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Saturday 29 October
Shrewsbury Town 3 Chester City 1
League Two
Attendance: 5,430 Half Time 2-1
Booked: Lowe.

Shrewsbury Town:
Hart, Herd, Whitehead, Hope, Ashton, Tolley, Sorvel (Edwards 33), Smith, Jackson (Hogg 73), McMenamin, Stallard (Langmead 31). Subs not used: Cowan, Thompson.
Chester City:
MacKenzie, McNiven, Artell, Dimech, Hessey, Vaughan (Walker 49), Davies, Dove (Richardson 60), Curtis, Branch, Lowe. Subs not used: Bolland, Curle, El Kholti.
Referee: C.Oliver (Northumberland).

Chester’s Gay Meadow hoodoo continued on Saturday as the Blues came away pointless for the first time on their League travels this season. Only on one occasion have City tasted victory at Shrewsbury, and it was always going to be a struggle after poor defending had gifted the home side a two-goal lead in just eight minutes.

Both Gregg Blundell, who picked up another injury in training on Friday, and Carl Regan were expected to play but neither was included in the squad as City looked to bounce back from a poor display at home to Bury seven days earlier.

In the opening seconds City conceded a free kick as Luke Dimech fouled Colin McMenamin. The kick was swung over to the back post where it was met by Stallard who nodded the ball down for McMenamin to slot home after just 34 seconds in front of a large away contingent of City fans behind the goal.

City responded and were awarded a corner two minutes later but Ben Davies’ outswinging effort was comfortably dealt with by the Shrews defence.

Five minutes later and City found themselves 2-0 down following another defensive error. Stuart Whitehead played a long hopeful ball down the pitch from midfield, defender Dave Artell beat the onrushing Stallard to the ball but his header back to Chris MacKenzie fell short and the striker slipped the ball past the keeper from 12 yards.

Jamie Tolley almost added a third on ten minutes but his lobbed shot from 25 yards just cleared the bar.

City still enjoyed plenty of possession and when they went forward they looked threatening without testing Hart in the home goal too much. Davies had the first real effort pouncing on a far post cross from ex-Shrew Ryan Lowe but he planted his header wide.

The home side were forced into two substitutions around the half hour before Lowe pulled a goal back for City, and what a good goal it was. The Blues were awarded a free kick outside the box on the right, Sean Hessey dummied to take it but it was Lowe who stepped up to send his shot around the wall and past the unsighted Hart and into the net.

Moments later Lowe found himself in the referee’s notebook for throwing the ball at Herd. MacKenzie denied Town a third goal on the stroke of half-time as he collected a free kick that had been well struck past City’s wall.

Just after the interval Stephen Vaughan had to be replaced following a challenge from dave Edwards, Vaughan left the pitch with blood streaming from a head injury and was replaced by Justin Walker.

City had a great chance to level matters on 55 minutes but Davies saw his shot from 12 yards brush the outside of the post. Two minutes later City found themselves 3-1 down. McMenamin flicked on a long goal kick into the path of Langmead, he jumped over Walkers sliding tackle to score past MacKenzie.

With City running out of ideas it was the home side that looked like scoring again. Langmead had a goal ruled out for offside and McMenamin flashed a header wide following a teasing cross from Ben Smith. Tolley went close with a 20 yard volley that fizzed over the bar.

Marcus Richardson, on for Craig Dove, shot wide when well placed with seven minutes remaining that was to prove Citys last chance of another disappointing display.

Pictures: Sue Choularton

Bury U18 2 Chester City U18 3
Youth Alliance North and Midlands West Conference
Half Time 1-3

Grundy, Wedge, Taylor, Bentley, Glennon, Clarkson, Worral, Quigley, Smith (Stephens 45) Stepien, Mainwaring (Williams 67). Subs not used: Pauls, Smith, Hopkinson.
Chester City: Lake, Potter, Marsh-Evans, Roberts, Cadwallader, Scales (Newton 41), Linford (Wilson 63), Wade, Noon (M. Humphreys 91), Holroyd, Rutherford. Subs not used: Armstrong, Morgan.
Referee: R. Hargreaves.

Although Chester started bright enough they failed to win that vital ‘second ball’ and consequently put themselves under pressure. This inability only heightened anxiety amongst certain players who continually resorted to aimlessly whacking the ball in a blind panic.

On the ten-minute mark Bury had strong appeals for a penalty turned down, when the ball dropped out of the sky and landed on the right arm of Marsh-Evans. In all fairness I’ve seen them given, but it was clearly apparent that Marsh-Evans knew nothing about the incident and referee Hargreaves waved away the protests in favour of a corner.

Having been on the back foot for the opening minutes, it was Chester who took the lead on the quarter hour mark with a stunning finish from Holroyd. For the first time, the ball was played out to Rutherford on the left wing. In feinting to go up the line he jinked inside leaving the two defenders for dead, and his cross was met by the head of Wade, who cushioned the ball back; Holroyd then hit it first time on the volley and the ball flew into the top right corner.

