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Sunday 25 November
Wrexham 2 Chester City 2
League Two
Attendance: 7,687 (1,977 Chester) Half Time 1-2
Booked: Lowndes, Hughes.

Anthony Williams, Pejic (Done 66), Steve Evans, Hope, Baynes, Proctor, Taylor, Llewellyn, Aiston (Spender 83), Eifion Williams, Roberts (Garrett 78). Subs not used: Michael Jones, Gareth Evans.
Chester City: Danby, Marples, Butler, Linwood, Wilson, Partridge, Dinning (Grant 26, (Yeo 67)), Roberts, Ellison, Lowndes (McManus 52), Hughes. Subs not used: Ward, Holroyd.
Referee: Keith Woolmer (Northamptonshire).

The points were shared at the Racecourse after a pulsating 90 minutes that had seen City twice take the lead against their cross-border rivals only to be pegged back on both occasions.

Almost 2,000 fans made the trip to Wrexham hoping to see the Blues record their first league victory at Wrexham since 1978, but they left having seen their side miss several half chances at 2-1 and having to be content with a draw that was probably a fair result overall.

The Blues were dealt a blow before kick-off with striker John Murphy missing through injury, taking his place in the starting eleven was Mark Hughes available again following suspension.

The pitch was causing problems for both sides in the early stages that saw several players slipping on the wet surface and struggling to keep their feet when running at pace. The opening period was cagey with both sides forcing saves, Danby being well placed to gather one early effort from Eifion Williams.

On 26 minutes City were forced into a change as Tony Dinning had to hobble off, the midfielder had received several minutes of treatment in the centre circle and, despite attempting to continue, was helped from the pitch. Tony Grant came on as a replacement and within a minute City had taken the lead. Nathan Lowndes flicked on a left wing throw to youngster Kevin Roberts, he looked up and volleyed the ball from the edge of the area into the far corner, the ball dropping at the last minute giving Anthony Williams, who didn’t even move, no chance in the home goal.

The City fans at the other end went wild as their side drew first blood.

Minutes later City almost doubled their lead as Paul Butler saw a powerful header cleared off the line following Richie Partridge’s right wing corner was cleared off the line by Wes Baynes, making his debut for the Dragons, to safety. The clearance proved crucial as the home side leveled just five minutes later.

City were awarded a free-kick on the half way line and, instead of sending the ball into the box, elected to play it short to the touchline where possession was quickly lost to Neil Roberts, he sent Michael Proctor through on the right, he cut inside, beat Paul Linwood, and shot across Danby into the far corner.

The Blues nearly conceded a second as Paul Linwood unwittingly deflected a goalbound shot 90 degrees that flashed a foot wide of the City post.

The earlier injury to Dinning meant five minutes of added time were played, and during the last of these Chester took a half-time advantage. The Blues forced a corner on the left, Partridge delivered the cross to the far post where an unmarked Paul Linwood headed past Williams.

Wrexham came out fired up in the second period and it was soon their turn to see an effort cleared off the line following a Steve Evans header. City manager Bobby Williamson was forced into another change as Lowndes was forced from the field to be replaced by young winger Paul McManus. Kevin Ellison operated as the front runner.

McManus had a great chance following a mistake in the home defence. Another slip in the wet conditions left the pacy winger with a run on goal but Williams read the situation well and raced out to block. The Blues had another glorious chance following a break down the right, Partridge cut-in near the byline and will Williams rushing out shot straight at the keeper with Ellison and Simon Yeo (on for the injured Grant) unmarked six yards out to his left.

McManus was sent clear again on the left, his pace taking his past a Wrexham defender and as he cut inside he shot straight at Williams who caught the ball above his head.

With fifteen minutes remaining the home side scored a second equaliser. Matty Done was set free on the left and his far post cross was met well by Proctor who volleyed home inside the right hand post.

In injury time McManus almost achieved cult status as he rose at the far post to meet a Laurence Wilson cross, but he was unable to keep his header down and it sailed over the bar to bring to an end a hard fought match.

Pictures © Evening Leader

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Saturday 17 November
Chester City 0 Milton Keynes Dons 2
League Two
Attendance: 3,102 Half Time 0-1
Booked: -.

