Saturday 27 November 1999
Chester City 0 Swansea City
Chester City: Brown, Moss,
Woods, Spooner, Fisher, Doughty, Nash, Richardson,
Reid (Finney 73), Beckett, Cross. Subs not used: Berry,
Conkie, Lancaster, Jones.
Swansea City: Freestone, S.Jones. Smith. Bound, Howard
(Casey 54), Price (Thomas 77), Cusack, Lacey, Coates, Alsop,
Watkin. Subs not ised: J.Jones, Jenkins, Boyd.
Referee: W.Burns (Scarborough).
For the third season running Chester's
home game with Swansea proved controversial for one
reason or another off the field. Two years ago it was
the rearranged fixture on a Wednesday night switched
from the Vetch Field with indecent haste because of
Mr Guterman's "cash flow" problems. Last season it
was billed as possibly City's last ever League match
as they faced a winding up order in the High Court
the following Monday. This season saw the kick off
delayed by ten minutes because of quite chaotic voucher
arrangements for the Man City FA Cup tie.
Fans were given a cloak room ticket
as they came through the turnstiles which gave them
the privilege of buying a programme (strictly limited
to one per fan) which would then form a voucher for
a ticket for the Man City game. I have never seen such
queues to buy a programme. Inevitably they ran out
and several supporters missed out. But a bit of creative
thinking meant that a crateful of unsold Czechoslovakia
v England schoolboy international programmes were wheeled
out to act as vouchers as well. These latter did not
have to be paid for which led to moans from the people
who had forked out �2 and wouldn't normally have bought
a programme or shared one between their family group
anyway. Before the kick off it was announced that the
vouchers (ie the Czechoslovakia programmes) would be
given second priority after season ticket holders and
programme holders but at half time it was announced
that the voucher holders would have equal priority.
Tickets for the City game are expected
to be on sale on Wednesday or could it be Thursday
anyway watch the local press for details. Even Cleggy
said it was confusing but I bet the Evening Leader
and Daily Post are happy.
It was all pretty amusing I suppose
and certainly gave plenty of opportunity for debate
before, during and after a fairly dull match. I was
cross about it at the time but, on reflection, season
ticket holders who normally buy a programme are no
worse off unless they sit in the stand in which case
they will have to pay an extra �2 for the City game.
In the club's defence they named the programme as the
voucher to prevent the chance of forgeries but more
occasional fans will have been irritated and we can
ill afford to drive anyone away at the moment.
The most annoying thing for me is
that I can't make the Man City tie anyway now that
it's going to be played on a Sunday (I'm sorry but
the Guide and Brownie District Carol service was booked
months ago). No-one has given me a convincing reason
for the game to be moved to a Sunday. Neil Turner in
the Pink claims to have got his hands on the "rambling
and wordy" three page letter which Terry Smith wrote
to the FA, requesting the venue be switched to Maine
Road for crowd safety reasons. It was this, Turner
claims, that led to the compromise decision of a Sunday
game with one o'clock kick off. But I still defy anyone
to convince me why this should make it one little bit
safer for anyone (I'm biased of course).
And the match with Swansea itself?
Well the first five minutes were brilliant as Chester
piled on the pressure. A cross from the left eluded
Freestone but Beckett on the far post could only direct
his angled shot into the side netting. From a corner
the ball popped up on the edge of the box for Doughty
to lash in a rasping volley with his right foot. Freestone,
diving full length, turned it round the post.
After that it got worse, much worse.
Swansea, quicker to every ball, closed down supply
to our wing backs completely. Reid, Richardson and
Nash were then overwhelmed in midfield as Chester's
five man defence invited Swansea to come at them. They
didn't create many chances it has to be said but they
dominated the play and restricted Chester to knocking
the ball forward in the air giving Beckett and Cross
very little chance of doing anything.
On the one occasion that City did
manage to get the ball over the top of the defence,
Cross made a terrible hash of his shot.
Swansea took the lead on 54 minutes
when Cusack's neat header from a left wing cross stole
in at the far post. Brown seemed to see it late, may
be he thought it was going wide. Chester's heads went
right down and it never really looked like they would
get back in the game. Richardson came closest when
he slid in at the far post only to see his shot trickle
against the opposite upright and out of play. But I'm
afraid to say that Swansea were quicker and sharper
and more combative all over the pitch. Alsop was a
nuisance all game and should have made it two nil towards
the end but over hit the ball. It didn't matter as
Chester didn't look as if they'd score if they were
still playing now. This is no criticism of Luke Beckett,
however, who worked hard and deservedly collected another
bottle of champagne for his efforts. He just wasn't
given the chances because Swansea out ran us where
it mattered and closed City players down so effectively.