Despite taking the lead Chester still struggled at times, with Cadwallader and Potter continually showing indecision and opting to lump the ball out of harms way. Thankfully Roberts brought much needed stability to the back four with a cool head and a willingness to play out from the back. On 23 minutes Chester nearly went two goals up when Noon narrowly failed to latch on to a loose pass back, Grundy in the Bury goal just getting there in the nick of time. From his clearance, Roberts controlled the ball and ‘Hansen’ like carried the ball forward where he put a delightful ball straight into the path of Holroyd who had beaten the offside trap. With only the keeper to beat Holroyd slipped the ball under his body and into the bottom left hand corner.

With two goals under their belt Chester started to control the game and five minutes later went three up. Noon received the ball on the halfway line and played a square ball to Holroyd. He in turn linked up with Linford, who then put Noon through, one on one with the keeper. On steadying himself Noon slotted the ball with precision into the bottom right corner.

Straight from kick off Rutherford intercepted a through ball and went on a mazy run, which culminated in him dinking the ball over the flat back four and into the path of Noon. Grundy this time was quicker off his line and the danger was quashed.

Chester’s continued dominance brought panic to the Bury defence and in the 37th minute Scales was about to unleash a shot, when Clarkson hit him with a savage airborne two-footed challenge. With memories of the Rochdale game fresh in mind, and Neil Carroll’s red card for a much lesser challenge one was certain that Clarkson would see red. In not agreeing with the referee’s decision Clarkson then came out with a mouthful to the referee and one was certain that he was in for an early bath. However, for some reason Hargreaves only produced a yellow. Despite returning to the pitch, Scales was unable to carry on and limped off a couple of minutes later.

With Chester’s pattern now disrupted momentarily, Bury mounted an attack down Chester’s left flank and the ball was put out for a throw-in. From the resulting throw the ball was crossed into the penalty area, where Newton only half cleared to Stepien. Not looking a gift horse in the mouth Stepien curled his shot past Lake and into the bottom corner.

You didn’t need to be a rocket scientist, to realise that Bury would take the game to Chester in the second half, and it was for this reason that it was in City’s best interest to try and get another goal. When Rutherford intercepted the ball on the halfway line in the 49th minute he looked to have split the Bury defence when he threaded a lovely ball through to Holroyd who was marginally offside.

A little later, and Chester rode their luck when Bury crossed the ball in from the left wing. Marsh-Evans on the back post had a rush of blood and headed the ball back across the face of his own goal, directly into the path of Quigley, whose shot miraculously went wide. From that minute on Chester always looked to be on the back foot, with them continually being overrun in midfield, as a result of which Linford was replaced by Wilson and Chester reverted to a 4-5-1 formation in an attempt to protect their two goal cushion.

With Bury now throwing everything at Chester they inevitably left gaps at the back, and in the 68th minute Rutherford won a tussle in midfield and in coming out with the ball should have chanced his luck and took on the defenders. However, in seeing Holroyd in a better position he played Holroyd through who for some reason just stopped in his tracks and the chance went begging. Cadwallader then failed to deal with the keeper’s kick and only succeeded in slicing his header out for a throw in. From the throw in, the ball was delivered to Stepien who turned and hit the ball first time from 35 yards out. The resulting shot caught Lake flat footed and he could only parry the ball into his top right corner.

Despite being under a fair amount of pressure Chester continued to dig in and during the final stages could have added to their tally. Holroyd in particular could and probably should have put the game beyond doubt on a couple of occasions. The most apparent when Rutherford again broke up a Bury attack and put the ball in behind the left back for Wade to run on to. Wade put a delightful ball into the box, and Holroyd should have taken full advantage of his free header from only five yards out.

The youth team are at home (Airbus UK) this Saturday against Blackpool at 11am. A good opportunity to kill two birds with one stone; drop the missus off at Tesco and get yourselves along...

Saturday 22 October
Chester City 1 Bury 1
League Two
Attendance: 3,471 Half Time 0-1
Booked: Vaughan.

Chester City:
MacKenzie, McNiven, Artell, Dimech, Hessey, Lowe, Walker (Vaughan 63), Curtis, Davies (Bolland 89), Branch, Richardson (El Kholti 63). Subs not used: Brookfield, Dove.
Edwards, Scott, Challinor, Woodthorpe, Kennedy, Whaley, Flitcroft, Mattis, Buchanan, Adams (Barlow 85), Youngs (Burke 79). Subs not used: Grundy, Fitzgerald, Sedgemore.
Referee: M.Messias (South Yorkshire).

Manager Keith Curle considered his side lucky to pick up a point after his side turned in a below-par performance. Missing Stewart Drummond in midfield and Gregg Blundell up front the Blues rarely threatened the Shakers to any great effect throughout a dull 90 minutes.

It was City who started on the attack with Edwards rising well to cut out a cross from Ryan Lowe and Michael Branch worked his way into the box. At the other end MacKenzie saw a free kick curle round the post before the visitors took the lead on nine minutes with Dwayne Mattis heading home from close range and Buchan had pulled back a cross.