Chester City:
Danby, Marples, Linwood (Grant 45), Butler, Wilson, Partridge, Dinning, Roberts, Ellison, Murphy, Lowndes (Yeo 74). Subs not used: Ward, McManus, Holroyd.
Milton Keynes Dons: Gueret, Diallo, Swailes, O’Hanlon, Lewington, Wright (Cameron 82), Navarro, Andrews, Dyer (Knight 65), Wilbraham, Johnson. Subs not used: Abbey, Gallen, Broughton.
Referee: Eddie Ilderton (Tyne & Wear).

Chester paid the price for missed chances as MK Dons opened up their lead at the top of League Two with a 2-0 win at Deva Stadium to register their 10th win in their last 12 league outings.

The Blues were boosted by the news that both John Murphy and Richie Partridge were fit enough to feature in the starting line-up having recovered from injury. Partridge’s brother in law Chester-born Michael Owen watched on from the main stand.

City captain Tony Dinning saw an early effort go over but it was the visitors who dominated the opening period with midfielders Keith Andrews and Alan Navarro, who had a one month loan spell with Chester in 2004, dominating the midfield exchanges.

Navarro himself saw a shot deflected by ex-Dons defender Paul Butler just wide after a period of keep-ball from the visitors.

John Danby was well placed to save at an acute angle from Aaron Wilbraham and Keith Andrews almost chipped the City shot stopper as the visitors pressed.

The game proved a bit of a stalemate but after plenty of possession the visitors took the lead on 37 minutes through Mark Wright.

Andrews long ball found Wilbraham on the right, he turned past Butler on the edge of the box, and as Danby closed him down his shot deflected to the feet of Wright who swept the ball home from 12 yards.

Chester were forced into a change at the break with Paul Linwood, who had been suffering blurred vision, being replaced by Tony Grant with Kevin Roberts dropping back into the defence.

Having been out of the game for long periods in the opening 45, Chester hit back after the break and posed a few questions to their high-flying visitors.

Grant was soon in the action sending over a pinpoint cross to Murphy, but, as the City striker took his sight on goal Dons ‘keeper Willy Gueret rushed out to block his effort.

The Dons doubled their lead on 64 minutes. Dyer went on a quick run down the left, he turned the back-peddling partridge, and sent in a near post cross that was met by Jemal Johnson who got ahead of his marker to steer the ball past Danby from close range.

City were gifted an opportunity back into the game on 73 minutes as Wright was penalised for handling in the area following a Kevin Ellison header.

Simon Yeo, who’d only been on the pitch for a couple of minutes, stepped up to the spot but saw his effort saved by Gueret who dived to his right to push the ball away to safety.

City had further chances to get back in the game, Guret pulled off another fine save to deny Ellison and closed down to block Yeo after the striker had been put through.

So a third successive defeat for City that sees them drop two places in the table to sixth, seven points behind their victors.

Pictures © Evening Leader

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Saturday 10 November
Bradford City 1 Chester City 0
FA Cup round 1
Attendance: 4,069 (628 Chester) Half Time 1-0
Booked: Lowndes.

Bradford City:
Ricketts, Williams, Wetherall, Clarke, Heckingbottom, Daley (Rhodes 88), Johnson, Paul Evans (Phelan 84), Nix, Thorne (Conlon 74), Ndumbu-Nsungu. Subs not used: Saynor, Bower.
Chester City: Danby, Marples, Linwood, Butler, Wilson, Grant (Rutherford 77), Dinning, Hughes, Ellison, Yeo, Lowndes (McManus 66). Subs not used: Palethorpe, Holroyd, Roberts.
Referee: Graham Salisbury (Lancashire).

City suffered their second defeat in five days at Valley Parade to exit the FA Cup at the first hurdle. The Blues, without both John Murphy and Richie Partridge struggled to break down a home side that defended in numbers after striker Guylain Ndumbu-Nsungu was red carded for a second bookable offence just before the break.

Over 600 Chester fans made the trip across the Pennines in a crowd that was an astonishing 9,000 down on that reported to have been there for the League Two match on Tuesday night.

With Tuesday’s injured duo missing manager Bobby Williamson brought in Tony Grant and Nathan Lowndes while Simon Yeo started ahead of Chris Holroyd.

Chester started the game well, playing with plenty of possession as they had done for the second period in midweek, they had an early sniff on goal when Kevin Ellison burst through and elected to shoot but sent his effort high and wide without troubling Ricketts in the home goal.

