If this is to be Chester’s last ever game (and there
seem to have been a few “last ever” games
during the years), then those attending were given plenty
of things to remember – some good football; a couple
of protests and then the utter farce of the match being
With Clark Keltie leaving the club
at the end of his loan spell this week and Gregg Blundell
departing for Barrow, it was at least encouraging to
see Danby and Chadwick turning out with the team this
afternoon as they too had been rumoured to have left
the club over non-payment of wages.
City took the game to fellow strugglers
Eastbourne and, though play was littered with mistakes
and stray passes due to City being short on experienced
players, they played some very good football. The Blues
took the lead just after five minutes when they were
awarded a free kick on the edge of the box. Barry curled
his kick round the wall and into the top corner.
Boro’ were soon level when Owen
miscontrolled the ball and Enver-Mullin latched on to
it and sent a stunning shot from twenty-five yards which
sailed past Danby into the back of the net.
Despite the setback City continued
to try to play the ball around and nearly regained the
lead when the industrious Beasley found Chadwick with
a delightful pass. The City centre-forward, beat his
marker but with just the ‘keeper to beat blasted it
straight at him. City were not to be denied though when
following a sweeping move, Chadwick squared to Beasley
who pushed it right to Ellams and the youngster showed
admirable composure to drive the ball home.
The game was held up briefly when
about twenty protesters, hatted and hooded, strode on
to the pitch and tried to unfurl their makeshift banners.
One proclaimed "Chester Casuals: Vaughan OUT",
and another bracketed Stephen Vaughan with Adolf Hitler
and Pol Pot. Hardly subtle but succinct and making the
point effectively. Much of the main stand joined in
chants of Vaughan Out as the protesters were shepherded
off the pitch.
As the game continued Eastbourne won
a corner on the right. Danby dropped what looked like
a regulation catch and McLaggon pounced on the loose
ball to sweep it home. Slightly deflating this but City
were still applauded off at half time for their efforts.
After the break the football continued
to be ebb and flow with City generally playing the prettier
stuff but Eastbourne always a threat up front. Beasley
went close a couple of times but then City regained
the lead in magnificent style when Rhys Meynell’s
incisive pass down the left found Beasley whose exquisite
cross was finished by Chadwickr’s bullet header
into the back of the net.
No sooner had Chadwick celebrated
a la Ravanelli, a handful of protestors returned to
the pitch. One of them eluded the stewards a bit longer
and had to be wrestled off – Chadwick returned
his hat to him as he departed. This time there seemed
to be less sympathy for the protestors and more irritation
that City’s joy had been short lived.
By now the Eastbourne players had
departed from the pitch along with the officials but
the Chester team remained out there. We all waited for
an announcement – to be told eventually that the match
had been abandoned on the advice of the police. It seemed
a ludicrously over-the-top-reaction as there was no
threat to the players of either side nor to the general
public – there was a fairly calm atmosphere really.
The first protest had been dealt with
by the stewards with just a couple of special constables.
By the time of the second protest police re-inforcements
had arrived. As we left the ground the stadium and the
car park and Bumpers Lane were crawling with police
– as if all leave had been cancelled – they all seemed
to be standing around with very little to do.
There’s little doubt that
the majority of City fans agreed with the sentiments
of those who made it on to the pitch. It may not have
been their intention to get the match abandoned, the
police decision seemed to be out of all proportion.
After the irritation and the frustration of the match
and all the players’ excellent efforts in adversity
being written off – the oxygen of publicity that
the incidents attract may well help City’s cause
in the long term.
24 November Stevenage
Borough 2 Chester City 0
Attendance: 1,487 (54 Chester) Half Time 1-0
Stevenage Borough: Day, Henry, Roberts,
Bostwick, Laird, Drury, Murphy (Bridges 53), Byrom, Beardsley,
Boylan (Ashton 46), Odubade (Cole 84). Subs not used:
Chester City: Danby, Roberts, Kelly, Ryan, Owen
(Wilkinson 74), Kay (Blundell 41), Barry, Keltie, Rule,
Beesley, Chadwick (Ellams 75). Subs not used: Murphy,
Meynell. Referee: S Long (Ipswich).
This result had a certain inevitability about it as a
weakened and clearly demoralised City team did their best
to snatch at point at Broadhall Way before their first
half endeavours were undone by a strike on the 42nd minute.
It says it all when City were cheered
on by just 54 supporters (I counted them twice to check
no-one was hiding) and about the loudest fan of all
confessed to me that he was actually a Spurs supporter
dragged along by his Chester friend.
It was not that the players didn’t
try, and they did have the two best chances of the first
42 minutes. After soaking up the opening spell of Stevenage
pressure, City won themselves a free kick on the 15th
minute and the resulting header from Sean Kelly came
Ten minutes later, Anthony Barry had
a fearsome strike, but it sailed past Stevenage ‘keeper
Chris Day (who I now know is a “Tottenham reject”
– as the fan near me kept reminding us……all
The first Stevenage goal came after
a tame City clearance gifted Borough a throw-in. It
went to Yemi Odubade who caught the Chester defence
off-guard and his great strike beat John Danby.