Bury could, and should, have increased their lead further as the half progressed. Dave Challiner headed over from a corner when well placed and ex-City player David Flitcroft, having a good game in midfield, saw a long range effort go just wide. Shaun Hessey saw a long-range effort go straight to Edwards as the Bury ‘keeper dealt comfortably with any threat City could muster.

The Blues did force a free-kick on the edge of the box just before the break but saw the kick deflected for a corner. From the resulting flag-kick Scott McNiven blasted a shot over the bar and the roof of the north stand.

The Blues started the second half with more urgency and almost pulled a goal back after a snap-shot from Justin Walker following a goalmouth melee was headed over the bar from on the line by Challiner.

With City proving ineffective in midfield Curle made a double substitution on 63 minutes bringing on Stephen Vaughan and Abdou El Kholti for Walker and Marcus Richardson who had struggled all afternoon.

On 76 minutes City levelled as Branch chasing a through ball from Curtis to the edge of the box was fouled by the onrushing Edwards. After a couple of minuets treatment to the injured striker, Ryan Lowe stepped up and coolly slotted the spot-kick home sending Edwards the wrong way.

Ben Davies, who had a quiet game for City, almost snatched the lead minutes later but he just couldn’t get on top of the ball and he headed over high and wide at the back post.

City threw everything at Bury in the final ten minutes, Vaughan played some fine through balls, Lowe shooting just wide from one, and defender Phil Bolland came on as a makeshift centre forward but Bury held firm for a deserved point.
Tuesday 18 October
Cambridge United 3 Chester City 0
LDV Vans Trophy Round 1
Attendance: 1,224 Half Time 0-0
Booked: Bolland.

Cambridge United:
Howie, Morrison, Duncan, Peters, Okai (Angel 88), Bridges, Smith, Hanlon, Quinton, Westcarr (Atkins 86), Nolan (Onibuje 86). Subs not used: Behcet, Davies.
Chester City:
MacKenzie, Bertos, Bolland, Hessey, El Kholti, Rutherford (McNiven 69), Walker, Vaughan, Dove, Richardson, Curle (Davies 79). Subs not used: Brookfield, Dimech, Curtis.
Referee: G.Sutton (Lincolnshire).

This was a night to forget for the 83 hardy City souls who made the journey to the Abbey Stadium for this first round LDV Vans Trophy tie. Just two players who started the match at Underhill, Chris MacKenzie and Marcus Richardson, took to the field here as manager Keith Curle used the rest of his squad to take on a Cambridge United side 15th in the Nationwide Conference.

Richardson, along with captain on the night Justin Walker and Abdel El Kholti are all former U’s players. There was also a debut to Paul Rutherford, an 18-year-old regular in the youth and reserve teams this season, who played out on the right wing.

The City fans had hardly taken to their seats before United had forced the first corner of the match after just 20 seconds. That flag-kick was cleared but minutes later there was another moment of danger as Hessey blocked a Westcarr shot and MacKenzie did well to save the follow up from Nolan. The keeper was well placed again soon after to make a close range double save from Quinton as the away goal came under siege.

Bridges, allowed far too much room on the wing, provided a teasing cross for Nolan who should have done better than volley over when well placed as City’s defence was once again stretched. Leo Bertos, playing at right back, was at times allowing Okai far too much room on the wing and he provided another telling cross that Westcarr headed over from close range.

As an attacking force City were almost non-existent. The nearest they came to a goal was a shot from Walker, booed all night by the home fans, that curled wide; and a mazy run by Rutherford that was snuffed out by the home defence.

MacKenzie was called upon to make several more saves as City were glad to get to the interval still on level terms.

The second half with City pushing forward and they were rewarded with a free-kick on the edge of the area but Sean Hessey saw his effort blocked by the wall. Normal service was soon resumed though with the home side dominating for long periods.

Nolan forced another great save from MacKenzie and United forced a series of corners that were scrambled away by a shaky City defence. On 63 minutes the deadlock was broken. MacKenzie saved well from Hanlon following a free kick but the ball rebounded off a post into the path of Bridges to score from close range.

Rutherford, who made a steady promising debut was replaced by Scott McNiven as City looked to bounce back but all the action was at the other end with MacKenzie saving Quinton’s volley well.

Phil Bolland found himself in the referee’s notebook for handball and Thomas Curle was replaced by Ben Davies before the home side doubled their lead with Smith shooting home from the edge of the box with the ball taking a deflection off Bolland to take it past MacKenzie.

With the rain falling and City fans heading for the exit, substitute Onibuje took control in the box before beating two defenders and scoring from a narrow angle in the last minute to cap a miserable night for a disjointed City.

Saturday 15 October
Barnet 1 Chester City 3
League Two
Attendance: 2,206 Half Time 0-2
Booked: MacKenzie, Branch, Richardson, Dimech. Sent-off: Drummond.

