.Vaughan (Bennett
82), Martinez, Hand, Wilson, Steele (Blundell 82), Walters.
Subs not used: Palethorpe, Linwood, Hessey. Stockport County: Ruddy, Kane, Williams,
Clare (Briggs 45), Griffin, Poole, Dinning, Taylor, Gleeson,
Bramble, Le Fondre (Proudlock 72). Subs not used: Spencer,
Rose, Malcolm. Referee: J. Singh.
Chairman Stephen Vaughan was fuming after seeing this
latest display from City. The Blues came from a goal
down at the break to share a point with their Cheshire
neighbours but the disjointed first-half showing brought
the following rebuke from the chairman after the match.
“The league game at Shrewsbury
Town next Saturday and the FA Cup tie at either Bury
or Weymouth the week after could define our season,
and I will be demanding a marked improvement from everybody
concerned to what I witnessed in the first 45 minutes
on Friday evening. I want to re-emphasise to my fellow
directors and our supporters, that one way or another
there will be an improvement in results, I will ensure
That first-half showing saw City take
33 minutes before their first effort of note from Lee
Steele after they’d earlier conceded a goal through
some lacklustre defending.
With Ashley Westwood serving a suspension
and Paul Linwood injured manager Mark Wright drafted
in Simon Marples and Stephen Vaughan in place of Sean
Hessey and Dean Bennett who both played in last weeks
FA Cup encounter at Clevedon.
On a cold and wet Deva night It was
the Hatters who started stronger and both Tes Bramble
and Adam Le Fondre had half chances top open the scoring,
Le Fondre also brought out a great save from John Danby
in the home goal too maintain parity after the striker
had broken through onto Jason Taylor’s through
Danby was called into action saving
bravely at the feet of the onrushing Tes Bramble after
another quick County raid had stretched the City defence.
Danby required several minutes of treatment following
the challenge that brought a yellow card.
On 26 minutes the visitors opened
the scoring. A left wing cross from Taylor was allowed
to drift across the City six yard box, Sandwith stuck
out a leg to clear the danger but completely missed
the ball allowing David Poole to hook the ball home
at the far post.
Steele headed straight at John Ruddy
when well placed six yards out, City created several
more attempts on Ruddy’s goal before the half
The Blues, no doubt after a half-time
roasting, came out fired up continuing on from where
they’d left off.
Ruddy cleared his lines well following
one penalty area scramble and he also did well to save
one again from Steele, but just before the hour mark
City were level.
Stephen Vaughan played a pass into
Jon Walters from the right wing, he shielded the ball
turned and slid a low shot past John Ruddy into the
corner of the net for the edge of the six yard box.
Moments later Jon Walters almost gave
Chester the lead though his header was gathered by Ruddy,
Steele then shot inches wide City, who were dominating
more after the break, looked the more likely of the
two sides to now to go on and get the winner.
It wasn’t all one way
traffic though as Danby though was forced to make a
crucial save twelve minutes from time to deny Bramble.
In the closing stages City had
to great chances to snatch the winner. Four minutes
from time Bennett and substitute Gregg Blundell combined
well to set up Jamie Hand but he shot straight at Ruddy.
Then in the in the final minute Blundell again worked
ball through for Walters one-on-one on the County ‘keeper.
With everyone expecting him to shoot Walters instead
chose to try and find Laurence Wilson with a pass, which
he didn’t, and the opportunity was wasted.
winds which had ripped off Aldi’s roof near the
site of Chester’s old ground at Sealand Road and
had caused ferries across the Irish Sea to be cancelled,
tugged at the old oak trees in the corner of the Hand
Stadium. Clevedon’s newish home was making its debut
in the first round proper of the FA Cup and the illustrious
Chester City were the honoured guests.
A small army of people were drafted in to welcome the
crowds of people for this much anticipated tie. From programme
sellers to workers at the local equestrian centre –
which doubled up as a car park for the day – all
played their part. The Seasiders usual attendance of below
200 swelled to over 2,000 as a new record attendance was
set for the ground. Chester have often been the visitors
when clubs have recorded their lowest attendance so this
was a welcome change.
Plenty of City followers found their way into the huge
supporters’ lounge which has another life as a night
club during the week. Outside we met with a fundraiser
for a charity who is following every round of the FA Cup
all the way to (we hope) Wembley. We donated to his worthy
cause before he confessed to being a Tranmere Rovers supporter.