Moments earlier, Adam Kay had limped
off to be replaced by Gregg Blundell. City did win a
couple of corners before half-time, but they came to
The second half saw few City chances,
and the game was effectively over on the 65th minute
when Stevenage ’s Cheshire-born captain Mark Roberts
headed home powerfully from a corner.
Lloyd Ellams came on for Nick Chadwick
on the 73rd minute and he did have a couple of wild
strikes, but the best of them only saw the ball hit
the Chester Exiles banner – and not the back of
Ben Wilkinson also replaced Blundell,
but he didn’t make a significant impact. By now
City had used all three substitutes and there were no
replacements left when Kevin Roberts left the pitch
on the 88th minute with a cut head after a clash with
So it was not a classic City away-day
and the best I got out of it is the knowledge that there
are now two people walking around Barcelona wearing
the Harry McNally shirts produced by the Exiles. This
game was their last stop before a holiday flight to
Spain and I like to think they are now showing off their
newly-purchased shirts around the Nou Camp. But I’m
afraid that’s the only positive I got out of the
a brief revival, City now seem to be getting sucked
into a tightening vortex of decline. They simply weren’t
good enough against Altrincham, allowing the visitors
too much time and space on the ball and to dictate the
game from the start.
It came as no surprise when Altrincham
took the lead – a cross to the far post hung in
the swirling wind, and while Danby hesitated, Little
headed the ball in to the net. Alty’s second also
stemmed from the right, a long throw was flicked on
for tall centre-back Williams to crash a volley home.
In the second half Chester made a
better fist of it and raised hopes for a while after
Rule crashed a spectacular shot into the far corner
after cutting in from the right. But Altrincham were
not to be denied their first win in five games when
City surrendered possession feebly to allow a counter
attack which Senior finished off by scoring from the
edge of the penalty area.
City clearly lacked the influence
of loanees Flynn and Coulson whom they couldn’t
afford to keep. It would be no surprise if the situation
of the club off the field is beginning to affect the
players on it too. Now that Stephen Vaughan is to be
disqualified as a company director from 25th November,
his latest sleight of hand is to name his son as owner
of the club. It remains to be seen whether the authorities
will be convinced by this. The gloom around the Deva
completed the double over the Blues following this 3-1
victory though City will have been left wondering how
they didn’t glean at least a point from the fixture
after failing to capitalise on a series of goalscoring
chances at a wet and windy Lamb Ground.
Blues manager Jim Harvey made two changes to the team
beaten 3-2 at York City in midweek, In came Anthony Barry
and Adam kay for James Owen and the injured Neil Ashton.
Nick Adams had already blazed over the bar before the
home side took the lead with ten minutes were on the clock.
Neil MacKenzie. A mistake by Barry let-in on-loan signing
Nick Wright. His effort was blocked by Tim Ryan but MacKenzie
pounced to score the rebound from just inside the box.
Wright had a great chance to double
the advantage four minutes later but clipped a shot
over the advancing John Danby and the bar after outpacing
Ryan and Shaun Kelly in the City defence.
It took City 18 minutes to muster
their first real effort of the game as Michael Coulson
saw a long-range effort fly just wide and two minutes
later Nick Chadwick also send a header wide following
a pinpoint cross from Kay.
City began to get back into the game, Chadwick again
saw and effort flash over from the edge of the box before
he and Barry combined three minutes from the break to
create a chance for Mark Beesley who could only shoot
straight at home ‘keeper Danny Alcock.
On the stroke of half-time Danby had to make a smart
reflex save to deny Richard Tait whose shot on target
had taken a deflection.
Danby produced a great save a couple of minutes after
the break to deny Jake Sheridan, but nine minutes Beesley
made up for that first-half miss latching onto a Rhys
Meynell through ball and shooting past Alcock into the
bottom corner for the equaliser.
The Blues then created a series of chances, substitute
Gregg Blundell, who had just replaced kay, shot at Alcock
and Kelly shot over when well placed before, against
the run of play, the home side regained the lead as
Simon Brown pounced after a MacKenzie shot had deflected
into his path of Kelly.
Six minutes later Wright put the game beyond City as
he gave Danby no chance with a 20-yard effort into the
corner having been set up by on-loan Iyseden Christie.
Following the defeat Harvey said: “We had so much
possession. There was a lot of good football. We’ve
opened them up and Mark Beesley slotted his goal home
“But sometimes you can
get caught up in playing football and forget about your
job. We have just got to be careful that we don’t
go gung-ho, playing forward football all the time without
keeping an eye on the back door.”
10 November York
City 3 Chester City 2
Attendance: 2,164 (110 Chester) Half Time 2-0
York City: Ingham, Purkiss, McGurk, Parslow,
Meredith, Smith (Gall 70), Lawless, Barrett, Carruthers,
Rankine (Mackin 79), Brodie (Ferrell 90). Subs not used:
Chester City: Danby, Roberts, Kelly, Ryan, Ashton,
Owen (Barry 28), Keltie, Meynell (Wilkinson 70), Beesley,
Coulson, Chadwick (Blundell 65). Subs not used: Murphy,
Rule. Referee: Darren Bond (Lancashire).
three match unbeaten run coame to an end at York City
as local hero Richard Brodie grabbed a hat-trick to sink
Manager Jim Harvey was forced to make a change from the
side that played so well at Grays, Shaun Kelly replacing
on-loan Jonathan Flynn who was on international duty.