Flitney, Batt, Hendon, Charles, Gross (King 73), Strevens (Norville 62), Bailey, Sinclair, Graham (Lee 62), Hatch, Grazioli. Subs not used: Tynan, Soares.
Chester City:
MacKenzie, McNiven, Regan (Hessey 43), Artell, Dimech, Branch (Curle 79), Drummond, Curtis, Davies, Richardson (Walker 46), Lowe. Subs not used: Vaughan, Bertos.
Referee: A.D’Urso (Essex).

Chester City continued their impressive away form with this 3-1 victory at a sunny Underhill. As expected Gregg Blundell was unable to play but there was a return to the heart of the defence from David Artell who played alongside Luke Dimech.

Barnet started the better with Dimech doing well to rob Liam Hatch in the fifth minute and Chris MacKenzie did well to block a shot from Sinclair before City broke away and almost took the lead on 13 minutes.

Fine inter-play between Michael Branch and Marcus Richardson set up the big striker but he saw his shot tipped over the bar from close range by Flitney, it was a good save but the striker should have hit the back of the net. But the breakthrough came seconds later.

Davies took the resultant short corner to Branch, the forward brilliantly turned his marker to leave a clear run along the byline, his cross was pulled back for Richardson whose shot was blocked before Branch could knock home the rebound with referee DUrso adjudging that the ball had crossed the line before a Bees defender cleared, Stewart Drummond headed home anyway for good measure.

There was a scare for MacKenzie as his momentum after catching a cross carried him, and the ball, outside the box. Fortunately the referee didnt see it as a deliberate act and booked the keeper. The resulting free-kick on the edge of the box went straight into the City wall

The game erupted on 35 minutes following a clash between Drummond and Bees defender Neil Bailey. 21 players took to the scuffle (Macca watched from afar) and referee DUrso reached for the red card for Drummond and a yellow for Richardsons protest.

Barnet pressed again and both Hatch and Ben Strevens saw efforts missed and MacKenzie was also forced to make a fine low-down save to preserve Citys lead and a minute from the break Giuliano Grazioli saw an acrobatic effort bounce clear off the crossbar.

On the stroke of half-time City added a second crucial goal. MacKenzies long goal kick was knocked down by Richardson in a tussle, the ball was picked up by Lowe who ran at the Barnet defence, superbly turned a defender before shooting home, his effort taking a deflection as it hit the back of the net just inside the left hand post. Lowe wheeled away to celebrate in front of the delirious City fans behind the goal.

Carl Regan limped off to be replaced by Shaun Hessey just before the interval and Justin Walker replaced Marcus Richardson just after as City reshuffled the 10-man pack.

Despite a lot of possession after the break Barnet were given little opportunity at goal by a resolute City defence. The tackles were beginning to fly in and home defender Anthony Charles saw red after a second bookable offence following a clumsy challenge on Tom Curtis – who made the home side pay a minute later with a third well taken goal.

Lowe again found space and time in midfield to turn on the ball and play a a defence-splitting pass to Curtis on the right. He timed his through run well and drilled the ball past the unprotected Flitney in the home goal for his first goal in City’s colours.

On 77 minutes Grazioli pulled a goal back sliding in at the far post to convert a knock-down but apart from a couple of wide efforts City held out comfortably for three more points to remain fifth.

Saturday 15 October
Chester City U18 2 Tranmere Rovers U18 2
Youth Alliance North and Midlands West Conference
Half Time 0-1

Chester City:
Lake, Potter, Marsh-Evans, Roberts, Cadwallader, Linford, Rutherford, Carroll (Scales 54), Noon (Newton 73) Holroyd, Wade (Wilson 61). Subs not used: Armstrong, M. Humphreys.
Tranmere Rovers:
Palethorpe, Vaughan, Lovell, Holmes (Jones 45), Johnston, Henry, Curran, Jones, Corrigan, Garry, Holden (Williams 61). Subs not used: Ferguson, Connelly.
Referee: A. Pownall.

With both sets of players having grown up in close vicinity and either played in the same school district teams or against each other, there was personal pride at stake. Hence, it came as no surprise that this game took on the feeling of a typical derby match from the very first minute.

With Tranmere under the guidance of ex-pro, and one time Chester player, Shaun Garnett, and also the good start that they have made in The Youth Alliance League, they went into this game as firm favourites. But what they didn’t count on was the tenacity of this Chester team, which seems to thrive on being the underdogs.

The first opening fifteen minutes was end-to-end stuff, with both teams creating half chances, with Chester slightly shading it. However, it was clearly apparent that Tranmere have been coached to keep the ball flowing and to get into the faces of their opponents, rarely giving them time to pass the ball comfortably, something that Chester failed to do. With the Tranmere defence having the luxury of being able to pass the ball around without pressure they started to create problems for Chester, with Vaughan and Lovell feeding the two wide men of Holden and Curran.