The Exiles were out in force – there are almost
enough in the West Country to form their own branch.
If the cold and bracing wind was likely to be a leveller
between the two sides – three divisions apart –
Chester used it to their advantage in the first half.
Sensibly they passed the ball about on the ground and
moved the ball about quickly despite the home sides’
energy in trying to close them down. Some neat approach
play on seven minutes led to Hessey thumping a cross to
the far post which Wilson swept into the opposite corner.
City were ahead and nerves about a giant killing began
to settle. Chester imposed themselves on the Southern
League side and barely let them out of their own half.
The crossbar was struck and Artell had a goal disallowed
for offside. Our only worries at half time were about
Chester would regret not making their dominance tell further.
Soon after the interval
the lead was doubled. A free kick outside the area was
hit straight into the wall and struck a defender’s
hand. The referee awarded another kick right on the
edge of the box. Martinez worked the ball wide to Hand
who thumped a fierce shot into the roof of the net (How
many players can claim to have scored in a Stadium with
which they share a name?). Shortly afterwards Walters
made it three with a towering header from a corner and
– an unaccustomed feeling – City fans began
to relax and enjoy the game as it played out.
Blundell made an almost instant impact by scoring as
soon as he came on and then Pitcher completed the scoring
with a consolation – which no-one but perhaps
Mark Wright would begrudge – for Clevedon. City
can look forward to the next round but will it be a
return to the West Country at Weymouth or north to Gigg
At the match
on Saturday was Sebastian Blair who is raising money
for MENCAP SPORT. He is following the progress of
the FA Cup from the first qualifying round (Wembley
v Thame United) through to the final. Clevedon v
Chester was the ninth match so far in the sequence
having followed Wembley › Redbridge ›
AFC Hornchurch › Welling United › Clevedon
Town and now the trail continues with Chester City.
Sebastian will be collecting donations at our second
round match whether it is at Bury or Weymouth. If
you would like to donate to the cause, or read more
about the venture, please visit his website here.
3 November Darlington 1 Chester City 0 League Two
Attendance: 3,630 (157 Chester) Half Time 1-0
Booked: -. Sent-off: Westwood.
the midweek Trophy win over Stockport County, City
came back down with a bump as they lost their second
League Two outing by a single goal margin. It could
have read a lot worse however with the home side hitting
City crossbar on no less that three occasions in the
After ending his 16 match goal
drought on Tuesday, striker Gregg Blundell was relegated
to the substitutes bench at the expense of Jon Walters
as manager Mark Wright took a look at the Lee Steele/Walters
partnership. Roberto Martinez also returned to the
side following suspension, replacing Shaun Hessey.
Ashley Westwood returned after injury to replace
Kevin Sandwith in the starting X1.
The home side took the lead
on 18 minutes. Patrick Collins’ clearance found
Simon Johnson on the left, he beat Simon Marples
crossed for Barry Conlon whose shot was blocked but
Micky Cummins reacted first to slot home the loose
the outstretched hand of John Danby.
City began to get a foothold
in the game, enjoying plenty of midfield possession,
but despite this they created only one real chance
of note during the period when Dean Bennett, having
got past the home defence, sent over a tantalising
cross that slipped right across the goal just begging
for an outstretched City leg to divert it home
but it wasn’t to be.
Laurence Wilson tried his luck
from long range just before the break but Russell
in the home goal was well positioned to make a comfortable
Darlo almost doubled their lead
just after the break as Martin Smith’s curling
effort smacked against The City bar and Cummins saw
his follow up shot deflected over.
Not long later, as the City
defence went AWOL, Neil Wainwright broke clear with
Johnson, he elected to shoot rather than pass as
Dandy advanced only to see his effort strike the
Wright introduced both Sandwith
and Blundell as City continued to enjoy plenty of
possession without troubling the home defence. Conlon
made it a hat-trick of bar strikes when his effort
bounced back following a Clark Keltie cross with
five minutes remaining.
Despite this City had two glorious
chances to grab a point in the dying minutes as Blundell
shot over and Wilson shot straight at Russell from
six yards when it seemed easier to score.
With the game heading into
stoppage time Ashley Westwood received a straight
red card from referee Booth following a challenge
on Johnson and now faces a three match ban straight
after returning from injury.