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25 October 1997
Chester City 1 Macclesfield Town 1

Chester City: Sinclair, Richardson, Jenkins, Fisher, Whelan, Alsford, Bennett, Priest, McDonald, Flitcroft, Thomas (Rimmer 73), Subs not used: Dobson, Murphy.
Macclesfield Town: Price, Tinson, Cooper, Payne, Howarth, Sodje, Askey (Landon 37), Wood, Whittaker, Irving (Power 70), Sorvel. Sub not used Edey.
Referee: Eddie Wolstenholme (Blackburn).

A cracking goal by man of the match Chris Priest with twelve minutes remaining salvaged a well deserved point for City and put a stop to the ridiculous "Guterman/Ratcliffe out" chants from a small bunch of so-called fans on the home terrace. City had the better of the first half following a shaky opening 10 minutes, Sinclair making three good saves to deny Irving, as the midfield, playing far too deep invited Macc to attack. At the other end as the half wore on, twice goalkeeper Price saved low down to deny Rod Thomas, before Julian Alsford headed over from a well worked free kick by Dave Flitcroft. Striker Gary Bennett was unlucky with a flying header that his the post just before half time. then Nick Richardson shot over from an excellent position.

Macc took the lead through substitute Richard Landon on 51 minutes. Following a throw in, he beat the offside trap before lobbing over Ronnie Sinclair. Despite having much of the play City never really threatened with Sodje snuffing out Bennett for long periods. The introduction of Rimmer for the ineffective Rod Thomas brought more options up front and City's equaliser came from Priest bursting through the Macc defence before firing powerfully into the top corner from 25 yards, despite Price just getting a hand to the ball. An early condender for goal of the season that one.

Before the match City chairman Mark Guterman made a presentation to his Macclesfield counterpart to mark the first meeting between the Cheshire clubs, and show our appreciation for the two years spent ground sharing at Moss Rose.
21 October 1997
Scarborough 4 Chester City 1

Scarborough: Martin, Kay, Heckingbottom, Snodin, Atkin, G.Bennett, Williams, McElhatton, Robinson (Mitchell 77), Brodie (Campbell 61/Tate 89), T.Bennett.
Chester City: Sinclair, Richardson, Jenkins, Fisher, Whelan, Alsford, G.Bennett (Rimmer 65), Priest, Murphy, Flitcroft (McDonald 57), Thomas. Sub not used: Dobson.
Referee: John Kirkby (Sheffield).

City's dismal away run continues with their fifth defeat in six games on their travels. First half goals from Liam Robinson and Paul Atkin and two further efforts after the break from Gareth Williams gave Boro their first league victory over City.

Rod Thomas gave City some hope as he made it 1-2 a minute after the break with a 15-yard drive. However the home side restored their two goal advantage 60 seconds later and City were never going to come back again.

Once again the centre half pairing of Julian Alsford and Spencer Whelan failed to gel although it's unfair to single them out after this performance. City manager Kevin Ratcliffe was furious afterwards We've not competed and I could have taken any one of 11 off. We didn't deserve to win. We got exactly what we deserved from the game. I can't even bring one in although after last night I'd like to bring in 11.

18 October 1997
Torquay United 3 Chester City 1

Torquay United: Gregg, Gurney, Gibbs (Hapgood 37), Robinson (Thomas 45), Gittens, Watson, Clayton, Hill, Jack, McFarlane, McCall, sub Bedeau.
Chester City: Sinclair, Richardson, Jenkins, Shelton, Whelan, Alsford, Bennett (Rimmer 84), Priest (Fisher 84), Murphy (McDonald 84), Flitcroft, Thomas.
Referee: Robert Styles (Waterlooville).

Two late dismissals rubbed salt into Chester's already gaping wounds at sun-drenched Torquay.

Gary Shelton, who had previously been booked for not retreating ten yards at a free-kick, can consider himself unfortunate to incur referee Robert Styles' wrath in the 75th minute because the tackle for which he received his second booking missed its intended target completely.

But the same cannot be said for Ronnie Sinclair, who followed Shelton off the field in the 86th minute, after the keeper handled outside his area in a one-on-one with Torquay dangerman Rodney Jack.

Chester had committed defensive suicide long before David Flitcroft took over in goal as Torquay took the game to the visitors from the first whistle.

The Gulls quickly made their pressure count. On 14 minutes, Steve McCall was granted the freedom of Plainmoor before being allowed to fire in a shot whic Sinclair let slip through his hands and into the net.

Torquay doubled their advantage seven minutes later when Jack was given the time to pick his spot from the edge of the box after being set up by Andy McFarlane's fancy footwork.

Minutes later, Gary Bennett missed the second of three golden opportunities that came his way during the afternoon when he failed to get a boot to the ball during a goalmouth scramble.

The strike that ended the game as a contest arrived in the 26th minute when McFarlane outpaced Julian Alsford before beating Sinclair at the second attempt. Chester woke up after the break and bossed the midfield for long periods thanks to man-of-the-match Rod Thomas and the tigerish Chris Priest.