Mark Hughes sent a shot wide after Linwood’s knock-down from a free kick had caused panic in the home defence. The midfielder saw another effort pushed wide for a corner by Ricketts as City pressed for a first half advantage.

Minutes later at the other end though Eddie Johnson screwed a shot wide from inside the six yard box after meeting a Paul Evans free kick.

However it was the home side who, against the general run of play found the net on 28 minutes. Paul Evans broke clear down the right and crossed to the far post where Peter Thorne, totally unmarked, headed across goal over John Danby’s despairing dive into the far corner of the net for his first goal since January 2006.

Home ‘keeper Ricketts was in the action soon later saving well from a Grant header before the home side were reduced to ten men, Ndumbu-Nsungu’s late tackle on Laurence Wilson brought his second yellow card a couple of minutes before the break, which left Bantams manager Stuart McCall furious with referee Salisbury’s decision.

With a man advantage Chester began the second period on the attack with Wilson firing across goal when well positioned following good work from Yeo. Lowndes fed a through ball to Hughes but once again Ricketts read the situation well to block at the feet of the midfielder.

Paul McManus replaced Lowndes and Paul Rutherford came on for Grant as manager Bobby Williamson looked to change things. But try as City might they couldnt penetrate a packed home defence who held firm to register their second win over Chester in a week and line-up a second round home tie with Tranmere Rovers.

Pictures © Evening Leader

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Tuesday 6 November
Bradford City 2 Chester City 1
League 2
Attendance: 13,211 (272 Chester) Half Time 1-0
Booked: Hughes, Holroyd, Butler, Marples.

Bradford City:
Ricketts, Williams, Wetherall, Clarke, Heckingbottom, Daley, Paul Evans (Rhodes 69), Law, Nix (Bower 90), Johnson, Thorne (Ndumbu-Nsungu 76). Subs not used: Saynor, Conlon.
Chester City: Danby, Marples, Dinning, Butler, Wilson, Partridge (Rutherford 18), Hughes, Linwood, Ellison, Murphy (Roberts 46), Holroyd (Yeo 78). Subs not used: Palethorpe, Lowndes.
Referee: Andy Hall (West Midlands).

City lost their League away record at Valley Parade after a struggling Bradford City side finally ended their run of eight winless games.

But it was another reasonable performance from Bobby Williamson’s men, and they were unlucky not to leave Yorkshire without a point for their efforts.

Chester started the game with the appropriate confidence from a side sitting second in League Two, and won a corner in the opening spell, which resulted in three City shots before the ball was cleared by Bradford ‘keeper Donovan Ricketts.

The Blues carried on pressing and it was great for the 272 travelling fans to see Chester playing football at the same level as a team with such an impressive ground, certainly the best I’ve seen in League Two, and in front of more than 13,000 spectators.

But it wasn’t long before the Bantams started coming into the game and not long after they won their second corner, Eddie Johnson fell flat in the box following a challenge by Mark Hughes.

Nicky Law took the penalty in front of the Chester fans, who were relieved to see John Danby dive the right way to clear the ball. Paul Butler played safe by hitting the loose ball out for a corner, which came to nothing when the ball went straight out of play.

Soon after, Richie Partridge came off with an injury and was replaced by Paul Rutherford. Then Johnson was again fouled by Hughes, and this time his name was put in the notebook of referee Andy Hall.

City didn’t seem quite as threatening with the loss of Partridge, and Chris Holroyd had a disappointing game, often guilty of poor distribution. He was also the second Chester name in the book when he was booked for dissent on 25 minutes.

Bradford continued to push forward and the ball came to Omar Daley not long after he fouled Laurence Wilson. Daley took the shot well, and it hit the inside edge of the post and left Danby with no chance of making a save.

There were no more clear-cut chances in the rest of the half, but there was another City yellow card when Butler was booked for a foul on Kyle Nix just before half-time.

When City ran out for the second half, John Murphy had been replaced by Kevin Roberts and the formation was shuffled with Kevin Ellison, largely ineffectual in the first half, going up front.

Ellison made an immediate impact when he was fouled by a Bradford player right on the edge of the box. The referee awarded a penalty and Tony Dinning, who scored a penalty in City’s last game, stepped up to take it. But it was a poor effort and Ricketts easily palmed it up onto the crossbar.