It didn't take long for
Brodie to open his account, 40 seconds to be precise,
receiving the ball on half-way and walking through a static
Blues defence before shooting past the exposed John Danby.
The Minstermen continued to press and should have doubled
their advantage moments later when Mark Rankine headed
over when a second goal seemed certain.
Tim Ryan denied another scoring chance for Rankine clearing
the danger after good approach play involving man of the
Brodie and Alex Lawless saw strikes flash just past the
post before City troubled home 'keeper Michael Ingham
into his first save of the night as he denied Mark Beesley
a scoring chance after good build-up play involving Nick
Brodie and Adam Smith had both gone close before the home
side scored a deserved second goal on 32 minutes. Neil
Ashton was adjudged to have fouled Brodie in the box and
the York striker duly dispatched the resulting spot-kick.
The Blues almost pulled a goal back on the stroke of half
time but Kelly saw his goalbound header cleared off the
City started the second period as they did the first by
conceding an early goal as Brodie took a through ball
from Neil Barrett to advance and curle a left footed effort
over Danby and into the net.
Out of the Blue City pulled a goal back through substitute
Anthony Barry who had earlier replaced James Owen. He
let fly with a 20-yarder that gave Ingham no chance.
The goal gave City a boost, and they should have pulled
another back on 68 minutes as Ashton pulled a Kevin Roberts
cross back for Mark Beesley who blazed over from six yards.
Substitute Gregg Blundell also missed a good opportunity
before Kelly reduced the arrears further in stoppage time
heading home a Clark Keltie cross from close range.
7 November Grays
Athletic 1 Chester City 3
Attendance: 480 Half Time 1-2
Grays Athletic: Edwards, Davis (Asllani
76), Mawer, Uddin, Bunce, Graham (Pendergast 60), Robson,
Leahy (Agumbar 55), Poole, Slabber, Onibuje. Subs not
used: Charge, Rnkovic.
Chester City: Danby, Roberts, Ryan, Flynn, Meynell
(Wilkinson 85), Coulson (Kay 90), Owen, Keltie, Ashton,
Chadwick (Blundell 80), Beesley. Subs not used: Murphy,
Rule. Referee: John Farries (Oxfordshire).
made it a hat-trick of league victories with a comprehensive
win against Grays Athletic which takes them within 19
points of a Conference safety spot.
made their intentions clear from the start with both
Clark Keltie, Nick Chadwick and Kevin Roberts having
chances against the part-timers within the opening 10
The trickiest Grays player was Fola
Onibuje, a 6ft 7ins former Great Britain sprinter, and
Jonny Flynn had the difficult task of marking him all
match. He was a handful in the box throughout the game
and Grays were soon aiming their crosses at him. One
of his early headers fell well for fellow striker Jamie
Slabber, but he shot the ball well over the bar.
The goal-scoring opportunities then
shifted to the other end as Michael Coulson, arguably
City’s man-of-the-match, got more involved in
the play. It was also great to see City putting strings
of passes together and it was an excellent combination
from Roberts to James Owen, then onto Coulson that ended
up with the first ball in the back of the net.
Just when City fans were thinking
it was all too good to be true, the score was then back
on level terms. The giant Grays frontman Onibije headed
in a corner from close to the line just two minutes
after Coulson’s opener.
But Chester were not giving up and
continued to pile on the pressure, still playing some
neat football. They were rewarded on the 44th minute
when Grays keeper Preston Edwards dropped the ball and
it fell to Coulson. He passed to Chadwick, who had no
trouble putting City back in front.
Chester carried on as the dominant
side in second half, with Mark Beesley having a shot
blocked on the line on the 53rd minute. Grays manager
Julian Dicks made a couple of substitutions on the 54th
and 59th minutes, and soon after a fearsome Onibuje
strike was tipped over the bar by John Danby.
That was the best chance they had
to score in the second half, and then Owen and Beesley
rattled Grays again with a couple of shots on target.
The third City goal came from another neat move by Coulson
who laid on an excellent pass to Chadwick to put Chester
3-1 up on the 76th minute.
Jim Harvey then replaced Chadwick
with Gregg Blundell, followed nine minutes later by
Ben Wilkinson replacing Rhys Meynell. By then Chester
were on cruise control, with Blundell doing his best
to offer a lively presence.
Both Blundell and Beesley had a shot
each in the three minutes of injury time, and Harvey
ate away a few seconds by replacing Coulson with Adam
Kay. But seconds later, it was full-time and Chester
had maintained their mini-unbeaten run.
Most of the City players and management
celebrated their win with a brief stop in the Grays
social club after the game. It was good to see there’s
a real team spirit as much off as on-the-field, and
the post-match drinks were certainly well-deserved.