But City failed to translate their possession into meaningful chanced and in a last-ditch attempt to turn things round Kevin Ratcliffe replaced Bennett, Priest and John Murphy with Stuart Rimmer, Rod McDonald and Neil Fisher.

The 84th minute changes were justified when McDonald's low cross was headed into the net by Nick Richardson in the last minute – but it proved scant consolation to a Blues side whose bouts of travel sickness are threatening to become terminal.

Toby Rosenbloom
11 October 1997
Chester City 2 Brighton & Hove Albion 0

Chester City: Sinclair, Richardson, Fisher, Shelton, Whelan, Alsford, Bennett (Rimmer 87), Priest, Murphy, Flitcroft, Thomas (McDonald 76). Sub not used: Jones.
Brighton and Hove Albion: Ormerod, Humphrey, Tuck, Minton, Morris, Allan, Westcott (Storer 71), Mayo, Baird, Maskell, Gislason. Subs not used: Reinelt, Johnson.
Referee: Mike Pike (Barrow).

Reasonably good performance with Bennett providing the real difference between the sides. A Brighton side clearly lacking in confidence succeeded in taking the pace out of the game for most of the first half with few clear cut chances created.

A major scare midway through the half when commanding Spencer Whelan was stretchered off and for five minutes one could only ponder the implications for an already makeshift back four. Murphy at centre back or Rimmer on as right back with Richardson moving across to the middle seemed like the only unpalatable options. Spenner's return was greeted with cheers of relief.

Bennett's 39th minute goal was just what the game needed. It was typical of a striker in form – in the right place to bundle the ball over from Murphy's touch. His customary lap of honour in front of the visiting supporters will surely get him into trouble one day – but they really should know better than to single him out for abuse. So far this season he has always had the last laugh.

Brighton started the second half much more brightly and threatened to equalise on several occasions. But this was weathered and Bennett's second was masterful as he rounded several defenders and when he looked to have dribbled into a corner nearly broke the net with a strike that made last week's volley against Hartlepool look like a tap in.

There followed several typically Cestrian attempts to let Brighton back into the game, but three more Chester goals could easily have come with Murphy having a great header disallowed for a mystery 'foul' by Whelan, Rimmer missing a one-on-one, and Fisher's close range strike in injury time being brilliantly saved by the Brighton keeper.

Alltogether a solid performance against a poor side without really clicking.

Sinclair (7) Not a lot to do
Richardson (6) Quite solid without really being tested
Fisher (7) Flashes of vintage Fish but a little vulnerable
Alsford (6) Solid performance – his distribution lets him down
Whelan (9) Outstanding in defence bossed the line well
Shelton (7) Did the midfield stoppers job effectively
Priest (6) Covered a huge amount of ground but still not at his best
Thomas (6) Tried hard and worked to defend but nothing really came off
Murphy (6) Strangely subdued after last week's heroics
Bennett (8) Not a great deal of service but ran all day and scored!!!
Flitcroft (6) Huffed and puffed without punishing the Brighton defence

Subs: MacDonald for Thomas – looked bright for his brief spell Rimmer for Bennett – only on for 5 minutes but did miss his chance.

Robert and David Evans
4 October 1997
Chester City 3 Hartlepool United 1

Chester City: Sinclair, Davidson (Fisher 34), Jenkins (Rimmer 42), Richardson, Whelan, Alsford, Bennett, Priest, Murphy, Thomas (McDonald 70).
Hartlepool United: Harper, Knowles, Lucas, Ingram, Lee, Bradley, McDonald (Gavin 57), Cullen, Baker, Halliday (Miller 81), Howard, sub Davis.
Referee: George Cain (Bootle)

John Murphy was rightly named man of the match after setting up one, and scoring the killer third goal, to seal victory for City in this hard fought encounter. In the opening minutes Dave Flitcroft had an effort inches wide, Spenner headed against the bar and Rod Thomas, replacing Neil Fisher in the side, had an effort blocked on the line. Despite these chances, City found it hard to break down Pool's five man defence. Hartlepool took the lead through Paul Baker on 29 minutes following a mix-up between Ronnie Sinclair and Julian Alsford. Worse was to follow as both full-back's Ross Davidson and Iain Jenkins had to leave the field through injury, Fisher and Richardson deputising. City equalised through Spenner from a Flitcroft corner, and took the lead through Gary Bennett after a fine cross from Fisher and Murphy forcing the mistake from Bradley. United had a chance to equalise right on half-time but Halliday shot straight at Sinclair.

Cullen then missed a great chance to equalise after the break, Ronnie coming out to smother the one-on-one. Flitcroft and Halliday were involved in a skirmish midway though the second period, which escalated to involve PC Evans who stopped the game to have a word with the referee, over an incident he'd missed. City grabbed their third goal on the counter attack. Sinclair clearing to Murphy who's physical presence once again forced an error from Halliday. Bennett picked up the loose ball and worked his way into the box before squaring for Murphy to side foot home the winner.

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