Before Chester knew it they were on the back foot being rushed into playing the long ball, only to continually defend against the fast attack of Tranmere, and one wandered just how long it would be before Tranmere took the lead. We didn’t have to wait long!

Having enjoyed a good five-minute spell of sustained pressure Tranmere took the lead in the 20th minute through Garry, after Marsh-Evans was caught knapping from a quick throw-in. For the next fifteen minutes Tranmere controlled this game with ease, with the back four having ample time to pick out their pass. Although continually overran Chester continued to struggle, with the midfield players in particular digging deep and giving gritty performances.

Chester’s best chance of the half came in the 37th minute when Noon broke into the penalty area. With keeper Palethorpe diving in at his feet Noon went down and his appeals for a penalty were waved away by the referee. From the erratic clearance the ball found its way to Carroll on the edge of the penalty area, who drove the ball goal-bound, only for Lovell to clear of the line and behind for a corner. In the last five minutes of the half Holroyd had two decent half chances to level the score.

For the first quarter of an hour of the second half neither team looked to take the initiative, and Scales replaced Carroll ten minutes in. In the 61st minute Tranmere won a corner, which was driven in low to the front post and Scales swung at it to clear up field, only for him to miss kick his clearance. With the ball precariously bobbling around in the six-yard box, Corrigan was first to react prodding the ball past Lake in the Chester goal.

Jim Hackett acted swiftly and brought on Wilson for Wade and adopted a 4-3-3 formation. With a three-pronged attack of Rutherford, Holroyd and Noon, Chester took the game to Tranmere and two minutes later got themselves back into the game. With Noon again involved in a scramble on the edge of the penalty area, the ball broke free to Holroyd. For a moment Holroyd looked to hesitate and his chance looked to be gone when he turned back on himself. However, in managing to spot a gap, he scuffed his shot and what should have been a comfortable save for Palethorpe, somehow managed to find its way past him, where it took an age for the ball to cross the goal-line.

With Chester now in buoyant mood Scales saw a shot cleared of the line in the 65th minute, and when the rebound fell to Holroyd he was pushed to the floor when he was about to shoot and referee Pownall showed no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Despite Jim Hackett indicating for Marsh-Evans to take the penalty Holroyd stepped up and sent Palethorpe the wrong way. From this moment on Chester took the game to Tranmere and looked by far the better team, Rutherford now out on the left always seemed to have space and at one point jinked inside with ease where he set Linford up with a delightful ball, Linford’s shot hitting a defender and going behind for a corner. However, in not wanting to settle for a draw Chester at times left gaps at the back, and at one such time when Tranmere exploited this deficiency, Rutherford worked back to dispossess Jones. On regaining possession he jinked past Curran and knocked a fifty-yard ball in behind the Tranmere defence, where Marsh-Evans lobbed the out-rushing Palethorpe, his shot dropping inches wide. For the remainder of the half Chester continued to dominate and had should have wrapped things up, Marsh-Evans missed two good chances, the first being an open goal and the second where he failed in rounding the keeper.

Having relinquished a two-goal cushion Tranmere will be wondering how on earth they let Chester back into this game. The fact remains, that Jim Hackett’s response to take a gamble clearly paid dividends and restored belief amongst his troops. With Chester dominating for much of the last 30 minutes Tranmere will be relieved that they got a point out of this fixture!
Saturday 8 October
Rochdale U18 0 Chester City U18 0
Youth Alliance North and Midlands West Conference
Half Time 0-0

Rigby, McDonagh, Wood, Thompson, Liptrot, Bowden, Buckley, Warburton, Wharton, Greenwood, Mapmodise Subs: Kay, Farmer, Coleman, Murray, Bryan.
Chester City:
Brookfield, Potter (Mealand 65), Marsh-Evans, Roberts, Cadwallader, Linford (Scales 65), Rutherford, Carroll, Noon (M. Humphreys 73), Holroyd, Wade. Subs not used: Armstrong, N. Humphreys.
Referee: P.Tierney.

Chester City would have every reason to feel hard done by after their gallant effort today. Chester started the brighter of the two, with Rutherford being instrumental from the first minute to the last. With barely a minute on the watch Rutherford picked the ball up some 40 yards out and played a delightful one-two with Linford. Unfortunately the finish didn’t match the build up play and his shot went wide.

From that moment on Rochdale had their backs to the wall finding it nigh on impossible to cope with the slick passing of Chester, and within minutes of Rutherford’s effort Linford saw a chance rattle the crossbar. As the half developed Rochdale were like the proverbial rabbit caught in the headlights, not knowing which way to turn next.