Towards the end Fisher was thrown
up into midfield as City reverted to 4-4-2 but to no
avail. A very dispiriting performance. Dave Fogg was
scathing about them when interviewed on the radio I wouldn't like to be in the players' boots on Monday.
To be fair to them, the team on this showing needs
a swift injection of pace, experience, and ability
if we are to climb away from the bottom.
Tuesday 24 November 1999
Chester City 0 Southend United
Chester City: Brown, Moss,
Spooner, Fisher, Woods, Doughty, Richardson, Reid (Berry
88), Nash (Finney 82), Beckett, Cross. Subs not used:
Conkie, Lancaster, Jones.
Southend United: Prudhoe, Roget, Coleman, Booty,
Connelly, Beard, Tinkler (Morley 45), Jones, Houghton,
Carruthers (Fitzpatrick 82), Tolson. Subs not used: Capelton,
Referee: P.Walton (Long Buckley).
After the way Southend began this
match I thought that we would do well to get a draw.
They looked very fast and fit going forward. Carruthers
and Houghton, two ex-Posh players who starred in that
really good 0-0 draw a couple of seasons ago shone
again. Like that game this was a very positive and
entertaining encounter. By the end, it was a huge disappointment
that City weren't able to nick the one goal which would
have given them the three points.
City fought tigerishly to get into
the game against a useful looking Southend side. It
helped a lot having Reid back in midfield. He was on
good form before his injury at Port Vale and he brings
leadership and considerable energy to the midfield.
Largely thanks to him City were not overrun in that
area. Doughty again had another outstanding game.
A sweeping move down the right led
to the ball being knocked out to Doughty who let fly
with a superb dipping volley - Prudhoe just got an
arm to it to knock it over the bar. Reid went close
with a near post header that was scrambled away for
a corner. Moss had a shot which took a deflection and
flashed past the far post for another corner.
At our end Chester had survived penalty
appeals when Beard went down after a challenge by Doughty.
The Shrimper's theatricals after a tackle a couple
of minutes earlier didn't do him any favours. The ref
pointed for a goal kick but for a couple of moments
it looked like the penalty spot. Later on Brown did
well to get back on his line to turn Tinkler's speculative
shot over the bar.
It had been end to end stuff and
City fans gave the Blue Boys a standing ovation at
the interval. Southend's veteran keeper Prudhoe took
up his place in goal in front of us and his Norman
Wisdom impression had us laughing. After that we wept
tears of frustration as he pulled off the save of the
match to keep out Jonathon Cross' goal bound shot.
Trigger (Who had been booked for dissent in the first
half) also had a sighter just over the bar a few minutes
earlier. City piled on the pressure and won umpteen
corners but could not apply the finishing touch. Richardson
came closest when Doughty crossed from the left but
his shot from the six yard line trickled just the wrong
side of the post.
Southend continued to look dangerous
on the break and Scott Houghton threatened a couple
of times with darting runs on the left. Brown pulled
off a classy save to deny one of his spearing shots.
Earlier Tolson put a free header just over the bar
and from another Carruthers slid in to pop the ball
against the upright.
Towards the end Nash was replaced
by Finney and Reid by Berry (The latter switch weakened
City alarmingly). Right at the end Doughty went on
a surging run towards goal and looked to be ready to
shoot when the ball was just touched away from him
by a defender and Beckett couldn't quite latch on to
It was an excellent and entertaining
game - but how we could have done with the three points.
Saturday 20 November 1999
Stalybridge Celtic 1 Chester City
Stalybridge Celtic: Ingham,
Ward, Scott, Ogley, Johnston, Bauress, Pickford, Parr,
Steele, Jones, Williamson. Subs not used: Philson,
Mason, Marginson, Sullivan, Stratford.
Chester City: Brown, Moss, Doughty, Reid, Milosavijevic,
Spooner, Richardson, Nash, Cross, Beckett, Fisher. Subs
not used: Conkie, Shelton, Lancaster, Jones, Woods.