Chester kept their heads up though, with Butler – perhaps as an ex-Leeds player wanting to make an impression against their West Yorkshire rivals – having a good game, with some telling tackles. Roberts also put in a quality performance, and had a couple of decent efforts on goal.

Both sides continued to play watchable football, and City’s final throw of the dice came when Holroyd was replaced by Simon Yeo on the 77th minute.

However many City fans were wondering if it was too late for him to make any difference, and it took a Bradford sub, Alex Rhodes, to put the result beyond doubt.

He ran down the wing, with the ball very close to going out of play, and had no trouble keeping ahead of Simon Marples as he protested to the referee that Chester should’ve been given a throw-in. Once he got into the box without being challenged, he had an excellent shot to make it 2-0 to the Bantams.

Chester had an injury-time consolation goal when one header after another fell nicely for Ellison to have a diving header into the back of the net.

When City travel again to Yorkshire for the first round of the FA Cup, they’ll be backed by at least twice as many fans and now know they’ve got nothing to fear from the former Premiership club. On the strength of Tuesday night, it’s a game that could go either way.

Sue Choularton

Pictures © Evening Leader

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Friday 2 November
Lincoln City 0 Chester City 1
League 2

Attendance: 3,960 (151 Chester) Half Time 0-0
Booked: Dinning, Butler, Ellison, Holroyd.

Lincoln City:
Marriott, Green, Beevers (Hone 28), Bencherif, Croft, Frecklington (Warlow 84), Kerr, Hand, N’Guessan, Torpey (Wright 58), Dodds. Subs not used: Duffy, Amoo.
Chester City: Danby, Marples, Butler, Dinning, Ellison, Wilson, Holroyd (Yeo 76), Linwood, Hughes, Murphy, Partridge. Subs not used: Palethorpe, Lowndes, Rutherford, Roberts.
Referee: Trevor Kettle (Rutland).

Traffic congestion forced a late kick-off at Sincil Bank as the Blues team arrived half an hour after the scheduled kick-off time. A quick five minute warm-up preceded the 20:40 kick-off time, not the best preparation for a side looking to extend its unbeaten away run and maintain the pressure on top side MK Dons.

Not surprisingly Chester took time to get started with the home side having the better of the opening stages. Scott Kerr tested the City rearguard with a free-kick in the opening minutes. Former Chester player Jamie Hand wasted another free-kick shooting straight into the wall before striker Steve Torpey came close to opening the scoring as he saw a header from a Gary Croft cross bounce clear off the crossbar with John Danby beaten.

At the other end Chris Holroyd was denied a strike on goal following a well time block from Bencharif. Tony Dinning and Paul Butler found themselves in referee Kettle’s notebook in the opening stages as the home side, playing under new manager Peter Jackson, continued to press for an opening.

Croft sent a shot just wide before Chester forced a couple of corners. Ex-Imp Kevin Ellison saw an effort blocked by Lee Beevers who injured himself in the process leaving the field with a suspected dislocated shoulder. Tony Dinning then tried his luck from long range but Alan Marriott in the home goal was on hand to parry the ball wide with the onrushing John Murphy unable to convert.

Lee Frecklington sent a shot wide and Dany N’Guessan forced Danby into a comfortable save and Torpey glanced the ball just wide on the stroke of half time.

Twelve minutes after the break City scored the only goal of the game in controversial circumstances. A right wing cross was met by Chris Holroyd who out jumped both Paul Green and Bencherief but directed his header wide. City seemed to appeal for a corner but referee Kettle pointed to the spot amidst protests from the home players. Dinning stepped up and chipped the spot kick down the middle over a diving Marriott.

Lincoln looked the more dangerous side and thought they seen an equaliser as a long punt upfield was headed down for Ben Wright to shoot past Danby but referee Kettle annoyed the home fans again awarding a free kick for a foul in the build-up. N’Guessan tested Dandy with a long-range effort

Ellison and Holroyd also found themselves in the notebook for fouls and the latter was replaced by former Lincoln hero Simon Yeo. Richie Partridge saw a shot go over the bar when well placed. The home side replaced Frecklington with Warlow and continued to probe but City's defence held firm with Yeo helping out to clear a corner in the dying minutes and preserve Chester’s impressive away run.

Pictures © Evening Leader

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