With Chester directing proceedings they nearly took a well-deserved lead in the 16th minute when Holroyd managed to flick a header on and Rutherford outwitted the defender. With the ball bouncing up awkwardly, Rutherford lobbed the out-rushing keeper only to see the ball fall agonisingly wide of the goal. ‘It surely wouldn’t be long before Chester converted these chances and romped home to victory!’ However, referee Tierney had other ideas and decided to spoil the game with an irrational decision in the 24th minute. Having overran the ball; Carroll tried to recover and caught Buckley late. Expecting the referee to take the wet greasy conditions into mind and give Carroll a ticking off, a yellow at most, he took everyone by surprise when he produced a red. ‘You think Beckham was hard done by!’ Carroll’s treatment was harsh compared to his. Credit to the lads though, who responded magnificently and continued to take the game to Rochdale, with Rutherford dropping to centre-mid and Holroyd playing up front on his own.

With the injustice of the red card still fresh in the mind, it was inexcusable when the referee then failed to take action against Buckley who went through the back of Noon some ten minutes later. Having worked their socks off and still going in search of that elusive goal, Chester left one or two gaps, which Rochdale exploited and created two late efforts. Fortunately, Brookfield was more than up to the job!

The second half saw Rochdale introduce all three subs and also a change in formation with them now employing a 3-4-3 formation; the change bringing them an early opportunity when Coleman saw his shot deflected wide for a corner. From the corner, Potter cleared the ball up to Rutherford on the right flank, where he got in behind the defender and crossed for Holroyd. Unfortunately Holroyd lost his footing at the penultimate moment and the chance was gone. Despite Rochdale’s change in formation, Chester continued to take the match to them and Rutherford produced a moment of magic when he outwitted the right back, only to see his cross half cleared. Not to be deterred he got the ball back from Linford and again outwitted not one, but two defenders with his lightening quick feet, to produce a quality cross that was this time thumped away.

Having thrown everything at Rochdale, including the kitchen sink the lads seemed to hit the wall momentarily, and from the 60th minute Rochdale had a twenty-minute spell that Chester weathered well. Despite their tiredness Chester defended stoutly giving everything they had! In the 78th minute however, the lads rode their luck when Marsh-Evans and Cadwallader showed uncertainty, allowing Coleman to exploit their indecisiveness and race clean through on goal, where Brookfield spread himself well. With the ball rebounding back to the feet of Coleman he steered the ball towards the empty net, only to see his effort turn behind for a corner by Wade, who came sliding in to prevent a certain goal.

Having survived the ‘wake up call’ Chester rallied and were unfortunate not to take the lead; firstly when Wade played a ball up to Rutherford, who chested it and turned to put Holroyd in with a delightful side foot volley, the ball being a tad too heavy for Holroyd. Then in the last minute of the game, Rutherford showed great determination to get something out of nothing. Having received the ball by the corner flag on the right hand touchline, two defenders tried to put him in Row Z. He outwitted both of them and managed to find his way into the penalty area, with the same two defenders breathing down his neck he stumbled to the ground. Despite the ever-presence of his two burly minders and with Rutherford now on his backside he somehow managed to pick out Holroyd inside a crowded penalty area; whose snapshot from eight yards out produced a magnificent save from Rigby.

One can’t help but think that Rochdale would be delighted with a point from this game, and should thank the referee for making a match out of it, with his controversial decision to dismiss Carroll. It could have been so easy for the lads to crumble, but fact remains that they took this game to Rochdale and deserved to take all three points. Jim Hackett can look back with pride at his team’s tenacity and hopefully they can build on this display with a similar performance against Tranmere Rovers at Airbus next Saturday morning.
Friday 7 October
Chester City 2 Rochdale 3
League Two
Attendance: 4,327 Half Time 0-1
Booked: Dimech, Curtis, Regan, Bertos.

Chester City:
MacKenzie, McNiven, Artell (Bolland 72), Dimech, Regan, Branch, Drummond, Curtis, Davies, Blundell (Lowe 4), Richardson (Bertos 80). Subs not used: Walker, Vaughan.
Gilks, Goodhind (Brown 74), Griffiths, Gallimore, Goodall, Cartwright, Clarke, Jones, Jaszczun (Warner 52), Lambert, Holt. Subs not used: Woodhall, Boardman, Sturrock.
Referee: D.Drysdale.

Once again City were involved in another thrilling game. After last week’s end-to-end affair at Wycombe, the entertainment continued with this cracker. City supporters will be disappointed at the result but could not fault the effort or entertainment of their team.

Kick off was delayed by five minutes to allow City’s biggest crowd of the season to get in. Blundell latched on to Drummond’s through ball on four minutes and was clattered on the edge of the area by ‘Dale ‘keeper Gilks. There was a lengthy delay while Blundell was stretchered off. Gilks was fortunate to receive just a yellow card. From the free kick, Davies shot got through but was turned round the post.

City peppered the visitors goal with several chances. Davies looked to have opened the scoring but his shot hit the bar and bounced on the line only to somehow stay out. Drummond went close with a header and Artell had two near misses. These were the pick of a whole host of attempts. Rochdale took the lead, though, just before half time with a smash and grab counter attack. Holt held the ball up well for Jones to arrive from midfield and slot the ball home.