Referee: M.Ryan (Preston).
defending gifted Stalybridge the opening goal on eight
minutes as Andy Scott jinked through the City defence
unchallenged before lobbing Wayne Brown in the City
goal. It was 40 minutes before Chester joined the game
in earnest. After several close shaves they equalised
on he stroke of half time through Jon Cross who headed
home Matt Doughty's cross, though the ball took a deflection
off defender Parr.
City's winner came from Luke Beckett
on 69 minutes, the unmarked striker heading home Doughty's
pinpoint left-wing cross.
Saturday 13 November 1999
Hartlepool United 1 Chester City 0
Hartlepool United: Hollund, Barron,
Lee, Westwood, Knowles, Fitzpatrick (Clark 89), Miller, Stephenson,
Shilton, Jones, Freestone (Henderson 75). Subs not used:
Provett, Vindheim, Boyd.
Chester City: Brown, Nash, Spooner, Milosavijevic
(Finney 60), Fisher, Doughty, Wright, Richardson (Berry
28), Shelton, Cross, Beckett. Subs not used: Conkie, Jones,
Referee: G.Laws (Whitley Bay).
Another trip to Hartlepool, another
Chester were always facing an uphill
struggle once midfielder Nick Richardson limped off after
28 minutes. Until then City were in the game and only minutes
later had the best chance to open the scoring. Jon Cross'
through header paved the way for Luke Beckett. Beckett
raced through on goal but blasted his shot straight at
'Pool keeper Martin Hollund.
The home side them swept upfield
and took the lead through Tommy Miller's 20-yarder.
City were under the cosh for most of
the second period and cleared three efforts off the line. Gary
Jones also hit the bar as the 1-0 scoreline flattered City
who were second best to everything all afternoon.
Tuesday 9 November 1999 - FA Cup
Round 1 Replay
Chester City 3 Whyteleafe 1
Chester City: Brown, Moss (Nash
46), Doughty, Fisher, Milosavijevic, Malone (Lancaster 16),
Wright, Richardson, Cross, Beckett, Shelton. Subs not used:
Conkie, Berry, Jones.
Whyteleafe: Rose, Algar, Howland, Golley, Arkwright,
McKay (Elliot 59), Ahmet (George 74), Fisher, Scoitt (Milton
36), Lunn, Thornton. Subs not used: George, Hopkins.
Referee: P.Taylor (Cheshunt).
It was like a scene from the Hound of the
Baskervilles at the Deva tonight....fog rolling on freezing
breezes from the Dee...Was there the howl of a werewolf and
a death knelling tolling for our beloved Blues?
eight minutes we could here alarm bells ringing....Whyteleafe
scored after we failed to clear...I could not see who made
the mistake, but the amount Malone made in the next five
minutes, and his unceremonious hauling off after fifteen,
suggested it may have been him.
Again it begs the question, who on earth
signed him? He looked absolutely dreadful, even allowing
for nerves, no speed, no touch, no heading ability...Was
it Finney in disguise?
We battled back with Doughty rampant throughout
the night...he linked well with Goran and centred for Jon
Cross to equalise. We were all over them from then on. They
were reduced to ten men when Andy Shelton was punched/slapped...I
could here the connection from where I was sat. It is the
only time I have ever seen a player booked for receiving
a punch!! Never mind Andy.
We started off the second half in tremendous
style...Matt Doughty put over two pinpoint crosses to set
up Luke for the second goal and Crossy for his brace. To
be fair it died a bit after that, as we basked in the glory
of a two goal cushion against a non-league side down to ten
The only thing that was going to beat us
was the fog....mercifully it just about stayed playable.
Was I the only one hoping for fog when Malone was playing
like an alehouse centre half, and we were losing 1-0?
Plenty of good performances tonight, with
Luke and Crossy linking well, Fisher again looking accomplished
and Nicky Richardson tireless. However Matt Doughty was incredible,
what a sweet left foot the lad has got...I have asked before,
but received no re-assurance, is he on a long term contract?
Well done blue boys!
Saturday 6 November 1999
Chester City 0 Plymouth Argyle
Chester City: Brown, Moss, Spooner,
Fisher, Milosavijevic, Doughty, Shelton, Richardson, Wright
(Nash 45), Finney (Cross 57), Beckett. Subs not used: Berry,
Plymouth Argyle: Sheffield, O'Sullivan, Taylor,
Barratt, Beswetherick, McGregir, Leadbitter, McCall, Hargreaves,
McCarthy (Heathcote 83), Stonebridge (Belgrave 69). Subs
not used: Veysey, Bastow, Phillips.