Chester came out fired up and laid siege to the visitors’ goal. They drew level when Lowe stole in on the blind side and teed up Drummond to equalise. A couple of minutes later Lowe played on after Branch had been clattered and the Rochdale defence stood still. Davies converted his cross at the second attempt, while sitting on the ground.

The atmosphere was now white hot but Rochdale did not wilt and came back at City. Richardson broke out of the Chester half and went on a mazy run to set up Branch to run at goal from the left. He had a golden chance to make it 3-1 but his shot was saved and the rebound just eluded Lowe and Richardson.

City looked to tire and Rochdale began to get a grip on the game. MacKenzie made a wonderful save from Jones’ volley but then made a hash of a punch and Holt sidefooted the equaliser home. Dave Artell went off injured much to the home fans’ dismay. With five minutes to go, the ever-dangerous Holt turned his marker and fired in an angled shot. Mackenzie saved at full stretch but Lambert scored from the rebound.

It was heartbreak for City but, as with the Grimsby game, they must surely take heart from a thoroughly convincing performance. If Gregg Blundell had remained on the field it might have easily been a different story.

Colin Mansley

Wednesday 5 October
Wrexham Reserves 1 Chester City Reserves 1

Pontins Holiday League Division One West
Attendance: 250 Half Time 0-0

Jones, Harris, Done (Edwards 51), Roche, G. Evans, Mike Williams, Fleming, Mackin, McEvilly, Reed (Marc Williams), C. Evans. Subs not used: Gray, Taylor, Darlington.
Chester City:
Brookfield, Wade (Holroyd 85), Marsh-Evans, Roberts, Bolland, Vaughan, Bertos, Dove, Rutherford, Curle, El Kholti. Subs not used: Cadwallader, Linford, Potter, Mealand.
Referee: I.Scarr (Birmingham).

With the pace being fast and furious from the off, one felt that the crowd of 250 would be in for a treat. In the second minute Chester had shouts for a penalty turned down, when the Wrexham keeper Jones upended Rutherford. However, referee Scarr saw differently and awarded Chester a throw in.

After the early scare, Wrexham were the quicker to settle with McEvilly unsettling the Chester defenders with some hefty aerial challenges and harrying players with good effect. Being unable to pass the ball out from defence Chester resorted to playing long, and the front two of Curle and Rutherford continually struggled with the aerial dominance of the Wrexham back four.

For the first twenty minutes Wrexham where the better team, with two or three good chances going wide or over. However, as the half developed it was apparent that Wrexham couldn’t keep up the work rate and Chester had a good spell of possession that produced a couple half chances. Adam Wade in particular went on a decent run where he cut inside Done, his final ball unfortunately lacking the quality of his run. However, with the half time interval drawing nearer neither team could break the deadlock and the teams went in all square.

The start of the second half seen a trio of yellow cards inside the first two minutes, Gareth Evans and Curle were booked after a tussle, and then McEverly for a late challenge on Wade. Once the game had settled down, Wrexham looked the better team with chances falling to Reed and Mike Williams, both efforts requiring Brookfield to be at his best. Despite having the better of the play Wrexham failed to capitalise on their possession and frustration set in with Mackin being booked in the 76th minute for dissent.

With Chester hanging on, they spurned a golden opportunity to snatch the lead in the 80th minute when Curle put Rutherford clean through, one on one with Jones. With Rutherford lining up his shot Roche slid in to make a magnificent last-ditch challenge, taking the ball off his toe. One couldn’t help but wonder how costly this miss would be? A minute later we found out, when El Kholti was caught in possession and the ball was played through to Marc Williams who shot across the approaching Brookfield and into the far corner.

With time running out Chester brought on Holroyd and went with three up front, a decision that would determine the outcome of this game. With the game deep in injury time Chester won a free kick inside their own half and the ball was thumped up field where Rutherford steered the ball through to Holroyd inside the penalty area. With Holroyd lining up his shot his standing foot was whipped from beneath him by Jones, an action that seen him sent off for denying a goal scoring opportunity. After calm was restored Marsh-Evans coolly stepped up and sent McEvilly the wrong way to steal a draw. Sweet revenge for the player who was released by Wrexham two years ago!

Saturday 1 October
Wycombe Wanderers 3 Chester City 3
League Two
Attendance: 5,145 Half Time 2-2
Booked: Lowe, McNiven, Branch, Artell.

Wycombe Wanderers:
Talia, Senda, Easton, Johnson, Williamson, Betsy, Bloomfield (Stonebridge 77), Torres (Dixon 67), Oakes, Tyson (Burnell 45), Mooney. Subs not used: Williams, Martin.
Chester City:
MacKenzie, McNiven, Regan, Dimech, Artell, Lowe (Blundell 63), Drummond, Curtis, Davies, Branch, Richardson (Walker 84). Subs not used: Vaughan, El Kholti, Bertos.
Referee: K.Wright (Cambridgeshire).

It was billed as the League Two match of the day and this exciting encounter with Wycombe Wanderers certainly lived up to expectations. The Blues (playing in black) twice took the lead in the opening half at the Causeway Stadium but in the end had to settle for a point as they were twice denied by the woodwork.

Manager Keith Curle made two changes from the Carlisle match starting with Tom Curtis in midfield and Marcus Richardson up front at the expense of Justin Walker and Gregg Blundell who both took a seat on the bench.

The game was only ten minutes old when City opened the scoring. McNiven’s short free-kick inside his own half up front to Lowe was lost but quick work from Ben Davies chasing back robbed a Wycombe midfielder to feed Lowe once again, his shot was deflected into the air to Richardson, the big striker held off a defender well to chest the ball back to Drummond who volleyed home off the underside of the bar from 18 yards for a stunning opener.

The match was played at a high tempo and both sides continued to push and miss chances. Chairboys top scorer Nathan Tyson, who was well shackled by Luke Dimech, glanced a header wide and Ryan Lowe found the side netting when both may feel they could have done better.

City almost gifted their hosts and equaliser on 20 minutes. A through ball right down the centre of defence was heading straight to to Luke Dimech but he allowed the ball to bounce over his outstretched foot to give Kevin Betsy a clear run on goal, fortunately Chris MacKenzie advanced and spread himself to save with his legs when a goal looked inevitable.

It wasn’t long however until the equaliser came. The City defence allowed the busy Torres too much time on the left and his floated cross was met at the back post by veteran Tommy Mooney who hammered the ball into the ground and over MacKenzie.

Wycombe, buoyed by the equaliser created a couple more half chances as they tried to seize the initiative. Ten minutes later though City were ahead again.

Sergio Torres was robbed of the ball by Lowe at a Wycombe corner, he raced away and fed a defence splitting ball to Richardson on the wide left wing, his quick ball inside to Carl Regan was squared by the defender to Michael Branch who beat Talia to slide the ball home from the penalty spot, a classic breakaway goal if ever there was one.

Minutes before the break City went close to extending their lead as Branch’s opportunist effort from a narrow angle came back off the inside of the post to safety. On the stroke of half-time the home side drew level again as Roger Johnson outjumped David Artell at the back post to head home following a floated free-kick.

The second half was only five minutes old when Wycombe took the lead for the first time in the match. Betsy went on a jinking run along the byline before pulling the ball back for Mooney to score from close range. Betsy thought he’d scored himself minutes later only to see his ‘goal’ ruled out for offside.

City refused to sit back though and parity was restored on the hour mark. McNiven’s Long throw in the right (running over the collapsed advertising board on the way) was flicked backwards by Drummond to Branch who swept the ball home from ten yards to the delight of the City fans behind the goal.

Both sides attacked looking for the winner. MacKenzie made a fantastic save to push a Mooney volley wide and then made a stunning block to deny Wilkinson’s close range header. At the other end Richardson saw a header flash just over the bar and substitute Gregg Blundell also caused problems with a couple of runs on goal.

In the very last minute City almost grabbed all three points. A long throw from the left was flicked on the ball came out to Branch on the edge of the box. With two defenders in front of him, he steadied himself before clipping over a far post lob/shot that hit the angle and dropped in the box, the ball pinged around before Talia saved a snap-shot from the edge of the box in the last action of a pulsating contest that finished honours even.

Saturday 1 October
Chester City U18 0 Wigan Athletic U18 1
Youth Alliance North and Midlands West Conference
Half Time 0-0

Chester City:
Armstrong, Wilson, (Potter 69) Marsh-Evans, Roberts, Cadwallader, Linford, Noon, (M.Humphreys 79) Wade, Carroll, (McCoy 73) Holroyd, Rutherford. Subs not used: Mealand, Newton.

With the Premiership new boys in town expectations were high, and Chester adopted a 4-5-1 formation designed to contain the expected supremacy of Wigan. Unfortunately Wigan didn’t live up to those assumptions and rarely offered this game anything to mention.

It was a poor game played on the training pitch, and continually spoilt by the blustery conditions and an over zealous referee, who wanted to be bigger than the game. At times speaking to players in an inappropriate manner, especially in the 23rd minute when he cautioned the Wigan number 3.

With the ball spending more time in the air than on the ground neither team stamped their authority on this game, and although Chester shaded the first half they failed to get numbers forward and never really threatened the Wigan goal.

In the second half Chester started quite bright for the first few minutes, with a half chance falling to Carroll, whose first touch let him down. Nevertheless, the longer this game went on the more painful it was to watch, with the weather conditions getting worse.

With both teams struggling against the elements, it wasn’t until the 56th minute that either team had a clear cut chance when the referee awarded Wigan a dubious penalty. Armstrong in the Chester goal was up to the job diving to his left, tipping the ball on to the post.

With neither team creating much, the game had 0-0 written all over it; that was until the 72nd minute when Wigan scored. Having won a throw in on the left wing the ball was eventually whipped into the box, and instead of trying to clear it the defence opted to play a dubious offside, resulting in the number 6 aiming his free header into the roof of the net from only eight yards out.

















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