Referee: D.Gallagher (Banbury).
Talk about hard luck!
We were pretty poor in the first half,
with Darren Wright having the proverbial nightmare. I feel
sorry for Wrighty, wholehearted, committed and pretty quick
too. However he is not a midfield player, as illustrated
by his woeful defensive header that presented Steve McCall
with a half chance that he volleyed brilliantly past Wayne
Oh I wish we had a player of McCall's ability.
He ran midfield, probing passes, hard tackles and general
all round awareness. Qualities which we sadly lack in our
inexperienced side. Back to Wrighty, how anybody can waste
him in midfield when the likes of Steve Finney can get a
game is beyond me. I know he is lacking in match fitness
but he was an absolute disgrace....overweight, slow, unable
to jump...he should never be asked to put on the blue and
white shirt again.
At the start of the second half Nash was
introduced and played very well too. Jon Cross was introduced
for the inept Finney and the side was transformed. Shelton,
Moss and Doughty were rampant on overlaps and only a string
of stunning saves kept us out.
Debutant Spooner was solid at the back,
and Neil Fisher superb at sweeper. Plymouth were a fair side
too, we more than matched them and certainly deserved better.
There was a composure to the team that bodes well. If we
start with the side that finished against Whiteleafe I predict
a trouncing. Remember you heard it here first!!!
Tuesday 2 November 1999
Shrewsbury Town 0 Chester City
Shrewsbury Town: Edwards, Seabury,
Hanmer, Wilding, Winstanley; Brown, Jobling (Berkley), Rigby,
Kerrigan (Spink 73), Steele
Chester City: Brown, Moss, Doughty (Nash), Woods
(Berry), Milosavijevic, Fisher; Wright, Richardson, Shelton
(Finney 89); Beckett, Agogo.
Referee: M J Brandwood.
Chester came out in disguise tonight. Both
their home and away kit clashed with Shrewsbury's blue and
amber stripes. So City borrowed their hosts' away kit from
last season a rather fetching pale blue and white outfit
with white shorts and socks. In appearance they resembled
Argentina. "Come on you Pumas!" yelled David Wright
the Onion Bag Sales executive.
Yet another change of formation - or at
least personnel it was five at the back again but this
time Fisher was the sweeper with Milosavijevic and Woods
the centre halves. There were as many errors on the pitch
as there were fallen leaves, blown down from the rank of
poplars behind the terrace. Shrewsbury had slightly the better
of things but City held out till half time.
After the break City gradually began to
put the home team under more and more pressure. Richardson,
Wright and Shelton all did well and there was some execellent
passing and movement in their approach play. With eighteen
minutes to go Darren Wright was brought down on the edge
of the box. Woods stood ten yards to the right of the free
kick. I felt sure the ball would be knocked to him to launch
one of his piledrivers. Instead Richardson curled the ball
towards the top corner. As Edwards dived despairingly to
his left the ball hit the underside of the bar and crashed
into the back of the net. It was a strike that Beckham couldn't
The Shrews brought Spink (returning on
loan from the Welsh club who themselves were being hammered
5-0 at Turf Moor, I'm delighted to say) on straight away.
An injury to Woods seemed sure to disrupt City. He was replaced
by Berry (bizarrely) and at the same time Doughty was beign
withdrawn in favour of Nash. Richardson tried to stop Doughty
going off the pitch as Woods was lying injured and argued
with Smith and Fogg in the confusion. Brown made a wonderul
save under pressure. Despite a couple of corners and two
near misses, City held out. They could have added to their
lead when Agogo broke clear but was thwarted by a last ditch
tackle from Winstanley. The spirit at the end was typified
by Beckett who threw himself into tackles to put pressure
on Shrewsbury defenders. Fisher had a very tidy game at the
back where his ability to anticipate the game is put to good
When the final whistle came after four
minutes of stoppage time, the roar was tremendous from the
City following. Our first ever League win at Gay Meadow in
fifteen attempts. It couldn't have come at a more welcome
time. We applauded till our arms ached. And as we did so
the City heroes stripped off the light blue and white to
reveal shirts of pure gold underneath. "We're not bottom
any more " echoed around the platforms on Shrewsbury
I tootled back along the A458, stopping
off at Enville where the ale is brewed with honey. It tasted
like nectar to me. A sweet win indeed.